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Chad Daybell trial live: New witness casts doubts on cult prophet’s son’s story about mom’s death

Chad Daybell’s trial began on April 1, about a year after Lori Vallow was convicted in the 2019 murders of Tylee Ryan, JJ Vallow, and Tammy Daybell

Andrea Cavallier
Friday 24 May 2024 13:18 BST
Chad Daybell’s daughter testifies in his murder trial

A new rebuttal witness for the prosecution testified that Chad Daybell’s son Garth had told him how he found his dead mother Tammy Daybell, which is different from what Garth told the court at his father’s triple murder trial earlier this week.

Shortly after the defense rested on Thursday, Jason Abegelen, who worked with Garth at a haunted house, recalled that Garth told him how he found his mother dead in the bedroom and that his father was not there.

But Garth had testified that in the early morning hours of October 19, 2019, his father woke him up to help after finding the mother-of-five dead and halfway off the bed on the floor, tangled up in sheets.

Daybell, 55, is on trial for the death of Tammy, and the murders of Lori Vallow’s two children, Tylee Ryan, 16, and JJ Vallow, seven. Two weeks after Tammy’s death, Daybell and Vallow married on a beach in Hawaii.

It was only after the children were reported missing – and authorities began delving into the couple’s bizarre cult beliefs – that questions were asked about Tammy’s death and her body was exhumed for an autopsy. It was determined she had died of asphyxia and Daybell was charged with her murder, as well as the murders of Vallow’s children, who were found buried in Daybell’s Idaho backyard nine months after they went missing.

Prosecutors say Daybell and Vallow justified the three killings by creating an apocalyptic belief system, which was part of an elaborate scheme to eliminate any obstacles from their life.

But Daybell’s attorney claims he was manipulated by Vallow, who was convicted of the murders last year and received three life sentences.

Like Vallow, Daybell did not testify in his defense.

Closing arguments are expected to be next week and then the case will be in the hands of the jury.

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


Testimony in Chad Daybell’s trial continues today

Chad Daybell’s high-profile trial continues today in Boise, Idaho.

Daybell, 55, is on trial for the murders of Lori Vallow’s children, Tylee Ryan, 16, and JJ, seven, who went missing in 2019 and months later were found buried in his Idaho backyard.

He’s also accused in the sudden death of his then-wife Tammy Daybell, who died in her sleep in October 2019. Weeks later, Daybell married Vallow. An autopsy later revealed Tammy’s death was due to asphyxiation.

Andrea Cavallier14 May 2024 14:48

Everything you need to know about the twisted case of Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell

With ‘cult mom’ Lori Vallow jailed for life for the murders of her children and her spouse’s first wife and Chad Daybell now on trial, Rachel Sharp delves into the deeply disturbing tale of murders, unexplained deaths and apocalyptic cult beliefs.

What we know about the Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell ‘doomsday cult’ murder case

With ‘cult mom’ Lori Vallow jailed for life for the murders of her children and her spouse’s first wife and Chad Daybell now on trial, Rachel Sharp delves into the deeply disturbing tale of murders, unexplained deaths and apocalyptic cult beliefs

Andrea Cavallier14 May 2024 15:00

Chad Daybell smiles in court as testimony reveals Lori Vallow’s nickname for his penis

FBI tactical specialist Nicole Heideman revealed to jurors on Monday text messages captured the couple discussing romantic liaisons after they met at a 2018 religious conference.

One message described how “Elena,” a fictional name the pair used for Vallow when discussing their relationship, “gripped the storm and they stared into each other’s eyes as intense waves wash over them,” according to the FBI agent.

The agent added that “the storm” appeared to be a nickname for Daybell’s anatomy, reportedly drawing a smile from the 55-year-old at the defence table.

Read more:

Chad Daybell trial: Graphic testimony as jury hears Lori Vallow’s name for his penis

Revelation came as court considered Chad Daybell’s text messages with Lori Vallow

Andrea Cavallier14 May 2024 15:30

JJ Vallow’s grandfather hands out mints ahead of court

Larry Woodcock, the grandfather of slain JJ Vallow, is in court Tuesday along with about 30-40 spectators, according to East Idaho News’ Nate Eaton.

Eaton observed that Mr Woodcock had  a big back of mints he got from Ruth’s Chris Steak House and said he’s passing them around the room.

“Here’s a little treat for everyone,” he says.

Chad Daybell is seated at the defence table and court is expected to begin shortly.

It can be livestreamed on Judge Steven Boyce’s YouTube channel.

Andrea Cavallier14 May 2024 15:35

Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow honoured as trial continues

Family and friends honoured the short lives of Tylee Ryan and Joshua “JJ” Vallow at a  celebration of life service on 27 April.

