One year to the day after her two children’s remains were found buried in shallow graves, a court has ordered Idaho doomsday mom Lori Vallow Daybell to be committed to a mental health facility for 90 days, where psychiatrists will attempt to restore her competency to stand trial, according to court records.
The move comes as Daybell’s fifth husband and co-defendant Chad Daybell, who is also accused of killing his first wife, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to multiple murder and conspiracy charges. Daybell faces life in prison or a death sentence if convicted on the most serious counts. His trial is set to begin in two weeks.
Vallow “lacks fitness to proceed in that the Defendant is incapable of assisting in the defense of this case,” states the order signed by District Court Judge Steven W. Boyce. But although the order says she “does lack capacity to make informed decisions about treatment,” Vallow “is not dangerously mentally ill,” in the eyes of the state.
Vallow’s lawyer, Mark Means, did not respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
Phillip Hamilton, a New York City criminal defense attorney who is not involved with the case, previously told The Daily Beast that pausing court proceedings in such a way can sometimes be helpful to the prosecution—which, in this instance, recently withdrew its initial objection to the mental health hold.
“The prosecution has a lot to prepare for in this case, so sometimes it can buy them a little extra time,” Hamilton said, adding, “To the extent that a licensed medical professional found her not competent, the prosecution has an interest in not giving her a chance to appeal if she’s convicted—you want all of the loopholes closed.”
Last month, the pair was indicted on first-degree murder and conspiracy charges. The couple used their extreme “religious beliefs” to justify the killing of Vallow’s kids, 7-year-old J.J. Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, according to court documents. Both reportedly believed that Tammy Daybell, Chad Daybell’s ex, was in “Limbo...and being possessed by a spirit named Viola.”
Vallow is also facing charges in the death of Tammy Daybell, who died mysteriously shortly before Vallow and Daybell got married in November 2019.
J.J. and Tylee went missing in October 2020. Vallow and Daybell, a Latter Day Saint who writes books delving into near-death experiences and armageddon, allegedly misled investigators about the children’s whereabouts and went on vacation to Hawaii rather than assisting detectives with the search.
Less than three months earlier, Vallow’s now-deceased brother shot and killed her fourth husband, Charles, and claimed it was done in self-defense.
Prosecutors believe Vallow and Daybell killed Tylee in September 2019, after planning the crime for nearly a year. They allegedly killed J.J. about two weeks later. His body was found in Daybell’s yard, wrapped in black plastic and duct tape. Tylee’s body was discovered in a pet cemetery on the property, described in the indictment as “a mass of burnt flesh and charred bone.”
There is no insanity defense in Idaho.