The strange life of Lori Vallow continues to play out like something from an over-the-top true crime podcast. In February, authorities arrested the Idaho woman, who was in Hawaii. They brought her back home, where she is now in a county jail cell awaiting trial for the disappearance of her two children. Investigators have already uncovered a string of bizarre deaths surrounding Lori. A new, deadly discovery suggests that something even more sinister may be going on.
Last week, journalist Ashleigh Banfield reported on Court TV Live that in 1998 Lori's 31-year-old sister, Stacey Lynn Cox Cope, died suddenly of undetermined causes.
"You can look at one death as a coincidence," Banfield told People, "but these people have had a trail of deaths that seemed natural, and are now under investigation. This may be yet another one."
Aside from the death of Lori's sister in 1998, her's brother, Alex Cox, died in late 2019. His cause of death is still pending, People reports. Before he died, however, he was responsible, but not charged, for killing Lori's fourth husband, Charles Vallow, in July 2019. Cox said he shot him in self-defense.
Annie Cushing, sister of Joseph Ryan, Lori's third husband, suggests that she perhaps hurt her children after discovering that she would not be inheriting her late husband's insurance.
"It just seems to me that once Lori found out after Charles was killed that she had been removed as sole beneficiary of his $1 million policy, I just think she hit the panic button," Cushing told KUTV last month. "When my brother died, she didn't tell me that he had passed. My family didn't find out until five weeks later."
In September, two months after Cox shot Charles, Lori's 17-year-old daughter, Tylee Ryan, and seven-year-old son, Joshua "J.J." Vallow, went missing. Authorities have charged Lori with two felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children as well as resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime, contempt of court, and willful disobedience of court process or order.
There's no doubt that Cox had a violent past, but for some unknown reason, he targeted Lori's husbands. In 2007, he attacked Joseph Ryan. Cox served 90 days in jail for that crime. In 2018, Ryan died of an apparent heart attack.
That's just the first half of this sordid ordeal — authorities are also investigating the death of Tammy Daybell, the ex-wife of Lori's fifth husband, Chad Daybell. In October 2019, police initially reported Tammy's death as natural causes but have since reopened her case and exhumed her body for further investigation.
By late 2018, Lori and Chad, who's a Mormon novelist, had already been communicating. He featured her on his podcast. In early 2019, Charles filed for divorce from Lori and told officers she threatened to kill him "if he got in the way of her preparations for Christ's second coming in July 2020." On October 9, 2019, Tammy contacted police to report "a masked assailant attempted to shoot her with a paintball gun." Police found her dead 10 days later.
Authorities have yet to charge Lori or Chad with the deaths of anyone in their circle. Lori's next hearing on the disappearance of her children is scheduled for early July.
Correction May 3, 2020: An earlier version of this story stated Annie Kushing is Charles Vallow's sister. She is Joseph Ryan's sister. We regret the error.