Medical Examiner: Charles Vallow's death ruled a homicide; Lori Vallow accused of conspiracy to commit murder

Lori Vallow's former, late husband, Charles Vallow. (file)

Charles Vallow, who was 62 years old, died following a shooting in Chandler in July 2019. At the time, Chandler Police officials said Vallow was at the home to pick up his son, and later engaged in an argument with his wife, Lori Vallow.

Vallow's brother-in-law, Alex Cox, was also in the home. Investigators said Cox intervened on his sister's behalf. Vallow and the brother-in-law were later involved in a physical fight and Vallow was shot by Cox.

Cox died in December 2019, and the Maricopa County Medical Examiner has ruled that Cox died of natural causes.

On Sept. 30, Vallow's autopsy report was released. The Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office stated the cause of death was multiple gunshot wounds and the manner of death is homicide.

Lori is now accused of conspiracy to commit murder. Earlier this month, a judge decided that Lori, who has been charged with conspiring with her new husband, Chad Daybell, to kill her two children, is still not fit to participate in her own court proceedings.

In the medical examiner's report, the evidence of injury details more gunshot wounds to Vallow's chest, bruises on the right side of his chest, abrasions on the left arm and right hand, as well as on the knees. The toxicology report showed no positive findings of drugs in Vallow's system.

MORE: Lori Vallow - Chad Daybell case

Judge: Lori Vallow 'unfit' to stand trial in kids’ slayings

District Judge Steven Boyce made the decision to extend Lori Vallow Daybell’s time in a state mental hospital by at least 180 days.

The East Idaho News reported Daybell was committed to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare on June 8 after a mental health professional said she was not competent to stand trial. Last month, Boyce asked for a progress report on her condition after getting letters asking for her commitment to be extended.

Daybell and her husband Chad Daybell are charged with multiple counts of conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder, among other crimes. The charges are in relation to the deaths of 7-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan — two of Lori’s kids — and Chad’s first wife, Tammy Daybell.

The children’s bodies were found in Chad Daybell’s backyard in Idaho in 2020.

Chad Daybell also appeared during the Zoom hearing with his attorney John Prior to discuss moving his November trial to a later date.

Boyce said the prosecution and defense still need to continue the exchange of evidence and a change of venue hearing still needs to be held.

The complex case began in 2018, according to the indictment, when Chad and Lori Daybell — both still married to other people — began espousing their apocalyptical system of religious belief.

Lori Daybell was arrested in Hawaii in 2020 on an Idaho warrant.

In Arizona, Lori Daybell is charged with conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the death of her previous husband. Charles Vallow was shot and killed by Lori Daybell’s brother, Alex Cox, who claimed it was self-defense. Cox later died of what police said was natural causes.

Chad Daybell has pleaded not guilty to all the Idaho charges. He doesn’t face charges in Arizona. Lori Daybell has not yet entered a plea in the Idaho or Arizona cases.

More on the Lori Vallow - Chad Daybell case

Chandler PD: Lori Vallow planned former husband's murder to fulfill religious prophecy

A probable cause statement reveals what happened after Charles Vallow was shot and killed nearly two years ago.

13 pages of bombshell revelations boil down to this: investigators say Lori Vallow planned her then-husband's murder for a higher purpose.

Taylor Larson is the lawyer who penned and filed divorce paperwork on behalf of Charles Vallow in February 2019. He says Charles told him that his then-wife Lori Vallow threatened to kill him and that she believed she was a god preparing for the second coming of Christ.

"She's not the loving mother and wife that he had been with for 14 years."

On July 11, 2019, Lori's brother Alex Cox shot and killed Charles, but told Chandler Police he did it in self-defense, claiming Charles came at him with a bat in the 13-page probable cause document.

CPD says the second shot hit Charles below his ribcage, indicating he was laying on the ground at that time. It took 43 minutes for Alex to call 911 and police say he never performed CPR.

Investigators also refer to texts between Lori and her current husband, Chad Daybell, following the shooting.

Police say Charles' death was planned so Vallow and Daybell could marry and fulfill their religious prophecy.

"And under the guise of these religious beliefs, this is how they're going to achieve the desired result," said Larson.

Financial gain is also believed to be a motive.

A week after Charles' murder, police say Lori texted Chad, saying she talked to the insurance company about the benefits, but Charles had changed the beneficiary. 

Larson says if Charles did not dismiss the divorce filing, things could be different.

"If we had gone through the divorce and Charles had gone through with it and they were divorced, I don't see how we would be here today speaking."

And of course what Larson means is the fate of Lori's children, JJ and Tylee. She moved them to Idaho, they went missing, and were later found dead in Daybell's backyard.

The couple is facing murder charges, also in the death of Chad's first wife, Tammy.

