Lori Vallow told cult followers they would need to separate themselves from their children to fulfill 'greater mission,' witness testifies

Insider/April 20, 2023

By Azmi Haroun and Nate Schweber

Boise, Idaho — Two witnesses in Lori Vallow's sensational murder trial testified about how she attempted to recruit them into a cult with promises that they would be spared imminent doomsday.

David Dale Warwick, husband of a member of the cult along with Vallow and her husband Chad Daybell, described visiting the couple in Rexburg, Idaho, in September 2019. Daybell, the leader, said his and Vallow's "calling" was to "gather up" 144,000 people to be spared a rapture described in the Book of Revelation, Warwick testified Thursday.

"They were kind of saying I was one of them," said Warwick, of Pleasant Grove, Utah, a frequent speaker at prepper conferences. "He wanted me to move to Rexburg."

Daybell and Vallow were charged with the murder of two of Vallow's children, Tylee Ryan and Joshua "J.J." Vallow, along with Daybell's late wife, Tamara "Tammy" Daybell. Daybell faces a separate trial. Vallow has also been charged with murder in Arizona for allegedly killing her husband, with a murder trial looming there.

The couple, who were both doomsday preppers, have been connected to a number of deaths, including Vallow's previous husband, along with her kids and his ex-wife. The couple disappeared after a wellness check for Vallow's children in Rexburg, Idaho, in November 2019, surfacing in January 2020, in a luxury condo in Hawaii without Vallow's kids.

Jurors see first video footage of Lori Vallow in connection to killings

On Thursday, jurors for the first time in the two-week trial were shown video footage of Vallow.

It was body cam footage from a Rexburg, Idaho, police officer who visited her home in late November 2019 when her son was reported missing. In the clip, she said her daughter was at college and her son was in Arizona.

"What am I going to do with J.J. and Tylee, what do people think?" Vallow indignantly asked in the video, arms folded across her chest.

Vallow, who wore a flowing lavender top under a black shawl in court, whispered frequently to her lawyers and scribbled notes.

Prospective cult members told to isolate from their children

On Wednesday, a former friend of Vallow's described another chilling invitation to join the cult, which had a strict condition.

"I would need to be separated from my children," April Raymond told the jury Wednesday.

Vallow made the pitch to Raymond while visiting her Hawaiian home in early 2019. Raymond said Vallow appeared radically changed from the fellow church member she befriended in 2016 and with whom she shared holidays and set up play dates for their kids.

Specifically, Vallow insulated herself with a handful of believers that Raymond called "The Podcast Group," a reference to recordings Vallow made to amplify Daybell's teachings. An apocalyptic novelist, Daybell taught his followers that they lived "multiple lives" stretching back to Biblical times and were deities who walked the earth. After falling for Daybell, Vallow began calling herself "a Goddess," Raymond testified.

She told Raymond that people opposed to her were "zombies."

On her February 2019 trip to Hawaii, Vallow also told Raymond that she needed her help.

"She had come to gather me," Raymond said. "She said I had fulfilled my role in their lives and I had a greater mission to fulfill with her."

Raymond also testified that Vallow, a former cheerleader and one-time Wheel of Fortune contestant, also brought news that she was divorcing her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, whose life, she explained, had already ended.

"She said Charles was already dead and a demon living inside him was using his body as a host," Raymond said. The demon living inside Charles Vallow was named "Ned Schneider," Raymond said she learned from Vallow.

"I asked her, 'How do you know?'" Raymond said. "She said, 'Because he's shorter.'"

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