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Judge reduces bond for Lori Daybell in 1 of 2 cases tied to her dead children

Bond remains at $1M in neighboring Fremont County, where remains of children were discovered

SHARE Judge reduces bond for Lori Daybell in 1 of 2 cases tied to her dead children
Both Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow will make court appearances today after being charged with murder.

Lori Vallow Daybell glances at the camera during her hearing on Friday, March 6, 2020, in Rexburg, Idaho. At her right is defense attorney Edwina Elcox.

John Roark, the Idaho Post-Register via Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — A judge in Idaho reduced bond for Lori Vallow Daybell Friday from $1 million to $150,000 in one of two cases tied to her deceased children, Joshua “JJ” Vallow and his older sister Tylee Ryan.

The development comes after prosecutors withdrew felony charges of child abandonment and nonsupport following the discovery of the children’s remains at her husband Chad Daybell’s property in rural Salem, Idaho, last month.

Lori Daybell, 47, faces three remaining misdemeanor charges of obstructing an investigation, criminal solicitation and contempt. Her defense attorney has filed not guilty pleas on her behalf.

The puzzling case has spanned several states, delving into rumors of the couple’s apocalyptic religious beliefs said to include zombies possessing now-deceased family members and the recent deaths of their former spouses.

JJ was 7 at the time he vanished; Tylee 17. They were last seen together on a September family trip to Yellowstone National Park.

Madison County Magistrate Judge Michelle Mallard said Friday she doubts she would have any trouble ensuring Lori Daybell would show up for future court dates, noting that bond in a separate case of hers remains at a hefty $1 million in neighboring Fremont County.

Lori and Chad Daybell, 51, are each charged there with felony counts of conspiring to keep the children’s bodies hidden.

No one has been charged with the deaths of the two children.

Defense attorney Mark Means had argued Friday for a lower bond of $100,000, saying his client has not been accused of any violent act, has no criminal history and has been “a model inmate.”

But prosecutor Rob Wood asked the judge to hold bond at no less than $250,000, noting the charges he is bringing allege “an overt act in furtherance of a felony to conceal the location of the defendant’s minor children.”

He said Lori Daybell was hiding the location of her deceased children at the same time she was obstructing the police investigation, urging her friend Melanie Gibb to lie to investigators and failing to produce the kids under a court order.

The charges in Madison County carry a maximum of just two years in jail, Mallard noted in issuing her decision, but are tied to the whereabouts of the children who have since been found deceased. The judge scheduled a four-day trial to begin on Jan. 25, 2021.

Court documents say the Daybells believe their mission includes leading the “144,000” and ridding “the world of zombies.’’ Around the same time her two children disappeared, Lori Daybell told Gibb and her boyfriend the kids had become “zombies,” their bodies possessed by dark spirits that could be vanquished only by death, authorities said. The belief reflects a teaching of Chad Daybell’s, according to court filings.

Lori Daybell wore a blue face mask and orange striped jail uniform at the Friday hearing, sitting quietly at a table next to her attorney.

She was arrested in Hawaii earlier this year, where authorities say she and her husband traveled after they were questioned about the children’s whereabouts.

Police contend cellphone data places Lori Daybell’s now-deceased brother, Alex Cox, at her home just after the children were last seen alive and then at the sites where their remains were found.

Cox shot and killed Lori Daybell’s former spouse, Charles Vallow last year in Arizona. Cox, who said he shot Vallow in self-defense, later died of a blood clot in his lung, authorities said.

Remains of Chad Daybell’s former wife Tammy Daybell have been exhumed; an autopsy has not yet been released. Chad and Lori Daybell wed about two weeks after Tammy Daybell’s death.

Both she and her new husband each face two separate felony charges of conspiracy to conceal or destroy evidence in Fremont County, where Chad Daybell lives.

The Daybells are scheduled to return to court in August for separate preliminary hearings.