A Bonkers Murder Mystery Was Unfolding Throughout This

Between the deadly pandemic and the deadly racism, it's hard to get on the front page these days, even when a story contains doomsday cults, cross-country manhunts, and no fewer than three corpses. In any other era, that would be the number-one trending topic all day every day, but it's barely a blip in this one, so let's catch you up.

In 2015, a thrice-divorced Arizona mother named Lori Vallow became obsessed with a writer of Mormon dystopian fantasy named Chad Daybell, so that's how this story starts. Sometime between then and 2018, they met, fell in love, and -- as is the natural order of things -- started podcasting together. Daybell, it turned out, was no ordinary Mormon dystopian fantasy writer. He really believed the things he wrote about were both possible and imminent, while Vallow was said to believe she was "a god assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ's second coming in July 2020." This shared delusion formed the basis of their podcasts and presumably every other conversation they had. You know how those types of couples are.

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There was just one small problem: They were both married at the time. Conveniently for the star-crossed lovers, Vallow's husband got into a fight in July 2019 in which he was fatally wounded in self-defense, and Daybell's wife died a few months later of natural causes. That's the official story, anyway. Daybell declined an autopsy, so no one knows. A few months after that, Vallow's brother died of unknown causes, which is important because he happened to be the one who shot her husband. All of these deaths would have gone unnoticed had it not been for the disappearance of two of Vallow's children, because we still haven't gotten to the big story.

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In September 2019 -- that's after the death of Vallow's husband but just before the death of Daybell's wife, for those struggling to keep up -- 17-year-old Tylee Ryan and seven-year-old JJ Vallow went missing. By November, worried relatives convinced the local police to visit the couple's Idaho home, where they were shooed out the door and told to come back the next day. When they did, they were somehow surprised to find that the couple had fled to Hawaii. They tracked them down two months later in a luxury condo in Kauai and court-ordered Vallow to prove her children were alive, ideally through some kind of magician's reveal. Spoiler: She failed, so she was swiftly arrested for being shady as fuck. The police started investigating her connection to all those other mysterious deaths, and yesterday, Daybell was arrested after human remains were found on his land. We don't know whose. Honestly, it could be Jimmy Hoffa, and we wouldn't be surprised.

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So, exactly what the fuck is going on here? If Daybell and/or Vallow murdered the children or anyone else -- which is still a big "if" -- why? There's an obvious motivation for the murders of their respective spouses, but it'd have to have something to do with the doomsday stuff, right? Was it a The Mist situation? Some kind of prophecy, perhaps? What about the brother? Was he in on it, if there was an "it" to be in on? Was he going to turn on them, if there was something on which to turn? It's still all up in the air, but whatever the case, let's hope it gets resolved before that second coming next month. Hey, anything is possible at this point, right?

Top image: Steve Jurvetson/Flickr, Skitterphoto/Pixabay

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