Chad Daybell

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It was a case that gripped the nation:  the disappearance of 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and her 7-year-old brother JJ Vallow. Their mother, Lori Vallow, and her new husband Chad Daybell refusing to tell anyone where the children were.  

Months after vanishing into thin air, their bodies were found buried in Daybell’s backyard outside of Rexburg, Idaho.  Daybell and Vallow are now charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of the children. Daybell has pleaded not guilty to the murder charges and remains behind bars. 

After a year of public silence, Daybell’s five adult children — convinced their father is innocent — are speaking out together for the first time to “48 Hours.”

“My father needs someone to be a voice for him,” Emma Murray tells “48 Hours” contributor Jonathan Vigliotti. “To let people know what’s real, what we know.”

They want to tell his story, how they believe JJ and Tylee’s remains ended up in their father’s backyard and why they believe he did not do it. They believe he was lured into a web of murder and deceit.

Chad Daybell backyard
An aerial view of Todd Daybell’s backyard, where the remains of JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan were found on June 9, 2020

AP


Up until that terrible day when authorities swarmed their father’s property looking for two missing kids, the five Daybell children say they were just an ordinary Mormon family living outside Rexburg, Idaho.  

But that has changed.

Emma Murray: People are acting like we’ve done horrible crimes. And that we are going to hurt people … People sent me Facebook messages threatening my son. That’s just daily life now.

Their father, Chad Daybell, is charged with one of the most savage crimes to ever befall this community:  the murders of his new wife’s two children – 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old JJ Vallow.  

Mark Daybell: It’s just not possible. Anyone who says that my dad could kill a person doesn’t know my dad.

Jonathan Vigliotti: The evidence doesn’t look good.

Emma Murray: I think I would interpret it as many people have. But we have to remember that this is just one side of the story. And it does look really bad.

The Daybell siblings, Emma, Mark, Leah, Seth, and Garth, are speaking out together for the first time. They say we’ve only heard one side of the story, and they’re here to tell their father’s side and how they believe the remains of Tylee and JJ ended up in their father’s backyard.

It’s a story that begins with their stepmother Lori Vallow. 

Jonathan Vigliotti [with Emma in Daybell’s backyard]: Looking back, was your father meeting Lori and marrying her, the worst mistake of his life?

Emma Murray: Absolutely. None of this would’ve happened if Lori Vallow had never come into my family’s life. 

The Lori Vallow the world has come to know — the “doomsday mom” who refused to say where her children were, the woman now accused with Chad Daybell of murdering  her own two kids — is nothing like the doting mother April Raymond once considered a dear friend.

Tylee Ryan, JJ Vallow and Lori Vallow.
Tylee Ryan, JJ Vallow and Lori Vallow.

Tylee Ryan/Instagram


April Raymond: She did everything for JJ, everything for Tylee. They were … the center of her world. And so, I’m not sure what hijacked that priority.

April Raymond met Lori in 2015 in Hawaii.  At the time, Lori was married to businessman Charles Vallow and they were raising the two children – Tylee, Lori’s teenage daughter from a former marriage, and their adopted son JJ, the grandson of Charles’s sister Kay Woodcock. JJ had autism and Lori seemed the ideal mother for him, says Raymond.

April Raymond: JJ was very difficult to take care of …  So … I really admired how patient she was with him and how much care she took of him.

But it was Tylee’s bond with JJ that Tylee’s close friend Vaisia Itaaehau will always remember.

Vaisia Itaaehau: I loved being around JJ and Tylee. Tylee was really protective over JJ. … and she was kind of like another mama to him.

But around 2017, friends say Lori’s relationships with her kids began to shift — sometime after she started reading the books of Chad Daybell. Daybell was a professional gravedigger-tuned-novelist and podcaster from Rexburg, Idaho. He wrote religious tales about the destruction of the world.

Morgan Loew | Investigative reporter and CBS News consultant: He tapped into this “prepper” element out there, people who wanted to prepare for Armageddon.

