‘Cult Mom’ Lori Vallow conspired to kill her fourth husband so she could marry a different man and ‘fulfill their religious prophecy’ to lead 144,000 people ‘in preparing for the end of the world’, authorities have claimed.
Lori was charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the death of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, in Maricopa County, Arizona, on Tuesday.
Just over a month earlier, she and her fifth husband Chad Daybell were charged with murder for the deaths of her two children and Chad’s first wife.
Charles Vallow was fatally shot by Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, on July 11, 2019, during a custody dispute over their adoptive seven-year-old son Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow in Chandler, Arizona.
Police initially ruled that Cox acted in self defense but the case was reopened months later – shortly before JJ and his sister Tylee Ryan, 16, were reported missing in Idaho in November 2019. Cox died a month later.
New details about the prolonged investigation were revealed on Thursday in a probable cause statement filed in connection with the grand jury indictment.
The Chandler Police Department outlined Lori’s alleged extreme religious beliefs, how Charles had confronted her about having an affair with Chad, and how she went to pick up fast food and flip flops in the time that Charles was shot dead.
Investigators also alleged that Cox waited almost 45 minutes to call 911 after shooting Charles and appeared to pretend to perform CPR when paramedics arrived.
This March 6, 2020 photo shows Lori Vallow Daybell, left, glancing at the camera during her hearing on in Rexburg, Idaho
Lori and Charles are pictured at their wedding in 2006
The probable cause statement obtained by FOX10 describes how police reopened their investigation into Charles’ death in October 2019 after the estranged husband of Lori’s niece, Melani Boudreaux, was targeted in an attempted murder.
Brandon Boudreaux – whose name was redacted in court documents – was arriving at his home in Gilbert on October 2 when a bullet was fired into his car, narrowly missing his head. Brandon suspected the shooter was Cox – prompting police to revisit their probe into Charles.
While the Charles investigation was ongoing, Chandler Police were informed in late November 2019 that Lori’s children had been reported missing from Rexburg, Idaho, where they’d moved shortly after Charles’ death.
Police also learned that Lori had married Chad earlier that month – less than three weeks after his first wife Tammy Daybell died.
Through interviews with people who know the couple, police learned that Lori believed she was ‘an exalted goddess and she and Chad were directed to lead 144,000 people in preparing for the end of the world,’ the probable cause statement reads.
‘It was discovered the Lori and Chad believed that they had extraordinary abilities. Some of these abilities included the power to teleport and cause harm to others, the ability to call up natural disasters, the ability to pray away demonic spirits attached to others and also visionary capabilities.’
Because of these ‘abilities,’ Lori and Chad believed they could tell if someone had a ‘light’ or ‘dark’ scale. Dark scales were attached to Charles and the two kids. Charles was referred to as a ‘dark spirit named Ned or Hiplos.’
Charles had filed for divorce from Lori five months earlier in February 2019. In court documents Charles predicted that either Lori or her brother would kill him and alleged that she was ‘infatuated’ with doomsday and near-death experiences after joining a religious cult called Preparing a People.
Speaking to FOX10 in January of last year, Charles’ lawyer Steven Ellsworth claimed his client told him: ‘I’m afraid I’m gonna be killed, and I know who’s gonna do it.
‘I’m telling you, Steve, so that if something happens to me, I wanna make sure you let everyone know that something happens, I’m killed, that it’s my wife Lori and her brother, Alex Cox.’
Body camera footage from January 2019 also showed Charles telling police that Lori needed ‘serious help’ and asking for her to be committed for psychiatric treatment.
Lori is now undergoing under that treatment after a judge in Fremont County, Idaho, deemed her unfit to stand trial in late May.
In the probable cause statement police said that on June 29, 2019, Charles confronted Lori about a letter she sent in his name asking Chad to visit to come to Arizona to help him write a book. He accused her of having an affair with Chad and threatened to tell his wife Tammy.
A day before Charles was killed – July 10, 2019 – he told Lori and Alex’s brother about an intervention for their ‘radical beliefs.’
Lori found out about the planned intervention and texted Alex, ‘We both need to stay here to defend ourselves … It’s coming to a head! This week will change everything.’
The next day, July 11, 2019, Charles went to Lori’s home to pick up JJ at 7.35am, according to cell phone records.
He was shot 14 minutes after he arrived, police said.
Lori’s brother Alex Cox (pictured) shot dead her fourth husband Charles on July 11, 2019
At 7.49am, immediately after the shooting, Lori took Charles’ rental car and cell phone and then went to Burger King with JJ and Walgreens to buy flip flops.
