Prosecution dives deep into search histories in Lori Vallow Daybell murder trial

Apr 24, 2023, 6:07 PM | Updated: Mar 26, 2024, 5:15 pm

A courtroom sketch showing Lori Vallow Daybell sitting in between her attorneys during jury selecti...

A courtroom sketch showing Lori Vallow Daybell sitting in between her attorneys during jury selection. (Pool)


BOISE, Idaho — The fourth week of Lori Vallow Daybell’s murder trial picked up where it left off last Thursday, with testimony from law enforcement. The bulk of the testimony went over search histories for Vallow Daybell and her husband Chad Daybell.

Vallow Daybell is charged with the murders of her two children, Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow. Additionally, she’s charged with conspiring to commit the murder of Tammy Daybell, Chad Daybell’s first wife.

Click here for complete coverage of the Lori Vallow Daybell trial

Throughout the trial, Vallow Daybell paid attention to the evidence presented but had no reaction to any speculation from the witnesses.

During breaks, Vallow Daybell often laughed with her attorneys. At one point, when the prosecution was bringing up Chad Daybell’s search history, Vallow Daybell scribbled something down and passed it to her attorney, smirking.

Kay and Larry Woodcock, JJ’s grandparents, were in attendance again, watching the proceedings intently.

Searching electronics

Det. David Stubbs, pictured below in a courtroom sketch, with the Rexburg Police Department picked up where he left off in his testimony from last week, explaining the search warrants executed in late 2019. At this point, police hadn’t been able to find any evidence of where Tylee or JJ were.

Det. Sgt. David Stubbs testifies in a Boise, Idaho court room during the murder trial of Lori Vallow Daybell (Pool)

Stubbs said police had approximately 20 to 21 search warrants for electronic devices. Police targeted information like emails, phone numbers and GPS locations.

Vallow Daybell, Daybell and her brother Alex Cox each had multiple phone numbers, which police say were all from burner phones. Those phones, Stubbs said, can still collect data. The prosecution hit a bump in the road when trying to present evidence on a flash drive, put together by Stubbs.

After some back and forth with the defense team and Judge Steven Boyce, the prosecution moved on to evidence that shows that Vallow Daybell had multiple phone numbers belonging to her.

Search history on Lori’s device

Search history from a device Vallow Daybell owned showed that the user of the account looked up and ordered two malachite wedding rings. This search was on August 25, 2019 — a month after her husband Charles Vallow died and almost two months before Tammy Daybell’s death.

The prosecution later brought out photos of Vallow Daybell and Daybell’s wedding day. When looking at a closeup of the couple’s wedding rings, Stubbs said they looked like a match to the rings Lori had ordered in August.

two people in white stand on a beach

Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell’s wedding photo. (Police photo)

In another search, in September 2019, Vallow Daybell looked for the definition of “possessed.” She also searched how to remove a seat in a Jeep, which Stubbs said caught his attention because of the attempted shooting of Brandon Boudreaux.

During the defense’s cross-examination, defense attorney John Thomas asked Stubbs whether Cox was the only person who could be placed at several key locations on several important dates. Stubbs agreed.

Stubbs later agreed that Vallow Daybell couldn’t be placed at key locations like Daybell’s backyard, where Tylee and JJ’s bodies were found.

Email addresses and burner phones

The next witness called by the prosecution was FBI agent Nicole Heideman, pictured below in a courtroom sketch. Heideman took a deeper dive into Vallow Daybell and Chad’s search histories. She said she was able to link searches to several email addresses and phone numbers belonging to Daybell and Vallow Daybell.

Drawing: woman testifies in court

Nicole Heideman with the FBI testifies in the Lori Vallow Daybell trial. (Pool)

An email address of Daybell’s was linked to searches about a 1996 death in Lousiana, along with the name Ned Snider. Neither the prosecution nor Heideman explained the relevance of the searches.

The evidence also showed that an email belonging to Vallow Daybell had looked up a life insurance policy for children and searched for information about selling a service dog — that JJ had.

Vallow Daybell also searched for wedding dresses in Hawaii the same day as Tammy’s funeral.

From there, Heidman went through a presentation made by the FBI. The presentation focused on the multiple phone numbers Vallow Daybell, Daybell and Cox had. Each were found to have had three numbers of interest.

Daybell’s number linked him to some activity in Hawaii. He also at one point told Vallow Daybell he’d use a number with a Rhode Island area code to call her.

During this testimony, Vallow Daybell interrupted Heidman and asked her for clarification. It’s unclear what Vallow Daybell asked for clarity on.

A number belonging to Vallow Daybell was found to have been used when she requested a quote on the price of a Hawaii wedding. Vallow Daybell had also linked her iCloud and Google accounts to her phones.

Wedding planning

Heidman next moved to a presentation, outlining Vallow Daybell and Daybell’s efforts to plan a wedding. Some of that planning happened before Tammy Daybell’s death.

One document submitted as evidence was titled “Presiding Council of Archangels.” Within it were mentions of Tuesday, malachite and aliases Vallow Daybell and Daybell used.

From there, Heidman testified that Vallow Daybell attempted to buy malachite wedding rings two times before successfully purchasing them. That purchase was made before Tammy Daybell’s death. Heidman also included the fact that Lori returned the rings and got new ones in the correct sizes after Tammy’s death.

The jury then saw text messages between Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell, sent on July 13, 2019 — two days after Charles Vallow’s death. The texts included many “I love you’s” between the two.

One text from Chad Daybell read “I feel she’ll be gone by then,” after mentioning a graduation ceremony coming up for his family. In more texts sent on July 22, 2019, Chad references the fact that he and Vallow Daybell will be able to be together soon.

Heidman later pointed out that Chad Daybell and Vallow Daybell had spent more time together in the month leading up to Tammy Daybell’s death.

Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell married on November 5, 2019, a little over two weeks after Tammy Daybell’s death.

Cell phone locating

The state next called Idaho FBI agent Nicolas Ballance to the stand.

Ballance began his testimony by explaining to the jury how cell phone locating works. He explained what he had found on the day of Sept. 9, 2019. That’s the day authorities believe Tylee was killed.

Cell phone activity shows that Cox, Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell communicated multiple times that morning. Ballance found that Cox’s phone location turned up at Chad Daybell’s property later that morning — near the spot where Tylee’s remains were later found.

Following Ballance’s testimony, court adjourned for the day.

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Prosecution dives deep into search histories in Lori Vallow Daybell murder trial