'Cult Mom' Lori Vallow Pleads Not Guilty to Conspiracy in Case of Missing Children JJ and Tylee

Lori Vallow has pleaded not guilty to additional criminal charges related to the death of her children, 7-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, three months after their remains were found on her property, reported the East Idaho News Thursday. Vallow was charged in June with two counts of felony conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence in the case of her missing children, but pleaded not guilty to both counts during an arraignment held before Judge Dane Watkins on Zoom due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Vallow faces up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each count if found guilty. Her jury trial has been scheduled to begin on April 2, 2021 and a pre-trial conference was scheduled for March 22, 2021. Vallow previously pleaded not guilty to charges 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.

Her husband, Chad Daybell, pleaded not guilty in August to four felony charges facing him in regards to the children's death, including two felony counts of concealment of evidence and two felony counts of conspiracy to conceal evidence in the case. JJ and Tylee were last seen in September 2019, but were not reported as missing by their mother to police. In June, police confirmed that the children's remains had been found on Daybell's Idaho property.

In a Dateline special that aired in June, Vallow's friend, Melanie Gibb, revealed that Daybell's apocalyptic beliefs had begun to influence the mother-of-two in disturbing ways before the children disappeared. Gibb alleged that Vallow began to refer to her children as "zombies" after learning about the concept from Daybell, who had explored the concept in his own fictional writings. Gibb said that according to Daybell, a zombie was a person "whose mortal spirit has left their body and that their body is now the host of another spirit," and that the new spirit in the "zombie" is a "dark spirit." Gibb added the couple was convinced the country would be hit so hard by an earthquake at the end of 2019 that people would be distracted from the disappearance of the children.

Police backed up the zombie fascination in an affidavit, writing of a conversation Vallow allegedly had with Gibb, "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." Vallow reportedly also told her friend, "As such, death of the physical body is seen as the mechanism by which the body’s original spirit can be released from limbo."