Lori Vallow ignored stepsons’ pleas as she exchanged romantic texts with Chad Daybell after husband’s death

Week five of Lori Vallow’s murder trial concluded on Friday with a detailed look at text messages between the “doomsday cult mom” and Chad Daybell in the days after her husband Charles Vallow was killed by her brother.

As the two sent romantic messages to each other, Mr Vallow’s sons Zach and Cole pleaded with their stepmother to be told the basic details of how their father had died after she had nonchalantly informed them of his passing in a text.

Meanwhile, Mr Daybell sent messages professing his feelings for her and even an elaborate romance story, sections of which were read out in court.

Ms Vallow is currently on trial in Boise, Idaho, after being charged with the murders of his wife Tammy Daybell, 49 in October 2019; and her own two children Joshua “JJ” Vallow, seven; and Tylee Ryan, 16, the month before.

Mr Daybell, who married Ms Vallow on 5 November 2019 just weeks after his wife’s sudden death, is standing trial separately for the murders at a later date.

Testifying on Friday at the Ada County Courthouse was former FBI Special Agent Douglas Hart who led the bureau’s response when Tylee and JJ were declared missing. He also had a hands-on approach to the investigation.

His biggest role was to examine Lori’s two iCloud accounts, which was important “because of the value of information that’s contained in the cloud storage.”

He told the court: “In this instance, we have a large volume of direct communication between Lori Vallow and others in this case. We have a number of emails and notes and recordings that were discovered during the review and analysis of the iCloud account.”

Focusing on the period after Ms Vallow and Mr Daybell met on 26 October 2018 at a conference in St George, he examined 4,500 text messages as well as voicemails and photos.


Agent Hart testified that he discovered several leads in the text messages, such as Lori and Chad saying they wanted to get married and lead a life together and the beginning of their affair that led to the murders.

“There were several communications regarding JJ and Tylee that were relevant to their deaths … After the affair began, there began to be in communication regarding the deaths of Charles Vallow, Tammy Daybell, JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan,” he said.

Agent Hart also said Chad and Lori used the word “obstacles” to describe her children and their spouses. There were also discussions about life insurance policies and social security payments JJ and Tylee received.

Texts between Lori and her brother Alex Cox and her niece Melani Boudreaux (now Pawlowski) were also deemed relevant.

Two days before Charles was murdered she told her niece: “They have an elaborate plan I’ll call you soon … We both need to stay here to defend ourselves. It’s coming to a head! This week will change everything.”

She then arranged for her brother to be present at her home at a time when Charles would be coming over. On 11 July 2019, Alex shot Charles, killing him.

The court was then shown the text message Ms Vallow sent to Charles’s sons nonchalantly informing them of his death, but not giving any details.

It reads: “Hi boys. I have very sad news. Your dad passed away yesterday. I’m working on making arrangements and I’ll keep you informed with what’s going on. I’m still not sure how to handle things. Just want you to know that I love you and so did your dad!!”

The two brothers send a stream of increasingly distraught and desperate messages which Ms Vallow ignores for lengthy periods and sporadically answers giving little further information away.

As that text chain was unfolding, the court was shown how over the same period Ms Vallow was exchanging flirtatious messages with Mr Daybell.

“I love you so immensely that the whole universe knows it. And very soon the people on this little blue globe will know it too,” he told her in one text three days after the death of her husband.

Later that day, Mr Daybell continued to text her an extensive piece of romantic fiction that was eventually compiled as part of the evidence against the pair.

Those in the courtroom reported that the jury seemed to find the testimony very powerful.

Agent Hart noted there appeared to be no sorrow or remorse from Ms Vallow about the killing of her husband by her brother, which seems evident from her apparent indifference to replying to the texts from his sons.

“He was our dad and we love him very much. We deserve answers,” Cole Vallow texted her.

The jury were all seen to write notes during this portion of Agent Hart’s testimony, with one woman apparently looking “horrified”.

Court then adjourned early for the weekend. The trial enters its sixth week on Monday morning.