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Mom called kids ‘zombies’ with ‘dark spirits’ before disappearances, deaths: court docs

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The case of two kids who were missing for months before they were found dead in rural Idaho has taken another bizarre twist, with new court documents alleging that their mother believed they were zombies and that she was on a mission to rid the world of such creatures.

Police discovered the remains of 17-year-old Tylee Ryan and her 7-year-old brother, Joshua “JJ” Vallow, on June 9 at a property belonging to their mother’s new husband. The case gained attention for the couple’s doomsday beliefs and the mysterious deaths of their former spouses, and court documents released late last week detail more about the strange worldview that detectives think may have influenced Lori Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell.

So far, no one has been charged with killing the kids, who had not been seen since September, but the Daybells are both behind bars.

Lori Daybell’s attorney has indicated that she intends to defend herself against charges of child abandonment and obstructing an investigation. Chad Daybell has pleaded not guilty to destroying or concealing the children’s bodies.

Lori Daybell’s longtime best friend, Melanie Gibb, has been cooperating with authorities for months, according to the documents written by Rexburg police Lt. Ron Ball. Gibb is the last known person to have seen JJ alive, according to police, when she was visiting Lori Daybell at her apartment in the small Idaho town last September.

“Gibb reports that when she arrived in Rexburg, Lori Vallow informed her that JJ Vallow had become a ‘zombie,‘” Ball wrote. “Gibb further reports that the term ‘zombie’ refers to an individual whose mortal spirit has left their body and that their body is now the host of another spirit. The new spirit in a ‘zombie’ is always considered a ‘dark spirit.’”

It wasn’t the first time Gibb said she heard her friend talk about zombies, according to the statement. Gibb said Lori Daybell had called Tylee a zombie in spring 2019 when the teen didn’t want to baby-sit her little brother and that Lori Daybell had first learned the concept from Chad Daybell at the start of that year.

Gibb said the couple believed that when a zombie takes over a person’s body, “the person’s true spirit goes into ‘limbo’ and is stuck there until the host body is physically killed,” the court document said. “As such, death of the physical body is seen as the mechanism by which the body’s original spirit can be released from limbo.”

Gibb also said the couple believed they were spiritual leaders.

“She was told by Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow that they held the religious belief that they were a part of the ‘Church of the Firstborn’ and that their mission in that Church was to lead the ‘144,000’ mentioned in the Book of Revelation. They also stated their mission was to rid the world of ‘zombies,’” according to the police document.

Hints of strange, doomsday beliefs have surrounded the complex case since it began last year.

It started last summer with Lori Daybell’s brother shooting and killing her estranged husband, Charles Vallow, in suburban Phoenix in what he asserted was self-defense. Vallow was seeking a divorce, saying Lori believed she had become a god-like figure who was responsible for ushering in the biblical end times. Her brother, Alex Cox, died in December of an apparent blood clot in his lung.

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