A jury has found Idaho mother Lori Vallow Daybell guilty on all counts of killing her two children and conspiring in the murder of her husband’s first wife.
Vallow Daybell, who pleaded not guilty, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and three counts of conspiracy in the 2019 deaths of her children 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, as well as Tammy Daybell, the first wife of her husband Chad Daybell.
She is facing life in prison when sentenced.
A jury of seven men and five women began deliberating Thursday afternoon and reached a unanimous guilty verdict Friday afternoon.
Vallow Daybell showed no visible reaction as the verdict was read.
She will be transferred from Ada County to Fremont County for further proceedings and sentencing. Judge Steven Boyce said sentencing will occur in about three months.
As the jurors were excused, a cross-armed Vallow Daybell stood, briefly spoke to her attorney and quickly walked out of the courtroom as a bailiff escorted her.
Among Vallow Daybell’s charges were grand theft on suspicion of changing bank accounts to collect Social Security benefits on behalf of her children after their deaths, according to a May 2021 indictment. Prosecutors said Thursday she didn’t report her children missing to keep collecting the money, East Idaho News reported.
Larry Woodcock, JJ’s biological grandfather, expressed gratitude for the jurors’ service outside the courtroom after the verdict was read, CNN affiliate KBOI-TV reported.
“Thank y’all, thank y’all, thank y’all,” he said with arms spread. “What they went through, what they saw, is mind-boggling.”
Woodcock and his wife, Kay, offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the children’s return in January 2020.
“I hope that nobody ever has to go through this,” he said Friday. “I hope nobody ever has to see and hear the details of what happened to JJ, to Tylee and to Tammy.”
Chad Daybell, who also pleaded not guilty to his charges, will be tried separately.
Tammy Daybell died in her sleep in October 2019 – Vallow Daybell married Daybell weeks later.
Law enforcement authorities discovered the remains of Daybell’s stepchildren in his backyard in Fremont County, Idaho, in June 2020. He is charged with two felony counts of conspiracy to commit destruction; alteration or concealment of evidence; and two felony counts of destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence.
Madison County prosecuting attorney Rob Wood urged the jury to convict Vallow Daybell on every count for which she is charged in closing arguments, which concluded Thursday after a monthlong trial.
“You must convict her,” Wood said Thursday as the courtroom saw images of Vallow Daybell’s children and Tammy Daybell, East Idaho News reported.
Wood and Fremont County prosecuting attorney Lindsey Blake said they were “very pleased” with the verdict in a statement Friday.
“We want to assure each of you that we remain committed to pursuing justice for Tylee Ryan, JJ Vallow and Tammy Daybell,” the statement read.
Before resting their case Tuesday, the defense made a motion called Rule 29 seeking judgment of acquittal before the case is handed to the jury, on the grounds the case lacked sufficient evidence to warrant the charges, KBOI-TV reported. Judge Steven Boyce denied the motion on all counts Thursday.
“No one here thinks Lori actually killed anyone, that’s why she’s being charged with conspiracy,” Jim Archibald, Vallow Daybell’s attorney, said Thursday.
“If you find her guilty, will that bring the kids back? Nope. If you find her not guilty, will that bring the kids back? Nope,” Archibald said, according to East Idaho News.
People familiar with the couple, who married shortly after Vallow Daybell’s children went missing, have described them as doomsday cult members with extreme religious beliefs, East Idaho News reported.
The couple “did endorse and espouse religious beliefs for the purpose of” justifying or encouraging the killings of the children and Tammy Daybell, the May 2021 indictment stated.
Their story was featured in a Netflix true-crime documentary last year.
CNN’s Lauren Mascarenhas, Eric Levenson and Emma Tucker contributed to this report.
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