Lori Vallow Daybell shrugged after being handed legal docs about delivering up her kids

May 4, 2023, 4:10 PM | Updated: 5:00 pm

Lori Vallow Daybell waiting with her back turned as the council discusses something in court on May...

Lori Vallow Daybell waiting with her back turned as the council discusses something in court on May 4, 2023. (Court sketch)

(Court sketch)

BOISE, Idaho — A number of witnesses took the stand during day 17 of testimony in the Lori Vallow Daybell trial, including a detective who conducted a search warrant on her rental car in Hawaii, as well as an Arizona officer who discussed the connection to an attempted shooting investigation and her children’s whereabouts.

Thursday’s proceedings were followed by a quick scheduling conference for her fifth and current husband, Chad Daybell.

Vallow Daybell is currently on trial for killing her children, Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow, and for conspiracy to commit murder on Tammy Daybell, late wife of Daybell, who is also expected to stand trial on similar charges.

Click here for complete coverage of the Lori Vallow Daybell trial

Court proceedings began with arguments, without the jury present, over whether the defense could play some recordings Ian Pawlowski — Vallow Daybell’s nephew-in-law — secretly took of Vallow Daybell.

Following a brief recess, Judge Steven Boyce sustained the hearsay objection from the prosecution, ruling that the tapes would not be played in court.

The jury was then brought in as Pawlowski returned to the stand.

Ian Pawlowski

John Thomas, one of Vallow Daybell’s defense lawyers, began by asking Pawlowski about his relationship with Melani Pawlowski — Vallow Daybell’s niece and Ian’s now wife.

Ian said they married after 10 days of dating. He also said he asked Vallow Daybell and her current husband, Chad Daybell — Melani’s closest relatives and who she trusted the most — for permission to marry Melani.

Court sketch of Ian Powlowski.

Ian said he secretly recorded phone calls involving Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell where “casting,” among other things, was discussed.

He said there were nine recordings in total, taken over a two-week period. He shared those tapes with law enforcement and the FBI.

“The mutual hope was that we could get anything to help find Tylee and JJ.” 

One of those calls involved a conversation between Melani, Daybell and Vallow Daybell following Alex Cox‘s passing.

Ian said during this call, Melani was “told by Chad and Lori that there would be a spiritual attack that day and to get a place of safety.”

He continued, “When Alex died, it felt very strange to me they called that out right before it happened.”

Ian was then released by the state, but the defense said they may call him as a witness later in the trial.

Taylor Ballard

Taylor Ballard, a health insurance broker who worked with Chad after Tammy Daybell died, then took the stand.

Ballard said she met Chad on Oct. 31, 2019, when he came in to get health insurance for himself and his three children, after he said his insurance through Tammy’s employer expired since she died.

Autopsy results reveal Tammy Daybell died of asphyxiation

A few weeks later, Ballard said he asked how difficult it would be, if he were to get married, to have his wife added to his policy. He also mentioned adding his son Mark.

Several months later, on March 11, 2020, Ballard said Chad inquired about getting coverage for his new wife, whom he married on Nov. 5, 2019.

Ballard said Chad told her that his new wife — who he identified as Lori Ryan Daybell — was a widow, adding that she lived off her husband’s social security death benefits. He also said she did not have any children.

Angela Yancey

Angela Yancey, payroll and benefit administrator for the Sugar-Salem School District where Tammy worked, was then called to the stand.

Yancey said Tammy submitted an application, which was signed and dated Sept. 8, 2019, requesting changes to her life insurance policy — an application that Yancey processed. In it, Tammy elected the max.

Taylor Ballard and Angela Yancey featured in a court sketch.

The day after Tammy died, Yancey said Chad came in to meet with her, which she considered to be fast.

“I explained we could not submit a death claim until we had a death certificate. And he said, ‘That’s OK. I’ve already ordered eight of them.’”

Det. Colin Nesbitt

Next to take the stand was Det. Colin Nesbitt with the County of Kauai Police Department in Hawaii.

Nesbitt said on Jan. 25, 2020, he assisted the Rexburg Police Department with serving Vallow Daybell a legal document, ordering her to produce her two children — Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow — within five days.

A video recording of the interaction in Kauai was then played in court.

