Since the remains of missing children, 17-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old J.J. Vallow were discovered nearly two weeks ago, more friends in their mother’s religious circle have come forward.
The latest to speak out is Melanie Gibb, a close friend of Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow. Lori and Chad, the children’s mother and stepfather, are currently under investigation for the children’s deaths, as well as the deaths of their respective former spouses Charles Vallow and Tammy Daybell.
Gibb hosted a religious podcast with Lori on which Chad was a frequent guest.
She will be appearing on NBC’s Dateline at 9 p.m. Monday. She described the couple to host Keith Morrison as “gasoline and fire — equally destructive to each other.”
Gibb recently posted a seven-page letter about the couple to the AVOW website. Multiple AVOW users have made the letter public, including the Facebook group LDS Energy Healing/Emotion Code Exposed.
Gibbs said the intention of her letter was to “bring purpose” to the deaths of Tammy, Charles, Tylee and J.J. Gibb said they would “want me to tell the world of these dangers of believing such doctrines.”
In her letter posted Monday night, Gibb started out by cautioning other AVOW members against letting “prepper pride” get the best of them. Both Chad and Lori claimed to have been given exclusive knowledge from God about how to prepare for the end times.
Gibb, as one of Lori and Chad’s closest friends, was able to share unique insights into the couple’s relationship. According to Gibb, Chad told Lori the two of them “had been married multiple times” in past lives.
“She fell madly infatuated with him. Lori loved his spiritual gifts. ... They felt it was okay to have this infatuated love because Jesus knew it was their mission to be head of the 144,000,” Gibb wrote.
The 144,000 are the group of people Chad and Lori believe will be God’s chosen ones at the end of the world. The idea of the 144,000, first described in the Bible’s book of Revelation, has roots in some branches of Christianity, including Mormonism.
Lori had visions of her then-husband Charles Vallow dying, Gibb said, leading the couple to believe they could be together soon. When Charles didn’t die, Chad created new spiritual ideas to explain why Lori shouldn’t be with Charles.
“Chad devised a plan and called Lori to let her know Charles was taken over by an unclean spirit and was no longer Charles anymore. These unclean spirits would later be called Zombies. I was there when this happened and Lori seemed a little overwhelmed by the idea but wanted to believe Chad,” Gibb said.
Lori threatened to kill Charles in January, telling him he had been possessed by a demon named Nick Schneider. Documents and followers of Chad have suggested that the couple came to believe Tammy, Tylee and J.J. had become zombies as well.
Gibb’s letter went on to detail some of the strangest of the couple’s beliefs revealed yet. Chad told Gibb he had access to a special Book of Life. Biblical figures, including Peter, James and John, appeared to Chad in the mountains. Chad created a portal and would ask questions through a “gold colored pointy pendulum with a string attached.” He also did energy work to speak with angels and dead relatives.
Gibb found this behavior troubling, though she did not always seem to doubt the veracity of Chad’s claims.
“There are many people who pray to their dead ancestors or communicate with them, but I want you to really think about this. You don’t know who you are talking to — a clean spirit or unclean spirit,” Gibb said.
She cautioned other AVOW members to be careful about practicing similar “energy work.”
AVOW, an acronym for Another Voice of Warning, is one of two religious platforms to which Chad and Lori had close ties. The other is Preparing a People, whose leaders have said in a statement it is simply a multimedia platform.
The couple’s connection to AVOW isn’t as clear. Daybell appeared to be a frequent and popular poster to the AVOW website forums. His writings have appeared in books by AVOW website owner and Rigby resident Christopher Parrett. To AVOW users, Chad claimed to have prophetic dreams.
AVOW describes itself as more than a preparedness forum.
“AVOW is more than a simple forum for preparedness, it’s a whole community dedicated to preparedness and spiritual insights. You’ll find a wide variety of topics being discussed, including camping, home canning, financial preparedness, words of our living prophet, spiritual insights, and much, much more. You’ll also find a live chat-room, a variety of private and semi-private special interest-groups, member photo albums, group-buys, and a download section with hundreds of great resources to help in your preparations,” the website states.
AVOW users, who are predominantly members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Days Saints, tend to hold the belief that God sends his followers prophetic dreams that allow them to better prepare for the end of the world. Lori believes that end is coming July 22, according to divorce documents.
Chad will next appear in court on July 1 and Lori will appear in court on July 9.
Chad’s charges include two felony counts of concealment of human remains “about to be produced, used and/or discovered as evidence in felony proceeding, inquiry and/or investigation authorized by law, with the intent to prevent it from being so produced, used and/or discovered.”
Lori faces two felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children as well as misdemeanors involving resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime, and contempt of court.