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State Planned to Charge Lori Vallow and Husband with Murder Conspiracy, Prosecutor Told Her Sister


Death always hung over the suspicions and criminal cases against Lori Vallow, 47, yet there have been no homicide charges filed. Questions surrounding why surfaced again with a recording of an October 2020 interview between Vallow’s sister, Summer Shiflet, and Idaho prosecutor Rob Wood. In the audio, Wood claimed that the state was going to file murder conspiracy charges against Vallow (a.k.a. Lori Daybell) and her husband Chad Daybell, 52. The couple is charged with allegedly hiding the deaths of Vallow’s children Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 17. The children’s remains were found on Chad Daybell’s property months ago. The defendants are fighting the pending charges.

If Wood’s statement was a bluff, it wasn’t a completely baseless one. The Idaho attorney general’s office took over an investigation into “conspiracy, attempted murder, and murder,” according to an official letter obtained by The East Idaho News in an April 2020 report. It was previously reported that police in Arizona were thinking they could get Vallow charged in the death of her fourth husband Charles Vallow, who was shot and killed on July 11, 2019 by her brother Alex Cox.

The Wood audio surfaced in a hearing on Wednesday in which the defense for both Vallow and Daybell are trying to force out Wood for being involved with separate interviews in October 2020 with Shiflet and the widow of Cox, Zulema Pastenes.

In court documents obtained by Law&Crime, Wood asserted that he only met both women after being contacted by their attorney, Garrett Smith. He maintained that spoke to them at the police department in Chandler, Arizona before they spoke to law enforcement, the state maintained.

Smith on Wednesday told the court it was Wood and investigators who made contact first. He testified that Wood made smack-talk about Vallow attorney Mark Means.

It’s not unheard of for prosecutors to speak with people involved in the case, but there are limits to this. The defense maintains Wood went over the line.

“There is nothing wrong at all with a lawyer, whether it be a prosecutor or defense attorney, interviewing witnesses,” Law&Crime host and former Morris County, New Jersey prosecutor Bob Bianchi said in December 2020, when the defense made their initial claims against Wood. “In fact, the courts have found a failure of attorneys to interview witnesses could actually constitute malpractice, but what is typically done, is it’s done in the presence of an investigator so that there can’t be a claim that the prosecutor, in this case, is now a witness.”

JJ and Tylee were found dead back in June 2020 on Chad Daybell’s property in Fremont County, Idaho, cops said. The kids had been last seen on separate dates in September 2019, authorities said. Amid the disappearances, Vallow snubbed authorities and reporters in discussing the whereabouts of the kids. Daybell cryptically said in March 2020 that the kids were safe, according to ABC News.

The deaths of the children are not even the only ones hanging over the matter. Here is a list:

  • The disappearances caught more attention than many other missing children cases in part because Cox shot and killed his sister’s fourth husband Charles Vallow on July 11, 2019, back when the family lived in Arizona. Charles Vallow told police months before that his wife threatened to kill him.
  • Cox–who died in December 2019 of what medical examiners called a blood clot–maintained self-defense in the shooting of his brother-in-law. It would later come out that police said they were able to track him to the children’s gravesites on dates shortly after the kids were respectively last seen. (Tylee’s last confirmed whereabouts while alive was on September 8, 2019 during a family trip to Yellowstone National Park, which included Cox. JJ went missing from the family’s home in Rexburg, Idaho no later than September 23, 2019.)
  • Daybell’s previous wife Tammy Daybell was said to have died in her sleep in October 2019, between the time the kids went missing and the time Chad Daybell married Lori Vallow in Hawaii. It was not initially treated as suspicious, but authorities reexamined her passing, even exhuming her body.
  • There was also Tylee’s biological father Joseph Ryan, who had a demonstrably ugly relationship with Cox and the rest of the family. He died in 2018 from an apparent heart attack, but again, investigators had been taking a second look at this in light of the disappearances of the children.

[Screengrab via East Idaho News]

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