Chad and Tammy Daybell
Chad and Tammy Daybell

Emma Murray


Daybell was married. He and his wife Tammy were raising five children. Some say, over the years, Chad’s religious beliefs became extreme. He believed he could talk to dead people and see into the future. According to one witness, Chad talked about dark spirits and zombies.

Morgan Loew: Chad had this belief that some people who were on this earth weren’t really the people they were supposed to be. … Their souls had left them. …  And — evilness took over their bodies. And the only way to release their spirits to heaven was to kill the bodies.

Sometime in 2018, Lori met Chad Daybell, developing what friends say seemed like a cult-like devotion to him. 

Vaisia Itaaehau: She was a fan of his writing. And … when she actually got to talk with him, it, yeah, just escalated from there.

Lori started doing podcasts with Chad. Soon she was talking about dark spirits and zombies and telling friends and family that she had been chosen by God to carry out his mission.

Morgan Loew: Lori believed that she was chosen to lead the 144,000 after the apocalypse. To lead the survivors of the human race to an eternal life while the rest of society burned.

She also believed she had been appointed another, more ominous role, says Raymond.

April Raymond: Part of her mission on Earth was to eliminate the darkness, the demonic — the evil.

Raymond says Lori told her one of those evil beings was her own husband — Charles Vallow.

April Raymond: The way she had explained it to me about Charles … was already dead. And that there was a demon living inside of him.

OFFICER DORENBUSH | Gilbert Police Department: What did she say yesterday?

CHARLES VALLOW: She said, you’re not Charles. I don’t know who you are, what you did with Charles.

Charles was so spooked by Lori he went to the police. Their conversation was recorded on the officer’s bodycam.

CHARLES VALLOW: She thinks she’s a resurrected being and a … and a god.

Morgan Loew: Charles … He was worried about his safety and the safety of his children.

OFFICER DORENBUSH: OK. So, what makes her a danger to herself and to others?

CHARLES VALLOW: She threatened me, murder me, kill me.

OFFICER DORENBUSH: She threatened to murder you?

CHARLES VALLOW: Yes.

In the winter of 2019, Charles Vallow changed the beneficiary of his $1 million life insurance policy from Lori to his sister Kay Woodcock, JJ’s biological grandmother.

After almost 13 years of marriage, Charles Vallow filed for divorce.

Charles Vallow
On January 31, 2019, Charles Vallow is seen on police bodycam video tell officers his wife had become “unhinged.

Rexburg Police Department


CHARLES VALLOW [to police officer]: She’s unhinged. It scared the crap out of me.

Charles Vallow had good reason to be scared.

A DEADLY PREMONITION

By the summer of 2019, Charles Vallow had gone to the police twice — claiming there was something desperately wrong with his estranged wife Lori Vallow.  

CHARLES VALLOW: She’s psychologically, she’s gone. Something’s happened to her.

But no one acted on it, and Charles Vallow let his guard down. On the morning of July 11, Charles went to Lori’s rental home in Chandler, Arizona to pick up JJ and take him to school.

Morgan Loew: He goes into the house. Lori and Tylee and JJ are there, and so is Alex Cox.

Alex Cox is Lori’s brother.

Morgan Loew: Alex was Lori’s protector. … he never hesitated to resort to violence if he believed he was defending his sister.

Within minutes of entering the house that morning, Charles was lying on the floor in a pool of blood … shot twice in the chest by Alex Cox in what Alex claimed was self-defense. 

Cox calmly called 911:

911 DISPATCHER: Is he breathing?

ALEX COX: I can’t tell.

Morgan Loew: He said, “I need to report a shooting. I — I shot my brother-in-law in self-defense.”

911 DISPATCHER: And is he hurt? Is he alive or —?

ALEX COX: Yeah, there’s blood. He’s not moving.

Dispatchers instructed Cox on how to do CPR:

911 DISPATCHER: Are you still doing chest compressions with him?

ALEX COX: Yes.

When police questioned him, Cox was sitting on the curb outside the home.  He told them Charles and Lori had gotten into a fight.

daybell-cox-bodycam.jpg
Chad Cox talks with police after shooting Charles Vallow.

