'Tylee and JJ know what happened,' Daybell tells son in phone call after bodies found

Colby Ryan, son of Lori Vallow Daybell, testifies in Boise on Tuesday. He accused his mother of murdering his siblings in a recorded phone call after their bodies were found.

Colby Ryan, son of Lori Vallow Daybell, testifies in Boise on Tuesday. He accused his mother of murdering his siblings in a recorded phone call after their bodies were found. (Lisa Cheney)

2 photos
Save Story
Leer en español

Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

BOISE — Colby Ryan confronted his mother, Lori Vallow Daybell, in a phone call shortly after the bodies of his younger siblings were found and accused her of murdering them.

"I've prayed for you in my worst moments. I have prayed for my siblings. ... I thought I could trust you, I thought that you were a completely different person," he told her in a recorded phone call played in court on Tuesday.

His mother told him she didn't kill the children and told him, "I'm sorry that you feel that way." She told her son she didn't know what happened that day, and neither did police — but said JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan did know.

He said Daybell told him that one day he will know what happened, but she would not tell him then.

"Tylee and JJ know what happened. They love me and they are fine, and they do know the truth and I know the truth," Daybell said in the phone call, adding that the whole world judges her but doesn't understand.

Both the mother and her son pulled religion into the conversation, with Daybell indicating that God and Jesus Christ have been on her side.

"One day we will all stand there with Jesus ... and you will know the truth of everything," Daybell told him.

Daybell is on trial for murder, conspiracy and grand theft in the deaths of her two children, 7-year-old JJ and 16-year-old Tylee. She is also charged in connection with the death of Tammy Daybell, the late wife of her husband Chad Daybell. Chad Daybell is also charged in the three deaths and will face a separate trial.

Ryan, 27, testified Tuesday he did not know where his mother, half-brother and half-sister had gone when the family moved to Rexburg, Idaho, in 2019. He said his mother told him it was dangerous to tell people where she was moving.

In the recorded phone call with his incarcerated mother, he accused her of lying to him numerous times.

"To know that they're gone and you knew. And my phone's being texted by my little sister who's not even alive," he said to her.

Ryan testified Tuesday that he had concerns about Tylee even before Gilbert, Arizona, police contacted him on Nov. 27, 2019, asking where she and JJ were. He said he had a few conversations over text with his half-sister, but the texts seemed to be different than how she usually texted and the punctuation was different than normal. He was concerned that it wasn't Tylee who was texting him.

In the phone call, Ryan told his mother she kept him in the dark to protect him, but it was his younger siblings who needed her protection.

Daybell said she was in the hospital for hundreds of days with Tylee and was the person who took care of JJ, but Ryan responded that she did all that just "to throw it in the garbage."

Ryan testified Tuesday that his mother called him on the day Charles Vallow was shot and killed and told him that the man who had been his stepfather for 15 years had died of a heart attack. He went to his mother's house that evening after work, and discovered that something completely different had actually occurred.

Alex Cox, Ryan's uncle, was wearing a white bandage. When he asked about it, Cox told him he got hit in the head with a bat and had shot Charles Vallow in self-defense. He said he found his mom and described her demeanor as "calm."

Ex-sister-in-law said she really trusted Daybells

Zulema Pastenes, who was briefly married to Cox, returned to the witness stand on Tuesday. She was initially called to the stand on Friday and revealed that Cox wondered if he had become his sister's "fall guy" shortly before he died on Dec. 12, 2019, the day after Tammy Daybell's body was exhumed.

Pastenes recalled a quick romance with Cox, who had been clear from the beginning that he wanted to get married.

She testified that Chad and Lori Daybell made her feel special and chosen and she came to believe that she was. She read texts between her and Chad Daybell regarding her moving to Rexburg, and said they pushed her to move, although it didn't make sense to her. In one text, Chad told her, "You are part of the team!"

"I really, really trusted these people," she said.

Zulema Pastenes testifies in the murder trial of Lori Vallow Daybell on Tuesday in Boise.
Zulema Pastenes testifies in the murder trial of Lori Vallow Daybell on Tuesday in Boise. (Photo: Lisa Cheney)

She said the Daybells believed pain and emotional struggles like depression were attacks from "the dark side," demons and evil spirits and said she asked Chad Daybell for help with physical issues. Pastenes said she would feel better after he said he had healed her.

Pastenes said she had a gift to help heal people and cast off spirits, but would seek confirmation from Chad Daybell through Lori Daybell to know if the "castings" were effective. She testified that she was told that her mission was "most important" and said Chad Daybell would call her a "goddess."

"At the time I believed that we were doing something good to help get rid of darkness and evil spirits off of the earth. Now I believe that the intentions were different, and very evil," Pastenes said.

Pastenes also said her husband sought advice from his sister and Chad Daybell about every decision he made, and said Cox moved to Rexburg right after receiving a blessing from Chad Daybell. She said the Daybells told Alex that in previous lives he had been the angel who visited Saul in the New Testament, a warrior whom Satan had animosity toward, and that he had been exalted.

"Alex believed everything they told him," she testified.


Jurors also heard testimony from Mark Saari, a special agent for the inspector general, who said Lori Daybell rerouted Social Security checks that were going to Tylee's account to hers before the family moved to Idaho — and continued receiving the checks after she was eligible without giving the required notice of her children's absence or her marriage to Chad Daybell.

Rexburg police detective Chuck Kunsaitis also testified and reviewed bank statements from Lori Daybell, Tylee, Cox and Chad Daybell. He said they were able to learn about the family's bank accounts through mail sent to their home — and the information helped them determine where the family was and when Tylee and JJ disappeared.

The review of financial accounts is expected to continue on Wednesday.


Related stories

Most recent Daybell case stories

Related topics

Daybell casePolice & CourtsUtahIdaho
Emily Ashcraft joined KSL.com as a reporter in 2021. She covers courts and legal affairs, as well as health, faith and religion news.


Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the KSL.com Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast