As her husband lay dying on the floor of her Chandler home, Lori Vallow went to a drug store to buy flipflops.
That chilling account of the July 11, 2019, shooting death of her husband Charles Vallow is part of a heavily redacted probable cause statement by Chandler detectives that prompted a county grand jury last month to accuse Lori Vallow of conspiracy to commit first degree murder. The shooter, her brother, Alexander Cox, died mysteriously in his Gilbert home four months later.
The grand jury action comes as Lori Vallow faces first degree murder charges in Idaho in the deaths of her 7-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter, whose remains were found in 2020 on land owned by Chad Daybell.
Daybell, who married Vallow after her husband’s slaying, also is charged with murder in the children's slayings. Vallow is undergoing psychiatric examination after a judge found her mentally incompetent to face murder charges their deaths.
Although the Maricopa County grand jury indictment gave few details about Charles Vallow’s slaying, the Chandler Police document details a twisted tale of a woman who considered herself “an exalted goddess” with supernatural powers and schemed with her late brother to kill her estranged husband and collect his Social Security and other benefits.
The shooting initially was considered self-defense after Cox told detectives he shot Charles Vallow when the victim came at him with a baseball bat.
But the probable cause statement shows detectives weren’t buying that story from the get-go.
“There was concern about a potential bullet strike on the ground near Charles Vallow’s body,” it states. “There was also concern regarding the timeline of events that came to light in the days following the homicide.
"None of these concerns would immediately provide probable cause for the arrest of anyone present at the time of the murder and more investigation was necessary.”
Ultimately, they concluded: "The evidence shows that Charles’ death was a planned event and necessary to prevent Charles and others from confronting Lori about her extreme religious beliefs when he came to town on 07/11/2019. The death of Charles Vallow was also necessary in order for Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow to marry and fulfill their religious prophecy.”
As police dug deeper, they discovered “Charles and Lori Vallow were experiencing turmoil in their marriage” and that he moved Lori, her daughter and their adoptive son to Four Peaks Place in Chandler while he lived in Texas.
Detectives also discovered that "Charles was concerned for Lori’s mental health as she had begun to express that she was selected to prepare 144,000 people for the end of the world.
“Concerned for her well-being and that of the children, Charles filed a mental health petition asking for a mental health evaluation. In this petition, Charles talked about how Lori had told him that he was possessed by a dark spirit by the name of Ned Schneider. Lori would even refer to Charles in conversation and documentation by the name of Ned.
“This turmoil in the relationship can be substantiated through police reports, court orders, police body camera footage, cell phone records and witness testimony.”
Lori also had locked Charles out of the family’s home and had withdrawn $35,000 from their joint bank account.
Charles also called Gilbert police, telling officers, "She’s lost her mind,” according to the probable cause statement. “She thinks she’s a resurrected being. Her religious stuff has gone way off the deep end.”
Gilbert Police eventually concluded, “There was no information obtained that Lori had committed a crime. There was no information obtained that Charles and Lori's children were in danger.”
Following Charles’ slaying, a number of suspicious occurrences strengthened detective’s doubts about Cox's story.
No one could contact the two children, and Lori kept giving misleading information on there whereabouts. On Oct. 3, 2019, Cox was mentioned as a possible suspect in the attempted slaying of an individual whose name is redacted in the probable cause statement.
Three weeks after that shooting, Chad Daybell’s wife, Tammy, was reported to have died in her sleep. A month later, Lori and Chad were married.
And in December 2019, Cox collapsed and died in his Gilbert home of what the Maricopa County Medical Examiner ruled were natural causes. Police used data from Cox’s phone to find the location of the children’s bodies a year later.
Authorities say text messages exchanged between Lori and Cox showed the siblings planned to murder Charles because he was 'blocking' her spiritual superpowers.
Investigators said Lori was trying to forge a relationship with Daybell in the months leading up to Charles’ death and said that a couple weeks before his death, Charles discovered a letter Lori wrote to Daybell and confronted her about having an extramarital affair.
“Charles asked Lori to come clean about her relationship with Chad Daybell by the end of the day or he would contact Tamara Daybell and inform her of the relationship,” court records state.
Detectives also said Lori apparently had started plotting her husband’s demise almost a year before he was shot, citing a text message written in November 2018.
Three months later, she wrote another text to an unidentified party in which “there is specific conversation to cause harm to Charles Vallow,” according to the probable cause statement.
A month before the killing, Lori ramped up her menacing texts, according to police. In one text she said, “We give timing to the Lord but we don’t need to relent. This is war.”
Three weeks after that text, she looked up Charles’ Social Security Disability benefits online and also found out that he had apparently changed the beneficiary on his life insurance policy.
“He changed it in March,” she texted Chad Daybell seven days after he killed Charles. “So it was probably Ned (Charles) before we got rid of him….I still get the $4,000 a month from SS.”
Detailing Charles’ killing on the morning of July 11, 2019, the probable cause statement said phone data and other evidence tore holes in Cox’s account of the shooting.
Detectives learned one of the two gunshots fired into Vallow’s chest came as the victim lay flat, noting the bullet passed through his body and into the floor – indicating the victim was already flat on the floor.
Phone records further showed that Cox waited 43 minutes before calling 911 to report the shooting.
After the shooting, Lori took her slain husband’s phone and rented vehicle.
First, she then went to get fast food from Burger King and after that to Walgreen’s to buy flipflops.
Detectives also said that when Alex called 911, “he acted as if he was performing life-saving measures on Charles.
“It was not until emergency personnel began life-saving measures that they saw blood coming from Charles’ body. This would indicate Alex performed no emergency aid.”
During the initial hours after the murder, Lori and the two children told investigators Charles had started a physical altercation.
The probable cause statement also said that as they were leaving the home, Lori and her daughter reported having heard a gunshot.
The statement notes Lori and Alex gave conflicting answers as to why he had been in the house in the first place the morning of Charles’ ill-fated visit.
“It has been proven how valuable Alex Cox was to Lori,” detectives wrote. “His mission on earth was to protect his sister.”