Rexburg Police Department


CHANDLER POLICE OFFICER. [bodycam video]: So, you get in an argument? What is it over?

ALEX COX: Well, it was over my sister. He was getting physical with her.

Cox told them he got between Charles and Lori and shot Charles dead when Charles charged at him. At some point, Lori and Tylee got into the car and left.

Morgan Loew: Lori … takes JJ to school. And she comes back later with Tylee.

In bodycam video, police blurred Tylee’s face, because she was a minor.

CHANDLER POLICE OFFICER [Bodycam video]: Hi, who are – are you?  [Lori speaks] OK, just stand over there for just a second, guys.

Morgan Loew: What was striking about the footage that we saw was that …There’s no remorse. There’s no, “Oh, my gosh, my husband’s dead.”

daybell-lori-bodycam.jpg
Lori Vallow is recorded on police bodycam video after learning her husband was dead.

Chandler Police Department


POLICE OFFICER [Bodycam video]: How long have you lived here?

LORI VALLOW:  Like three weeks.

POLICE OFFICER:  Oh geez, yeah, OK.

LORI VALLOW: That’s why the neighbors don’t know us very well.

POLICE OFFICER:  Gotcha.

LORI VALLOW: Like, “Hi neighbors, sorry” [laughs].

POLICE OFFICER: Are you working at all?

LORI VALLOW: No.

Lori, Alex and Tylee were questioned at the police headquarters. All told similar stories of self-defense and were sent home.

About two months later, Lori and the two kids moved to Rexburg, Idaho – not far from where Chad Daybell lived with his wife, Tammy. Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, the man she considered her protector, moved into the same complex.

Morgan Loew: Lori sort of viewed Alex as the destroyer of bad things in her eyes … he was there to take care of the problems.

It appears one problem was Tylee Ryan.

Morgan Loew: We know that in the spring of 2019, Lori started referring to Tylee as a zombie, to at least one of her close friends.

One of those close friends was April Raymond.

April Raymond: And she had described Tylee as having a dark spirit.

daybell-kids-yellowstone.jpg
JJ Vallow, Tylee Ryan, and their uncle, Alex Cox, at Yellowstone National Park on September 8, 2019.  Police say this is the last known photo of Tylee before she disappeared. 

FBI


The last known pictures of Tylee Ryan are from September 8. She was with Lori, JJ and Alex Cox at Yellowstone National Park.  The 16-year-old was never seen again.  And just two weeks later, JJ Vallow would go missing.

Morgan Loew: Tylee was JJ’s protector. … Once she was gone, JJ had nobody. He had nobody to protect him or watch out for him.

The night before JJ vanished, Lori’s good friend, Melanie Gibb and her boyfriend David Warwick were staying at Lori’s townhome. They later testified that they were recording a religious podcast in Lori’s kitchen when Alex Cox appeared:

MELANIE GIBB: He brought JJ into the house during the middle of the podcast.

ROB WOOD | Madison County/City of Rexburg Deputy Prosecuting Attorney: How did Alex Cox bring JJ into the house?

MELANIE GIBB: He carried him, in and he was asleep.

Last known photo of JJ Vallow
JJ Vallow is seen wearing red pajamas on September 22, 2019. It’s  the last known photo of the 7-year-old.

Chandler Police Department


A photo of JJ wearing red pajamas was taken that same day. It is the last known photo of him. Warwick testified that Alex put JJ to bed in Lori’s room.  But the little boy was nowhere to be seen the next morning. Lori told David why:

DAVID WARWICK: She said that he was being a zombie and climbed up on the cabinets, climbed up on top of the fridge, smashed her picture of Christ down, and then climbed up onto the upper cabinets and got between the top of the cabinet and the ceiling.

ROB WOOD: OK. And then what did she tell you?

DAVID WARWICK: I asked to see him, and she just said that he was out of control, so she had Alex come and get him …

JJ was never seen again.

Across town, another family was about to get lost in the wreckage.

