Search warrants, autopsies, and duct tape: an emotional second day of testimony in Lori Vallow trial

Apr 11, 2023, 5:28 PM | Updated: 6:25 pm

BOISE, Idaho — The second day of testimony in the Lori Vallow Daybell trial was full of unsettling details about the discovery of the bodies of her children.

Vallow Daybell is charged with seven felonies. She and her husband Chad Daybell are accused of murdering her two children, JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan. Vallow Daybell is also accused of conspiring to murder Daybell’s late wife, Tammy Daybell. 

Vallow Daybell has pleaded not guilty.

Lori Vallow Daybell, Court sketch 4/11

Click here for complete coverage of the Lori Vallow Daybell trial

Vallow Daybell even asked to leave the court room for the remainder of the day after returning from a lunch break.

Judge Steven Boyce denied that request.

While Idaho Rule 43 states that a defendant has the right to remain present during a trial, but 43 C explains the defendant voluntarily choosing not to be present.

“Having considered the authority, I do think this court has the authority to override that request of the defendant to voluntarily excuse herself from portions of the trial but not others,” Boyce said. “Within the court’s authority to conduct this trial, her presence should be require to ensure due process.”

Detective Ray Hermosillo testified on the stand all day.

Ray Hermosillo, Court sketch 4/11

Hermosillo became involved in the case in November when Fremont County contacted him about a jeep in his jurisdiction used in an “attempted homicide.”

Law enforcement seized the jeep from the residence and witnessed Vallow Daybell and Chad at the residence. There was no sign of any children.

By Nov. 25, Gilbert Police Department asked them to do a welfare check looking for JJ Vallow.

Hermosillo said he and Dave Hope with Rexburg Police made that welfare check and found Alex Cox and Chad outside by the garage. When asked, Alex said Vallow Daybell wasn’t there.

“I then asked Alex if he knew where JJ was at,” Hermosillo said. “Alex got a blank look in his face kinda. A frightened look, looked over at Chad Daybell…Chad then looked at Alex and they kinda just looked at each other. They didn’t answer my question. It raised some red flags, the way they acted with that question.”

Next Hope and Hermosillo visited Vallow Daybell’s apartment. No one answered the door but as Hermosillo returned to the car, Chad pulled up.

“I asked Chad when was the last time he saw JJ. And Chad told me it was in October in apartment 170 with Lori Vallow….he stated that he hardly knew her, and that he had only met her a couple of times.”

However, Hermosillo said Chad’s answer seemed suspicious since they “knew that Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell had been married two weeks prior.”

Chad then told police he didn’t know her phone number.

A few moments later, Chad finally gave him Vallow Daybell’s phone number.

First Hermosillo described obtaining search warrants for the different apartments in the following days.

In Vallow Daybell’s apartment they found multiple guns, silencers, a ghillie suit, (something you use to camouflage yourself,) and a plastic tub.

The other notable thing is that no clothing was found at Vallow Daybell’s apartment, just a bunch of hangers.

There are no clothes…normally when people go on trips and plan to come home they don’t take everything from their closet,” Hermosillo said. 

However they found two Tyvek suits, which are a type of PPE suit.

There was nothing that indicated minor children were living or had been living there,” Hermosillo said.

The mood in the court room changed when Hermosillo began to describe the chilling details of finding and recovering the children’s bodies. 

Photos of the process as well as the children’s decomposing bodies were shown.

Hermosillo helped execute a search warrant on June 9, 2020, on Chad Daybell‘s property.

A model of Chad Daybell’s property can be found here. 

JJ was found buried in a shallow grave near the pond, wrapped in a black plastic bag.

“We continued to dig around that, what we started to call the burial site, and eventually expose what appeared to be a small body wrapped in black plastic,” Hermosillo said.

Tylee’s remains where charred skin and bone found near a spot labeled, a pet cemetery.

The remains were sent to the Ada County Coroner’s Office for an autopsy.

Hermosillo testified that JJ, found in red pajamas with a “child’s blanket,” was duct taped and had a bag over his head, with bruises on his arms.

There was weeping in the courtroom some from JJ’s grandfather, Larry Woodcock.

Larry Woodcock, Court sketch 4/11

Vallow Daybell was upbeat this morning but came back from lunch red faced with puffy eyes.

It’s the first time Vallow Daybell has shown this type of emotion publicly.

Lori Vallow Daybell, Court sketch 4/11

The trial will continue tomorrow.

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Search warrants, autopsies, and duct tape: an emotional second day of testimony in Lori Vallow trial