An Idaho mother in a doomsday cult has been sentenced to life in prison for murdering her two youngest children and conspiring in the murder of her husband’s former wife.
Lori Vallow Daybell, 50, was found guilty of first-degree murder and multiple conspiracy charges in May.
Vallow killed her 7-year-old son, Joshua “JJ” Vallow, and 16-year-old daughter, Tylee Ryan.
Their bodies were found buried at her husband Chad Daybell’s home in 2020.
On Monday, Judge Steven Boyce sentenced Vallow to three consecutive life terms without parole for the murders.
“The most unimaginable type of murder is to have a mother murdering her own children, and that’s exactly what you did,” Judge Boyce said
Emotional testimony from the children’s relatives was heard in court at the sentencing.
“Tylee and JJ brought so much light into this world,” Colby Ryan, their older brother, said in a victim impact statement read by prosecutors.
“I want them to be remembered for who they were and not to be just a spectacle or a headline to the world.”
Chad Daybell is also charged with murder over the children’s death and the death of his ex-wife, Tammy Daybell, weeks before he married Vallow. His trial is scheduled for early next year.
Mr Daybell is an author who has written several apocalyptic novels loosely based on Mormon religious teachings.
Vallow and Mr Daybell are thought to have met through their involvement in a movement that promoted preparing for the end of the world.
In late 2019, Vallow relocated with JJ and Tylee to Rexburg, Idaho, close to where Mr Daybell lived. Shortly afterwards, Tammy Daybell died.
Following a December 2019 post-mortem examination that revealed Tammy Daybell had died by asphyxiation, JJ’s grandparents called police to request they check up on the seven-year-old.
The call launched a nationwide manhunt for both JJ and Tylee, after police learned they had not been seen for weeks.
Vallow denies killing her children.
She told the court on Monday she had spoken to Jesus and that her children and Tammy Daybell were “happy and extremely busy” in heaven.
“Jesus Christ knows that no-one was murdered in this case,” Vallow said.
She also said the spirits of the three victims often visited her and had told her she “didn’t do anything wrong”.
Bonneville County Public Defender John Thomas said Vallow is a “very misunderstood person” who is “about love”.
But Kay Woodcock, JJ’s grandmother, said: “Lori is a monster that has not taken any responsibility or shown an ounce of remorse for her vile actions.”