Coroner: JJ Vallow was killed by asphyxiation

Apr 26, 2023, 10:09 AM | Updated: 2:56 pm

JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan. (Photos courtesy National Center For Missing & Exploited Children)...

JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan. (Photos courtesy National Center For Missing & Exploited Children)

(Photos courtesy National Center For Missing & Exploited Children)

NOTE: This story contains details that may disturb some readers. Read with discretion 

BOISE, Idaho — JJ Vallow, adopted son of Lori Vallow Daybell, died of asphyxiation, according to Dr. Garth Warren, Idaho forensic pathologist.

JJ, who was 7, was killed by a plastic bag placed over his head, according to Warren, who testified Wednesday morning at Vallow Daybell’s murder trial. She is also accused of the murder of her daughter Tylee Ryan and conspiracy to commit murder for the death of Chad Daybell‘s late wife, Tammy Daybell.

Click here for complete coverage of the Lori Vallow Daybell trial

Vallow Daybell married Chad Daybell weeks after his wife’s death.

Warren took the stand for the first time Wednesday, and near the start of his testimony, revealed the manner of JJ’s death for the first time. He said the bag was taped around his head.

Officials Confirm remains found at daybell home belong to missing Rexburg children

His body was found, along with Tylee’s, when investigators served a search warrant on Chad Daybell’s house and yard and discovered the bodies buried in the backyard. Tylee was last seen Sept. 8, 2019 in Yellowstone National Park while JJ was last seen alive on Sept. 23, 2019.

They were found to be missing and police were asked to perform a welfare check, leading to the investigation that eventually discovered their bodies and resulted in charges as Vallow Daybell and Daybell.

Previously, law enforcement officers testified about the process of discovery, but until Wednesday, the cause of death has not been publically known.

JJ’s grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, have been in court for the duration of the trail but were absent Wednesday morning while other family members where in attendance. At times, as photos or details about the victims were revealed to the courtroom, family has wept.

UPDATE: The Woodcocks were in court ofter the lunch break.

Warren testified about the four-hour process of the autopsy of JJ and what he learned about his manner and cause of death. He said he handles approximately 20 homicides a year on average and follows strict procedures in a head-to-toe examination. He said he has performed roughly 1,200 autopsies in Idaho.

Who are Tylee Ryan and Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow?

The jury, selected partially because they said they didn’t have prior knowledge of the case, had previously seen photos of JJ’s body and its discovery in the courtroom and had multiple law enforcement officers talk about the discovery of the bodies.

Warren said JJ was found in red pajamas, previously shown in photos of his discovered body in court, wrapped in layers of plastic. From the stand he  explained that there was duct tape around his arms and ankles. He said he took swaps and took extra care to take DNA samples from teeth and ribs.

He noted scratch-like abrasions on JJ’s neck, that he said they were significant because it was a red flag. He seemed to suggest that JJ could have put up a struggle.

“Was JJ trying to get the bag off his head?” Warren said.

While Vallow Daybell faces the murder charges, her current husband Chad Daybell also faces those same charges but will have a separate trial at an unspecified date.

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Coroner: JJ Vallow was killed by asphyxiation