Lori Vallow insisted in a secretly recorded phone call that she was doing “exactly what I felt the Lord was instructing me to do” by allegedly deceiving police about the whereabouts of her missing son.
The phone call—which was played in its entirety as part of a preliminary hearing for Vallow’s husband Chad Daybell in court this week—took place in December between Vallow, Daybell and Vallow’s good friend Melanie Gibb, who has now become a star witness for the prosecution.
In the lengthy exchange between the two friends, Gibb confronted Vallow about the whereabouts of her missing son, Joshua “JJ” Vallow.
JJ’s body and the charred and dismembered remains of his 16-year-old sister Tylee Ryan were found in June buried on Daybell’s property. Both children had been missing since September.
No murder charges have been filed in the case, but Daybell has been charged with two counts of concealment of evidence and two counts of conspiracy to conceal evidence after the bodies were discovered, according to local station KTVB.
After a two-day preliminary hearing earlier this week, Judge Faren Eddins ruled Tuesday afternoon that there was enough evidence to proceed with the criminal case against Daybell.
Vallow is also facing two felony counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence in Fremont County and is scheduled to appear in court before Eddins next week.
Vallow initially told her friend that JJ had gone to stay with his grandmother, Kay Woodcock, after Vallow pretended she had breast cancer and couldn’t care for the boy any longer, according to authorities.
But after Woodcock contacted authorities requesting a welfare check on JJ, Vallow and Daybell asked Gibb to lie to police and tell them she had been taking care of the boy, according to a transcript of the call posted online by local station KSL.
“I wanted to know, remember we talked about JJ going to Kay’s house?,” Gibb asked in the call, which she secretly recorded. “And he told me they went there. And now he’s not there. I was wondering what happened?”
Vallow told Gibb that she “had to move him somewhere else” because of Woodcock—who she claimed had been threatening her and trying to take custody of the boy.
Vallow and Daybell refused to give Gibb any information about JJ’s current whereabouts because Daybell said they believed that would put Gibb “in danger” or in a “bad position.”
However, Vallow insisted her missing son was “safe and happy.”
“I know exactly where he is. He’s perfectly fine with me,” she said.
Gibb responded by saying “Okay, well, I hope so.”
Gibb continued to express concern for the young boy’s whereabouts, saying at one point that she asked Vallow’s brother Alex Cox about where JJ was and he told her she “did not want to know and that he could not be found.”
Despite Gibb’s persistence, Vallow continued to maintain that her son was safe.
“I don’t know why he would have said that. But it’s the same story,” she said. “I didn’t even want Al to know. I don’t want anybody to know so that nobody has to be worried about him.”
Cox later died in December. The Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office in Arizona ruled he died of natural causes from a pulmonary embolism, according to NBC News.
During the somewhat tense phone call, Gibb also confronted Vallow about why she lied to police about JJ’s whereabouts telling officers who were conducting a welfare check on Nov. 26 that he had been staying with Gibb in Arizona.
Gibb initially lied to authorities but later told police that JJ had never been with her and said she hadn’t seen the 7-year-old since she made a trip to Idaho to visit Vallow in September.
“But if you really love me, you wouldn’t have told the police that I had JJ with me,” Gibb said. “That’s not, that’s not what a friend does. I mean, that just makes me look weird. And it just, it’s not safe for me. That doesn’t look good. You have to think of my welfare if you love me.”
Vallow responded by saying she had been following what she believed was God’s will.
“I do and I did exactly what I felt the Lord was instructing me to do. And I appreciate you and I love you,” Vallow said.
Gibb also questioned the number of suspicious deaths surrounding the newlywed couple. Vallow’s fourth husband, Charles Vallow, was shot to death by Cox in July 2019. Cox claimed at the time that the shooting had been in self-defense. Just months later, Daybell’s wife Tammy died in her sleep. Vallow and Daybell got married just two weeks later.
The Idaho Attorney General’s office is currently investigating both Vallow and Daybell for “conspiracy, attempted murder and/or murder,” in that case, according to Inside Edition.
Gibb suggested that Vallow may have been “deceived by Satan.”
“I believe that he has tricked you,” she said. “And I just, I don’t believe that what you are doing is correct. I just don’t, I mean, Tammy dies. And then your husband died. And then, and then he’s missing. It just doesn’t sound like God’s plan to me. Just sounds, it gives me a gut feeling, like in my gut, it feels weird. It doesn’t feel right.”
Vallow insisted, however, that it might be Gibb who had been influenced by “dark” forces.
“You know me, Mel. You know me,” she said. “This does not sound like you. It sounds like you’ve been influenced by somebody dark who wants you to believe dark things and have fear and have fear of the Celestial world.”
Daybell also addressed the “conspiracy theories” surrounding his wife’s early demise, telling Gibb that Tammy “had been getting weaker and sick and I begged her to go to the doctor.”
He claimed his first wife’s “heart was failing her” and that she was “physically falling apart” before she died.
“I’ve been told for years that Tammy would pass away at a young age,” he said. “I had no idea that Lori would even be a part of my life. I just knew that my life had two segments and that I know Tammy’s on a special mission and she’s with my kids. She visited them.”
Gibb was one of more than a dozen witnesses who took the stand during Daybell’s two-day hearing, including detectives, FBI agents and Daybell’s close friends.
Daybell remained stoic throughout most of the proceedings as witnesses described in gruesome details of how the children remains had been discovered on the property.
His jury trial is expected to be scheduled at a later date.