Records describe cult-like beliefs related to the fatal shooting of Lori Vallow’s ex-husband

The Arizona Republic/July 1, 2021

By Perry Vandell

The Chandler Police Department released records on Thursday offering key details surrounding the fatal shooting of Lori Vallow’s ex-husband, Charles Vallow. The incident led to a Maricopa County grand jury charging Lori with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

Lori and her husband, Chad Daybell, also face murder charges in another case in Idaho on suspicion of killing two of her children. The case has sparked international interest, partly because of a string of deaths around the family, including some in Arizona, and Vallow and Daybell's "cult-like" religious beliefs in which they often spoke of the end of the world.

Jennifer Liewer, a spokesperson for the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, said the Idaho case would have to be resolved before Lori could be extradited to Arizona.

Lori’s brother, Alexander Cox, called Chandler police on July 11, 2019, to report that he had shot Charles whom he claimed had struck him in the head with a baseball bat. When officers arrived at the scene, Cox could be seen on body camera video exiting the home with both of his hands up. He sat on a curb in front of the home, where he was recorded on video telling a police officer what happened.

The documents said investigators had concerns regarding a bullet strike on the ground near Charles’ body and the timeline of events given leading up to the shooting, but they weren’t enough to warrant an arrest at the time.

Detectives would later learn that Lori and Charles’ relationship had deteriorated and Lori accused Charles of infidelity, leading to Charles moving Lori into a home on Four Peaks Place with Lori’s daughter Tylee Ryan and their adoptive son JJ Vallow.

At one point, Lori left JJ with Charles and disappeared for over two months. Documents say Charles became increasingly concerned over Lori’s mental health after she claimed she was selected to “prepare 144,000 people for the end of the world.”

Charles eventually filed a mental health petition asking that Lori be evaluated. In the petition, Charles wrote that Lori had told him he was “possessed by a dark spirit by the name of Ned Schneider” and would call Charles “Ned” rather than his actual name.

Charles Vallow stayed in Texas but visited Lori in Chandler one day prior to the shooting.

As detectives continued investigating Charles’ death, JJ’s grandmother contacted Chandler police with concerns about JJ as she had not seen or heard from him.

Lori had since moved to Rexburg, Idaho. When Idaho authorities checked in on how JJ was doing in November 2019, Lori said he was staying in Arizona, though investigators would later discover that wasn’t true. She later told investigators her children were staying somewhere else when that wasn’t the case either.

Detectives later discovered that Lori had since married Chad Daybell whose previous wife had died in her sleep less than a month beforehand.

Multiple agencies began collaborating to find JJ and Tylee. The evidence that turned up convinced Chandler police that Charles’ death was planned so as to prevent him from confronting Lori about her extreme religious beliefs.

“It was discovered that Lori and Chad believed that they had extraordinary abilities,” documents stated. “Some of these abilities included the power to teleport and cause harm to others, the ability to call up natural disasters, the ability to pray away demonic spirits attached to others and also visionary capabilities.”

Documents went on to say that Lori and Chad believed they could sense demonic spirits in people and believed anyone who didn’t share their belief system were possessed.

Cell phone records showed that Lori called Alex after she discovered Charles planned to stage an intervention during his visit.

After Charles was murdered, documents state that Lori took his phone and rental car and went to a Burger King to get food for JJ and then a Walgreens to get flip flops for her and Tylee before returning home.

Documents also said that although Alex said he called police immediately after the shooting, evidence would suggest he called about 43 minutes after and had instead called Lori in the meantime.

First responders also immediately noticed blood coming from Charles’ body, showing Alex hadn’t performed life-saving measures as he previously told 911. Documents state trajectory analysis showed Charles was shot at least once while he was lying on the ground.

Investigators obtained additional text messages between Lori and Chad indicating that Charles’ death was intentional.

Given the evidence and testimony investigators collected, Chandler police recommended the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office charge Lori with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder.

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