The service was hosted by JJ Vallow’s grandparents Larry and Kay Woodcock on Saturday.

“We’re not sad today,” Mr Woodcock told the attendees. “We’re honouring those who lost their lives in this.”

Mr Woodcock, who attended every day of Vallow’s trial last year and has been a regular at Mr Daybell’s trial, was one of many who shared his favourite memories of the children at the service.

The grandparents decided to have the service after the children’s remains were returned to the family in 2023 - more than four years after they were killed.

Andrea Cavallier reports:

Family, friends gather to honor Lori Vallow’s slain children Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow

Tylee Ryan, 16, and JJ Vallow, seven, were found buried on Chad Daybell’s property nine months after they vanished

Andrea Cavallier14 May 2024 16:45

ICYMI: Jury hears gruesome testimony about tools used to chop and shatter Tylee Ryan's remains

On Monday, jurors listened to gruesome testimony and viewed graphic photos as Douglas Halepaska, FBI Toolmark Analyst, described tools used to chop and shattered Tylee Ryan’s remains.

The 16-year-old’s remains were found buried and burned on Chad Daybell’s property.

Her hip bone and spine were shattered.

“The force you can kind of see at the top left, you can see that the bone has actually shattered in separate places and fractured,” the analyst said.

“Based on my training experience, it appears that the tool that was used actually cut through the bone and into that soft tissue and may have actually carried into it.”

Mr Halepaska testified that many of Tylee’s injuries came from tools like a machete, a hatchet, a cleaver and a pick.

A pickaxe and shovel were among the numerous tools found on Daybell’s property that tested positive for human remains.

The defence argued that the tools analyst could not specifically identify the tools that were used on Tylee.

Andrea Cavallier14 May 2024 17:00

What are Chad Daybell’s charges?

Chad Daybell was arrested on 9 June 2020 and booked into the Fremont County Jail after the remains of Lori Vallow’s children were found in his Rexburg, Idaho backyard.

He had left the house during the search as Rexburg Police, Fremont County Sheriff deputies and the FBI swarmed the property and began a dig that lasted for hours. But he was arrested a short time later.

Daybell has shown little to no emotion at his court appearances over the past four years.

On 21 March, he was transferred from Fremont County Jail to the Ada County Jail in Boise in preparation for his trial.

Daybell is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the deaths of the two children and the death of his former wife Tammy. He’s also charged with insurance fraud.

Prosecutors say that the couple conspired with Vallow’s brother Alex Cox to kill the children and Daybell’s wife both as part of their doomsday beliefs – but also to collect life insurance money, the kids’ social security and survivor benefits.

Andrea Cavallier14 May 2024 17:15

Medical examiner testifies about bruises on Tammy Daybell

Dr Lily Marsden, the Deputy Chief Medical Examiner at the Utah Medical Examiner’s Office, who attended the exhumation of Tammy Daybell’s body, took the stand on Tuesday.

She said the bruises on Tammy are consistent with someone being restrained and could mean more than one person was there when she was killed. She said the bruises indicate someone was kneeling on her chest while another person was holding her down.

Dr Marsden also testified that she had information that Tammy may have been experiencing seizures or shaking.

“It is extremely unusual for a 49-year-old woman to just spontaneously develop seizures without a reason like a tumor,” she said.

Prosecutor Lindsey Blake ends her questioning by asking Dr Marsden, “In your experience, do dead bodies roll out of bed?”

She responds, “no.”

Andrea Cavallier14 May 2024 17:30

ICYMI: Tylee Ryan’s best friend testifies about slain siblings’ relationship

Tylee Ryan’s best friend Ashlyn Rynd testified on Monday in court that Tylee’s relationship with her younger brother JJ Vallow, seven, was “almost maternal.”

“She was there for him. … he was going for anybody who was going to provide for him, and Tylee would always be the one to show up,” Ashlyn said.

Ashlyn temporarily moved to Texas in 2017, but the two friends remained close, and she moved back to Arizona.

However, when Tylee moved to Idaho in 2019, they “tried for two weeks” but fell out of contact.

Andrea Cavallier14 May 2024 18:00

RECAP: Chad Daybell said dead wife told him to move on, sister testifies

On Friday, Samantha Gwilliam testified about the conversation she had with Chad Daybell after the “shocking” death of her sister Tammy Daybell.

She asked him in a phone call about his quick marriage to Lori Vallow just two weeks after Tammy’s death and said he responded to her in a “spiritual-like tone.”

“Samantha, I am telling you now that when I was at the cemetery, Tammy showed herself to me and said that I should move on,” he said.

Ms Gwilliam said she responded with: “When most women say that to their husband, it’s in two years from now, not two weeks after I’m dead.”

Andrea Cavallier14 May 2024 18:30

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