An Idaho judge ruled Tuesday that Chad Daybell will stand trial on charges related to hiding the remains of ‘cult’ mom Lori Vallow’s two children.
Daybell and his wife Lori face charges related to the hiding of the remains of 17-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow. The decision to go ahead with the trial was made after two days of preliminary hearings and evidence from witnesses.
Authorities have yet to say how the two died, exactly when they died, or whether homicide charges will be filed.
Lori faces a hearing on the same charges next week. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Chad Daybell listens during his preliminary hearing in St. Anthony, Idaho, on Tuesday
Lori Vallow remains in custody on charges of concealing evidence. She is shown on March 6
Investigators said they found the bodies by tracking the movements of Lori Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox, using cellphone data.
Cox died of an apparent blood clot in his lung at his Arizona home last December. Police in court documents said Cox was involved in the conspiracy to hide the children´s remains, and his name has come up frequently in the hearing.
Court documents in Lori Daybell´s criminal case include claims that the couple believed dark spirits, or ‘zombies,’ would possess people.
A friend, Melanie Gibb, said Lori Vallow told her at different times last year that both children had become zombies and that the couple believed the only way to rid a person of a dark spirit was by killing them.
Gibb testified late Monday and early Tuesday, much of her testimony revolving around a phone conversation Gibb recorded after she became suspicious and confronted the couple about the missing children and accused them of multiple lies.
‘I know your salvation is in trouble for what you´ve done,’ Gibb told them.
‘I´m sorry you feel that way, sweetheart,’ Lori Dayball responded.
Lori Daybell told Gibb she couldn´t reveal the children´s location for Gibb´s own protection because other relatives were trying to get the children. Lori Daybell also questioned Gibb´s religious faith and expressed concern Gibb was recording the conversation for police.
Gibb acknowledged to Chad Daybell´s defense attorney, John Prior, that she initially lied to police about having Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow with her.
She said she was persuaded to lie by Lori. Gibb said she became concerned that she could be blamed for the children’s disappearance, leading her to call Chad and Lori Daybell and record the conversation, which she shared with police and that was also played in court.
Gibb also described how the three of them and others involved in the case become acquainted through a doomsday belief system that led them to ‘preparedness’ meetings affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The remains of Lori’s children Tylee Ryan (left) and Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow (right) were discovered on the property of her husband Chad Daybell on June 9 – nine months after they went missing
In this aerial photo, investigators search for human remains at Chad Daybell’s residence in the 200 block of 1900 East in Salem, Idaho on June 9
The strange case began last summer after Cox fatally shot Lori’s estranged husband, Charles Vallow, in suburban Phoenix in what he asserted was self-defense.
Vallow had been seeking a divorce, saying Lori believed she had become a god-like figure who was responsible for ushering in the biblical end times.
A short time later, she and the kids moved to Idaho, where Chad Daybell lived.
He ran a small publishing company and had written many fiction books about apocalyptic scenarios loosely based on the theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Friends said he claimed to be able to receive visions from ‘beyond the veil.’
At the time, Chad Daybell was married to Tammy Daybell. She died in October of what her obituary said were natural causes. Authorities grew suspicious when he married Lori Vallow just two weeks later. Police had Tammy´s body exhumed last December in Utah for further investigation; the results of that autopsy have not been released.
Police began searching for Tylee and JJ in November after relatives raised concerns, and they soon discovered that both children were last seen in September.
Police say the Daybells lied to investigators about the children´s whereabouts before quietly leaving Idaho. They were found in Hawaii months later.
Chad Daybell told his late first wife that he shot a large raccoon and buried it in the pet cemetery where his new wife Lori Vallow’s kids were found dead on the same day one of them as last seen alive
Chad Daybell with his ex-wife Tammy. A text exchange where he went to great length describing his day on September 9 was read aloud in court on Tuesday. It was also the same day Lori’s daughter, Tylee, was last seen alive
Chad Daybell texted his late first wife telling her he’d shot a large raccoon and buried it in his pet cemetery where his second wife Lori Vallow’s kids were found dead in June, on the same day that one of the children vanished.
