Chad Daybell convicted of murdering his first and second wife’s two children


Chad Daybell was convicted Thursday of murder and conspiracy in the deaths of his first wife and his second wife’s two children in a case that Idaho prosecutors said was fueled by power, sex, money and apocalyptic spiritual beliefs. Daybell faces the death penalty.

Daybell had pleaded not guilty to charges related to the deaths of his first wife, Tammy Daybell, and the children of his second wife, Lori Vallow Daybell —– 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow. . Wearing a light blue shirt and yellow tie, Daybell showed no emotion as the verdict was read out shortly after 2 p.m. local time.

Authorities said they believe Tylee and JJ were killed in September 2019 – the month they were last seen – and that Tammy Daybell was found dead in her Idaho home on October 19, 2019. , a few weeks before Chad Daybell married Lori. Vallow Day Bell. Tammy Daybell was initially thought to have died in her sleep.

Law enforcement found the remains of Tylee and JJ on Chad Daybell’s property in Fremont County in June 2020, authorities said.

The state is seeking the death penalty, and that phase of the case was scheduled to begin Thursday afternoon.

Deliberations began Wednesday and lasted just over two hours. Deliberations resumed shortly after 8 a.m. local time on Thursday.

After deliberating for approximately two hours, the jury asked the court for a missing first-degree murder instruction in the death of Tammy Daybell. They resumed deliberations shortly after receiving the court’s instruction.

Idaho prosecutors say the alleged killings were fueled by power, sex, money and apocalyptic spiritual beliefs. Prosecutors wrote in a court document that each homicide was “particularly heinous, atrocious or cruel, displaying exceptional depravity.”

Defense attorney John Prior, in closing arguments Wednesday, said there was not enough direct evidence against Daybell and that others were responsible for the deaths.

His wife, Vallow Daybell, was convicted by a jury in May 2023 of murdering his children and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. She was also convicted of conspiring to kill his estranged wife, Tammy Daybell. Vallow Daybell appealed her convictions to the state Supreme Court, with her legal team raising questions about whether she was mentally competent to stand trial.

00:52 – Source: KIFI/KIDK

Human remains found in Chad Daybell’s Idaho home (2020)

“Sex, money and power” were at the heart of the trial

During opening statements, the prosecutor and defense attorney painted contrasting portraits of the accused.

The state described him as a grandiose, power-hungry man who would stop at nothing for “what he considers his rightful destiny.” His defense attorney portrayed Daybell as a religious man drawn into an unhappy relationship with a “beautiful, vivacious woman” who knew “how to get what she wants.”

“Two dead children buried in defendant Chad Daybell’s backyard,” prosecutor Rob Wood said in his opening words to the jury.

“The following month, his wife was found dead in their marital bed. Seventeen days after the death of his wife, Tammy Daybell, this defendant is photographed laughing and dancing on a Hawaii beach during his wedding to Lori Vallow, a woman who was his mistress and the children’s mother buried in the graves on his property. . Three corpses.

When Daybell “had the chance to realize what he saw as his rightful destiny,” Wood said, he “made sure that no person or law would stand in his way.”

“His desire for sex, money and power led him to pursue these ambitions,” added the prosecutor. “And that pursuit resulted in the death of his wife and Lori’s two innocent children.”

Tammy Daybell was initially thought to have died in her sleep, and Chad Daybell remarried less than three weeks after her death in 2019.

Before, the defense attorney, said Daybell’s life began to change after he met Vallow Daybell, a “beautifully gorgeous woman” who “started paying him a lot of attention” and eventually lured him into an “inappropriate” and “unfortunate” extramarital relationship.

Vallow Daybell’s two children from a previous marriage were last seen on separate days in September 2019. Tylee Ryan was a “normal, vibrant teenager” who loved her friends and her little brother JJ, who had the condition. on the autism spectrum and required special care. according to Wood.

In late November 2019, relatives asked police in Rexburg, Idaho, do a welfare check for JJ because they hadn’t spoken to him recently. Police did not find him at the family home, but saw Vallow Daybell and Daybell, who said JJ was staying with a family friend in Arizona, according to authorities.

When police returned with a search warrant the next day, the couple had disappeared. They were finally found in Hawaii in January 2020.

