Sins of Our Mother Review: Don’t Follow Cults, Guys
Skye Borgman’s true-crime documentary series Sins of Our Mother is about the life of Lori Vallow, whose life has been full of ups and downs and questions.
Netflix says this about the show:
WHEN LORI VALLOW’S KIDS VANISHED, THE SEARCH FOR THEM UNEARTHED A TRAIL OF SUSPICIOUS DEATHS, A NEW HUSBAND WHO SHARED HER DOOMSDAY VIEWS — AND MURDER.
This Sins of Our Mother review doesn’t give anything away.
Sins of Our Mother starts with real footage from the night Lori Vallow’s kids vanished without a trace, like American Murder: The Family Next Door. That was both interesting and scary to watch. So, is Netflix’s new true crime show as good as its other great ones?
Sins of Our Mother is largely driven by religion, and the show makes a point of showing us how religion and trauma can shape our lives and throw us off track. It can’t be easy to be so tied to your religion and then go through three divorces. The series makes it clear that the LDS Church doesn’t like divorces, so there must have been some kind of reaction in your own mind, right?
On top of that, the trauma of being in several abusive relationships must have made her even more vulnerable to more abuse and religious extremism. This is exactly what happened. It’s interesting how accurate the series is when it comes to describing different parts of Lori’s life with the help of people who knew her, mostly her oldest son Colby Ryan.
The story isn’t just about Lori, though. It’s also about the shocking people in her life, like Chad Daybell, another member of the LDS Church who made Lori even more angry. When he shows up early on, you can feel the tension in your bones. You know this isn’t going to go well.
As the story goes on and you hear all the people involved make their cases, you can’t help but feel sad when you realize that some (or a lot) people in the world have such a warped view of the world that it would drive them to do something extreme. You also feel angry and resentful when you think about how selfish people can be, because, let’s be honest, Lori’s actions are nothing but selfish.
The relationship between Chad and Lori shows how two toxic people can help each other ruin their own lives and the lives of those around them. Sins of Our Mother brings this idea out into the open. As you listen to Lori’s friends and family, you realize that they, too, have been hurt by someone close to them. The documentary makes a point of making them the main focus. Their thoughts and experiences take center stage as we piece together Lori’s slow and gradual descent into literal madness.
It’s also nice to know that the show doesn’t try to make you feel sorry for Lori in any way. As I said, Sins of Our Mothers is about how and why something so bad happened. It doesn’t make excuses for the people who did it, and it doesn’t try to make us feel bad about the possible brainwashing and trauma that led to an unthinkable tragedy. I did, however, feel sorry for Colby. That man has been through too much since a young age because the adults in his life have failed him so badly.
I think this is going to be hard and confusing to watch for anyone who gets upset by religion and too much “Light Side” and “Dark Side” talk and all that. There are so many rankings and murders based on who has more light or dark in them, whatever that means, that you can’t help but wonder what to do with this information. It makes sense in the story, but there are times when it seems like too much and is hard to believe, like when another religious person is brought in to explain something. It’s strange and it makes me feel very much.
Sins of Our Mother does what documentaries usually do. There are a lot of photos, videos, and recordings of the people involved in this sad story, as well as reenactments. The interviews are done in familiar, homey settings, which, for some strange reason, makes what the interviewees say even more shocking.
The show is also very dramatic and sometimes kind of corny, which, to be honest, isn’t really necessary for true crime shows. The crimes themselves are shocking, so you don’t need to get too dramatic with how you tell the story. I think Sins of Our Mother went a bit too far and got a bit more dramatic than it needed to be. Any way you look at it, it’s shocking and sad, and it will make you pay attention.
Sins of Our Mother
From the beginning to the end, Sins of Our Mother is a wild ride. This is about so much more than just mental health. It’s a great show to watch if you like true crime stories and want to be really excited for three episodes.
Who is Lori Vallow?
Vallow was born Lori Cox and grew up in San Bernardino, California. When she was young, she got married twice. In 1996, when she was married to William Lagioia for the second time, she had a son named Colby. Throughout the documentary, Colby is interviewed.
Then, in 2001, Vallow married Joseph Anthony Ryan Jr., and Ryan took Colby in as his own child. In 2002, Tylee, Vallow and Ryan’s daughter, was born. They broke up in 2005. A year later, she married Charles Vallow, and they raised his grandnephew, Joshua Jaxon “J.J.” Vallow, as their own.
Up until this point, Vallow was seen as the perfect mom. In the documentary, there is footage of her around this time saying, “It’s very important to me to be a good mom and a good wife.” Colby, her son, adds, “We were a great family before this.”
Enter Chad Daybell
In 2015, Vallow started reading books written by Chad Daybell, a religious preacher who believed that the end of the world was coming and that people could be ranked from light to dark. People who were “dark” were controlled by the devil, and people who were “light” were “followers of Jesus Christ.”
The first time they met was at a Preparing The People event in Arizona in 2018. Daybell told Vallow that they had already been married seven times. A few months later, in 2019, she became less close to her family. J.J.’s grandparents, Larry Woodcock and Kay Vallow Woodcock, said on KLSTV that she “just disappeared.” She wasn’t there at all for 58 days.”
At this point, Charles Vallow filed for divorce in February 2019, saying Lori had threatened to kill him and taken $35,000 from their bank account. ABC15 says that he got an order of protection against Lori because he “truly feared for his life.”
That fear turned out to be true because Alex Cox, Lori’s brother, killed Charles five months later. Charles hit Cox with a baseball bat, so Cox said he did it to protect himself. Surprisingly, the police did not look into it any further.
Lori Vallow told J.J.’s school in September 2019 that she was taking him out of school to teach him at home. Since September 23, he hasn’t been seen. The last time anyone saw Tylee in public was on September 8.
In the meantime, Daybell’s wife, Tammy, died in October under very strange circumstances. Daybell says that she died of “natural causes” ten days after calling the police to say that a masked intruder had tried to shoot her. At the time, there was neither an autopsy nor a post-mortem. However, her body was later dug up and an investigation was done. The case was looked into again, but the results were never made public.
After two weeks, Lori Vallow and Daybell ran away to Hawaii, where they got married without J.J. or Tylee there. Back in Rexburg, when J.J.’s grandmother told the police that he hadn’t been seen in weeks, they did a welfare check. Lori Vallow told the police that he was with family in Arizona. The next day, with the FBI on their trail, she and her brother packed up the house and left.
They stayed away from the police for the next three months, until Lori Vallow’s Rexburg storage unit was searched. They found clothes, bikes, and pictures of the children in it. Vallow and her brother were seen moving things in and out of the locker on video before they ran away. Vallow and Daybell were arrested on February 20, 2020. In June 2020, J.J. and Tylee’s bodies were found buried in a pet cemetery when Daybell’s house was searched.
Where does the case stand now?
Tamara, Tylee, and J.J. were killed in March 2021, and Vallow and Daybell were charged with their deaths. In June 2021, Lori Vallow was charged with plotting to kill her husband Charles by an Arizona grand jury. Vallow was once ruled incompetent to stand trial because of her mental health, but as of April 2022, she is now considered competent. Vallow and Daybell have both said they are innocent, so their cases will be heard at the same time in January 2023.
What does the director say about the documentary series?
Borgman told E! News, “Lori Vallow has a lot of different sides.” Like a mother, sister, or wife… and a lie. I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure what drove Lori to do such horrible things. But to find an answer, we have to look at Lori through the eyes of the people who knew her best.
You can watch Sins of Our Mother on Netflix.
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