The texts were sent from Daybell to his wife Tammy on September 9 last year, the day Lori Vallow’s daughter Tylee, 17, went missing.
He said in them: ‘I’ve had an interesting morning! I felt I should burn all of the limb debris by the fire pit before it got too soaked by the coming storm.
‘While I did so, I spotted a big racoon along the fence.
‘I hurried and got my gun, and he was till walking along. I got close enough that one shot did the trick.
‘He is now in our pet cemetery. Fun times!’ he said.
A month later, Tammy died mysteriously. Two weeks later, Lori and Chad got married in Hawaii.
By then, Lori’s seven-year-old son JJ had also gone missing.
His body was also found on the site Daybell called a ‘pet cemetery’ in the exchanges.
The texts were brought up on Tuesday at a preliminary hearing for Daybell, who is charged with concealing evidence in the search for Lori’s children.
FBI Special Agent Benjamin Dean said they stood out to him when he was going through Tammy’s phone because they were longer than any other texts Chad typically exchanged with his wife.
The texts between Daybell and his wife, Tammy, who died suddenly in October, two weeks before he and Lori got married
The pair’s previous messages included messages like ‘I love you’ and ‘can’t sleep without you.’
Other details emerged about the last time JJ was seen alive – September 22.
Vallow told friends JJ was a ‘zombie’ and that she’d sent him to stay with her brother Alex Cox on September 22 last year because he was ‘out of control’.
It was the last time the boy was seen alive. His remains were found on Vallow’s husband Chad Daybell’s property, buried in a pet cemetery where a dog and cat had also been buried, earlier this year. His sister Tylee’s burned remains were found nearby on the Idaho property.
The day police made the grim discovery, Lori called Chad from jail where she was being held at the time for telling police where JJ and Tylee were for months.
At the time, Chad was still free. He was on the property and the pair spoke on the phone where he told Lori it was ‘logical’ for police to search the home.
The new details emerged on Tuesday at a preliminary hearing for Daybell to decide whether or not his trial should proceed.
Neither he nor Vallow have been charged with either of the children’s deaths and it remains unclear how they died.
To find JJ’s body, police tracked data from Lori’s brother Alex Cox’s phone. Family friend David Warwick testified on Tuesday that on September 22, the last day JJ was seen alive, Vallow asked her brother Alex to come and collect JJ.
This is the last photograph taken of JJ, Tylee and their uncle Alex Cox. It’s believed to have been in Yellowstone National Park shortly before the kids vanished in September. Cox died in December
‘She said JJ was being a zombie. He was out of control so she had Alex come get him,’ he told the courtroom in Idaho.
Lori had complained that JJ was climbing the cabinets and the refrigerator, and that he had smashed a photograph of Jesus.
Warwick testified that he and his girlfriend, Melanie Gibb, were at Lori’s home to record a podcast and that they last saw JJ being carried by Cox. He looked like he was sleeping, he said.
Cox died in mysterious circumstances in December last year. His death is one of the many unexplained deaths in Vallow and Daybell’s circles.
As part of their case, prosecutors are tying to piece together the days and months before the children vanished.
They have now asked multiple witnesses how close Lori and her brother were.
Cox followed his sister from Arizona to Idaho after shooting dead her ex-husband, Charles Vallow, last summer in an apparent domestic dispute.
At the time, he told police he was protecting Lori from Charles and that the shooting happened in self-defense.
He was never charged for it.
They then moved to Idaho, where Daybell lived with his wife of 23 years. She died not long after Lori arrived with the children.
Timeline of JJ and Tylee’s disappearance
July 11, 2019: Lori Vallow’s husband, Charles Vallow, is killed by her brother, Alex Cox, in Arizona. Police initially rule that Alex acted in self defense but reopen the case months later after the children are reported missing.