She returned to the home 59 minutes later as police were arriving after Cox placed a 911 call at 8.32am.
‘When reporting the incident, Alex indicated that it just happened,’ police wrote in the probable cause statement.
‘He was provided with CPR instructions and he acted as if he was performing life-saving measures on Charles. It was not until emergency personnel began life-saving measures that they saw blood coming from Charles’ body. This would indicate that Alex performed no emergency aid.
‘Based on this timeline, Charles would have laid dead or dying for approximately 43 minutes before Alex called 911. During this time, phone records indicated that Alex called Lori.’
When interviewed by police, Lori, Tylee and Cox said a physical altercation was started by Charles.
Cox said Charles struck him in the head with a baseball bat and he responded by retrieving a gun and shooting Charles twice in the chest.
Lori and Tylee said they heard a gunshot as they were leaving the house.
An autopsy indicated that Cox shot Charles once while he was standing and a second time when he was lying on the floor.
‘Based on this investigation, it has been proven how valuable that Alex Cox was to Lori,’ Chandler police wrote in the probable cause documents. ‘His mission on this earth was to protect his sister.’
Lori’s kids Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow, seven, and Tylee Ryan, 16, were last seen alive in September 2019, and their remains were discovered on her Idaho property last June
In this aerial photo, investigators search for human remains at Chad Daybell’s residence in Idaho where they allegedly found the remains of Lori’s missing children
Weeks after Charles’ death, Lori and her children moved to Rexburg, Idaho, miles away from where Chad lived with his first wife Tammy and their five children.
Tylee vanished on September 8, 2019, just days before her 17th birthday. Investigators said her body was burned and dismembered before being buried sometime the following day.
JJ was last seen two weeks later on September 23. His body was wrapped in duct tape and plastic and buried the same day, investigators said.
Authorities believe Lori’s brother, Cox, brought the children’s bodies to Chad’s home to dispose of them.
Tammy died at the home she shared with Chad on October 19, 2019. Chad reportedly declined an autopsy and went on to marry Lori less than three weeks later.
Lori and Chad were named persons of interest in the children’s disappearance after investigators said they believe the mother knew where her children were or what happened to them.
The case captured nationwide attention with the revelations that police were also investigating at least three mysterious deaths linked to Lori and Chad, as well as family members’ claims that the couple are members of a dangerous doomsday cult.
The first death is that of Lori’s estranged husband Charles, followed by Chad’s first wife Tammy – whose body was exhumed on December 11, 2019.
Chad is also charged with the murder of his first wife, Tammy Daybell (pictured together)
On December 12, Lori’s brother, Cox, was found dead in Gilbert, Arizona.
An autopsy determined that the 51-year-old’s died of natural causes but noted that he had the overdose drug Narcan in his system at the time.
Police tracked Lori and Chad down in Princeville, Hawaii, in late January 2020 and served the mother with a court order requiring her to physically produce the children to authorities in Idaho within five days.
Lori failed to meet the deadline, prompting her arrest and extradition to Idaho, where she is currently being held at Madison County Jail in lieu of $1million bond.
Chad was arrested three months later after the children’s bodies were found.
Over the course of the search for the kids several people who knew Lori and Chad came forward with claims that the pair were members of a ‘cult’ called Preparing a People, which was dedicated to bracing for the end of the world.
The organization aimed to distance themselves from Chad and Lori as the missing children’s case made headlines, allegedly fearing that misconceptions about Preparing a People could cause members to be excommunicated from the LDS Church.
At the core of the couple’s beliefs was the idea that they were prophets sent to earth by God to lead the ‘chosen 144,000’ into the New Millennium on July 22, 2020, according to court documents and accounts from friends and family.
Part of their preparations included eradicating the world of ‘zombies’ before Doomsday arrived, according to Lori’s former best friend Melanie Gibb, who was part of a small group with which Chad shared his personal gospel.
‘It was their commission to get rid of all the zombies before tribulations came upon us,’ Gibb told the East Idaho News last year.
Chillingly, Lori had accused three of her loved ones of turning into zombies prior to their deaths: JJ and Tylee, as well as her fourth husband Charles.
Chad Daybell in court on June 9 where he pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and murder charges
Lori and her fifth husband Chad Daybell (right) were separately charged with murder for the deaths of her two children and Chad’s first wife in May by prosecutors in Idaho
Lori is facing two counts of murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit murder in their deaths. She also faces one count of conspiracy to commit murder over the death of Chad’s first wife Tammy Daybell in October 2019.
