Lori Vallow Daybell case: A breakdown of evidence in 2,500 emails released by Chandler Police

The new emails show people had early suspicions about Lori and her brother, Alex. Plus, never-before seen photos of her children, Tylee and JJ.

CHANDLER, Ariz. — It’s a case that’s captivated the nation. 

From an alleged doomsday cult to missing kids to dead spouses. We’re talking about Lori Vallow Daybell.

As it stands now, Lori and her current husband, Chad Daybell, are both in custody in Idaho. They’re each facing a variety of charges connected to the deaths of Lori’s children Tylee and JJ and Chad’s first wife Tammy Daybell.

Lori is also facing a conspiracy to commit murder charge in Maricopa County for the death of her late husband Charles Vallow.

Now Chandler Police is giving 12 News a look at the work that’s gone into unraveling this case, in a release containing more than 2,500 screenshots from emails between Chandler Police and others connected to the Vallow/Daybell case.  

RELATED: Lori Vallow Daybell indicted in Maricopa County for allegedly conspiring to kill fourth husband

Charles Vallow’s Death

Chandler Police were first involved in this case back in July 2019, when Lori’s brother Alex Cox called 911 to report he just shot Lori’s then-husband, Charles. At first, Alex told police he shot Charles in self-defense after Charles hit him with a baseball bat during an argument.

Lori had just moved into the home in Chandler with their adopted son JJ and her daughter Tylee on Four Peaks Place after she and Charles had become estranged. At the time Charles was staying in Texas, where the family used to live.

At this point, Lori had already connected with Chad Daybell, a doomsday author in Rexburg, Idaho, and was part of a group that followed Daybell’s alleged “end of times” teachings.

Police records show Charles reportedly confronted Lori about her relationship with Chad on June 29, 2019, and told her he’d tell Chad’s wife Tammy if she didn’t come clean.

In the emails, a relative of Lori’s told police that Charles was hoping to plan an intervention along with another one of Lori’s brothers, regarding Lori’s darkening religious beliefs. Charles planned to fly back to Arizona for this the week of his death.

The records show Lori found out about the intervention and reached out to her brother, Alex Cox, and two other unnamed people to warn them about Charles’ plan.

Lori later asked Alex Cox to stand by her for “protection.” In text messages before Charles’ death, she told him, in part, “Thank you for standing by me. It’s all coming to a head this week.”

Chandler police obtained documents connected to the religious group. Most are redacted in the release, but one details that Alex’s “mission is to help Lori.”  

The emails reveal that a family member told police that in the weeks before his death, Charles told one of Lori’s brothers that “[she] and Alex are going to kill me.”  

When Charles showed up at Lori’s new home in Chandler that morning in July, Alex was already there. The family member emailed to police that Charles texted another one of Lori’s brother’s questioning why Alex would have been there. The brother reportedly responded to Charles to be careful. Charles never texted back. He’d be dead later that morning.

Body camera video from Chandler police showed Lori appeared not to be phased by her brother killing her husband. The probable cause statement said she left the home before Alex shot Charles, taking JJ to Burger King for food, then stopping at Walgreens to buy flip flops for her and Tylee before she returned to the home. Chandler police said phone records showed Alex Cox called Lori during this time before he called 911.

Chandler Police say Alex made no attempt to provide aid despite a dispatcher giving him CPR instructions on the phone. Chandler police say Charles “would have laid dead or dying for approximately 43 minutes before Alex called 911.”

RELATED: Chandler police release evidence used to charge Lori Vallow in death of fourth husband Charles; new husband not prosecuted

Emails indicate Arizona DCS could have been involved

The messages to Lori’s family members weren’t the first concerns Charles had with Lori.

Court testimony indicates that Chad Daybell and Lori met at a religious conference at the end of 2018 and that she became captivated with his dark, end of times ideology.  

At the end of January 2019, Charles called Gilbert Police after he returned home from a business trip, claiming Lori took his truck from the airport parking lot. Charles explained he thought that Lori’s religious beliefs turned radical and that he feared for his own life and his children. 

Charles was trying to locate Lori so police could serve her with a mental health petition he filed.

