A woman’s only living child Accused of murdering her two youngest children and a romantic rival Her mother confronted her sibling’s death in an emotional phone call that played out for jurors Tuesday in a trial that has touched on claims of evil spirits, zombie babies and additional murder charges in another state.
Prosecutors played the call shortly after Colby Ryan, Lori Vallo Debell’s oldest child, took the stand in Idaho’s bizarre triple murder case. The call was made after the bodies of Ryan’s siblings, Joshua “JJ” Vallo and Tylee Ryan, were found. Buried in 2020 in an eastern Idaho yardAnd after Valo Debel was jailed for the crime.
It begins with Ryan asking his mother what she thought she could hide from him.
“I’m not hiding, why would you think I’m hiding?” Valo Debell responds.
“Maybe because you killed my siblings! Maybe you should understand,” Ryan said before his mother interrupted:
“I didn’t. I’m sorry you feel that way,” she said.
The call continued for several minutes, with Valo Debell insisting that Ryan couldn’t know what happened because he wasn’t there, but that JJ and Tylee were happy and everything would be clear in the afterlife.
But Ryan said his mother lied to him more than once when his brother and sister were missing, even when someone sent him texts from his sister’s phone pretending they were from Tylee.
“Knowing they’re gone, and you knew it! And my phone is being texted by my little sister, who’s not alive!” Ryan said, his voice rising. “My poor brother, who’s the sweetest kid ever—for what purpose? You tell me it’s God’s will: die for my whole family, including my stepfather.”
Prosecutors say Valo Debell and her fifth husband, Chad Debell, had a strange affair Doomsday-centered belief Demonic possession and “zombies” are involved in furthering their alleged plan to kill the children and his ex-wife, Tammy Debell. They allegedly collect about $6,000 a month from life insurance money and the children’s Social Security and survivor benefits due to their father’s death: Tylee’s father, Joe Ryan, died in 2018, and JJ’s father, Charles Vallo, died in 2019.
JJ was 7 and Tylee was a few days shy of her 17th birthday when the children were last seen alive in September 2019, and their bodies were buried in Chad Debell’s yard the following June. Tammy Debell died in October 2019 — just two weeks before Valo Debell and Chad Debell’s wedding — and an autopsy later determined she had been strangled.
Both pleaded not guilty to murder, conspiracy and grand theft charges and are being tried separately. Debell’s trial is still months away.
Vallo Debell has also been charged in the Arizona death of her fourth husband, Charles Vallo.
In July 2019, she was shot and killed outside her Phoenix-area home by Valo Debell’s brother, Alex Cox. Cox told police the shooting was in self-defense, and he was never charged in the case because he later died of natural causes. Valo Debell has not yet had a chance to plead in the Arizona case.
Before the trial, former friends of Valo Debelle told jurors about the couple’s spiritual beliefs, which included the idea that evil spirits could take over a person’s body, force the person’s soul out and turn them into “zombies.” The only way to get rid of the evil spirit was to kill the body, former friend Melanie Gibb told jurors.
Valo Debell called JJ and Tylee “zombies” several times before they died, Gibb told investigators.
The recorded phone call appears to hint at some of Valo Debelle’s beliefs, with Ryan telling his mother he was praying for her and warning her against blasphemy.
Valo Debel laughed in response.
“I love you, I always will. One day you’ll see and one day you’ll understand,” Valo Debell called her son, adding that her dead siblings “are fine.”
“They love me and they’re fine… You can go ahead and judge me all day long,” she said.
Ryan wept on the stand as prosecutors showed him photos of Tylee and JJ and told jurors how Tylee sent him regular text messages in the weeks after he first disappeared but changed in tone and punctuation before she disappeared.
He also said that Tylee received Social Security benefits after the 2018 death of his father, Joe Ryan, and sometimes sent him money, but after Tylee disappeared, the funds started coming from a different account in his mother’s name.
Charles Valo’s death meant JJ also received Social Security benefits, a Social Security Administration special agent told jurors. Valo Debell never reported to the Social Security Administration that the young children were missing or dead, Mark Sary said, even though federal rules required him to do so.
The children together received about $3,800 a month, and Vallo Debell also received about $1,900 a month in benefits after Charles Vallo’s death, Sarry said.
The agency stopped all payments in January 2020 because the children were missing, he said.