More Mysterious Deaths 

These are the times that Garth and Emma Daybell cherish.  

Garth Daybell, Emma Murray and  Jonathan Vigliotti.
Garth Daybell and Emma Murray share family photos with Jonathan Vigliotti.

CBS News


Garth Daybell [looking through family photos]: Life was good. Life was happy.

Life looks a whole lot different now.  

Jonathan Vigliotti: How do you feel as you look through these much happier times?

Emma Murray: There’s been so much sadness … there’s a part of me that feels broken, like it’ll never be fixed.

Before anyone knew Tylee and JJ were missing, the Daybell children became part of the story — a story that began on the saddest day of their lives: October 19, 2019.

Garth Daybell: I was asleep, and I heard a thump … And heard my dad yell, “Garth, Garth, come quick.”

Tammy Daybell
The Daybell children say when the coroner arrived that day, she told them it appeared their mother, Tammy had died of natural causes. The children, who say their mother was in failing health, accepted that explanation. And they say it was they, not their father, who declined to have an autopsy performed.

Emma Murray


Garth found his mother, 49-year-old Tammy Daybell, lying half on the bed, half on the floor.

Garth Daybell: I just ran over and picked her up and put her back on the bed. … And I said to my dad, I said, “I think she’s dead.”

Leah Murphy [in tears]: It was just so heartbreaking … It just seemed so unfathomable that it could even happen.

Garth Daybell: My dad was just pacing back and forth … Just sayin’, “Why? How could the happen?” Pointing at pictures on the wall, “She can’t be dead.” Like, “how could this be? What do we do?”

When the coroner arrived, the family says, she told them it looked like Tammy had died of natural causes. The children, who say their mother was in failing health, did not question it. 

Emma Murray: She would get out of breath very quickly and … would get very tired. … And she started going to bed very early at night.

The family declined an autopsy. A decision that would later cause some to question how Tammy Daybell really died.   

Jonathan Vigliotti: A lot of people think … that your father didn’t want an autopsy because he murdered her and didn’t wanna be caught. Do you buy that?

Emma Murray: The narrative is that he was going, “No, no, no autopsy.” But he was standing there — in complete shock, traumatized, letting us make the decision. If he was trying to hide something — I wouldn’t leave something like that up to my kids if I was trying to hide something.

But even the kids admit, Lori Vallow was a little harder to explain.

Garth Daybell:: She just kind of appeared. 

Roughly two weeks after their mother’s death, Chad, ukulele in hand, was celebrating on the beach in Hawaii with his new bride.  

Jonathan Vigliotti: How did you process all of that?

Emma Murray: That was really hard. And it really surprised us … And it was clear that he already had an emotional connection with her.

daybell-interview-still2.jpg
Chad and Tammy Daybell’s five children remain steadfast in their belief that their father had nothing to do with the death of their mother, or the murders of JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan. Clockwise from top left, Mark Daybell, Leah Murphy, Seth Daybell, Garth Daybell and Emma Murray. 

Jonathan Vigliotti: I know this is a difficult question. But was your father having an affair with Lori while he was married to your mother?

Emma Murray: That depends on your definition of affair. Emotionally, I would say yes. But physically, I think my father thought he was in the right because, “I haven’t had sex with her, so I’m being faithful.”

Jonathan Vigliotti: Did it ever cross your mind, even for a moment, that your father killed your mother to clear the way so that he could marry Lori?

Daybell siblings [in unison]: No.

Jonathan Vigliotti: I think common sense in a lot of ways would suggest there could be a motive behind that sudden passing.

Emma Murray: I can see where people would say that. It was a very socially inappropriate choice to make. And socially inappropriate doesn’t mean something bad happened though.

But something bad did happen. And the world was about to learn about it. On November 26, 2019, soon after the newlyweds returned to Idaho, Rexburg Police came knocking on Lori’s door looking for JJ. His grandmother, Kay Woodcock, had been unable to reach him for several months.

