BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Prosecutors say the mother of two children who were found dead in rural Idaho months after they vanished in a bizarre case that captured worldwide attention had conspired with her new husband to hide or destroy the kids’ bodies.
The new felony charges against Lori Vallow Daybell came late Monday, the latest twist in a case tied to the mysterious deaths of the couple’s former spouses and their beliefs about zombies and the apocalypse that may have affected their actions.
A judge set Daybell’s bail at $1 million during her first court appearance on the new felony charges Tuesday. The judge asked if she understood the allegations and that if convicted she could be sentenced to up to 10 years behind bars. Daybell, who wiped her eyes occasionally with a tissue, answered “yes.”
Daybell is already charged with abandoning or deserting 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, but because police found their remains buried in her husband’s yard, it’s not clear if those allegations will stand. She’s also charged with obstructing a police investigation, asking a friend to lie to police on her behalf and contempt of court for failing to follow an order to produce the kids.
Daybell’s attorney has indicated that she intends to defend herself against the charges, but she hasn’t yet had a chance to enter a plea.
Her husband, Chad Daybell, was charged this month with concealing evidence by destroying or hiding the children’s bodies. He has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors are using the same behavior alleged in Lori Daybell’s older charges to support the conspiracy charge, saying she aided Chad Daybell’s efforts to hide the bodies by asking her friend to lie to police about JJ’s whereabouts and lying to police herself when she told them JJ was in Arizona and Tylee was attending college.
Authorities have not yet said how exactly the children died or who caused their deaths. Court documents suggest JJ was buried in a pet cemetery on Chad Daybell’s property and that Tylee’s remains were dismembered and burned. Investigators found the remains by tracking the movements of Lori Daybell’s brother, Alex Cox, using cellphone data. Authorities searched Chad Daybell’s home again Monday but haven’t said what they were looking for.
Cox is also dead, succumbing to an apparent blood clot in his lung at his home in Arizona last December. In the newest court documents filed in Lori Daybell’s conspiracy case, Rexburg police Lt. Ron Ball wrote that Cox also was involved in the conspiracy to hide the children’s remains.