BOISE, Idaho (ABC4) — On Day 11 of Lori Vallow Daybell’s murder trial, Zulema Pastenas, the widow of Lori’s brother Alex Cox, testified in court Tuesday about her husband’s extreme devotion to Lori and Chad.
Lori Vallow Daybell is on trial for the alleged murder of her two children, JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan. She was also charged with conspiring with her husband, Chad Daybell, to murder his first wife, Tammy.
Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, allegedly shot and killed Lori’s husband, Charles Vallow. Cox died of natural causes a few weeks later, officials say. To read more about that, click here.
In a continuation of Pastenas’ cross-examination, she was questioned on what she knew about Cox before he died, and his relationship with Lori and Chad. To read about Pastenas’ first day in court, in which she spoke of “possession,” click here.
Pastenas said she and Cox met in August 2019, went on a few dates, and had their first kiss on Oct. 31, 2019. At the time, Cox lived in Rexburg with Lori and Melani Boudreaux, while Chad lived just outside of Rexburg in Salem, Idaho.
Cox reportedly quit his job and moved to Rexburg after Chad and Lori told him to do so. Pastenas said Cox left behind his belongings in Arizona. “Chad and Lori told him the only reason he came to earth at this time – his sole purpose was to protect Lori.”
Pastenas said she and Cox frequently spoke on the phone about scriptures, spiritual talks they read, their families, and just got to know each other. Pastenas said she went to visit Cox in Rexburg on Nov. 7 and he proposed to her. Pastenas told the court, “[Cox] was very clear that he was looking for a relationship and he wanted to get married.”
Cox allegedly told Pastenas that he wanted to get married and have a relationship with her the first time they went to dinner together, very early on in the relationship. Pastenas said when Cox proposed on Nov. 7, she was not surprised. “He had told me he was looking for a ring, and asked my ring size,” she stated.
After their engagement, Pastenas reportedly went home to Arizona and didn’t see Cox in person until the week of Thanksgiving. He returned to Arizona the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and stayed with Pastenas, officials say. To see how this fits in the timeline, click here.
Pastenas said she couldn’t remember when she and Cox got married. “I wish I could tell you I know exactly the date, but there has been so much trauma around that date and all of the events that happened around that time that it’s very hard for me to remember […], especially for things I’d like to forget,” Pastenas said. Cox and Pastenas were married on November 29, 2019, in Las Vegas, East Idaho News reported.
On December 12, 2019, Pastenas said Cox was fine when she went to work that morning, but when she came home, “He was laying on the floor of my bathroom dead,” she stated. She said the paramedics attempted to revive him, but after an hour of attempting, Pastenas told them to turn the machines off.
During her time with Cox, Pastenas said that before he made decisions, he would ask Lori and Chad what he should do. “Whenever he wanted to do anything, he had to have Lori or Chad’s permission.” According to Pastenas, she told Cox she would not be moving to Rexburg because her family and life were in Arizona, but Chad and Lori wanted them in Rexburg.
On November 24, Cox received a “patriarchal blessing” from Chad. In the blessing, Chad said Cox was chosen and was right by his sister Lori always. The following day, Cox reportedly took a plane with Chad to check out Rexburg. When Pastenas tried to discuss with Cox what they were going to do, he allegedly said, “Before I make any decisions, I need to ask Chad and Lori what I should do.”
Pastenas said she was also pressured by Chad and Lori to move with Cox to Rexburg. She said she told Chad she was not ready to move to Rexburg, and he said he understood, saying maybe it would happen eventually. However, Pastenas said Lori and Chad “kept pushing” her to move to Rexburg. Chad would even give Pastenas blessings telling her to move to Rexburg.
“I really trusted these people. Chad said he had a veil, and he could see to the other side. […] Lori said she had conversations with Jesus Christ,” Pastenas said. “I trusted them. It was very hard, and I was confused.” Pastenas said she prayed for guidance, and that God told her she would go to Rexburg, but not right then. So, she and Cox stayed in Arizona, where he eventually died.
Pastenas said that during her friendship with Chad and Lori, they would cast demons and evil spirits out of people, and she believed in it. She also said at points, Chad would remove evil energy from her with energy work. She said she felt she was doing honorable, good work at the time.
“I had faith they were telling us the truth. […] I trusted and believed what Lori and Chad were saying,” Pastenas said. She reportedly later believed the intentions of Chad and Lori were “very evil,” and that “those things they were saying were evil and manipulative.”
To read more about what Pastenas said during her first day testifying in trial, click here.