The problem with producing a documentary about an ongoing story is that things can suddenly change before your document is previewed.
This is exactly what happened with the Netflix docuseries “Sins of Our Mother”, which will start streaming on Wednesday. Much of it is told from the privileged point of view of Colby Ryan, the adult son of Lori Vallow Daybell, who is awaiting trial for first degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in connection with the death of her fourth husband, his wife. of the fifth husband. , and her two youngest children: 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old JJ Vallow. The disappearance of the children became a media sensation that ended in horror when their burnt bodies were found buried behind the home of Lori’s fifth husband, Chad Daybell.
“The most important part of the story for me was really Colby’s reaction and Colby’s role in this story,” said Skye Borgman, the documentary’s director, in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune. “Often these stories are told and they are a lot about crime – and that touches all crimes. But many times we leave and we have no idea of the effects on the family. And how people are affected when their entire family is destroyed.
“And that’s where Colby is right now. … he has lost all of his support network that he had practically all his life.
“The Sins of Our Mother” begins streaming Wednesday. But a few days ago, Ryan was arrested and charged with domestic violence and sexual assault. Which doesn’t change any of the events depicted in the documentary, but it certainly makes the sympathetic portrait of him more than a little embarrassing, particularly as he is depicted in the film as a loving and supportive husband, an image at odds with allegations of abuse. .
“With every story, you’re always ready to let it take on your own life,” Borgman said. “This did it to a greater extent than most, I’d say. And I expect it to continue. … I think it’s far from over. “
He said that before Colby’s arrest. (As of this writing, Netflix still plans to stream the show as scheduled.)
The three-part series puts viewers in Colby’s position: a man in his twenties, with a wife and child. He learns that his teenage sister and preteen brother have been killed. His mother and his new stepfather, whom he has never met, are arrested.
Police in Arizona are investigating her mother’s role in the death of one of her stepfathers, who was shot and killed by her uncle. Idaho police are investigating his new stepfather’s role in the death of his first wife, Tammy, who died 17 days before marrying Ryan’s mother.
Ryan was attacked on social media by people who accused him of being somehow involved in all of this. And there are almost unbelievable tapes of Lori dancing around the truth in telephone conversations with Colby: she was found at one point ineligible for trial, but she clearly knows what she is saying and what she should say.
Ties to Latter-day Saints
Very little of what happens is directly related to Utah, but much is related to the fact that both Lori and Chad Daybell were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Chad served a mission in New Jersey, where he “established all kinds of baptismal records,” says another missionary who returned in the documentary.
Chad is a graduate of Brigham Young University; he, Tammy, and their children lived in Springville before moving to Rexburgh, Idaho; Tammy is buried in Springville, where her body was exhumed during an investigation into her death.
“I raised all of our children in the LDS Church,” Lori’s mother says in the documentary. “All our children have worshiped the Book of Mormon, and Lori has always loved the scriptures.”
And Ryan says, “As time went on, the Mormon Church was becoming a more important topic in our home. I think it started to become a little more of idolatry. There were only photos everywhere. Everything was slowly being replaced with images of temples and things like that. In the whole house, in everything. “
“Our Mother’s Sins” describes how both Lori and Chad Daybell have drifted away from their Latter-day Saint upbringing. Chad thinks he’s a prophet. He and his followers think reincarnation is one thing, and he was waiting for an apocalypse, when only 144,000 righteous people would survive. And he would guide them.
“He is trying to create a new religion based on Mormonism,” says forensic psychologist John Mathias.
There are references that only those familiar with the church will understand, such as when Charles writes in “Gadiantons” – apparently taken from the Gadianton robbers in the Book of Mormon.
And there are audio recordings of Lori recounting religious experiences that are … weird. Dead, angels – including the angel Moroni – and God speaking to them. She and Chad believed they had been married multiple times in previous lives.
Lori is convinced that Chad is indeed a prophet. She believed that her ex-husband, Charles Daybell, and both Tylee and JJ had become “zombies”: evil spirits had taken over their bodies and had to be killed to free their spirits.
“I mean, look, it’s completely off the wall,” Borgman said. “But we’ve all seen stories or met people who somehow go too far in their beliefs. I mean, it usually doesn’t end with the murder of your children.
The police are sick
“Sins of Our Mother” uses camera footage of the police body with devastating effects, devastating for the police, that is. They ignored the strange behavior of both Lori and her brother Alex after Alex shot and killed Lori’s then husband Charles Daybell.
The officers who interviewed Lori both before and after the murder are clearly sympathetic to her, ignoring the red flags. Before Charles was shot, police officers seem to think the dispute between Lori and Charles was a normal domestic dispute. They certainly don’t seem to take seriously what Charles was saying about Lori and her strange beliefs and threats. An agent even offers Lori advice on how to avoid the police and warns her that they are coming to get her for a mental evaluation.
It’s hard not to think that if they took Charles’s allegations seriously, he, Tylee and JJ might still be alive.
“I don’t think it reflects well on them,” Borgman said. “But at the same time … I can’t imagine that any of those law enforcement officers had any idea that there was real danger.”
The story continues
Borgman worked on “The Sins of Our Mother” for nearly three years. At one point, he thought the documentary was over, and then the police released more tapes and videos.
After seeing this show and all the other cover-ups, it’s hard to imagine this trial ending with anything other than a guilty verdict. This is certainly how Borgman expects it to end. But, he warns him, it’s not a done deal.
“I always remind myself to never take anything for granted,” she said. “It’s easy to say, ‘Yes, they will spend the rest of their life in prison.’ But we don’t really know yet. We don’t know what law enforcement know, what the FBI know, what lawyers know. “
He said he hopes “Our Mother’s Sins” has “more meaning” than “just another grossly crime-driven story.”
“With that, I think Colby has been the key to this with this family,” he said. “He really wanted the opportunity to take control of his narrative and have a voice in what was going on, because there was so much going on without his consent, unbeknownst to him. And he just wanted to be able to get in on it. I play and say, ‘You know, this is who I am, this is my story. And I was incredibly hurt by it.’
“But I also find great inspiration in the family he created with his wife and children,” he said.
So, yes, beyond the horrific nature of the crimes it relates, “Our Mother’s Sins” is now incredibly embarrassing.
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