On Thursday, Lori Vallow entered a plea of not guilty to conspiracy charges tied to the disappearance of her two children, whose remains were found buried on her husband's Idaho property in June — more than eight months after the kids first went missing.
Her plea, like the earlier not guilty plea of husband Chad Daybell on similar charges, moves the couple closer to trial.
Vallow's brief appearance before District Judge Dane H. Watkins Jr. unfolded during a Zoom call with her attorney, Mark Means, at her side. Both were wearing masks, in a bow to COVID-19 precautions.
Although the charges against Vallow — alleging two felony counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence — were filed in Fremont County, she remains jailed on a $1 million bond in Madison County on separate felony charges of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children, as well as resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime, contempt of court and willful disobedience of court process or order for failing to produce the two kids under court order last January.
Vallow has also pleaded not guilty to the Madison County charges.
At this time, no one has been charged with killing Vallow's children, 7-year-old Joshua "J.J." Vallow and his sister, 17-year-old Tylee Ryan.
Disturbing images of the victims emerged in August, as prosecutors began to build their case against Daybell in open court.
When found on Daybell's Idaho property on June 9, J.J.'s body was dressed in red pajamas and had been placed inside a black plastic bag, with his ankles and wrists bound by duct tape, as revealed during a forensics exam, testified Rexburg police Det. Ray Hermosillo. Several layers of duct tape also secured a white plastic bag around the boy's head, Hermosillo said.
In a nearby pet cemetery in Daybell's yard, authorities recovered a mass of burned flesh and bone in a melted green bucket. Under the bucket, they found a partial human skull, said Hermosillo. Those remains were later confirmed to belong to J.J.'s sister Tylee.
After these grim discoveries, Daybell was 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. He has pleaded not guilty.
Kids Reported Missing in November
Vallow and Daybell, an author who writes about religious doomsday prophecies, were married in early November and quickly became the targets of police scrutiny in the kids’ disappearance after J.J.’s out-of-state grandparents filed a missing-persons report later that month. J.J. is the adopted son of Vallow and her previous husband, Charles Vallow.
But before police could execute a search warrant on the couple’s Rexburg home, police said Vallow and Daybell fled the area, only to be located without the kids on Jan. 25 in Kaua’i, Hawaii. While in Hawaii, Vallow defied a court order to produce the children to police or child welfare officials by Jan. 30, and she was arrested Feb. 20.
While looking for the children, Rexburg police reported logging several misleading statements about their whereabouts from Vallow and Daybell, and then said they “strongly believe that Joshua and Tylee’s lives [were] in danger.”
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J.J. was last seen Sept. 23, at his school in Rexburg, before his mother unenrolled him and told the principal she was considering home-schooling him instead. The last known image of Tylee was taken Sept. 8 on a day trip to Yellowstone National Park with her mother, brother and an uncle, Alex Cox, according to a court filing in Madison County, Idaho.
Authorities using Alex Cox's cell phone records allegedly placed him on Daybell's property on two dates that align with the last time the children were seen, and used that as a basis to search there for the children's bodies.
Alex Cox previously killed Vallow's former husband Charles, who was then estranged from Vallow, in July 2019, during what he described as a self-defense shooting at Lori's old home in Arizona. Cox was not charged. Then, in December, Cox died after he was discovered unresponsive in the bathroom of the home he shared with his wife of 12 days in Gilbert, Arizona. A medical examiner eventually ruled that Cox died of natural causes.
Daybell married Vallow on Nov. 5 – just two weeks after the Oct. 19 death of Chad’s then-wife, Tammy.
The investigation into the children’s disappearance has since yielded a second look at Tammy’s death, which officials subsequently termed “suspicious.”
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