(NewsNation) — Jurors sitting in the trial of Lori Vallow listened to the recording of an emotional phone call between the Idaho mom and her younger sister, Summer Shiflet, where Shiflet begged Vallow to come clean about her two kids’ disappearance and death.
Vallow is being tried over the killings of her two youngest children, JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan. She is also charged in connection to the death of her husband, Chad Daybell’s, previous wife. Prosecutors say the two used doomsday-focused religious beliefs to further a plan to kill the children. The couple is being tried separately.
Both Tylee Ryan and JJ were last seen in September 2019. Later, their bodies were found buried in Chad Daybell’s yard.
Shiflet, the aunt of Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow, said she was first told about the disappearance of her niece and nephew in December 2019.
At that point in time, Shiflet was not in touch with Lori Vallow, and did not know where she was. Before that, though, the two had been close.
During the trial, a recording from June 24, 2020 call when Vallow and Shiftlet spoke to each other was played.
When the recording starts, both sisters asked how the other was. Not good, they both replied.
“I don’t know what to say,” Shiflet said, per the recording. “I am willing to listen if you want to talk to me but I don’t know what to say.”
Meanwhile, Lori said she didn’t know what is going on.
Sobbing so hard she could barely get out her words, Shiflet told Vallow that Tylee and JJ were found in Daybell’s backyard.
“Did you know they were there?” Shiflet asked, to which Vallow replied: “I can’t talk about it.”
Shiflet kept pressing her sister for more explanations and said she wanted to believe the best in her, but later during the call became angry and yelled at Vallow.
FILE – A boy looks at a memorial for Tylee Ryan and Joshua “JJ” Vallow in Rexburg, Idaho, on June 11, 2020. (John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP, File)
“You expect me to keep just believing without ever having a question… either explain it or don’t expect me to believe it… I’m not okay,” Shiflet said. “I loved them with my whole heart. I would have taken JJ and Tylee in a heartbeat and everyone else would have too, you know that.”
Saying there’s nothing in the scripture about hurting a “Godly child,” Shiflet insisted that JJ and Tylee deserved a proper burial.
While Vallow insisted that nobody knows what she’s been through, and that all they do know is what’s been on TV, Shiflet replied with disbelief.
“Lori, you were dancing on the beach in Hawaii taking wedding photos,” she said. Vallow and Daybell were married in Hawaii a couple months after the children’s bodies were found.
“Do you think your mother, your sister and your son don’t deserve to know that your children are gone? Why wouldn’t you call and tell us that? Why were we cut off?” Shiflet asked. “I’ve loved you my whole life and I still do…it hurts me. I don’t want to see you in jail.”
The phone call ended with Shiflet telling Vallow to “come up with an explanation publicly.”
Many of the jury members, listening intently to the call, had their heads in their hands as it played. Vallow could be seen wiping away tears and looking visibly shaken.
Shiflet then told the defense more about her family. Growing up, Shiflet and Vallow had a close relationship, lots of friends in common and went to school and church together.
As a mom, Shiflet testified, Vallow displayed care and protectiveness to Tylee, JJ and her oldest son, Colby as they grew up.
Tylee, Shiflet described, was a “beautiful and witty and very talented” girl who had a loving relationship with her mom.
“Tylee adored her mother,” Shiflet said.
Although Tylee had a sassy streak in her, Vallow was always very patient with her, Shiflet said.
Choking up, Shiflet says she was never concerned for the safety of Tylee around Vallow, and when asked by the defense, said she would never have imagined Vallow killing her kids.
In late 2018, Vallow first mentioned to Shiflet new beliefs she had about having multiple lives and creations, something she hadn’t heard her sister talk about before then.
While they talked about light and dark spirits, Shiflet testified that Vallow did not say she was a goddess or leader, or remember her sister talking about zombies, which are all aspects of the extreme beliefs Vallow had that have been reported on before.