“She needs help,” he said to officers. “She needs some serious help. I want her to get help. I’m worried about her.”

He also expressed concern over what Lori might do to the children.

Records show Lori gave Gilbert Police her side of the story hours later, claiming she wanted Charles out of their home because she allegedly caught him cheating.

Police say she did get the mental health evaluation and was released.

Chandler Police obtained messages over email that indicated Lori disappeared from Charles and JJ after this incident.

In emails with police, JJ’s school, L.I.F.E. Academy in Gilbert, told police Charles came to the school in early February telling staff that Lori had gone “crazy” and that she had “lost it” and that she had religious voices speaking to her.  He told the school he had an order of protection against Lori and that he was taking JJ to Louisiana, where his grandparents live, to be safe.

A copy of that order of protection was sent to Chandler Police by one of Charles’ relatives after he died, according to emails.

The school also said it filed a report with CPS, which would be the Department of Child Services in Arizona, due to Lori being gone and the order of protection and that they “were doing our due diligence in protecting JJ.”

Emails between FBI agents in late 2019 reveal DCS had an open case with the family but didn’t have a lot of details on what it could be.

When 12 News reached out to DCS about this, a spokesperson said they couldn’t comment due to confidentiality laws.

When the 12 News I-Team followed up, a spokesperson said in an email:

This case does not meet the exceptions in ARS 8-807.01.Therefore, ARS 8-807 prevents us from releasing information.

The school indicated to police that JJ later returned to the school.  In the months that followed, emails from Charles to Lori, obtained by Chandler Police, show he pleaded for her to come home and see JJ.

In an email sometime after the Gilbert Police incident, Charles writes to Lori that it’d been 38 days since he or JJ saw her and that he wanted to establish a family connection.  He talks about that night in late January when he got back from a business trip to find himself locked out of the home and all of his stuff and JJ’s stuff gone.

For complete 12 News coverage of the Lori Vallow story, subscribe to us on YouTube:

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A portion of the letter is redacted, but it seems Charles could have been writing about Lori’s accusation of an affair.

“Lori if it somehow makes you feel better to make these kind of accusations, then I can’t stop you.  BUT for the record you and BOTH know it’s ridiculous.  You are my one and only for 14 years. Period.”

He goes on to say that she could stay in the house and that he would leave.  They could work out a schedule with JJ.  And that he doesn’t know what she wants because she hasn’t contacted him.

In another email addressed on March, 19, 2019, Charles wrote it had been 49 days since he or JJ had seen Lori.  He tells her that: 

“I make no judgement Lori.  I only want what is best for JJ and having you in his life is best for his well being an development. PLEASE come see your son or at least call.  He misses you terribly and simply can not understand where you went. Please do or say something. For him. He deserves it. PLEASE. Charles”

Reports indicated Charles filed for divorce, but didn’t go through with it.

The couple reportedly reconciled in the months that followed these events.  They were estranged but still married when Chandler Police say Alex Cox shot and killed Charles.

Lori was charged in Charles’ death in July 2021.  

More warnings about Lori

Emails show that Charles’ sister, Kay Woodcock, shared her suspicions early on with Chandler Police about Lori being involved in Charles’ death  In one message from August 2019, she told police she and her husband Larry were concerned for JJ’s well-being with her.  She said JJ FaceTimed with them briefly the day before, but he wasn’t himself.  

We were encouraged seeing him, yet worrisome due to his lack of excitement,” she wrote in the email.

This would be the last time Kay says she talked with JJ.

She also shared an email from Charles sent to his insurance company in February 2019, saying he was switching his life insurance policy beneficiary from Lori to his sister Kay.  In the letter he explained that he believed Lori tried to lock him out of the account.  He stated:

“I have an order of protection against Lori Vallow as she has physically threatened my life in the past 30 days.”

Kay confirmed to 12 News in a March 2020 interview that she was ultimately the recipient of the life insurance policy.  

Throughout July, August and September, emails show Kay kept in regular contact with Chandler Police, saying that Lori wouldn’t respond to calls or messages or let them see JJ.  