August: Lori moves children JJ and Tylee to Rexburg, Idaho, where her future husband Chad Daybell lives with his wife Tammy.
September 8: The last time Tylee is seen during a trip to Yellowstone National Park with Lori, JJ and Alex. In the following weeks she tells people who ask where Tylee is that she’s studying at Brigham Young University’s Idaho campus.
September 23: The last time JJ is seen at his school in Rexburg. Lori emailed the school the following day and claims she is moving the family to California for a new job.
October 2: Brandon Boudreaux, the ex-husband of Lori’s niece Melanie Pawlowski, is targeted in a drive-by shooting in Arizona. Police identify the vehicle carrying the shooter as a Jeep registered to Charles Vallow, Lori’s late husband.
October 19: Chad’s wife Tammy, 49, dies at their Idaho home. An obituary states that she passed away peacefully in her sleep. Chad declines an autopsy and her death is listed as natural causes.
October 25: A friend of Tylee receives a vague ‘miss you’ text from her phone but says that it didn’t sound like the teen.
November 5: Lori and Chad tie the knot on a beach in Kauai. Receipts indicate that Lori purchased her own wedding ring from Amazon nearly three weeks prior to Tammy’s death.
November 26: Out-of-state relatives ask Idaho police to perform a welfare check on JJ. Lori and Chad claim he is in Arizona with relatives and ask their friend, Melanie Gibb, to lie and say she took the boy there for Thanksgiving. Police soon learn that no one has seen JJ, or his older sister Tylee, since September.
November 27: Police execute a search warrant related to the children at Lori’s home and discover that she and Chad have fled Idaho.
December 11: Tammy’s body is exhumed from a Utah cemetery and her death is reclassified as suspicious.
December 12: Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, is found unresponsive in a bathroom in Arizona and dies. Months later an autopsy determines that he died of natural causes while he had the overdose drug Narcan in his system.
December 21: Rexburg police issue the first press release about JJ and Tylee, revealing they believe their disappearance could be linked to Tammy’s death and asking the public for information.
December 24: Lori and Chad issue a statement through an attorney saying they love their son and daughter and look forward to addressing ‘allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor’.
December 30: Police accuse Lori and Chad of lying to investigators and say they believe the couple know where the kids are or what happened to them.
January 3, 2020: Police search Chad’s home in Salem and remove 43 items, including tech devices and journals. They also comb over sections of the snow-covered yard with rakes and metal detectors.
January 26: Lori and Chad are seen for the first time in months as police serve them with two search warrants in Kauai. Lori is also served with a court order to produce the children to authorities in Idaho in five days. The couple are approached by the media while officers serve the documents and refuse to say anything about the children.
January 30: Lori misses the court deadline to produce the children to Idaho authorities.
February 20: Lori is arrested in Kauai and charged with two felony counts for desertion and nonsupport of dependent children, and one misdemeanor count each for resisting and obstructing an officer, solicitation of a crime, and contempt of court.
March 5: Lori is extradited to Idaho, where she is held on $1million bond at Madison County Jail.
March 17: Lori professes her innocence in a statement through her attorney as two other members of her defense team quit and the judge removes himself from the case.
March 24: Court documents filed in the divorce of Lori’s niece Melani and her husband Brandon Boudreaux allege that Lori told people she believed her children were zombies before they disappeared.
April 9: Authorities reveal they are investigating Lori and Chad for murder, attempted murder and conspiracy in connection with Tammy’s death.
May 25: Idaho police issue a statement expressing hope that the kids will be found safe on what would have been JJ’s eighth birthday.
June 9: Police search Chad’s home in Salem for the second time and discover human remains in the backyard. Chad is taken into police custody and charged with destruction or concealment of evidence.
June 29: Police search Chad’s home in Salem for a third time. Lori faces two additional counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence.
June 30: Lori appears in court on the new charges. Chad faces two additional counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence.