Lori Vallow’s former sister-in-law delivered a chilling testimony on Friday as she shared an insight into the doomsday cult mother’s twisted psyche.
Zulema Pastenes, who married Vallow’s brother Alex Cox a month before his death in December 2019 and was a close confidante of Vallow, said the murder suspect claimed her son JJ and daughter Tylee were allegedly “possessed by demons” in front of her and ” attacked” killed her.
She also detailed how, after shooting Lori’s husband Charles Vallow in July 2019, a topic raised early in the trial, Cox had a bizarre reaction when she confronted him about the incident.
“I asked him if he was okay after he just shot someone,” she said. “I thought he was in shock or struggling with what happened and he said, ‘Zulema, he was a zombie.’
Pastenes, who also claimed Lori Vallow would tell friends she was visited by Jesus Christ before she allegedly murdered her children, admitted she now believed Vallow and Chad Daybell “made it all up” when they fell out after their religious zeal were asked.
Zulema Pastenes, pictured, delivered bombshell testimony on day five of Lori Vallow’s murder trial in Boise, Idaho
Pastenes married Alex Cox, pictured, in Las Vegas in November 2019, a month before he died of a pulmonary thromboembolism
Pastenes offered a disturbing glimpse into the world of the religious cult she was a part of, she told Cox “believed everything” Vallow and Daybell told him about possessed people, including a “light and dark” soul rating scale and evil spirits.
The scathing testimony also saw jurors confronted with pages from Pastenes’ diary, in which she detailed how Vallow claimed to be able to deal with a “possessed” person.
Pastenes wrote ‘scatter’, ‘burn’, ‘exorcise’ and ‘get rid of’ – with ‘binding’ a different technique.
The court was also shown a hand-drawn diagram intended to illustrate how a possessed person’s spirit would remain in “limbo”.
Pastenes added: “Chad claimed it was him [the] Heavenly Father and Jesus and Holy Spirit.
“He would have been spiritually the highest of all… He had chosen [Lori] to be his wife and they were on this earth seven times before… That was his mate and therefore placed her in the same spiritual rank’.
Zulema Pastenes, right, delivered a bombastic testimony on day five of Lori Vallow’s murder trial
Vallow, pictured in a sketch by a court artist on April 13, 2023, allegedly killed her children after believing they had been “possessed” by demons
The key people in Lori Vallow’s tangled family tree, including her five husbands, two dead children and murderous brother Alex Cox
The doomsday cult mother, 49, convinced friends she has a “very high spiritual” reputation and would hold “castings” to rid those close to her of evil spirits. But when the ceremonies failed, she proceeded to kill them, prosecutors claim.
Pastenes said she first met Vallow in 2018 at the home of Melanie Gibb, another close friend of Vallow’s, who testified at her trial on Thursday.
Vallow “bearing a testimony that she had visitations from angels and that she had visitations from the angel Moroni, that she gave her instructions, and that she was a personal witness of Jesus Christ.”
Pastenes, a mother of three, believed that Vallow — who has been described as “persuasive” and “alive” — had “a very high spiritual standing.”
“If anyone is telling the truth about this, I wouldn’t question them. I would believe they were telling the truth because I would never believe anyone would lie about something so sacred,” she said.
However, when asked during her testimony if she still believed in the legitimacy of the castings, she replied “not anymore.”
“Two children died there, a mother of five children died – I would call that bad now.”
Pastenes, who said she works as an employment coach, added, “I don’t believe anything they said… They made it all up.”
“I just don’t think Chad, Lori would have the authority to do that [castings]nor the right intentions.’
She said she initially believed them to be “kind, loving, righteous, and law-abiding.”
Daybell, pictured during an August 2020 court hearing, built a following as a religious fanatic who warned of an impending apocalypse
Pastenes added that she would accompany Vallow to the “Preparing the People” conferences, where people were instructed to prepare for the apocalypse.
Pastenes recalled Daybell and Vallow’s first meeting at one of the events in 2018. Vallow and Daybell chatted at a bookstall where he was selling his apocalyptic novels.
“At first it was just normal talking and then it was obvious that Lori was very flirty with him, giggling a lot and getting involved with him,” the court heard.
Pastenes recalled that other interactions between Daybell and Vallow made her feel like a “third wheel” because of the pair’s flirtatious nature.
Pastenes, who occasionally wiped away tears while giving her statement, said Daybell would claim to have information about her past life. In a past life, Daybell said that Pastenes was Vallow’s daughter and died at the age of 14 after being raped.
Vallow talked about “how people are either light or dark” and drew diagrams to illustrate the concept. She began claiming Charles Vallow was “possessed by a dark spirit or demon Garrett” around February 2019.
“She expressed how different he was, he acted differently … He was a completely different person, he even looked like he was smaller,” Pastenes said.
Vallow claimed the “evil spirit haunted him for a few years so he could learn all about him and now possessed him”.
Pastenes said the first “casting” to remove the demon from Charles was towards the end of March 2019. Vallow conducted the casting with a group of girlfriends and it was said to be successful.
“She said that we had to hold hands and stand in a circle and each of the participants had a different part to say or do to complete it,” Pastenes said.
But after that, Vallow started telling friends that “another, more powerful, and more skilled demon” had taken over Charles named Ned.
Pastenes said, “After Ned was removed, an even more powerful demon possessed Charles’ body… [The demon] had done so for hundreds of years.’
Lori Vallow, right, reportedly held a “casting” to rid her husband Charles, left, of a “dark spirit.”
Vallow’s children, Tylee and JJ, disappeared in September 2019, but their remains were not discovered for another 10 months. Alex Cox, who died in December 2019, was implicated in her murders
The “charred remains” of Tylee Ryan, 16, and JJ Vallow, 7, were found at the couple’s Salem, Idaho home. Pictured: Investigators search the property on June 9, 2020
Vallow also made similar claims about Chad Daybell’s wife, Tammy, who she says was possessed by a demon named Viola.
She reportedly said, “That was the reason Tammy died because they were finally able to cast a demon.”
Vallow had also talked about “things she needed to do to herald the second coming” and “cleanse the earth.” She said “Charles’ death was part of the steps to the second coming”.
Vallow told Pastenes that “Rexburg would be a place where there would be soldiers and warriors who would defend that area, and that area was prepared by the church.”
Vallow seemed frustrated at Pastenes’ testimony at times. At one point, Pastenes told the court the pair briefly lost touch after she was “ghostly.”
Vallow told her attorneys, “I didn’t do ghosting.”
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