Accused Killers Chad and Lori Daybell Had Cult-Like Belief System, Documents Reveal

An Idaho couple charged in the murders of children and a former spouse were involved in a cult-like belief system that encompassed "zombies" and "vibrations," according to newly released court documents. The documents use text messages, computer files and interviews with friends and family to offer more insight into the relationship between Lori and Chad Daybell, the Associated Press reported.

Both are charged with conspiracy to commit murder in the deaths of Lori Daybell's children, Joshua "JJ" Vallow and Tylee Ryan, and the death of Chad Daybell's former wife, Tammy Daybell.

Believing in the presence of both good and evil, the Daybells employed a unique scoring system, assigning every person a "light" or "dark" rating to designate whether that individual had made a contract with God or Satan, according to the court documents. They also assigned people a number in reference to how many previous lives they had.

They scored people on a "vibration" scale, with those deemed as having high-enough "vibrations" to have special powers, or be "translated." Additionally, they believed in the existence of "zombies," people whose bodies had been possessed by evil spirits after dying, AP reported.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

New Documents on Daybell Murders
Newly released documents from the complex investigation of Lori Vallow Daybell, accused of conspiring to kill her children and husband, reveal sordid details of a cult-like belief system of "zombies" and "vibrations," a disintegrating marriage and an affair. Above, Daybell glances at the camera during her hearing in Rexburg, Idaho, on March 6, 2020. John Roark/The Idaho Postt-Register via AP

Lori Daybell is also charged in Arizona with conspiring to kill her former estranged husband, Charles Vallow, with the help of her now-deceased brother, Alex Cox. It was Charles Vallow's death on July 11, 2019 that launched the Chandler Police Department investigation. More than 50 files from the investigation, including hundreds of pages of police reports and dozens of video and audio recordings were released by the police department on Wednesday.

In the main investigation report, Chandler police detectives wrote they believed Charles Vallow was murdered and that his suspected killers were motivated by greed for Vallow's life insurance money, lust for each other and strange religious beliefs.

"All of these overt acts were done so Lori could eventually be with Chad Daybell and reportedly complete their mission here on earth," the police department wrote in the report. "This belief system, lust and greed would also lead to the deaths of Tylee Ryan, JJ Vallow and Tammy Daybell."

Chad Daybell has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Lori Daybell has not yet entered a plea—she's being treated at a mental health facility because a judge has determined that she's not yet competent to stand trial. Attorneys for the Daybells did not respond to phone messages requesting comment.

Chad Daybell met Lori Vallow in 2018 and the two quickly became close, according to the investigation. Within a short time, they were traveling to meet each other, and at one point Chad Daybell wrote a steamy short story for Lori Vallow based on two characters who, like Chad and Lori, met at a religious conference.

By May of 2019, Lori Vallow was looking at gemstones online similar to the ones that would later be in their wedding rings.

Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow communicated with each other using code names or pet names like Lili, Bubby, Raphael and sometimes eschewed standard text messaging, instead using "burner" phones or messaging systems inside of a popular karaoke phone app, according to computer and phone files found by investigators.

As their relationship grew, so did their cult-like religious beliefs, according to investigators. Some of the couple's friends acknowledged adopting the beliefs as well. At times, as many as 10 people were part of the loose religious group that met to pray, drive out evil spirits and seek revelations from "beyond the spiritual veil."

Though the beliefs Lori Daybell's friends described to detectives were loosely based in theology from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they veered into the extreme.

The report said Lori and Chad Daybell believed in reincarnation, and that Lori Daybell was a "Goddess" sent to bring the second coming of Christ. The pair also allegedly believed they had special powers, with Lori Daybell telling one friend that she could teleport between Arizona and Hawaii. Chad Daybell reportedly told the group that he had a "portal" in his home where he could receive revelations and travel to other realms, the report said.

Lori Daybell's close friend Melanie Gibbs told investigators Chad and Lori Daybell drew people into their circle of believers by giving them bits of information and flattered followers by telling them they were part of the select few who were supposed to carry out a special spiritual mission.

Those who questioned the beliefs were pushed out of the group, investigators said.

Lori Daybell told some of her friends that her estranged husband Charles Vallow was a zombie, according to investigators, and some in the group regularly joined her in praying for Vallow's demise. After Vallow was shot and killed by Alex Cox during an argument, Cox reportedly told another follower that he didn't feel bad because he killed a zombie.

The group also believed that once a person became "exalted," they couldn't be held responsible for their actions on Earth.

"Because Lori was already 'exalted,'" Pastenes told the investigators, according to their report, "she would often slam her hand on the counter and state, 'Doesn't count for me!'"

The police investigation also uncovered computer documents that indicated Charles Vallow discovered his wife was having an affair with Chad Daybell just weeks before his death.

Charles Vallow confronted Lori Vallow in a text message, and then reached out to Tammy Daybell to let her know that their spouses were cheating.

The investigators didn't determine if Tammy Daybell ever read the email from Vallow or deleted it without reading. Eleven days after he sent the email, he was shot to death by Cox.

Cox died in December of 2019 after collapsing in his home. Medical examiners later determined he died of blood clots in his lungs.

Chad Daybell Attends Hearing
An Idaho couple charged in connection with the murders of children and a former spouse were involved in a cult-like belief system that encompassed “zombies” and “vibrations,” according to newly released court documents. Above, Chad Daybell listens during his preliminary hearing in St. Anthony, Idaho, on August 3, 2020. John Roark/Post Register via AP