In July, just a few weeks after Charles’ died, Kay shared text messages from Lori telling her that JJ would not be allowed to attend Charles’ memorial service and that she was moving the kids back to Hawaii, where she, Charles and the kids lived a few years back.

At this point, Chandler Police say Lori and Alex were both investigative leads in the case.  When Kay emailed with officers about Lori potentially going to Hawaii, an officer responded saying it would be difficult to interview her in person but if they find probable cause for arrest then it shouldn’t be too hard to extradite her.

As for Lori moving to Hawaii, that turned out to be a lie.  

Lori also lied to teachers at JJ’s school in Gilbert.  Emails show she told staff there that Charles died by suicide.

She wrote the school an email, obtained by Chandler Police, on September 23, 2019, the day JJ was last seen alive.  In the email, Lori explained she got a new job offer out of state and had to leave “ASAP,” withdrawing JJ out of the school.

Tracking Chad and Lori

We know now that Lori would move the kids from Arizona to Idaho in September 2019.  They’d disappear before the end of the month and she’d marry Rexburg doomsday author Chad Daybell in November 2019.  The kids were found buried in Chad’s backyard in June 2020.

Tylee was last seen on September 8th, 2019 and JJ was last seen on September 23, 2019. Investigators believe those dates coincide with the days that they died.

Records show that Lori’s brother Alex and her niece Melani Pawlowski, were also part of Lori’s religious group with Chad and also moved to Rexburg, each renting an apartment in the same complex as Lori’s.

In October 2019, Tammy Daybell died in the Rexburg home she shared with Chad. Her death was originally ruled natural causes, but she was later exhumed. Tuesday’s indictment was the first time anyone was charged with her death.

Less than two weeks after her death in November, Lori and Chad would marry in Hawaii.  

By this point, Kay and Larry Woodcock, were really starting to worry. They hadn’t heard from Lori or JJ since August.  

Initially, investigators didn’t know where Lori went after she left Arizona but eventually tracked her down to Rexburg. Emails indicate Rexburg police were surveilling her apartment there and performed a welfare check in late November.

When Rexburg knocked on Lori’s door, they asked her about JJ, she told them he was with a friend, Melanie Gibb, in Arizona.

Gibb was also part of Lori and Chad’s religious group.  Court records show she even spent time with the couple in Rexburg on the day JJ was last seen alive. She’s since testified for the state and told a court over the summer that Lori and Chad asked her to lie to police about JJ’s whereabouts in late November when police started asking questions.

When police in Idaho went to circle back with Lori, not only was she was nowhere to be found, but neither were Chad Daybell, Alex Cox or Melani Pawlowski.  The emails say Alex and Melani eventually returned to Rexburg.

Emails show investigators reached out to other people in Chad’s religious circle to see if they could convince Melani to talk with them.  Investigators were also working with Melani’s husband, Ian Pawlowski.  Ian told 12 News he initially wore a wire for the FBI to try and see if he could learn anything about Lori or the whereabouts of her children but later stopped.

Emails indicate that Melani interviewed with police in December 2019.

Investigators eventually tracked her and Chad down in Hawaii in late December 2019, where emails show investigators watched the couple for days while trying to find probable cause for an arrest.

Lori was eventually arrested in February for failing to produce her kids.  She was extradited back to Idaho in March 2020 and put in the Madison County Jail.

It’s been reported in court documents and other police records that Lori thought both of her kids had turned into zombies and that Chad put the idea in her head.

In court testimony, Gibb, stated believed that once a person was possessed by a zombie, their true spirit goes into a limbo where it’s stuck until the body is killed.

Some of the other redacted religious group documents in police emails have titles such as Lili Connections; Modern LDS Apostles; Seven missions; The Seven eras of influence; and Dispensation presidencies.

Finding Tylee and JJ

Records show it was pings from Alex Cox’s cellphone that lead investigators to the children’s gruesome graves in June 2020. 

Court records say Alex Cox’s cell phone puts him on Chad Daybell’s property for long periods of time the day after Tylee disappeared last year and also after the day after JJ disappeared later that month.  

