Doomsday Plot: Idaho Jury Convicts Chad Daybell of Murdering His Wife and Girlfriend’s Two Children

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho man was convicted Thursday of killing his wife and his new girlfriend’s two youngest children in a strange triple murder case this included allegations of doomsday prophecies, zombie children, and illicit affairs.

Jurors deliberated only six hours before finding Chad Daybell guilty, closing a case that began in 2019 and spanned at least four states. Daybell, standing and wearing a long-sleeved shirt, was stoic as the verdicts were read.

Jurors will now be tasked with deciding whether Daybell, 55, should die for the murders of Tammy Daybell, Tylee Ryan, 16, and Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7. The criminal phase of the trial, which lasts almost two months, resumes on Friday.

“Everything was addressed, every element was ‘guilty’ and for that I’m happy,” JJ’s grandfather, Larry Woodcock, told the Associated Press. “I am still sad for this loss – there were four lives lost without purpose or reason – but my wife and I are so happy with the verdict.”

AP correspondent Ed Donahue reports on the verdict in an Idaho triple murder trial.

The children’s mother, Lori Vallow Daybell, was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the same conspiracy and murder charges last year. She married Chad Daybell just two weeks after Tammy Daybell’s murder. She is currently awaiting trial in Arizona, charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow. Charles Vallow was JJ’s father.

The judge in the case issued a gag order barring lawyers for both sides from speaking to the media until the trial is over.

The case attracted media attention, and the judge moved the trial from the rural Idaho community where the murders took place to Boise in an effort to ensure a fair and impartial jury.

During the penalty phase, prosecutors will attempt to show that the crimes merited a death sentence because they were particularly depraved, heinous or cruel or met one of the other “aggravating circumstances” detailed in the law. of State. Daybell’s defense, meanwhile, will attempt to provide the jury with mitigating circumstances to demonstrate that a lighter sentence is more appropriate.

The investigation began five years ago, after JJ’s grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, became concerned that Vallow Daybell was refusing to let them make phone calls with the boy. Despite living in different states, JJ and his grandparents have always been close, regularly sharing video calls since they were around three years old. JJ was very intelligent and also autistic, Larry Woodcock said, and whenever he ran out of things to say, he would tell them, “Mawmaw, Pawpaw, I don’t know.” »

“During the last years of his life, he developed his mind and his personality. If there’s anything I miss, it’s his spirit,” said Larry Woodcock. “There’s not a day that goes by that my wife and I don’t turn to each other and We would say: “Mawmaw, I don’t know” or “Pawpaw, I don’t know”.

In 2019, Kay Woodcock asked the police will check the child. Investigators soon realized both children were missing and a multi-state search ensued. The investigation soon took several unexpected turns.

Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell were having an affair when both their spouses died suddenly, investigators said. Vallow Daybell’s husband, Charles, was shot and killed by his brother Alex Cox in Arizona in July 2019; the brother told police it was in self-defense. He has not been charged.

Vallow Daybell, his children JJ and Tylee, and Cox then moved to eastern Idaho to be closer to Daybell, a self-published author of apocalyptic fiction loosely based on Mormon teachings.

In October 2019, Tammy Daybell died. Chad Daybell initially told police she was battling an illness and died in her sleep, but an autopsy later determined she died of asphyxiation. Chad Daybell and Vallow Daybell got married just two weeks after Tammy Daybell’s death, surprising family members.

Nearly a year after the children disappeared, their remains were found buried on Chad Daybell’s property in eastern Idaho. Investigators determined that both children died in September 2019. Prosecutors say Cox conspired with Chad Daybell and Vallow Daybell in all three deaths, but Cox died of natural causes during the investigation and was never been charged.

Prosecutors called dozens of witnesses to support their claims that Chad Daybell and Vallow Daybell conspired to kill the children and Tammy Daybell because they wanted to get rid of any obstacles to their relationship and get money from benefits. survivorship and life insurance. Prosecutors say the couple justified the killings by creating an apocalyptic belief system that people could be possessed by evil spirits and turned into “zombies,” and that the only way to save a possessed person’s soul was to make his body die.

Fremont County Prosecutor Lindsay Blake said Daybell presented himself as a leader of what he called “the Church of the Firstborn” and told Vallow Daybell and others that he could determine if someone had become a “zombie”. Daybell also claimed to be able to determine how close a person was to death by reading what he called their “death percentage,” Blake said during closing arguments Wednesday.

With those elements, Daybell followed a pattern for each of the people killed, Blake said.

“They would be called “dark” by Chad Daybell. Their “percentage of deaths” would decrease. Then they should die,” she said.

Blake also said that Daybell manipulated Vallow Daybell and her brother, Cox, into helping carry out the plan, sometimes granting Cox “spiritual blessings” and warning Vallow Daybell that the angels were angry because she ignored him. Sometimes.

Daybell’s defense attorney, John Prior, rejected the prosecution’s descriptions of Daybell’s beliefs. He described Daybell as a traditional member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a deeply religious man who spoke about his spiritual beliefs whenever he could.

Prior said police were only looking for evidence they could use against Daybell rather than the actual facts of the case — and he claimed the children’s late uncle, Cox, committed the crimes. He noted that Cox killed JJ Vallow’s father in Arizona and that the two children were the only witnesses to that shooting. He also said Cox tried to frame Daybell by burying the slain children in Daybell’s yard.

During the sentencing phase, jurors will be asked to decide whether Daybell should be sentenced to death — Idaho law allows execution by lethal injection or firing squad — or to prison at life. Woodcock said he would be happy with either option.

“That’s what you get for murdering children.” That’s what you get for murdering your wife. Chad made his decision – he knew it was wrong,” Woodcock said.

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