Lori Vallow trial: Writer says Idaho judge has ordered ‘an unusual number of documents sealed’ in case


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A writer who has been covering the Lori Vallow murder trial sent a letter to an Idaho Supreme Court justice earlier this month, saying the judge in Vallow’s case has ordered “an unusual number of documents sealed.”

The so-called “cult mom” is accused of killing her children — 7-year-old Joshua “J.J.” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan — in 2019 and collecting social security benefits in her son’s name after their deaths.

“Since the case began in March 2020, Judge Boyce has ordered what is, in my experience, an unusual number of documents sealed,” Lori Hellis, author of the blog “The Lori Vallow Story” and retired criminal defense lawyer, wrote in a letter to Idaho Supreme Court Justice Gregory Moeller. “The number of sealed documents led me to research the criteria for sealed documents in Idaho cases. I discovered that Judge Boyce has not followed the procedures set out in ICAR 32.”

Hellis had previously filed motions to unseal certain documents on Aug. 18, which Boyce had denied days later. The writer then stated that her motions had been returned to her for errors that the Seventh District clerk had found in her filings.

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Lori Vallow smiled in and outside of an Idaho courthouse on Aug, 16.
(Tony Blakeslee/East Idaho News)

“It’s clear that the court has instructed the clerk to comb through documents for any mistakes and is playing games to avoid hearing the motions. I have now filed my motions for the fourth time,” Hellis wrote.

The day before the writer submitted her letter, Vallow’s attorneys filed a motion to exclude cameras from the courtroom for upcoming proceedings, which Hellis says would have the “potential to further limit the access of the press to the proceedings.”

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Judge Boyce’s office did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Fox News Digital.

Lori and Chad Daybell are accused of killing 17-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old J.J. Vallow in 2019.

Lori and Chad Daybell are accused of killing 17-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old J.J. Vallow in 2019.
(Rexberg Police Department)

Vallow and her husband, Chad Daybell, were indicted in late May 2021 on multiple counts each of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and grand theft by deception and first-degree murder, related to the deaths of Tylee, J.J. and Chad Daybell’s ex-wife, 49-year-old Tammy Daybell, officials announced at the time.

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The pair are at the center of a bizarre case full of twists and turns that involve apocalyptic religious beliefs that prosecutors say motivated the couple to justify the murders of Vallow’s children. 

Daybell has written several apocalyptic novels based loosely on Mormon theology. Both were involved in a group that promotes preparedness for the biblical end times. Meanwhile, Vallow reportedly believed she was “a god assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ’s second coming in July 2020,” according to divorce documents that her late ex-husband, Charles Vallow, filed before his death.

Attorneys for Lori Vallow, a mom charged with conspiring to kill her children, asked a judge on Aug. 16 to send the case back to a grand jury. 

Attorneys for Lori Vallow, a mom charged with conspiring to kill her children, asked a judge on Aug. 16 to send the case back to a grand jury. 
(Tony Blakeslee/East Idaho News)

J.J. and Tylee were missing for several months — when police say the couple lied about the children’s whereabouts and then slipped away to Hawaii — before their bodies were found buried on Chad Daybell’s property in rural Idaho.

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The state is seeking the death penalty in Vallow’s case due to the “aggravating circumstances” leading to her alleged crimes. Vallow’s attorneys are asking for a probable cause hearing to discuss the alleged “aggravating circumstances” as well as the conspiracy charges.

Fox News’ Stephanie Pagones contributed to this report.



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