Records reveal that one body was dismembered – the head separated from the rest of the body, all wrapped in plastic and duct tape.

The other body was found in a pet cemetery near a fire pit. Investigators say they found bones and tissue, some of them charred.

Chad was arrested and put in the Fremont County Jail, where he’s been ever since.

Lori’s iCloud: New photos of Tylee and JJ, plus other evidence

The Chandler Police emails reference numerous photos and emails investigators pulled from Lori’s iCloud account.

Investigators shared that they found photos of Lori, Tylee and JJ at Yellowstone National Park, about an hour drive from Rexburg on September 8, 2019.  This is the last known photo of Tylee.

About a week later, there was a photo of JJ sitting on a ride at Bear World.

Then, a photo showed JJ sitting on a couch on September 22, 2019, according to the metadata.  He was wearing red pajamas in the photo.  Investigators say he was wearing red pajamas when they uncovered his body in Chad’s backyard. He’s believed to have died around September 23, 2019.

Investigators also flagged a photo of Alex Cox at a waterfall in Idaho in October, thinking it might be significant.

Investigators also traced that Lori had been searching for wedding bands like the ones seen on her find.  Kay, who had access to some of Charles’ accounts that Lori was seemingly using, told investigators Lori had been looking up wedding dresses, specifically “beach wedding dresses”, and a coffee press.  Kay found it odd because neither Lori nor Charles drank coffee.

Was Alex Cox allowed to have a gun?

Chandler Police fielded several questions as to whether Alex Cox, who admitted to shooting Charles Vallow and at one point was a convicted felon, was allowed to carry a gun.

Around 2008, records show Alex was convicted of assault for attacking Lori’s then-husband Joseph Ryan in Texas.  

Ryan was Lori Vallow Daybell’s ex-husband before Charles Vallow and biological father to her daughter, Tylee.

Alex served time in jail for the attack, but after he completed probation, police explain in emails that the felony charges he faced dropped to misdemeanors, allowing him to carry. So at the time of Charles’ death, police said he was allowed to carry a gun in Arizona.

Records show Joseph Ryan died of a heart attack in Phoenix in 2018, but his sister believes Lori had something to do with it.

At the end of 2020, Phoenix Police went back to review Ryan’s case in the wake of all that had happened with Lori and her children.  In completing the review of Joseph Ryan’s case, Phoenix Police say “there was no criminality found in his death.”

Alex is also accused of shooting at Melani Pawlowski’s ex-husband Brandon Boudreaux in Gilbert in October 2019.

Police emails revealed Melani’s ex-husband was close with Charles.  After Charles died, a family member wrote police saying that Boudreaux was afraid he’d be next.

Gilbert Police are still investigating that case.

Cox was also accused of potentially shooting at Tammy Daybell in Idaho just days before she’d be found dead in her home.  She died in October 2019 and was buried soon after, reportedly at Chad Daybell’s request.  Her body was later exhumed and her death was ruled a murder.

Another piece of evidence that investigators flagged in emails was that Alex Cox made 3 payments to people in Colombia from 2015 to 2018.

Alex Cox can’t face any potential charges in any of these cases because he died at his home in Gilbert in December 2019, reportedly of natural causes.

The police emails show police were also looking into Cox’s wife, Zulema Pastenes, who was also reportedly in their religious group.

Court proceedings from January 2021 revealed Zulema was offered an immunity deal in this case, but it’s not clear what she or her attorney decided to do.

What’s next in the case?

In May 2021, investigators in Idaho announced Chad and Lori were both charged with first-degree murder in the death of Tylee and JJ, among several other charges. Chad is also charged with first-degree murder in the death of his first wife Tammy.

A few weeks later in Arizona, Lori was charged with conspiracy to commit murder in Charles’ death.

Chad is slated for trial in November 2021 while Lori’s case is on pause.  Her attorney filed a motion earlier this year that she was not competent to stand trial.  She’s currently being treated in Idaho and will need a mental health evaluation before her case can proceed.

The case in Idaho would need to wrap up before Lori would go to court in Arizona for the charge in Maricopa County.

To read the emails released by Chandler Police tap or click here.