Chad Daybell appears to choke up as 911 call from wife’s death played in ‘cult prophet’ murder trial

Tammy Daybell’s death was initially ruled to be natural causes but an autopsy later determined that she died of asphyxiation

Andrea Cavallier
Wednesday 24 April 2024 01:03 BST
Chad Daybell gets emotional as 911 call is played at his murder trial

Chad Daybell wiped away tears as the 911 call from his wife’s sudden death was played in court during his Idaho death penalty trial.

The moment was uncharacteristically emotional for the “doomsday cult” author, 55, who is on trial for the 2019 death of his then-wife Tammy Daybell and the murders of his current wife Lori Vallow’s children, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, and JJ Vallow, seven, whose bodies were found on his property in Rexburg in June 2020.

Jurors in Boise heard the 911 call made by Mr Daybell and his son Garth in the early morning hours after discovering that Tammy had suddenly died in her sleep.

“I’m Chad, the husband,” Mr Daybell said on the call. “She’s clearly dead,” he tells the dispatcher as he begins to cry.

Chad Daybell wiped away tears as the 911 call from his wife’s sudden death was played in court (Judge Steven Boyce/YouTube)

While the call was being played, Mr Daybell, who is often described on social media as a “cardboard cutout” because he sits so still at the defence table, appeared uncomfortable as he leaned forward and then sat back with his arms crossed.

At one point, as Mr Daybell appeared to fight back tears, his defence attorney John Prior patted his arm, consoling him, and then handed him a box of tissues, which he clutched to his face, wiping his tears.

The call was played on Tuesday afternoon during testimony from state’s witness Alyssa Greenhalgh, a Fremont County Sheriff’s deputy, who responded to the Daybell house after reports of an unattended death.

Tammy was an otherwise healthy 49-year-old when she was initially believed to have died of a cardiac event — an autopsy later determined that her cause of death was asphyxiation.

Just two weeks after Tammy died, Mr Daybell married Lori Vallow on a beach in Hawaii.

It was only after the two children were reported missing – and authorities began delving into Mr Daybell and Vallow and their bizarre cult beliefs – that questions began being asked about Tammy’s death too.

The bodies of Tylee Ryan and Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow were found buried on Daybell’s property (Family handout)

In opening statements earlier this month, prosecutors said Mr Daybell’s “desire for sex, power, and money” led to their murders.

Mr Prior, however, said his client was manipulated by Vallow.

Last year, Vallow was convicted of the three murders and sentenced to life in prison. Jurors heard how she, Mr Daybell and her late brother Alex Cox were fuelled, in part, by their bizarre cult beliefs.

Mr Daybell’s triple murder trial began on 1 April and is expected to last at least two months.

If convicted, he faces either the death penalty or life in prison.

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