Lori told them that JJ was in Arizona with a friend. The police recorded their conversation: 

LT. RON BALL | Rexburg Police Department: Who’s the friend he’s with?

LORI VALLOW: My friend Melanie.

That same friend who was staying with Lori the last time JJ was seen — Melanie Gibb. She would testify at Chad Daybell’s preliminary hearing that Chad told her not to pick up the phone when the police called, and that Lori asked her to lie and tell the police that JJ was staying with her in Arizona.

ROB WOOD: How did that make you feel?

MELANIE GIBB: I had a really bad feeling in my stomach, and I felt very shooken [sic] up by it.

At first, Gibb wasn’t forthcoming to the police, but 12 days later she made a call to Lori and Chad and secretly recorded.

MELANIE GIBB: Is JJ safe?

LORI VALLOW: He is safe and happy.

Chad said they couldn’t tell her where JJ was for her own security.

CHAD DAYBELL: If you knew, that puts you in danger.

JJ and Tylee missing poster
“It became the most famous missing persons case in the country,” Morgan Loew, an investigative reporter and CBS News consultant said of the search for JJ and Tylee.

NCMEC


Gibb handed that secret recording to authorities, and investigators launched a nationwide search – but not just for JJ. They would soon learn that his big sister Tylee was also missing. 

It was huge news — especially to Lori’s new stepchildren.

Jonathan Vigliotti: When did you know that she had two kids?

Garth Daybell: I first heard of her children when a detective came to my work and asked me about them. I had never heard of them before that point.

Jonathan Vigliotti: So even after your father weds Lori, you didn’t know that there were two kids in the picture at that point.

Garth Daybell: Did not.

As the hunt for the children intensified, Lori and Chad again headed to Hawaii … seemingly the only two people in America not concerned about the missing children.

REPORTER NATE EATON | East Idaho News [to Chad and Lori Daybell]: Can you tell me where your kids are? Where are your children?

Jonathan Vigliotti: When you spoke to your father, hearing the mounting criticism … the ongoing and growing manhunt for them, did you ever say to your father, “Just show the kids”?

Emma Murray: Yeah.

Jonathan Vigliotti: And what did he say?

Emma Murray: He said, “We can’t for their safety.”

Jonathan Vigliotti: What were they afraid of? What — what was making JJ unsafe?

Emma Murray: I don’t know.

Garth Daybell: I don’t know either.

Jonathan Vigliotti: You’re telling me at no point here did you think, “Oh God, there’s something bad going on here. … we need to get to the bottom of this? “

Leah Murphy: We, of course, had those thoughts briefly. But it all came down to our trust in our father. We trusted him and he trusted Lori.  I think that’s really how it played out.

Chad an d Lori
Lori was arrested in Hawaii on child abandonment charges and extradited to Rexburg. Chad Daybell, the loyal husband, was by her side.

Play out it did. But not the way they wanted. Lori was arrested in Hawaii on child abandonment charges and extradited to Rexburg. Chad Daybell, the loyal husband, by her side.  But now Chad himself was under suspicion. With the children missing, the police took a closer look at the death of Tammy. Could she have been murdered? Authorities exhumed her body.

Garth Daybell It took us calling our grandfather and having him run to the cemetery to verify that the grave was disturbed. And that was probably one of the hardest things we’ve gone through.

Leah Murphy: Everything just keeps getting piled on us it feels like.

In a truth is stranger than fiction plot twist, yet another death. Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, suddenly dropped dead; an autopsy determined of natural causes.

Morgan Loew: That was a jaw-dropping moment, because that’s somebody who could answer questions.

They say dead men don’t talk. But this one did. Alex Cox’s cell phone harbored a tale of horrors waiting to be discovered in Chad Daybell’s backyard. 

“HE WAS FRAMED”

On June 9, 2020, law enforcement descended upon the once peaceful home and property of Chad Daybell, searching for signs of JJ and Tylee.

According to the prosecution, Alex Cox’s cell phone data placed him at Daybell’s backyard for two hours the day after Tylee Ryan was last seen. Authorities later discovered her remains in this same spot.

