A judge in Idaho has paused a criminal case against Lori Vallow Daybell after an evaluation found that she is not competent to face charges tied to the disappearance of her two children.
The development in that state comes as police in Arizona are recommending that Daybell face a new charge of conspiring to murder a fourth person — her former husband Charles Vallow. Just this week, a grand jury indicted Daybell and her new husband in the death of his former wife and in the killings of her two kids.
Authorities revisited the deaths of Lori Vallow Daybell's and Chad Daybell's former spouses after they began investigating the September 2019 disappearance of Joshua “JJ” Vallow and his sister, Tylee Ryan.
Detectives in Idaho's rural Fremont County started to consider Tammy Daybell's October 2019 death while asleep as suspicious. Police in the Phoenix suburb of Chandler took a new look at the death of Charles Vallow, shot and killed by Vallow's late brother Alex Cox in what he said was self-defense.
Police in Chandler passed their files on to the Maricopa County Attorney's Office last month, Sgt. Jason McClimans said, recommending the conspiracy charge. Prosecutors have not yet announced any decision.
In Idaho, Judge Steven Boyce issued an order Thursday staying the Lori Vallow Daybell case he is overseeing, citing the psychological review that recommended treatment. In that case she is charged with helping to keep hidden the remains of her children.
“The evaluation was ordered after the defendant's fitness to proceed was drawn into question by counsel,” Boyce wrote in the written order. He noted prosecutors are contesting the findings and said the case will remain on pause until it's determined whether Daybell is fit to stand trial.
Boyce didn't immediately schedule a hearing, court records indicate.
Competency in the legal sense refers to whether a defendant can understand the case and help attorneys prepare a defense.
On Monday, a grand jury indicted Lory Vallow Daybell and her new husband, Chad Daybell, on new charges of murder and conspiracy in a separate case involving their reported doomsday religious beliefs.
The development came nearly a year after the remains of the two Idaho children were found in Chad Daybell’s yard. The couple have been jailed for about a year awaiting trial on the earlier charges alleging they kept the kids' bodies hidden.
The children vanished around the time of Tylee’s 17th birthday in September 2019. JJ was 7 years old at the time.
According to authorities, the Daybells believe their mission includes leading the “144,000” and ridding “the world of ‘zombies.’” Chad Daybell is an author of several novels based on apocalyptic scenarios.