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Lori Vallow Daybell (right) is on trial for multiple counts of murder and other criminal charges, in a case that has its roots in 2019 — when Vallow Daybell’s children were last seen alive.

Tony Blakeslee/AP

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Tony Blakeslee/AP

Lori Vallow Daybell (right) is on trial for multiple counts of murder and other criminal charges, in a case that has its roots in 2019 — when Vallow Daybell’s children were last seen alive.

Tony Blakeslee/AP

The murder trial is finally underway for Lori Vallow Daybell, 49, a mother of three whose religious beliefs about zombies and the end of the world are cited as partial motives for the alleged murders of ‘ her two children and her husband’s former wife.

Opening arguments in the trial in Boise, Idaho, began on Monday. If convicted, Vallow Daybell could face up to life in prison. She and her husband, Chad Daybell, 54, were charged nearly two years ago. They are now being tried separately.

Here is a brief summary of the history of Vallow Daybell, and the case against it:

What is charged Vallow Daybell?

Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell were indicted in May 2021 on nine criminal charges, including murder and/or conspiracy charges in three deaths.

Vallow Daybell is accused of killing her two younger sons, Tylee Ryan and Joshua Jaxon “JJ” Vallow. Tylee was almost 17 years old when she and JJ, 7, was last seen alive in September 2019. The children’s bodies were found in June 2020, buried on property in Rexburg, Idaho, owned by Chad Daybell.

Even before the remains were found, Vallow Daybell was charged with felony desertion of a child, as well as obstruction.

She is also accused of conspiring to kill Tammy Daybell, Chad’s then-wife who was found dead in her home in October 2019 — less than a month before he and Vallow were married in Hawaii. He is Vallow’s fifth husband.

Jo a separate case in ArizonaVallow was also charged with conspiracy to murder for allegedly arranging for her brother, Alex Cox, to shoot and kill her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, in July 2019. Alex Cox died in December 2019, of those determined to be natural causes.

How does her belief factor into the case?

Prosecutors say that Vallow Daybell and Daybell were focused on “end times” scenarios and the adjuvant, and that they shared beliefs about people manifesting dark energy.

The accusation cites messages between the pair “about the percentage of death for Tammy” Daybell, as well as messages about her limbo, and Tammy “being possessed by a spirit named Viola.”

On Monday, Fremont County Prosecutor Lindsey Blake told jurors that Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell portrayed themselves as religious figures called “James and Elaina.”

Blake said Vallow Daybell claimed to be able to “assess” people, discovering if they may be under the thrall of the dark energy of an evil spirit.

“The defendant used ‘casting’ which involved prayer and energy work,” Blake told the jury on Monday, according to Eastern Idaho News. “Many times this casting did not work and the belief evolved to zombies. A common theme was that the body had to be destroyed.”

The zombie story came out in 2020

In 2020, a Rexburg police detective Ron Ball said in an affidavit that Vallow Daybell’s close friend, Melanie Gibb, described hearing her say that Tylee had become a zombie — a concept Vallow Daybell picked up from Daybell.

Gibb heard Vallow Daybell call Tylee a zombie — after Tylee had refused to babysit JJ — to which Tylee replied, “Not me, mom,” according to the affidavit. Gibb said that Vallow Daybell later concluded that JJ had also become a zombie.

Daybell and Vallow Daybell told Gibb they were part of the “Church of the First Born” and had a special mission, guided by the Book of Revelation, Gibb told the detective.

“They also stated that their mission was to rid the world of ‘zombies,'” Ball wrote.

In their eyes, zombies are controlled by dark spirits – and the host body can only be released through physical death, Ball added.

“Gibb was present with Lori Vallow when Chad Daybell first instructed Lori on his zombie theories. by phone in early 2019 in reference to Charles Vallow,” Ball wrote.

Months later, Charles Vallow was killed.

Money is also a big part of the case

Prosecutors accuse Vallow Daybell and Daybell of profiting from the three deaths by funneling money to themselves, in the form of federal benefits and insurance payouts. Their goal, Blake said, was to create a new life together.

Charges against Vallow Daybell include grand theft, with the US government as the victim, after she received Social Security funds intended for the care of Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow and failed to report Tylee’s death.

“The defendant used money, power and sex to get what she wanted,” Blake said in court, according to The Associated Press. “It doesn’t matter what it was.”

Prosecutors say that in the month before his wife died unexpectedly, Chad Daybell signed paperwork to boost her life insurance to the maximum allowed by the policy.

The case inspired a television series and a book

Vallow Daybell’s son Colby Ryan and other relatives told their side of the story about her and Chad Daybell last fall, when Sins of our Mothertrue crime series, premiered on Netflix in September. The series is directed by Skye Borgman.

There is also a book about the case: When the Moon Turns to Bloodfrom Portland, Oregon-based journalist Leah Sottile, who says Lori Vallow went from “suburban mom in yoga pants” to someone caught up in an extreme subculture.

“I found in my own reporting that Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell really existed on the fringes, the far right fringes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Sottile told the member station. . Boise State Public Radio“and that they… sort of were able to meet because of this ecosystem of extremism that exists there.”

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