Emma Murray, Jonathan Vigliotti
Emma Murray shows Jonathan Vigliotti the spot on her father’s property where Tylee Ryan’s remain were unearthed.

CBS News


It was an area the Daybell family used as a pet cemetery. It now contained Tylee’s badly burned body. And about 50 yards away, JJ’s remains were found in a shallow grave under a tree. He was in his red pajamas.

JJ was also covered head to toe in duct tape, as a detective would later describe:

DET. RAY HERMOSILLO: He had duct tape continuously wrapped from elbow all the way around his arms, over his hands, all the way to his right elbow.

Morgan Loew: Why do you bind somebody’s feet and hands and mouth in duct tape? You do it to keep them from yelling or talking.

Morgan Loew: These were real kids that had these horrendous things done to them.

While investigators were discovering the brutally murdered bodies, Chad had gone to his car. Later, says Emma, as her father started driving off to meet his attorney, they learned the horrifying news.  

Emma Murray: When my dad left, they arrested him. … Some police officers told me that they had discovered human remains on the property. … I was standing in the doorway of the police car as he was sitting inside, handcuffed. And the first thing he asked me was, “Do you know why they arrested me?” And my thought was, “How do you not know?” And I was crying. I said, “Dad, they found human remains.” And his face went white, and his eyes went wide. He was shocked. 

Jonathan Vigliotti: When the bodies were found in your father’s backyard after your father was unable to answer the simple question of, “Where are the children?” Was that a moment where you questioned your father’s innocence?

Leah Murphy: Not my father.

Mark Daybell: It goes back to what we know about him as a man, as our father.

Jonathan Vigliotti: If he didn’t kill them, then why were their bodies found buried in your father’s backyard?

Emma Murray: I don’t know why they would be there. But I do know that if he were to commit a crime, he wouldn’t be foolish enough to put the evidence in his own backyard.

Emma Murray [on Daybell’s property]: This is where Tylee’s body was found, is back here.

Jonathan Vigliotti: It must be hard for you to come and visit this area.

Emma Murray: I don’t come back here. It’s horrific to even think about.

Murray showed “48 Hours” around the property, believing that the area itself helps explain why her family thinks their father is innocent. For them, the notion that Chad would hide anything in the backyard, makes no sense.

Emma Murray
Emma Murray showed “48 Hours” around the Daybell property, believing that the area itself helps explain why her family thinks their father is innocent. For them, the notion that Chad would hide anything in the backyard, makes no sense.

CBS News


Emma Murray: You can look around for miles and miles. There’s not houses and neighbors. You could go down to the river that way. There’s … land down there that no one would ever touch.

And, the Daybell family says, the fact that the remains were found in shallow graves points fingers away from their father, who had worked as a gravedigger.

Seth Daybell: He knew how to dig graves and — that just doesn’t sound believable to me.

Morgan Loew: Saying that somebody’s prior experience as a gravedigger means that they wouldn’t just sloppily bury somebody in their own backyard sort of discounts all of the psychological pressure that might be affecting somebody who’s trying to get rid of bodies.

But maybe the most damning evidence against Chad are his own words: a text message he sent nine months before the bodies were discovered to his then wife, Tammy.

It read in part, “I spotted a big racoon [sic] along the fence. I hurried and got my gun … one shot did the trick. He is now in our pet cemetery.”

Morgan Loew: The fact that Chad sent that text to his wife, it was like he was setting up an excuse.

It was sent on the day prosecutors believe Tylee was buried, 14 minutes after Alex Cox’s GPS placed him on the Daybell property.

Jonathan Vigliotti: The timeline is very chilling. Alex Cox there and your father texting your mother saying that he shot and buried a raccoon around the same time, in the same exactly place, that Tylee was found.  …  this seems like a smoking gun to me.

Garth Daybell: Well, that same day when I arrived home from work, he said, “Hey, Garth, I got that raccoon we were looking for.” We were … having a raccoon problem … We’d set out traps. The traps were too small. So, the next best option was to shoot them.

