After a week of jury selection, the Vallow-Daybell trial is fully underway. On Monday the newly formed jury heard opening statements from the prosecution and the defense as well as testimonies from Kay Woodcock and Brandon Boudreaux.
Lori Vallow-Daybell and her husband, Chad, are charged with the murder of two of her children: seventeen-year-old Tylee Ryan and seven-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow as well as Tammy Daybell, Chad’s first wife.
In her opening statement, Fremont County Prosecutor Lindsey Blake said that the case is about “money, power and sex.” Both of Lori’s deceased children had received social security benefits due to the death of their father, Charles Vallow, who was killed by Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, in 2019. Cox, who is now deceased, claimed self-defense. Lori began to receive her children’s social security benefits weeks before they disappeared. In addition to her murder charges, Lori is charged with grand theft for those transactions.
Blake went on to explain how Lori met Chad in 2018 and, while they were both still married, developed a close relationship. Blake said that Lori would do anything to be with Chad and they developed a rating system of light and dark spirits to justify their affair and murders by claiming certain people, including their spouses, Charles and Tammy, were taken over by dark spirits and had become zombies and had to be killed. Lori is currently facing a murder charge in Arizona for Charles’ death.
Blake alluded to the belief by investigators that Alex Cox was the one overt actor in the alleged murders by reminding the jurors that in Idaho, Lori would be just as guilty of the murders simply by being a conspirator.
Jim Archibald, one of Lori’s attorneys, gave the defense’s opening statement. His words centered around painting Lori as an ordinary woman, mother and wife who adopted different beliefs after meeting Chad but, referring to her alibi, ultimately had no involvement in the acts committed by Chad and Alex. He emphasized to the jury that they will have to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that she aided and abetted or played a role in these murders, otherwise they must find her not guilty. He said they have to begin this trial with a clean slate and focus on what Lori did, not what Chad and Alex did.
Madison County Prosecutor Rob Wood was the first to question Kay Woodcock. Woodcock is JJ Vallow’s grandmother. JJ was adopted by Charles and Lori shortly after his birth with the consent of the Woodcocks, who believed that the couple was better suited to raise him. Woodcock said she was “good friends” with Lori and Charles and said Lori was “just a doll” and a “doting mom.” Woodcock says she and her husband became concerned about JJ’s whereabouts shortly after Charles’ death. They had not seen him for two months and had received little communication from Lori. Woodcock managed to access Charles’ Amazon account and found that Lori had made purchases of wedding items, sending them to Rexburg, Idaho. The investigation took off from that point.
Woodcock then took questions from Lori’s other attorney, John Thomas. He asked her about her statement that Lori did not want JJ after her separation from Charles. After separating, Charles took JJ to live with him in Texas. Woodcock, who says she was with the two for over a month, claimed that for 58 days Lori made no contact with Charles or JJ.
Brandon Boudreaux, the ex-husband of Lori’s niece, Melanie Pawlowski, took the stand after Woodcock.
Special Prosecutor Rachel Smith questioned him first. He said he spent a lot of time with the Vallow family and even baptized Tylee Ryan into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of which both families were members. Boudreaux said that his ex-wife had low attendance at church until 2018 when she began attending unofficial church-related “firesides” with Lori. From that point she began to express “different” ideas including wanting to attend the temple daily, wanting to purchase $2,000 worth of food storage and talking about the world ending.
The changes in Melanie lead to their divorce. A couple of months after the divorce, Charles was shot outside his home. He said that upon returning home one day, he saw a Jeep Wrangler parked in front of his driveway. The driver lowered the window and fired a gun with a silencer attached to it at Charles’ car. He believes the Jeep belonged to Tylee. After the incident, Boudreaux became concerned over Chad Daybell and the groups Melanie associated with that Charles Vallow told him about via email.
Responding to Thomas’ questions, Boudreaux said he did not get the license plate number of the vehicle and that he is positive the shot came from the Jeep.
On Tuesday, the Court expects to hear testimony from Ray Hermosillo, a Rexburg police detective heavily involved in the case. The Vallow-Daybell trial is expected to continue for at least another month.