Several people close to Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell say the two have extreme beliefs and that they're involved in a "doomsday cult."
The couple ran away to Hawaii as police started asking questions about their missing children, JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan, who were last seen in September.
Lori was arrested and charged in connection to their disappearance in Hawaii last week. She has an extradition hearing March 2.
Lori and Chad are members of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter-Day Saints.
Patrick Mason is an LDS historian who teaches Mormon history and culture at Utah State University. He said he doesn't like to call them members of a "cult" but said their beliefs are undoubtedly extreme.
In divorce papers filed by Lori's ex-husband Charles Vallow in February 2019, he says Lori told him that she was a "translated being who cannot taste death sent by God to lead the 144,000 into the millennium." It goes on to say that Lori believed that "she is receiving spiritual revelations and visions to help her gather and prepare those chosen to live in the New Jerusalem after the Great War as prophesied in the book of Revelations."
The documents also state that on January 29, 2019 during a phone conversation, Lori told Charles that she was "a God assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ's second coming in July 2020" and if Charles got in the way of her mission, that she would kill him.
Mason said it sounds like Lori and Chad started with Mormon core beliefs and went beyond the teachings.
"All Latter Day Saints believe that Jesus is going to come back at some point, that there will be a second coming of Christ, but the idea that anyone knows what that date is, or that they have to take specific extreme actions in preparation, that would go way beyond mainstream teaching," said Mason.
Mason said the couple seems to be affiliated with an informal group that doesn't follow LDS doctrine.
"There have been movements throughout Mormon history-- this seems to be one of them--of people that feel that they really understand the truly teachings of the church, that they are living on a higher plane, and that they've been given a special calling from God to do something distinctive and unique. In this case, get ready for Jesus' return," he said.
He said one of the core teachings is the idea of personal revelation --that anyone can receive a revelation from God.
"For most people this is a beautiful teaching, it's a great teaching. It empowers people to feel the presence of the divine in their lives. But for other people, they take that further and there's a sense that God has a special message for them, not for other people, and they take that to extremes," said Mason.
Chad Daybell has published books about a couple near-death experiences. He's also written several fictional novels that talk about the end of the world. His website states that he's worked in the publishing business for the past two decades and has written more than 25 books.
Mason said throughout history, apocalyptic movements have often led people to do bizarre and even violent things.
"It's utterly tragic the way people mobilize these beliefs for violence or for harm, it's not what these traditions at their best are meant to do," said Mason.