An Idaho judge said Monday he wants more information about Lori Vallow Daybell’s progress in a mental health facility before deciding whether she should remain there for treatment.
Daybell, 48, has been at the psychiatric hospital for about three months under a court order that put her criminal case on hold. In June, she was found not competent to face charges, including murder in the deaths of her two children, whose remains were uncovered last year at the Salem property of her new husband.
Joshua "JJ" Vallow was 7 years old when he went missing in September 2019; Tylee Ryan was 16. Their mother and Chad Daybell face charges of murder and conspiracy in the cases that have delved into their apocalyptic religious beliefs and the mysterious deaths of their former spouses.
Seventh District Court Judge Steven Boyce said he received two letters Monday from a physician seeking an extension of Lori Daybell's commitment to a psychiatric hospital. While the correspondence has "some detail" about the status of her mental health, Boyce said, it doesn't contain enough information for him to determine whether he should extend the court order for the long term.
Prosecutor Rob Wood and Lori Daybell's defense attorney Mark Means agreed. His client was not present for the brief hearing held over videoconference.
"I don't think we contest the idea of continued commitment," Means told the judge, but said a progress report would prove helpful.
The parties will return to court Sept. 8, where the judge said he plans to issue a ruling. Neither Boyce nor attorneys gave specifics about what the letters said.
Court and police records have painted a portrait of Lori Daybell as someone who became enamored with the doomsday teachings of Chad Daybell, an author of several novels with apocalyptic scenarios. She described her children as "zombies" whose bodies were overtaken by dark spirits that could only be vanquished by death, according to the documents.
The development in her case comes about a week after Chad Daybell waived his right to a speedy trial as attorneys pore over evidence. He has pleaded not guilty to each count he faces in connection with the children's killings, as well as a charge of murder in the death of his former spouse. Prosecutors said they'll seek the death penalty if he is found guilty.
He is currently set to go on trial in November, but the case is expected to be postponed.
The couple wed within a month after Chad Daybell's former wife, Tammy Daybell, died in her sleep in October 2019.
Additionally, in Arizona, Lori Daybell is accused of working together with her late brother, Alex Cox, to kill her former husband before Cox died of a blood clot. She faces a single count of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in Maricopa County.
Chad Daybell returns to court Oct. 5 for a hearing focused on a potential change of venue as his defense attorney seeks to have the trial moved out of rural southeast Idaho.