However, investigators found no raccoon. The Daybell family says that’s because there’s another pet cemetery, in a different spot.

Emma Murray [pointing in backyard]: Over there is where our secondary pet cemetery was.

Garth Daybell: We had a new section of our pasture that we had designated for burying animals.

Emma Murray: They didn’t go over to that section at all and search it.

Garth Daybell: They didn’t’ touch it all during the search.

Morgan Loew: If there was a second pet cemetery, I would imagine the defense is gonna come up with evidence.

daybell-court-combo.jpg
In May 2021, Chad and Lori  Daybell were charged with murder in the deaths of JJ and Tylee.  

AP/Madison County Sheriff


But the evidence prosecutors had against Chad and Lori was mounting, and in May 2021, Chad and Lori were charged with murder in the deaths of JJ and Tylee.  

Emma Murray: I do know that my father believes … that killing someone, murdering someone, is not what God wants.

But Chad did believe that some individuals had dark spirits, like Tylee.  A local Fox TV station uncovered an email from Chad to Lori, where he graded people, giving Tylee a “D” as a dark spirit. 

Emma Murray: I don’t know what to say … It just seems immature. But I don’t know.

They also say there was no talk of zombies, or cults. 

Garth Daybell: He never said a thing to us about zombies. The first we ever heard of it was in a news report.

Emma Murray: I think if he was going to start a cult, we would be the prime members.

Garth Daybell: He would’ve started with us. … it just didn’t happen.

Jonathan Vigliotti:  So, you don’t believe that your father radicalized Lori.

Emma Murray [shakes her head]: No.

Leah Murphy: We really don’t know Lori or what she was thinking. But we do know our dad.

Still, investigative reporter Morgan Loew says the suspicion surrounding Chad is hard to ignore.

Morgan Loew: There are a lot of pieces of circumstantial evidence that tie Chad Daybell to these murders … The bodies were found in his backyard. The text message about the raccoon. His wife died under mysterious circumstances. And he asked Melanie Gibb to not pick up the phone when the police called. …Those pieces of evidence are hard to get around.

Leah Murphy: We do want there to be justice for whoever did this horrible crime.

Seth Daybell: We don’t want to seem callous, that we don’t feel sad about JJ and Tylee.

Emma Murray: ‘Cause we do.

Seth Daybell: Yeah, because we do.

Emma Murray: We are very sad. We just don’t think it was our father.

And the family has an alternative theory about what may have happened.

Jonathan Vigliotti: What do you think really unfolded?

Emma Murray: He was framed. This is his property. If there’s bodies buried here, it would be attributed to him.

Jonathan Vigliotti: Who framed your father?

Emma Murray: I think it’s pretty clear it was Lori and Alex. … Alex came and left for periods of time. … We don’t know — what exactly he was doing.

Morgan Loew: I guess it’s possible that Chad was framed. … This is either the least lucky person in the world, or … this is murder.

WHAT DID TYLEE KNOW?

The Daybell children are forever marked by what happened in their backyard.

Jonathan Vigliotti [on Daybell’s property]: What goes on in your mind as you stand here looking at what was the gravesite for JJ?

Emma Murray: It’s horrible. I — it’s hard to even comprehend. It’s a nightmare for me [cries] every single day to even think about. Lives with so much potential and goodness and they’re gone they’re ended.

But Emma still believes their father, Chad Daybell, had no role in the deaths of JJ and Tylee. She remains convinced that he was unwittingly lured into Lori Vallow and Alex Cox’ web of murder and deceit.

Jonathan Vigliotti:  How could he be surrounded by such evil, and not know it?

Emma Murray: I’ve wondered the same thing … I think he was fooled in the worst, most deadly way possible.

Jonathan Vigliotti: If your father had no role whatsoever, why do you think Alex or Lori would kill the children?

Garth Daybell: We’d have to get into their head to know that.

