Zombies, shootings, dark beings: What new court documents suggest about Lori Daybell - East Idaho News
Daybell Case

Zombies, shootings, dark beings: What new court documents suggest about Lori Daybell

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MESA, Ariz. — Court documents filed this week provide bizarre new details about Lori Vallow Daybell’s missing children, her alleged religious beliefs and a shooting in Arizona.

There are a lot of characters in this story, so we’ll start with a description of who’s involved:

  • Lori Vallow Daybell – Mother under investigation for the disappearance of two of her children, 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, who have been missing since September. She is in the Madison County Jail in Rexburg on two charges of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children.
  • Chad Daybell – Lori’s fifth husband. He married her shortly after his wife’s death. (Autopsy results on Tammy Daybell are pending.) He is thought to share her religious beliefs.
  • Melani Boudreaux Pawlowski – Lori Daybell’s niece. Melani was married to Brandon Boudreaux before he filed for divorce last year. She’s fighting for custody of her children, who Boudreaux currently has. Boudreaux says Melani knows where JJ and Tylee are, was involved in her aunt’s religious group and was connected to an attempt on his life. She strongly denies those claims.
  • Ian Pawlowski – Melani married Ian shortly after divorcing Boudreaux. Court documents show he worked with police as they investigated the whereabouts of JJ and Tylee.
  • Brandon Boudreaux – Brandon says he was shot at on Oct. 2 while returning to his Arizona home from the gym. Court documents referenced in this story come from his 70-page response to Melani’s filing that he be held in contempt for making false statements to the court.
  • Alex Cox – Lori Daybell’s brother who died suspiciously in December. Cox killed Lori’s fourth husband, Charles Vallow, allegedly in self-defense and Cox is suspected of shooting at Boudreaux.

Religious beliefs

In his filing, Boudreaux responds to Melani’s allegations with multiple exhibits, including receipts, housing contracts, copies of airplane tickets to Idaho and other items.

The most alarming details come from what Ian allegedly told his attorneys after meeting with law enforcement officers last fall. The filing does not detail how Boudreaux obtained the document, but three sources tell EastIdahoNews.com they came from Pawlowski’s computer.

In the filing, Ian explains religious beliefs that Melani allegedly shared with him early on in their relationship in the fall of 2019. One subject was “zombies,” meaning “human bodies that have had their original spirits forced from them and have been possessed by either a demon … disembodied spirit … or a worm/slug.”

RELATED | The major players and timeline in the disappearance of JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan

“Spirits can be pushed from their bodies during traumatic events or deadly injury. Spirits pushed out are trapped in limbo as the body they’re tied to is still living but cannot be occupied by them anymore,” Ian allegedly wrote.

The document describes the “dark church” with Cain being the first “dark being” to be translated.

“(Cain) walks the earth with 50 dark translated beings to prevent/delay the Lord’s second coming,” Ian allegedly wrote, mentioning that two police investigators assigned to the Lori Daybell case are “dark beings.”


After Melani told Ian about these and other beliefs, he reportedly wrote that he “tried to keep an open mind. … The ideas seemed harmless at first, and she sounded pretty certain of some of them. She talked about how she’d learned some of these things in the temple and others from Chad (Daybell) and Lori.”

Ian says when he first met Chad and Lori, he didn’t get a bad impression, but they seemed “different.” He describes learning of these new religious beliefs as “fun and exciting ideas,” but many of them felt like they were “ripped straight out of a Dungeons & Dragons manual.”

Boudreaux, JJ and Tylee

Ian admits he and Melani married “faster than any sane couple would,” but they both felt it was right. On their wedding night, Melani began to express concerns about her children.

“She explained zombies and her fears about what Chad and Lori stated concerning the original spirits being caught in limbo until the body’s death,” Ian allegedly wrote. “She stated that Brandon had been possessed by a demon or another dark entity sometime after June of this year. She was told either through revelation or by Chad … that something needed to happen to (Boudreaux) in order for his spirit to progress and for the Lord’s plan to continue. She didn’t take well to the idea of her husband dying as part of the Lord’s plan, but didn’t think action would be taken by anyone.”