Documents reveal a complex story

The probable cause statement released by the Chandler Police Department suggested that Charles' death was ‘necessary’ in order for Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow to marry and "fulfill their religious prophecy."

Vallow and Daybell reportedly believed that they had abilities including teleportation, calling on natural disasters and being able to see if someone was "light" or "dark."

Those who opposed their beliefs and destiny were seen as possessed, according to court documents.

Meanwhile, the widow of Alex Cox, Lori's brother, had reportedly told Lori that she was told by God to protect her. A few months later, the widow told Lori that she could create storms and fire.

Marriage records showed that the widow, named Zulema Pastenes, had been married to Alex Cox for two weeks before he died in her home in December 2019. The cause of death was ruled as natural.

Lori allegedly told Pastenes that Charles was "blocking her gifts."

"From this point forward, there is specific conversation to cause harm to Charles Vallow who has also been referred to as a dark spirit called ‘Hiplos’ or ‘Ned,’ " police said.

Chandler detectives said they discovered searches for social security disability in Lori's web history.

"So I talked to the insurance company," read a transcript of a text message from Lori to Chad Daybell. "He changed it in March. So it was probably Ned before we got rid of him… I’ll still get the $4K a month from SS."

In June 2019, Charles reportedly confronted Lori about a letter she wrote in his name asking Daybell to visit Arizona and help him write a book.

"This discovery would send everything into action," police said.

Officials say that Charles asked Lori to come clean about her affair with Daybell or he would tell Tammy, Daybell's wife.

At this point, Charles allegedly began speaking with a brother of Lori and Alex Cox in order to plan an intervention the following month. Lori and Chad continued to discuss ‘Hiplos’ over text, but police say there was no obvious communication found that would suggest that Daybell had been directly involved in Charles' eventual murder.

When Lori discovered the plans for the intervention on July 9, 2019, she reached out to Alex and other unidentified people to warn them. She reportedly believed that Charles would be coming to kill her for life insurance money and asked Alex, along with other unidentified people, for protection.

"It's all coming to a head this week," Lori told Alex.

On July 11, Charles was shot by Alex Cox, who claimed he did it in self-defense.

After the murder, police say Lori took Charles' rental car and phone and returned an hour later. Officers alleged that Alex did not perform emergency aid and that "Charles would have laid dead or dying for approximately 43 minutes before Alex called 911."

Charles had been shot twice in the chest, and an autopsy report suggested that he had been laying down when the second shot was fired.

"Based on this investigation, it has been proven how valuable Alex Cox was to Lori," officials said. "His mission on this earth was to protect his sister."

Charles tried to get Lori committed

Lori Vallow mugshot

Lori Vallow mugshot (file)

In the months since Charles' death, details surrounding his frayed relations with Lori, in the months prior to Charles' shooting death, emerged.

In February 2019, Charles filed for divorce. In divorce paperwork filed by Charles through his attorney, Charles wanted sole custody of his adopted son, JJ, and released disturbing allegations concerning Lori's mental stability.

Charles claimed that during a phone call in late January, Lori told him she is a "translated being who cannot taste death sent by God to lead the 144,000 into the Millennium". In addition, Charles claimed in the documents that Lori threatened him, telling him she was a God preparing for Christ's second coming in July 2020, and if he got in her way, she would murder him.

Charles reportedly filed a petition with Community Bridges Healthcare for a 72-hour hold and evaluation, according to the documents, and even the staff called Gilbert Police to bring Lori in for treatment. Police later interviewed Lori after the petitioning. Bodycam footage from Gilbert Police of the encounter was later released.

Missing children saga drew international media attention

JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan

JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan (file) (Rexberg, Idaho Police Department)

In the months following Charles Vallow's shooting death, two of Lori Vallow's children, Joshua "JJ" Vallow and Tylee Ryan, went missing.

JJ and Tylee's disappearances uncovered a complicated sequence of events related to Lori and her new husband, Chad Daybell, including details surrounding Charles Vallow's death, details surrounding the death and subsequent burial of Daybell's former wife, Tammy Daybell, as well as details of unorthodox religious beliefs, including allegations of cult membership.

In late January, Idaho authorities say a child protection action was filed on behalf of JJ and Tylee, and that a court has ordered Lori to physically produce the two children to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare in Rexburg within five days of being served with the order. Lori ultimately failed to obey the court order. She was subsequently arrested in Hawaii and extradited to Idaho.

In June 2020, human remains were found on the property of Chad Daybell, and the remains were later confirmed to be those of JJ and Tylee. Daybell was booked into a county jail in Idaho after the remains were found. He has since pleaded not guilty to two felony charges of destruction and concealment of evidence, and made an appearance in court on August 3.

A trial date for Lori has been set for January 2021. Meanwhile, two charges of conspiracy to conceal, destroy or alter evidence will be handled by a district court in Idaho.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.