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“Jesus Understands Me”: Lori Vallow addresses court before life sentence

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Lori Vallow Daybell, the Idaho mother convicted of murdering her two children and conspiring to murder her husband’s ex-wife, was sentenced to life in prison on Monday without possibility of parole.

Vallow, 50, was convicted in May following a three-year investigation into the 2019 deaths of her children, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua Jaxon “JJ” Vallow. She was also charged on conspiracy counts in the death of Tammy Daybell, former wife of Vallow’s husband Chris Daybell, and in the death of her late husband Charles Vallow.

All four victims were killed in 2019. Vallow had pleaded not guilty to all charges.

According to prosecutors, Vallow and Chris Daybell were part of a “doomsday cult” that shared apocalyptic religious beliefs. Friends of Vallow also testified during trial that she believed evil spirits had taken over people in her life, including her children, and turned them into “zombies.”

Lori Vallow Addresses Court Before Life Sentence
A picture of Tylee Ryan, left, and JJ Vallow, right, on April 4, 2023, is seen on a fence opposite the property where their bodies were found in 2020, in Rexburg, Idaho. Lori Vallow Daybell on Monday was sentenced to life in prison without parole for murdering her two children.
Natalie Behring/Getty Images

While addressing the court on Monday, Vallow spoke about her relationship with Jesus and again claimed that “no one was murdered in this case.”

“Jesus knows me and Jesus understands me,” she said, according to a report from USA Today. “I mourn with all of you who mourn my children and Tammy. Jesus Christ knows the truth of what happened here. Jesus Christ knows that no one was murdered in this case. Accidental deaths happen. Suicides happen. Fatal side effects from medications happen.”

Vallow also claimed to have regular visits with her children and Tammy Daybell’s spirits, and that the victims told her to “stop worrying” and reassured her she “did nothing wrong,” reported the Associated Press.

“Because of these communications, I know for a fact that my children are happy and busy in the spirit world,” she said. “Because of my communications with my friend Tammy Daybell, I know that she is also very happy and extremely busy.”

Idaho Judge Steven Boyce, who presided over Vallow’s case, said during the sentencing that Vallow does not appear to have any “remorse” for her crimes, adding that she had “chose the most evil and destructive path possible.”

“You killed those children … [and] you justified all of this by going down a bizarre religious rabbit hole and clearly you are still down there,” Boyce said, according to the report.

Boyce also heard from multiple family members of the victims on Monday, including Vallow’s oldest son, Colby Ryan, who wrote in a victim statement read by prosecutors, that “generations have been affected by these murders.”

“My children will never know their uncle, their aunt or grandfather,” Ryan said in his statement. “Tylee and JJ brought so much light into the world.”

Rylee and JJ were first reported missing in November 2019 by JJ’s grandparents, Larry and Kay Woodcock. According to Kay, who also gave a victim impact statement, Monday marked “1,481 days that have been filled with terror” that began with the death of her brother, Charles Vallow.

“This was the beginning of her cruel campaign of terror, a campaign that resulted in the deaths of JJ and Tylee, innocent children, and Tammy, a devoted mother, grandmother and wife,” Kay Woodcock said. “JJ and Tylee could have been with us living happy lives. Instead, she took all that away, all because she is a money-hungry, power-mongering monster.”

Newsweek reached out to Bonneville County Public Defender John Thomas, one of Vallow’s attorney’s, via email Monday night for comment.

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