BOISE, Idaho (ABC4) — It was an emotional day in the Lori Vallow Daybell murder trial, as Lori’s sister testified about Lori and their brother, Alex Cox.
Lori’s sister, Summer Shiflet, said she played an active role in the lives of JJ and Tylee before Lori allegedly cut her off. When Shiflet found out the kids were dead, she said she was devastated. “I felt lied to and my trust in my sister was broken,” Shiflet said.
Shiflet said she was not in contact with Lori when she learned that Tylee and JJ were missing in December 2019. In February 2020, Lori allegedly told Shiflet that the kids were safe and that she knew where they were. Shiflet said she believed Lori and thought the kids were okay. However, by June 2020, officials had found the remains of Tylee and JJ on Chad’s property.
The court is shown a video call of Lori talking to Shiflet from prison on June 24, 2020. “How are you?” Lori said. Shiflet sobbed, “Not good, I don’t know what to say. I’m willing to listen if you want to talk to me.” Lori said she doesn’t know what anybody knows, hasn’t talked to anybody, and doesn’t know anything.
Shiflet said, “I know they found Tylee buried in a pet cemetery and JJ buried in Chad’s backyard, and we don’t understand how that happened.” Shiflet continued through her tears, “You didn’t tell us. We are devastated.”
Shiflet asked if Lori knew the kids were there, and Lori replied, “I can’t talk about it.” Shiflet said she didn’t know what to say, and the “kids were thrown away like garbage.” Lori quietly said, “Do you think I let that happen?” Shiflet responded, “Yes I do […] you went off to Hawaii and were dancing on the beach as the kids were in the ground? You had to know they were there. I don’t understand, they were just little kids. I don’t understand.” Shiflet continued, “Lori if you let this happen to them and put them in the ground like a piece of trash, I don’t know you.”
Shiflet said she would have taken the kids if she knew. “You cut me and Mom off for four months!” Shiflet yelled, “Now we find this out, and you expect me to just keep going with zero explanation, and you expect me to just keep believing without ever having a question?”
Lori said that everyone just sees what’s on TV, and Shiflet replied, “This has NOTHING to do with what’s on TV.” Shiflet tells Lori she defended her on TV, and asked Lori to tell the truth. Lori said, “I would love to.”
Shiflet then yelled at Lori for not telling her that Alex died, or that her kids were missing. “You don’t think that will cause pain throughout our entire family?” Shiflet asked. Lori replied, “You don’t think I’m in pain?” Shiflet responded, “No, I don’t. You were dancing on the beach, having a great time. You got wedding pictures while your kids are in the ground?”
Lori said, “Nobody knows.” Shiflet replied, “Nobody knows except you and the Lord? There is nothing in the scriptures that is godly about hurting a child! They deserve a proper burial with family that loves them in the least!” People in the courtroom are reportedly crying as this call is being played.
“Nobody in the world knows what I’ve been through,” Lori said. “You’ve only seen what’s on TV.” Shiflet replied, “So I’m deceived? Everyone in the world is deceived?” Lori responded, “Nobody has seen me crying on the floor.” Shiflet said, “You don’t think your mother and your sister deserve to know that your children are gone?! Why didn’t you call to tell us this? […] There is nothing okay about this, nothing.”
Shiflet continued, “I am telling you because I love you with all my heart, please consider that Chad has lied and been deceived, and you have been deceived, and this is not what you think it is. There is nothing okay about killing children. Nothing. And even if you didn’t kill them, and [Cox] didn’t kill them, and Chad didn’t kill them, you threw them away like garbage! In a pet cemetery!” Shiflet was reportedly sobbing and could barely breathe.
“They were innocent, and they were loved,” Shiflet said. “Come up with an explanation publicly!” The call then cut off.
Shiflet continued by explaining what Lori was like when she was younger. Shiflet said Lori got married when she was 18, but the marriage didn’t last long. Shiflet said Lori was married again, and that marriage lasted “longer than the first, but not that long,” Shiflet said.
And then Lori married Joseph Ryan, the father of Tylee. Shiflet said she lived in a separate state from Lori, so they weren’t as close, but she remembered Lori protected her kids from Ryan. Shiflet said Lori loved Tylee, and Tylee loved her mom. Shiflet described Tylee as “beautiful and witty, and very talented in a lot of different ways.” When asked if Shiflet would ever imagine Lori wanting to kill her kids, Shiflet said, through tears, “No.”
Shiflet said in 2018, Lori and Cox told her about some ideas that were not consistent with their religious teachings. Shiflet said Lori told her about multiple lives, as well as light and dark scales. Shiflet said she was concerned about the new religious beliefs. “I care about my sister, but I [didn’t] really know what to think about it,” Shiflet said.
Cox was reportedly fun and hilarious, but sometimes crude. Shiflet said that Cox suffered a brain injury as a teenager, and she believes it affected him. “He seemed stuck in making teenage decisions,” Shiflet said. “He got in his car accident when he was 16 and made decisions like a 16-year-old most of his life.”
Shiflet finished her testimony and was released from the stand. To read more about the trial, visit ABC4’s Lori Vallow Daybell Murder Trial.