"Their mission was to rid the world of zombies," Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell allegedly told a close friend

June 22, 2020 04:09 PM
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Joshua “J.J.” Vallow; Lori Vallow; Tylee Ryan
Rexburg Police Department

Lori Vallow allegedly told a close friend that her two children had become "zombies," and that she was on a religious mission with her husband, Chad Daybell, "to rid the world of 'zombies'" months before the bodies of the missing kids were discovered buried on Daybell's Idaho property, a newly-unsealed probable cause affidavit states.

"[T]he term 'zombie' refers to an individual whose mortal spirit has left their body and that their body is now the host of another spirit," Rexburg police Lt. Ron Ball wrote in the filed affidavit, which was obtained by PEOPLE. "The new spirit in a 'zombie' is always considered a 'dark spirit.'"

"While the 'dark spirit' inhabits the host body, the person's true spirit goes into 'limbo' and is stuck there until the host body is physically killed," wrote Ball, summarizing the couple's alleged religious beliefs as described by the friend, Melanie Gibb. "As such, death of the physical body is seen as the mechanism by which the body's original spirit can be released from limbo."

"This belief was told to Gibb by Lori Vallow," police claim in the affidavit. "Lori Vallow had learned it from Chad Daybell and immediately told Gibb."

Vallow and Daybell allegedly further told Gibb "their mission was to rid the world of 'zombies'" as part of the couple's religious belief that they were a part of the "Church of the Firstborn" whose role in that church was to lead the "144,000" mentioned in the Book of Revelation, according to the affidavit.

Chad Daybell, left, and Lori Vallow
Rexburg Police Department ; Madison County Sheriff's Office/AP/Shutterstock

The affidavit made public late Friday also states the conditions in which the children's bodies were found June 9 buried in Daybell's backyard. J.J.'s body was wrapped in black plastic secured with duct tape, while Tylee's body appeared to be dismembered and burned.

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According to police, Gibb said she first heard Vallow call Tylee a "zombie" in the spring of 2019. At the time Gibb was on the phone with Vallow, and when she overheard Vallow call Tylee a "zombie," Tylee responded, "not me, mom" -- an exchange that arose out of Vallow asking her daughter to babysit J.J. over Tylee's objections, she said.

"Lori Vallow also told Gibb that Tylee had turned into a zombie when she was 12 or 13, which was approximately the same time Tylee had become 'difficult' to deal with," the affidavit states.

Joshua "J.J." Vallow, at left, with sister Tylee Ryan

Police say that when Gibb arrived to visit Vallow in Rexburg last Sept. 19, Vallow allegedly told her that J.J., too, had become a "zombie," according to the affidavit. Vallow told her the adopted boy who had autism was "sitting still and watching TV, claiming J.J. said he loved Satan, and [displayed] an increased vocabulary as evidence that J.J. was now a zombie." But Gibb said she observed his behavior to be "the same as she had always observed it."

On Nov. 23, the last day of her visit, Gibb asked about not seeing J.J. in the home, according to the affidavit. Vallow allegedly said "he had been acting like a zombie and had been crawling on the kitchen cabinetry and had gotten on top of the cabinetry in the space between the cabinetry and the ceiling," knocking a picture of Jesus off the refrigerator. Vallow said her brother, Alex Cox, had come and taken J.J. away.

Gibb's memories of the "zombie" label echo an earlier claim made in court papers by Brandon Boudreaux, who formerly was married to Vallow's niece Melani Boudreaux Pawlowski. In court papers filed in a child custody case, Brandon claimed Melani Pawlowski allegedly told her current husband, Ian Pawlowski, that she “had been told by Chad and Lori that her children had been possessed and had become zombies.”

Friend Alleges Couple Asked Them to Lie About J.J.'s Whereabouts

In an interview with Dateline NBC, Gibb alleges that Vallow and Daybell asked her in phone calls last November to lie about J.J.'s whereabouts as police in Idaho began to look for the missing kids. (The episode, "What Happened to J.J. and Tylee?," airs Monday at 10 p.m. ET.)

The last verified sighting of Tylee was Sept. 8 while she was on a day trip to Yellowstone National Park with her brother, mother and an uncle, Alex Cox. According to the affidavit, J.J. was last seen Sept. 22 at his Rexburg school; two days later, Vallow called the school to say her son was traveling to Louisiana with his grandparents and would be home-schooled.

That never happened, police said. It was the grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, who first alerted authorities to look for the children after having lost contact with them.

Chad Daybell, at left, and Lori Vallow
Eric Grossarth/ EastIdahoNews.com

In the calls from Vallow and Daybell, Gibb says they asked her to say J.J. was with her. "I can't even begin to tell you how horrible that moment was for me," she tells Dateline. "They tried to use me as their way of escape."

She added: "So part of me is processing, 'I can't believe you're friends with these people.' The other part of me is like, 'how do you believe any of the things they shared to you?'"

Vallow, who was arrested in February, is charged with felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children, resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime, contempt of court and willful disobedience of court process or order for failing to produce the children during the search for them.

Daybell, who was arrested after the bodies were discovered, has been charged with two counts of destruction, alteration and concealment of evidence. Both Vallow and Daybell have pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Attorneys for the couple have not responded to repeated outreach efforts by PEOPLE.

Dateline: What Happened to J.J. and Tylee?, airs Monday at 10 p.m. ET. on NBC.