The world of true crime documentaries has witnessed some incredibly horrifying stories lately, but Netflix’s newest series, “Our Mother’s Sins,” takes it to a whole new level of chilling. It delves into the case of a mother, Lori Vallow, who was apparently brainwashed by a cult leader and accused of killing two of her children.
This ongoing legal case in the United States has naturally garnered a lot of attention. Skye Borgman, the director behind two other gripping true crime stories for the streaming platform – “The Girl in the Photo” and “I Just Killed My Father” – once again takes on the task of unraveling this three-part documentary. The story is primarily told through the lens of Vallow’s surviving son, Colby.
Who is Lori Vallow?
Lori Vallow, originally known as Lori Cox, was raised in San Bernardino, California, and was married twice at a young age. In her second marriage to William Lagioia, they had a son named Colby, who is interviewed throughout the documentary, in 1996. However, they divorced two years later.
Vallow then married Joseph Anthony Ryan Jr. in 2001, and Ryan adopted Colby as his own child. Vallow and Ryan welcomed their daughter, Tylee, in 2002. They separated in 2005, and a year later, she married Charles Vallow. Together, they adopted their great-nephew, Joshua Jaxon ‘J.J.’ Vallow.
Until that point, Vallow was seen as a perfect mother, and there are images of her in the documentary during that time saying, “Being a good mother and wife is very important to me.” Her son Colby adds, “We had a wonderful family before this happened.”
Enter Chad Daybell
Apparently, in 2015, Vallow started reading literature published by religious preacher Chad Daybell, who believed that the apocalypse was imminent and classified humans into categories of light and darkness. The “dark” individuals were believed to be possessed by the devil, while the “light” ones were considered “followers of Jesus Christ.”
The couple first met in 2018 at a “Preparing The People” event in Arizona, where Daybell told Vallow that they had been married in seven past lives. A few months later, in 2019, she distanced herself from her family and, according to J.J.’s grandparents, Larry Woodcock and Kay Vallow Woodcock, speaking to KLSTV, she “just vanished.” She was completely missing for 58 days.
At that time, in February 2019, Charles Vallow filed for divorce and claimed that Lori had threatened to kill him and had taken $35,000 from his bank account. He sought a protective order against Lori due to “genuine fear for his life,” as reported by ABC15.
That fear wasn’t unfounded, as five months later, Charles was killed by Lori’s brother, Alex Cox. Cox claimed it was in self-defense after Charles struck him with a baseball bat. Surprisingly, the police did not further investigate the case.
In September 2019, Lori Vallow informed J.J.’s school that she would be homeschooling him, and he hasn’t been seen since September 23rd. Tylee was last seen in public on September 8th.
Meanwhile, in October, Daybell’s wife, Tammy, died under extremely suspicious circumstances. Ten days after calling the police and telling them that a masked intruder had tried to shoot her, she died of “natural causes,” according to Daybell. An autopsy was not initially performed, but her body was later exhumed, leading to an investigation. The results were never made public, but the case was reopened.
Two weeks later, Lori Vallow and Daybell fled to Hawaii and got married, with J.J. and Tylee absent from the ceremony. Back in Rexburg, they called the police for a welfare check when J.J.’s grandmother raised the alarm that she hadn’t seen him in weeks. Lori Vallow told the police that he was with his family in Arizona, and with her brother’s help, they packed up and fled the next day, with the FBI investigating their case.
During the following three months, they evaded authorities until a storage unit in Rexburg owned by Lori Vallow was searched. Inside, they found the children’s clothing, bicycles, and photographs. Video footage also showed Vallow and her brother moving items in and out of the locker before fleeing. Vallow and Daybell were arrested on February 20, 2020, and in June 2020, human remains were found buried in a pet cemetery on Daybell’s property, which were later confirmed to be those of J.J. and Tylee.
What’s the Current Status of the Case?
In March 2021, Vallow and Daybell were charged with the murders of Tamara, Tylee, and J.J. In June 2021, Lori Vallow was indicted by a grand jury in Arizona on conspiracy to commit murder charges against her husband Charles. Previously, Vallow had been deemed incompetent to stand trial due to mental health issues, but as of April 2022, she has been declared competent. Both Vallow and Daybell have pleaded not guilty, and their cases will be tried jointly in January 2023.
Director’s Insights on the Documentary
In an interview with E! News, Borgman said, “Lori Vallow has many faces. That of a mother, sister, wife… and a liar. I don’t know if we will ever know exactly what motivated Lori to commit such unthinkable crimes. But to come up with any answers, we must look at Lori through the eyes of those who knew her best.”
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