About three months before Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell allegedly murdered Vallow’s two children and jetted off to Hawaii to get married, the Doomsday author sent an odd love note to his paramour.
“I’m a grown-up version of Harry Potter, who has to live with the Dudleys in his little space under the stairs,” Daybell wrote in a July 26, 2019, text message. “Every few weeks I get to escape and have these amazing adventures with my Goddess lover, but then I have to return to my life under the stars feeling trapped.”
The message came several days after Vallow’s former husband, Charles, was fatally shot by her brother. In the aftermath, Vallow learned that she had not been named the beneficiary of her late husband’s life insurance—a realization the mother called a “spear thru my heart.”
But Daybell did not seem too worried—and signed off his July text message: “But I sense permanent freedom is coming!”
Prosecutors allege that by September, the couple had murdered Vallow’s two children, 17-year-old Tylee Ryand and 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, fueled by their doomsday-focused religious beliefs. Then, about a month later, they allegedly conspired to kill Daybell’s first wife, Tammy, for insurance and social security funds before fleeing to Hawaii to get married.
Vallow has pleaded not guilty to several charges, including murder and conspiracy, in connection with the deaths of her children and the conspiracy to fatally strangle Daybell’s first wife in October 2019. If convicted, Vallow faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. Daybell, whose trial will be scheduled after Vallow’s is completed, may face the death penalty.
Defense lawyers insist there is no evidence to prove Vallow was involved in the three murders and describe her as a “good mother” who got sucked into religious extremism after meeting Daybell, a former gravedigger and author of apocalyptic novels aimed at Mormons.
Their bizarre relationship was on center stage on Friday in Ada County Court, the fifth day of Vallow’s murder trial. Jurors have also heard details about the couple’s religious beliefs and how they became the crux of their love affair that began in 2018.
On Thursday, Vallow’s former best friend testified how “flirty” the mother was with Daybell when they met at a religious conference—where they ultimately determined that they had been married in five different past lives and were meant to be together.
Vallow “shared with me that [Daybell] told her that they had been married in another time period,” Melanie Gibb told jurors. “She believed that. She had already had the belief system…[in] multiple lives, as they would call it, already believed that before she physically met him.”
The initial meeting spurred a months-long affair, where Gibb said Daybell and Vallow were “intimate” despite being married to other people because it was “God’s will.” Eventually, according to text messages read in court on Friday, Vallow’s former spouse learned of his infidelity—and even sent Daybell’s wife an email informing her of the affair.
“Your husband and my wife are having an affair. It’s devastating, I know,” Charles Vallow wrote in a June 2019 email to Tammy Daybell.
A month later, Charles emailed Vallow saying that he was going to Idaho “to see Tammy Daybell.” Ten days later, on July 11, 2019, Charles was fatally shot by Alex Cox, Vallow’s brother. (Cox, who died of a blood clot in December 2019, has said that the shooting was self-defense. Vallow faces separate charges in Arizona connected to Charles’ death.)
Gibb said that after Charles’ death, Vallow and Daybell were “happy”—and that her friend even moved her family to Idaho to be closer to the author. Authorities believe that JJ and Tylee were murdered around Sept. 22 before their bodies were disposed of on Daybell’s Idaho farm.
Weeks later, on Oct. 19, Tammy Daybell was found dead at home. Authorities initially determined that Tammy had died of natural causes, but prosecutors now allege she was murdered.