Emma Murray: I think we would all like to know that.

vallow.jpg
Charles and Lori Vallow

Kay Woodcock


One theory goes back to the death of Charles Vallow, Lori’s husband when she first met Chad Daybell. Remember, Charles was shot dead by Alex Cox, who claimed it was self-defense. After further investigation, police now say that it was murder. Tylee may have been a witness that day, and it’s possible, says Lori’s longtime friend April Raymond, that she knew too much.

Jonathan Vigliotti: Why do you think the children were murdered?

April Raymond: I feel like they were a liability. Especially Tylee was a liability for what she knew.

Morgan Loew: Tylee is dead. JJ is dead. … Even Alex Cox is dead, although investigators say he died of natural causes. You can’t ignore the idea that every witness to what happened to Charles Vallow is now dead except for Lori Vallow Daybell.

Based in part on a summary of police evidence, prosecutors in Arizona charged Lori with conspiring with Alex to kill Charles Vallow

Morgan Loew: It’s a compelling case that they have. They have electronic evidence. They have text messages. … what they say is that this was a planned event. … Lori and … Alex Cox planned to kill Charles Vallow.

One possible motive says Loew: she wanted Vallow’s million-dollar life insurance policy.

Morgan Loew: We know that shortly after Charles’s death, Lori tried to claim that life insurance policy.

Police say Cox shot Charles once in the chest and shot him again while he was helpless on the ground. They also concluded that he waited nearly 45 minutes before calling 911. And even though Cox claimed to be giving Charles CPR, police say he was only pretending to try to save his life.  

Morgan Loew: When the first responders arrived on the scene and they started performing CPR, blood started coming out of the wounds. And that told the first responders that nobody had performed CPR before.

And authorities say Charles Vallow is not the only murdered spouse in this story.

In Idaho, Chad and Lori have been charged with conspiring to murder Tammy Daybell. Though the results of Tammy’s autopsy performed after she was exhumed have not been publicly released, Garth Daybell says authorities told him how they believe his mother was killed.

Garth Daybell: They told me that she’d been asphyxiated.

Jonathan Vigliotti: What went on in your mind when you have police telling you, “Your mother was asphyxiated?”

Garth Daybell: It’s — it’s hard to process. But I just still can’t believe that he would do such a thing.

Leah Murphy: My dad loved my mom very, very much. And she loved him.  … he could never do that.

Leah Murphy: We’ve had several interactions with the police where … they’ve told us things before that turned out to not be true.

But police are convinced that together Chad and Lori were a lethal combination.

Morgan Loew: There’re a lot of big questions about this case. But the biggest is probably who is the mastermind here. Was it Chad Daybell, the cult leader who pulled the strings from the sidelines, or was it Lori Vallow Daybell, the bombshell, the black widow who used her charm and sex appeal to get other people to do her bidding?

daybell-vallow-mug.jpg
Both Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell were charged with murder in May 2021. Before she entered a plea, Lori Vallow’s case was placed on hold after a judge ruled her incompetent to stand trial while she undergoes mental health treatment.  

AP/Madison Co Sheriff


Lori and Chad are scheduled to be tried together, but that is now in question. Just after murder charges were announced, Lori’s case was put on hold. A judge ruled her incompetent to stand trial while she undergoes mental health treatment.   

Morgan Loew: And we don’t know if she’s ever gonna be returned to competency. Chad may go to trial without Lori.

In August 2021, the State of Idaho announced it will be seeking the death penalty against Chad Daybell. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow
Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow

September marks the second anniversary of Tylee and JJ’s deaths. So many, grief-stricken and angry, await the trials, hoping for justice. But in the end, no verdict can do what everyone wants the most – to bring the children back.

Tylee would have turned 19 later this month. JJ would now be 9 years old.

Chad Daybell’s trial is scheduled to start in November 2021.  


Produced by Liza Finley. Greg Fisher is the development producer. Ruth Chenetz and Richard Fetzer are producers. Mead Stone is the producer-editor. Doreen Schechter, Ken Blum, Joan Adelman, Michelle Harris and Kevin Dean are the editors. Patti Aronofsky is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Judy Tygard is the executive producer.  



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