Tammy Daybell Investigation: Idaho Law Allowed Her Burial Without An Autopsy

Jun 22, 2020, 11:34 PM | Updated: Jun 25, 2020, 11:15 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – As investigations continue at Chad Daybell’s Idaho property, officials said investigators were not required by state law to perform an autopsy after Tammy Daybell’s death.

Not only were the remains of Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow buried on the property, but Daybell allegedly died while sleeping inside the home, and the circumstances surrounding her death are now under investigation.

Daybell’s death was sudden and unexpected, less than a month after detectives suspect Ryan and Vallow were buried in the backyard.

Her funeral took place just three days after she died. However, officials ruled she died of natural causes, which is why an autopsy wasn’t performed.

“I just can’t help but think that I want to know what happened to Tammy,” Mandy Fowler, Daybell’s friend and co-worker, told KSL on June 11, shortly after the children’s remains were discovered in Chad Daybell’s backyard.

Tammy Daybell’s friends and family said she was healthy and training for a marathon before her sudden and unexpected death.

“What a complete waste of an amazing person. She truly was so awesome,” said Fowler, who worked with Daybell for about five years.

Multiple sources told KSL Chad Daybell declined to have an autopsy performed. Ultimately, the Fremont County coroner ruled her death of natural causes, according to her obituary.

“I actually went over to their house the morning after Tammy died,” said Matt Price, Tammy Daybell’s neighbor. “Chad didn’t seem to have any emotion, it was very odd.”

Tammy Daybell was buried in Springville, Utah, where she and Chad Daybell grew up.

Sgt. Spencer Cannon with the Utah County Sheriff’s Office said under Utah law, a case like Tammy Daybell’s would have been referred to the state medical examiner’s office.

“As the state code says, sudden death while in apparent good health is automatically something that is seen by the medical examiner in Utah,” Cannon said. “If I went to bed tonight and didn’t wake up tomorrow, that would be unusual, and in Utah that would be a medical examiner case simply because we don’t know why I died. I’m not expected to die.”

Cannon worked for eight years as a part-time investigator for the state medical examiner’s office, in addition to being a sheriff’s office deputy. Cannon said family members don’t get a say on whether an autopsy is performed.

“We let them down easy, but we tell them state law prevails here, and for the good of everybody, it has to,” Cannon said.

But in Idaho, there isn’t a state medical examiner’s office.

University of Idaho College of Law professor Samuel Newton said death investigations are handled by county coroners and they ultimately determine if an autopsy will be performed.

“The coroner may go and examine the scene and say ‘oh we don’t need one,’ but the statute does require the coroner to do the investigation and the autopsy would be up to the discretion of the coroner,” Newton said.

County coroners serve four-year term elected positions and are only required to attend a coroner’s school and complete 24 hours of additional training every two years, according to Idaho state statute.

In rural communities like Fremont County, this is a part-time job — and their resources are limited.

For example, Fremont County, where Daybell died, listed a budget of just over $37,000 including the coroner’s salary.

For the 2019-2020 Budget Year, Madison County had listed $6000 for autopsies and inquests and the Coroner’s Salary was $14,918.00.

**Update- A GRAMA request reply on June 24th, showed additional funding was set aside for the Coroner’s office. The total is $35,133.00.

In comparison, Ada County, where Boise is located, has a budget of just over $3 million.

Last December, deputies exhumed Daybell’s remains for an autopsy after determining her death was suspicious.

Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow have been linked to the investigation.

“That’s what my mind keeps focusing on, I want justice for her,” Fowler shared.

Fremont County’s coroner is Brenda Dye. Her full-time job is as an EMT. KSL made several attempts to contact her and the Fremont County commissioners but did not receive a response.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Lori Vallow & Chad Daybell

Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow (KSL TV)...
Larry D. Curtis, KSL TV

Lori and Chad Daybell will be tried together for murders, in January

Lori Vallow Daybell's trial for murder will be moved from October to Jan 9, 2023, when she will be tried together with her husband Chad Daybell.
3 months ago
Lori Vallow Daybell (Madison County)...
Eliza Pace, KSL TV

Death penalty sought against Lori Daybell

The state of Idaho filed a notice to seek the death penalty against Lori Vallow Daybell Monday. 
4 months ago
Lori Vallow Daybell (Madison County)...
Josh Ellis

Lori Vallow Daybell pleads not guilty to first-degree murder charges

Lori Vallow Daybell pleaded not guilty to all charges she is facing in connection to the deaths of JJ Vallow, Tylee Ryan and Tammy Daybell.
4 months ago
Lori Vallow appears in an Idaho courtroom on March 6, 2019....
Josh Ellis

Lori Vallow Daybell found competent to stand trial

Lori Vallow Daybell has been found competent to stand trial, and she will be arraigned next week.
4 months ago
FILE: Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell...
Eliza Pace, KSL TV

Judge denies request to separate Chad and Lori Daybell cases

Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell will be on trial for murder together after a judge denied a request to separate the cases. 
5 months ago
Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow (KSL TV)...
Cary J. Schwanitz, KSL TV

Lori Vallow attorney removed from her murder case 

The judge overseeing Lori Vallow's death penalty case has kicked her privately hired attorney off her case.
8 months ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Tammy Daybell Investigation: Idaho Law Allowed Her Burial Without An Autopsy