Court documents: ‘Cult mom’ Lori Vallow believed her children were ‘zombies’

Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow-Daybell booking photos (file, courtesy KSAZ-TV)

BOISE, Idaho — New court papers detail the search for the bodies of “cult mom” Lori Vallow’s two children and her belief that they were “zombies.”

Vallow, 46, has been jailed on child abandonment charges in the disappearance of JJ Vallow, a 7-year-old boy with autism, and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan.

Their remains were found June 9 in the backyard of Chad Daybell, 51, a self-published author of doomsday novels who had been charged with disposing of their bodies on separate dates in September — the month they were reported missing by relatives.

Vallow’s belief that JJ and Tylee were “zombies” was included in a probable cause affidavit unsealed in Idaho on Friday, June 19.

Rexburg police Lt. Ron Ball says Melani Gibb, a close friend of Vallow’s, told him that the term “refers to an individual whose mortal spirit has left their body and that their body is now the host of another spirit.”

He wrote, “The new spirit in ‘zombie’ is always considered ‘dark spirit.’ While the ‘dark spirit’ inhabits the host body, the person’s true spirit goes into ‘limbo’ and is stuck there until the host body is physically killed.”

Ball said he was further informed by Gibb that Daybell and Lori Vallow told her that they held the religious belief that they were part of the “Church of the Firstborn” and their mission in that church was to lead the “144,000” mentioned in the Book of Revelation.

“They also stated their mission was to rid the world of ‘zombies,’” he said.

Ball states further that he spoke to Gibb again on June 3 and during that interview, she again said that Vallow had told her that JJ had become a “zombie.”

“(Lori) pointed out behaviors such as sitting still and watching TV, claiming JJ said he loved Satan, and an increased vocabulary as evidence that JJ was now a zombie,” the investigator said.

Ball said Gibb overheard Vallow call Tylee a “zombie” on the phone in the spring of 2019.

“Not me, mom,” Tylee allegedly said, according to Gibb.

The affidavit says the FBI traced a cellphone belonging to Vallow’s brother Alex Cox that showed that he was in Daybell’s backyard on Sept. 9 — the day after Tylee was last seen — and on Sept. 23 — the day after JJ was last seen.

Cox killed Lori Vallow’s husband Charles last July in a shooting Arizona police said was self-defense. Cox died five months later.

The affidavit says Daybell was watching from his SUV as authorities dug up his backyard when a plastic bag was cut open and exposed the crown of a head that turned out to be JJ’s.

Daybell has pleaded not guilty.

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