Ian allegedly states that things became concerning when Melani shared the idea that “Chad and Lori could have directed Al (Alex Cox) to take a shot at Brandon,” but it wasn’t anything she was sure about.

In the filing, Ian allegedly writes that he and Melani began discussing JJ and Tylee. At this point, only JJ was considered missing and Ian writes that “Melani had been told by Chad and Lori that their children had been possessed and had become zombies.”

“She shared concerns that she’s been told Brandon needed to die and that may indicate that Tylee and JJ needed to die as well,” Ian allegedly wrote. “She told me she was worried that Al may have had to ‘take care’ of the kids. She explained that Al had great faith and never wavered in his trust in the Lord. No task would be too difficult or too great for him.”

RELATED | A look at the religious circle surrounding Chad and Lori Daybell

Ian became severely worried about what he was hearing and spent days trying to reassure himself that everything was fine, according to court documents. In the meantime, Ian’s ex-wife had reached out to Boudreaux, and he told her Melani was in a “cult” and that she had tried to have him killed.

Going to the police

Ian’s ex-wife contacted him and expressed her concerns, according to court documents. She said she was going to meet with police, and Ian agreed to go with her.

“What I shared with the police were the ideas that Chad, Lori and Alex may have planned shooting at Brandon and that Tylee and JJ may be in serious danger if Melani’s fears have any validity,” Ian allegedly wrote. “If shooting at Brandon was indeed based on the idea that he was no longer actually Brandon and needed to die as part of the Lord’s plan, then the kids’ lives could be forfeited based on the idea that they’re not really Tylee and JJ anymore.”

Ian shared other details, said he would cooperate with police and allowed them to pull data from his phone. He met with officers the next day, and they gave him a recording device to put on his keychain.

“My plan was to record anything I thought could help locate Tylee and JJ, locate Chad and Lori and understand what happened when Brandon was shot at,” Ian wrote. “If I thought Chad and Lori were going to be calling, I’d turn on the recorder and just let it run until they’d hung up.”

Ian says nothing substantial was ever recorded with Chad and Lori because they never talked about the missing children.

On Dec. 19, police searched Alex Cox’s Rexburg townhouse, and Ian says he admitted to Melani that he had spoken with officers.

“I didn’t know how she would react, but I couldn’t hang onto the stress anymore. Of course she was hurt, feeling betrayed, but she reassured me that she loves me and that she understands why I did it,” Ian allegedly wrote.

‘What-if’ scenarios

Over the next week, the couple discussed what Ian had shared with officers and Melani allegedly told him she didn’t have any proof of what she had told him. They agreed her expressions were “what-if” scenarios.

“I’m worried that I jumped the gun and have sent the authorities on yet another wild-goose chase along with prompting them to light up the national media with pieces of what I shared,” Ian allegedly wrote.

He expressed his frustrations with Chad and Lori fleeing to Hawaii and said he “still had his doubts” about them.

“I don’t ever want to have anything to do with those two after this. Melani has been put through the ringer because of their paranoia and now is in the hot seat because I went to the police and tried to help,” Ian allegedly wrote.

He concludes his report by saying he will only deal with law enforcement officers going forward if his attorney is present.

Pawlowskis’ attorney responds

Garrett Smith, Ian and Melani Pawlowski’s attorney, tells EastIdahoNews.com Melani does not believe the religious beliefs she told her new husband about; rather, she was just informing him of the ideas.

Smith says he is working to discover the truth of the new filing “with the same degree of skepticism we’ve had with everything else Brandon has filed in this case.”

“Melani has no knowledge of who shot at Brandon. She has no information of who did it and does not profess to,” Smith says. “She absolutely does not know where JJ and Tylee are. She’s done three interviews with the FBI and she would be in deep waters if she lied to them about that. She is like everybody else. She would love to know where those kids are and she hopes they are safe.”

Smith says Melani has not spoken with Lori since she was arrested and has cooperated with law enforcement. She and Ian are working to get custody of her four children.

“Melani is a good, kind, decent woman who has devoted her entire life to her kids. It’s an irony to me that while everyone is scouring the countryside for JJ and Tylee, Mel, by a pack of lies, is being denied access to her children,” Smith says.

A hearing is scheduled on the custody issue next week in Mesa. Boudreaux declined to comment further on the filing.