Doomsday Conspiracist Author and His Wife Charged With Murdering Their Kids

Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell could face the death penalty if convicted.
​On the left, Chad Daybell during his preliminary hearing in St. Anthony, Idaho​. On the right, Lori Vallow Daybell at a hearing in Rexburg, Idaho.
On the left, Chad Daybell during his preliminary hearing in St. Anthony, Idaho. (John Roark/Post Register via AP, Pool) On the right, Lori Vallow Daybell at a hearing in Rexburg, Idaho. (John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP, Pool, File)

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A husband and wife pair of doomsday believers were indicted Tuesday on charges of first-degree murder in the killing of her two children, whose bodies were found wrapped in duct tape last June. 

The indictment of Lori Vallow, 47, and Chad Daybell, 52, follows a two-year-long investigation into the murders of Vallow’s two children. The remains of 7-year-old J.J. Ryan and a 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, were found on Daybell’s property in Idaho one year after their disappearance. Vallow, the children’s biological mother, married Daybell in 2019. She was previously married to Charles Vallow, but he was killed in a dispute with her brother, according to the Washington Post.  


Daybell is an author of multiple books related to the apocalyptic belief that the world is about to end, including “Evading Babylon” and “Days of Fury.” The couple are both doomsday conspiracists, and prosecutors say their belief that the world is about to end played a part in the children’s killings. 

Between 2018 and 2020, Daybell and Vallow “did endorse and espouse religious beliefs for the purpose of encouraging and/or justifying the homicide of Tylee Ryan,” the indictment reads, adding the same was true for J.J.

The kids disappeared in September 2019. Tylee was last seen on a trip to Yellowstone on September 8 of the year, and her brother J.J. vanished after being seen at school on September 23 weeks later. 

Vallow and Daybell got married in Hawaii in 2019, during the height of the investigation into the disappearance of J.J. and Tylee. While there, the two were uncooperative with the police investigation, and insisted the children were visiting family friends in Arizona, according to the Washington Post. This was quickly proven false, and the bodies of both children were found on June 9, 2020 on Daybell’s property. 

If convicted of first-degree murder, Vallow and Daybell are eligible for life in prison or the death penalty. 

Prosecuting Attorney Lindsey Blake said in a press conference Tuesday that the case against Vallow and Daybell was delayed because of the pandemic, but that it will ramp back up to full speed in the coming weeks. 

“I want to assure everyone that despite the delays, we have been working diligently to pursue justice for the victims in this case,” Blake said in the press conference. “To ensure we have the evidence required to prove the facts beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.”

Daybell is also being indicted separately for the murder of his wife, Tammy Daybell. It was originally thought that she died of natural causes in her sleep in 2019, but after Daybell refused to cooperate with the police investigation, authorities reopened the investigation into her death.