Chad Daybell Verdict in Zombie Murder Trial: NPR

“A plan is being orchestrated for the kids,” Chad Daybell texted Lori Vallow on August 1. 10, 2019. Vallow’s children disappeared a month later; They were eventually found buried on Daybell’s property. Daybell is seen here, bottom left, listening to prosecutor Lindsey Blake, top right, make her closing argument.

Judge Steven W. Boyce’s YouTube Channel/NPR Screenshot

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Judge Steven W. Boyce’s YouTube Channel/NPR Screenshot

A Boise, Idaho, jury found Chad Daybell guilty of murder and conspiracy in the deaths of his ex-wife, Tammy Daybell, and the two children of his current wife, Lori Vallow Daybell.

Prosecutors said they would seek the death penalty against Daybell if he is convicted. In such cases, the jury would then hear from both parties about aggravating and mitigating circumstances, before deciding whether a death sentence is appropriate.

Prosecutors said Daybell concocted wild, religiously tinged fantasies about people becoming zombies to justify grisly crimes — with the goal, they said, of starting a new life with Lori Vallow after having an affair with her. They also accused Daybell of insurance fraud following the death of his ex-wife.

Daybell, 55, was convicted of first-degree murder in the death of Tammy Daybell in late 2019. He was also convicted of conspiracy in the deaths of Vallow Daybell’s two youngest children, Tylee Ryan and Joshua Jaxon. JJ » Vallow. Tylee was almost 17 when she and 7-year-old JJ were last seen alive in September 2019 — the same month they moved with their mother from Chandler, Arizona, to Rexburg, Idaho.

Prosecutor said texts showed Tammy was ‘on the way’

Tammy Daybell, Chad’s then-wife, was found dead in her home in October 2019. The librarian and educator was 49 years old. A coroner did not initially perform an autopsy, saying a heart attack was the apparent cause of death. But suspicion later led to Tammy’s body being exhumed and the cause of death changed to homicide: asphyxiation by suffocation.

In her closing argument this week, Fremont County Prosecutor Lindsey Blake said Chad Daybell influenced the coroner’s initial decision by fabricating details about Tammy’s condition. It was all part of a plan, Blake said, for Chad to eliminate his wife so he could be with Lori Vallow. A few months earlier, Vallow’s brother had shot her husband, Charles.

“A little more than 24 hours after announcing his wife’s death,” Blake said in his closing argument, “Chad texts Lori: ‘I know exactly how you feel. I feel sad, but it doesn’t matter. ‘isn’t for the reason everyone thinks!’ ” ”

At the time, Vallow was on a trip to Hawaii. Blake said Vallow became frustrated with Daybell and texted him. Saying they couldn’t be together until things changed.

“What needs to change?” » asked the prosecutor to the jurors. “Tammy is in the way.”

Daybell responded to Vallow’s message, Blake added, saying that being with Vallow was the only thing that mattered to him.

“Lori is manipulating Chad with sex,” Blake said. “As soon as he met her, he wanted to be with her – and she knew it.”

Two children found buried on Daybell property

Blake also described how Vallow began questioning Daybell about possible plans involving Tylee and JJ.

“About a month after Charles died, Lori asked Chad, ‘Do you think there was a perfectly orchestrated plan to take the kids?'” Blake said, posting an image of Vallow’s text message to Daybell on court.

“There is a plan being orchestrated for the children,” Daybell responded in the message exchange. “I was shown last night how it all comes together again.”

The children’s bodies were found in June 2020 and buried at a Rexburg property owned by Daybell. Horrific and heartbreaking photos from the scene were shown to the jury at the start of the trial.

“Tylee’s DNA was found on a pickaxe and shovel that were in the defendant’s garage,” Blake told the jury as she reviewed the evidence during her closing argument Wednesday.

Blake said Daybell used a numerical system to rate members of his and Vallow Daybell’s family, with higher numbers reserved for people he felt had been overtaken by dark forces.

“Chad said if someone is a zombie, their body has to die,” Blake told the jury.

Chad Daybell was also charged with two counts of insurance fraud. Prosecutors say he maxed out Tammy’s life insurance policy the month before her death, with himself as the beneficiary. Less than a month after Tammy’s death, he married Lori Vallow in Hawaii.

Couple were motivated by strange beliefs, witnesses say

Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell were jointly indicted on murder charges in May 2021; Their cases were divided at Daybell’s request.

Vallow Daybell was sentenced to multiple life sentences last year for the three deaths in Idaho.

Melanie Gibb, a confidante of Vallow Daybell, said last year she saw her friend becoming increasingly involved with Chad Daybell, with the husband telling her they had married in a past life. They spoke of being united for eternity and leading 144,000 people in the end times, as described in the Book of Revelation, Gibb said.

Gibb said the couple also shared beliefs that people are overtaken by dark, evil energy. The criminal indictment cites text messages between the two men “regarding Tammy” Daybell’s death percentages, as well as messages that she is in limbo and Tammy “is possessed by a spirit named Viola.”

In addition to the charges in Idaho, Vallow Daybell was extradited to Arizona to face charges related to the July 2019 death of her estranged husband and an attempted murder of his niece.

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