Lori was a committed to a mental health facility in Idaho for evaluation earlier this month after she was ruled unfit to stand trial.
Chad appeared in court on June 9 and pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and murder charges in the deaths of JJ, Tylee and Tammy.
Timeline of JJ and Tylee’s disappearance
July 11, 2019: Lori Vallow’s husband, Charles Vallow, is killed by her brother, Alex Cox, in Arizona. Police initially rule that Alex acted in self defense but reopen the case months later after the children are reported missing.
August: Lori moves children JJ and Tylee to Rexburg, Idaho, where her future husband Chad Daybell lives with his wife Tammy.
September 8: The last time Tylee is seen during a trip to Yellowstone National Park with Lori, JJ and Alex. In the following weeks she tells people who ask where Tylee is that she’s studying at Brigham Young University’s Idaho campus.
September 23: The last time JJ is seen at his school in Rexburg. Lori emailed the school the following day and claims she is moving the family to California for a new job.
October 2: Brandon Boudreaux, the ex-husband of Lori’s niece Melanie Pawlowski, is targeted in a drive-by shooting in Arizona. Police identify the vehicle carrying the shooter as a Jeep registered to Charles Vallow, Lori’s late husband.
October 19: Chad’s wife Tammy, 49, dies at their Idaho home. An obituary states that she passed away peacefully in her sleep. Chad declines an autopsy and her death is listed as natural causes.
October 25: A friend of Tylee receives a vague ‘miss you’ text from her phone but says that it didn’t sound like the teen.
November 5: Lori and Chad tie the knot on a beach in Kauai. Receipts indicate that Lori purchased her own wedding ring from Amazon nearly three weeks prior to Tammy’s death.
November 26: Out-of-state relatives ask Idaho police to perform a welfare check on JJ. Lori and Chad claim he is in Arizona with relatives and ask their friend, Melanie Gibb, to lie and say she took the boy there for Thanksgiving. Police soon learn that no one has seen JJ, or his older sister Tylee, since September.
November 27: Police execute a search warrant related to the children at Lori’s home and discover that she and Chad have fled Idaho.
December 11: Tammy’s body is exhumed from a Utah cemetery and her death is reclassified as suspicious.
December 12: Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, is found unresponsive in a bathroom in Arizona and dies. Months later an autopsy determines that he died of natural causes while he had the overdose drug Narcan in his system.
December 21: Rexburg police issue the first press release about JJ and Tylee, revealing they believe their disappearance could be linked to Tammy’s death and asking the public for information.
December 24: Lori and Chad issue a statement through an attorney saying they love their son and daughter and look forward to addressing ‘allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor’.
December 30: Police accuse Lori and Chad of lying to investigators and say they believe the couple know where the kids are or what happened to them.
January 3, 2020: Police search Chad’s home in Salem and remove 43 items, including tech devices and journals. They also comb over sections of the snow-covered yard.
January 26: Lori and Chad are seen for the first time in months as police serve them with two search warrants in Kauai. Lori is also served with a court order to produce the children to authorities in Idaho in five days. The couple are approached by the media while cops serve the documents and refuse to say anything about the kids.
January 30: Lori misses the court deadline to produce the children to Idaho authorities.
February 20: Lori is arrested in Kauai and charged with two felony counts for desertion and nonsupport of dependent children, and one misdemeanor count each for resisting and obstructing an officer, solicitation of a crime, and contempt of court.
March 5: Lori is extradited to Idaho, where she is held on $1million bond at Madison County Jail.
March 17: Lori professes her innocence in a statement through her attorney as two other members of her defense team quit and the judge removes himself from the case.
March 24: Court documents filed in the divorce of Lori’s niece Melani and her husband Brandon Boudreaux allege that Lori told people she believed her children were zombies before they disappeared.
April 9: Authorities reveal they are investigating Lori and Chad for murder, attempted murder and conspiracy in connection with Tammy’s death.
May 25: Idaho police issue a statement expressing hope that the kids will be found safe on what would have been JJ’s eighth birthday.
June 9: Police search Chad’s home in Salem for the second time and discover human remains in the backyard. Chad is taken into police custody and charged with destruction or concealment of evidence.
May 25, 2021: Lori and Chad are charged with first degree murder in the deaths of the children. Chad is also charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife Tammy.