Vallow Daybell was seen in the video lounging on beach chairs, with Daybell, next to a pool at the condo complex they were staying at. She’s handed the document, looks at it, then shrugs when detectives ask if she has any questions.

The next day, Jan. 26, Nesbitt said he was involved in serving a search warrant on Vallow Daybell.

As officers searched the rental car, Nesbitt said they found a credit card with Tylee Ryan’s name on it as well as an iPad with JJ’s name on it.

The card was seized, along with Vallow Daybell’s cell phone, a bag containing several personal documents and a backpack with two computers inside.

Among the personal documents were JJ’s birth certificate; several copies of a birth certificate for Canaan Todd Trahan (the name JJ’s birth parents gave him); JJ and Tylee’s social security cards; a receipt from the Madison School District for JJ; a health document in Tylee’s name; roughly 14 or 15 copies of Charles Vallow’s death certificate; and a 2019 Rexburg, Idaho, lease agreement with Tylee, JJ and Vallow Daybell’s names on it.

Nesbitt also participated in a condo search, which he said showed no evidence of children being there.

Officer Ryan Pillar

Officer Ryan Pillar with the Gilbert Police Department in Arizona — who investigated the attempted shooting of Brandon Boudreaux, Melani Powlowski’s ex-husband — was next to testify.

Pillar said when interviewing Boudreaux on Oct. 2, 2019, he described seeing a Jeep Wrangler near his residence. After returning home, he was shot at.

Pillar said Ring footage captured the Jeep — which had Texas license plates and no wheel in the back — sitting idly in front of Boudreaux’s home for one to one and a half hours.

A bullet hole was then found towards the top of the driver’s side door of Boudreaux’s Tesla and the window was shattered. Shards of glass were also found in the roadway.

When discussing a possible motive for the shooting, Pillar said Boudreaux confirmed he was going through a divorce with Melani. He also learned Vallow Daybell, Boudreaux’s aunt-in-law, and Cox were involved in the death of Charles Vallow in nearby Chandler, Arizona.

The latter incident led Pillar to talk with the Chandler Police Department.

During their conversations, Pillar said they learned a Jeep with Texas license plates was also seen at the scene of Vallow’s death.

It was later discovered that the Jeep was registered to Vallow, but Tylee used it to get to and from school.

The Fremont County Sheriff’s Office in Idaho then became involved. They were initially contacted after Pillar said they learned of Tammy’s death, but also because the Jeep was found to be in Idaho days before and the day after the attempted shooting on Boudreaux.

After search warrants were conducted on nearby cell phone tower data, they determined Alex Cox was the suspect in the Boudreaux shooting, as his phone was found near Boudreaux’s residence during the time of the shooting and then headed in the direction of Idaho shortly thereafter.

Around that same time is when Pillar said law enforcement in Arizona started wondering about the last time Tylee and JJ were seen.

Despite our desire to locate Alex and interview him and locate the Jeep, another focus became: let’s check the welfare of these children.”

In regards to the Jeep, which was eventually seized in Idaho, Pillar said the area near the back window of the vehicle tested positive for evidence of discharge of a firearm.

Pillar then talked about Kay Woodwock, JJ’s grandmother, reaching out in concern.

He also talked about the welfare check conducted in Idaho — where Vallow Daybell told officers that JJ was with her friend in Arizona, Melanie Gibb.

Video: Police asking Lori Vallow Daybell about JJ’s whereabouts shown to jury on day 13 of trial

Pillar said he and another detective went to two residences where Gibb lived on Nov. 26, 2019, but she was not there. They also tried communicating over the phone, but she didn’t answer.

It wasn’t until 8 or 9 p.m. that Gibb returned their calls.

Pillar said during that conversation, he learned information that made him concerned about the children’s whereabouts.

At some point, officers determined JJ was not with Gibb in Arizona, and instead believed he was in Idaho.

Pillar later said, in referencing the search warrants conducted for cell and location data in connection to the Boudreaux shooting,  data also showed Tylee’s device was used in Arizona and areas of Idaho, as well as Kauai and Missouri — which others have testified are locations Vallow Daybell is known to have traveled.

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Lori Vallow Daybell shrugged after being handed legal docs about delivering up her kids