In June 2020, law enforcement found Tylee and JJ’s remains on Daybell’s property in Fremont County, Idaho. Vallow Daybell and Daybell were charged with murder in May 2021.

Tylee was allegedly killed between September 8 and 9, 2019, and JJ between September 22 and 23, according to prosecutors.

“We are filled with unfathomable sadness that these two bright stars were stolen from us, and we only hope that they died without pain or suffering,” the children’s families said in a statement after the remains were discovered.

During the preliminary hearing, Wood said Daybell helped hide evidence. “These bodies were concealed, one of them was destroyed, they were located on Chad Daybell’s property,” Wood said.

However, Prior argued that the state was not “close” to having enough evidence to prove that Daybelled concealed JJ’s or Tylee’s bodies. “There is no evidence that this act took place on the night of the 22nd or the 23rd, or whatever day it was,” Prior said.

During his opening statements, Wood described Chad Daybell as a “seemingly ordinary man” who wrote books about the apocalypse, a person who “hungred for meaning” and worked as a cemetery sexton.

In October 2018, Chad Daybell and Vallow Daybell met at a religious conference in Utah and he began creating an alternate reality where her “obsession with fame was rooted in her adoration for him,” Wood said to the jurors.

Soon, Wood said, they saw their spouses and even their children as “obstacles” standing in their way.

“All those who opposed it were sometimes described as dark spirits, or even zombies,” said the prosecutor.

During his opening statements, Prior described his client as a religious man who wrote books about his faith, his premonitions, good and evil, and “the coming of the end of things when his savior, in his mind , will come back “.

Chad Daybell and Vallow Daybell called themselves “James and Elaina” and believed they were religious figures and had a system for classifying people as “light” or “dark,” a prosecutor told jurors during the Vallow Daybell trial.

The state accused the couple of using their “apocalyptic” religious beliefs to justify the killings. In particular, Daybell and Vallow Daybell exchanged texts about Tammy Daybell “being in limbo” and “possessed by a spirit named Viola,” according to the indictment.

People close to the couple said they were involved in strong religious ideologies.

Additionally, Daybell was connected to a religious doomsday preparedness website called “Preparing a People,” which described itself as a “lecture series focused on self-reliance and personal preparedness.” The site’s editors said they decided to remove content featuring Daybell or Vallow Daybell after the children disappeared.

Prior told the jury about Vallow Daybell’s now-deceased brother, Alex Cox, who died in December 2019, and his history of violence – including the shooting and murder of Vallow Daybell’s former husband, Charles Vallow, in July 2019.

The medical examiner in Maricopa County, Arizona, ruled Cox died of natural causes, CNN affiliate KPHO/KTVK reported.

“Alex Cox was Lori’s protector,” Prior said. “Alex Cox would do anything and everything to protect, help and assist Lori Vallow… Every time there was a problem or threat to Lori Vallow, you will hear testimony that Alex Cox came to the rescue .”

DNA and forensics experts suggested Cox’s fingerprint was found on plastic wrapped around JJ’s body, Daybell’s defense attorney said.

No DNA or hair belonging to Chad Daybell was found with the children’s bodies, and Tammy Daybell’s exact cause of death could not be determined, Prior said.

After Vallow Daybell’s indictment and not guilty plea in 2021, a judge ruled that she was incompetent to stand trial, but she was found competent to stand trial after spending almost a year in a psychiatric hospital. Vallow Daybell has maintained his innocence.

When Vallow Daybell was sentenced last year, she was denied killing her children and citing religious texts and beliefs.

She said she spoke to Jesus, her children and her husband’s wife after they died and said they were “happy and extremely busy” in heaven.

“Jesus Christ knows that no one was murdered in this case,” Vallow Daybell said. “Accidental deaths occur, suicides occur, fatal drug side effects occur. »

Judge Steven W. Boyce said during the sentencing hearing, “I don’t believe that any God, regardless of religion, would want this to happen.” »

The judge said she justified the killings “by going down a bizarre religious rabbit hole.” And obviously, you’re still there.

Vallow Daybell appealed his convictions to the state Supreme Court, with his legal team raising questions about whether Vallow Daybell was mentally competent to stand trial.

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