Date: July 31, 2023 03:08PM
After hours of harrowing statements detailing how Lori Vallow Daybell murdered her two children and conspired to kill her husband's first wife, the Idaho “doomsday mom” on Monday indicated she wanted to speak.
Dressed in a orange-and-white striped prison jumpsuit, Vallow immediately teared up as she began to speak in her own defense at a sentencing trial in Fremont County Court Monday. Still seated and flanked by her two defense attorneys, Vallow began by reading a quick scripture and expressing her grief for the 2019 deaths of her two children—7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan—and her husband's late wife, Tammy Daybell.
But, she clarified, “Jesus Christ knows that no one was murdered in this case.”
“Jesus knows me and Jesus understands me. I mourn with all of you who mourn my children and Tammy,” Vallow said. “Jesus Christ knows what happened here. No one was murdered. Accidental deaths happen. Suicides happen.”
The acknowledgment was among several shocking statements Vallow made during her nearly 10-minute rant, where she also described a near-death pregnancy she experienced and claimed she has spoken to all three of her victims since their deaths—adding that the trio is “busy and happy in the spirit world.”
But Judge Steven Boyce did not buy Vallow's statement, offering a searing admonishment of her behavior before sentencing her to five life sentences without the possibility of parole.
“You justified all this by going down a bizarre, religious rabbit hole & clearly you're still down there,” Boyce added, stating that Vallow has any remorse for her actions. The judge, when rendering his sentence, ordered that three of Vallow's life sentences will run consecutively.
The sentencing is the culmination of a surreal trial involving religious extremism, “demon” zombies, and marital strife. In May, Vallow was convicted of all charges in connection with the 2019 deaths of her two children and Daybell. The murders occurred just before Vallow and her husband, Chad Daybell, got married and fled to Hawaii.
In her statement, however, Vallow claimed that she has spoken with her children and Daybell, whom she called a “wonderful friend.” In one conversation she claims to have had with her 7-year-old son, Vallow said JJ insisted that she did not do “anything wrong.” She concluded her statement by stating that she looks forward to be reunited with the three.
“I know where they are now and what they're doing. I know how wonderful heaven is, and I'm homesick for it every single day,” she added.
Prior to Vallow's statement, several family members of the victims offered a different perspective on the heinous crimes—and how she should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Samantha Gwilliam, the sister of Tammy Daybell, called Vallow a “liar, adulteress, and [a] murderer” and said, “No angels are coming to rescue you”—an apparent reference to Vallow’s apocalyptic religious beliefs.
“You will live in your prison cell for the rest of your life,” she added.
Vicki Hoban, one of Tammy’s aunts, told Vallow she hopes the rest of the 49-year-old’s life is “filled in fear and you live every day terrified” for her role in the “savage murders of great people.” In a statement read by Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood, Vallow's son also offered a heartbreaking analysis of his life since 2019.
“I’ve lost my entire family in life. I've watched everything crumble and be shredded to pieces. I have lost my sister, brother, father and mother. I have lost cousins and family, friends and everything in between,” Colby Ryan, who was not present in court, said in the statement.
The harsh words, however, did not seem to visibly affect Vallow. Throughout the statements, she was seen looking away, talking to her lawyers, and smiling.
Vallow’s defense attorney, John Thomas, acknowledged that there is a “lot of hurt surrounding this case” and admitted that he has been praying for weeks about the outcome of his case. He added that he is aware that his client is perhaps “the most hated woman in America… and maybe even the world,” but that those negative views of Vallow will not bring closure or justice.
“We need peace to replace the hurt,” Thomas said after quoting Martin Luther King Jr. “Lori is a very misunderstood person…She is about love. She has redeeming values.”