Review of “Sins of Our Mother”: Netflix documentary traces Lori Vallow’s descent from loving mom to delusional insane to suspected killer

We are now four series streaming in 2022 about scandals and murders involving members of the Church of Latter-day Saints or ramifications of the church – four separate stories that took place over various time periods.

  • In March, Netflix premiered the “Murder Among the Mormons” documentary series, which told the story of Mark Hoffman, a forger who created historical documents by changing the narrative of Mormon history. In the 1980s, Hoffman planted bombs that killed two people and injured another.
  • April led to the release of the FX drama series “Under the Banner of Heaven” on Hulu, the story of two brothers who were members of a radical Mormon splinter group and killed their sister-in-law and newborn daughter in 1984.
  • In June, Netflix released the four-part documentary series “Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey,” a blast from the horrifying story of a polygamous group of the fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • Now comes the three-part Netflix series “Sins of Our Mother,” which revisits a case that appeared in national news for months in 2019 and 2020, when 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and her 6-year-old brother JJ Vallow went missing, as their mother, Lori Vallow, and her husband, Chad Daybell, refused to cooperate with the investigation. (Vallow and Daybell claimed to be “true Mormons,” but became members of a doomsday cult with beliefs radically different from the modern Mormon church.)

Almost a year after the children were last seen, authorities assembled enough evidence to conduct a search of Daybell’s property in Rexburg, Idaho, where they found the partially burned remains of both children. A grand jury indicted Vallow and Daybell for murder and a joint trial is scheduled for 2023.

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It’s a gruesome, horrifying and chilling story with a long, complex and sometimes insane build-up. Director Skye Borgman (“Abducted in Plain Sight”, “The Girl in the Picture”) solidifies her as a master of this genre, as she artfully weaves today’s interviews with Vallow’s son Colby and his mother, Janis Cox, as well as investigative reporters and others close to the case; family home video; bodycam footage of various police calls involving Lori; news footage and some jaw-dropping audio from Lori in phone calls and podcast recordings.

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Lori Vallow’s son Colby is among the people interviewed in “Sins of Our Mother”.

We see Vallow looking like an all-American blonde as she competes in the Mrs. Texas contest and appears in “Wheel of Fortune”, watches the video where she adores her children – and then watches it all unfold. Vallow falls deeper and deeper into a delusional world where she considers herself “a resurrected being and a god,” as a former husband once told the police, and comes to believe that some of her closest people have been possessed by spirits. evil and have become zombies.

“I don’t need to sleep much anymore and I am constantly awakened by angels giving me instructions on things I can do to further help the father’s work,” Vallow says in an audio recording. “The time is now. The Lord is gathering his people.” Later, in a podcast he proclaims, “In the premortal world, and I went to other worlds, I fought in this war for MILLENNIA. And that’s who I am. And I am. come down here to be a warrior and fight “.

“Sins of Our Mother” guides us through the complicated and sometimes almost impossible to follow story of Vallow and his five marriages, his siblings, his children and his friends, as Vallow moves from Arizona to Hawaii, from the Arizona to Idaho in Hawaii, eventually returning to Idaho to face charges for the disappearance of her children.

His son Colby talks about the alarming changes in his mother’s behavior as he piles up tents and supplies of powdered food and talks about the end times to come. Lori tells family members that her husband Charles is dead and a demon is using her body as a host. In July 2019, Lori’s brother Alex Cox shoots and kills Charles, claiming he was acting in self-defense.

Eventually Vallow confronts Chad Daybell, who proclaims that Rexburg, Idaho, is the new Jerusalem, and that his books are scriptures and should be taken on a par with the Book of Mormon. In November 2019, just two weeks after the funeral service for Daybell’s wife Tammy, he and Lori Vallow were married in Hawaii.

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Chad Daybell, Lori Vallow’s fifth husband, is also accused of the murders of the children.

Meanwhile, we see messages from Lori about how she wants to “get rid of the Zs”, as in zombies, and a list where her daughter is marked “4.1 D”, as in Dark Spirit. At this point, the babies have been missing for months. A TV reporter finds Daybell and Vallow in Hawaii and says, “They’ve been missing for four months and you have nothing to say?” They don’t.

After Vallow refuses to comply with a court order to physically produce her children, she is returned to Idaho to face charges. The FBI uses information retrieved from the cell phone of Lori’s now deceased brother Alex, which leads to the search warrant for the Daybell property and the discovery of the remains of her children.

Says Lori Vallow’s mother, Janis Cox, who went on TV several times to defend her daughter when the children were still missing: “I said I knew Lori couldn’t harm her children. I was wrong.”

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