‘Angels are angry’: FBI agent describes ‘manipulating’ texts between Lori and Chad Daybell

Apr 22, 2024, 1:08 PM | Updated: 5:18 pm

FBI agent Douglas Hart, right, testifies Monday about texts between Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Da...

FBI agent Douglas Hart, right, testifies Monday about texts between Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell, showing how he said they manipulated each other. (Judge Steven W. Boyce via YouTube)

(Judge Steven W. Boyce via YouTube)

BOISE — Jurors in the Chad Daybell murder trial heard testimony Monday from some key people in Lori Vallow Daybell’s life, and from an FBI agent who described “manipulative” texts between the couple.

Colby Ryan, Lori Daybell’s oldest child, took deep breaths and some time from the witness stand before identifying photos of his sister, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, and his adopted brother, 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow.

He spoke about the last time he saw his siblings when they visited him outside his work at Planet Fitness in Arizona before they moved up to Idaho. But he said he did not know where they were going or why.

“My mom was very vague and said that they were leaving. … Tylee was crying and didn’t say anything really,” Ryan said.

He spoke with Tylee on a FaceTime call after that, and heard her voice in the background of another call with his mother. But after that, he said their conversations were not normal, and her texts did not match texts she had previously sent to him.

“It just felt off when I was receiving those texts,” he testified. “I thought maybe she was upset with me.”

He confronted his mom on a phone call after police showed up at his door in November 2019 asking if he knew where his siblings were. He said his mom just said, “I’ll take care of it.”

Ryan said the only other contact he had before his mother was arrested was an email where she told him not to worry, and that Jesus was on her side.

‘I’ll be married again soon’

Ryan also talked about the death of his stepfather, Charles Vallow, who he said he was close to, about a month and a half before his mother moved. He said his mother called him at work and told him that her husband had died of a heart attack.

When he arrived at his mother’s house after work, he said he asked his uncle, Alex Cox, about a bandage on his head. That’s when he said he learned his stepdad had been shot to death.

“He said that Charles had hit him on the head with a bat, and that he had shot him in self-defense,” Ryan said.

He described his mother’s demeanor afterward as “calm, unrattled.”

“I thought it was crazy, because I was freaking out and she seemed to not care,” he said.

Ryan said she gave him a very quick version of what happened, but did not explain her previous lie about the heart attack. He said there “was a lot of lying in a lot of places” from his mother.

Later, he said his mother told him, “I’ll be married again soon,” but he “completely dismissed” the comment, thinking she may have been speaking about the next life. Ryan said he did not know about Chad Daybell until he later saw a press release about his missing siblings and learned that his mother had married him.

Ryan said he believes his mother was influenced by Chad Daybell.

Chad Daybell is on trial for first-degree murder in the deaths of two of Lori Daybell’s children and the death of his former wife, Tammy Daybell, in late 2019. He is also charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder of each of the victims, grand theft and two counts of insurance fraud.

‘The angels are angry’

FBI agent Douglas Hart testified Monday about texts between Chad Daybell and Lori Daybell, showing how he said they manipulated each other.

He told jurors about text messages from Aug. 8, 2019, depicting the couple’s “first big fight” over a family vacation Chad Daybell was taking with his wife, Tammy Daybell, and other family members.

Chad Daybell sent multiple texts telling then-Lori Vallow that he still loved and admired her and it was “absolutely excruciating” to be cut off from her. But she did not send any texts in response.

Chad Daybell told her it was the “saddest day of my life.” About an hour later, after she still hadn’t responded, he told her that her deceased grandfather was now there with him and her grandfather wanted him to “warn” her that she was now “unprotected.”

“The angels are angry that you are ignoring me,” Chad Daybell texted. “I’m honestly not trying to manipulate you to respond. I understand that you need your space. But they say you have cut me off, and the protection I built around your house is gone.”

He said if she would just send him a thumbs-up emoji, then he could restore some of her “protection.” Lori Daybell responded within about 10 minutes, telling him she loved him. Chad Daybell responded that the protection had been restored.

Click here for complete coverage of the Chad Daybell trial

KSL TV will be streaming the trial for Chad Daybell each day on social media.

Hart testified after the death of Charles Vallow just a month before that text exchange, the pressure Lori Daybell put on Chad Daybell for them to be together increased significantly.

As they continued to talk about the vacation, which Chad Daybell said would be “torture,” Lori Daybell encouraged Chad Daybell to give attention to his wife.

“I am just a distraction,” she said in texts shown during the trial. “If things change, then we can talk. But we have nothing until things change anyway.”

Chad Daybell responded that her message was “crushing.”

“I want change. I’m constantly begging for change. I want you. Nothing else matters. But I am hindering your life, and you deserve better,” he told her.

‘Telling’ text

They each told the other the pain was “unbearable” and they agreed to separate “until things change.” Chad Daybell assured Lori Daybell after she asked whether the protection he gave her would still be there.

Hart said one sentence from Chad Daybell’s texts was particularly “telling.” It said: “I would happily join you tomorrow if it felt like heaven would not strike us down.”

When defense attorney John Prior cross-examined Hart, he referred back to that message and asked, “That has nothing to do with murder, does it?”

“I don’t know that I could say entirely that it doesn’t,” Hart responded, but said he does not know what it is referencing.

Fremont County prosecutor Lindsey Blake asked Hart multiple times if the text messages referred to any kind of plans from Chad Daybell to separate from his wife or divorce her and he said there was not. Tammy Daybell died on Oct. 19, 2019. After later exhuming her body from a Springville cemetery, investigators determined that her death was a homicide.

Hart began his testimony about texts between the couple on Friday, and showed their relationship from October 2018 through the weeks after Lori Daybell’s then-husband was shot and killed in her home. He said he went through tens of thousands of messages as part of the investigation.

Prior asked if there were any messages that said, “Let’s kill the kids.”

“In those specific words, no. But … alluding to and planning for the deaths of Tylee and JJ, yes,” Hart responded.

He said there were several texts about a plan to “take the children.” He said the texts referred to a “death number” assigned by Chad Daybell that “provided the justification” for Lori Daybell and Chad Daybell to kill others.

Lori Daybell was found guilty of her role in a trial last year, and was given five sentences of life in prison without parole. If he is found guilty, Chad Daybell could be given the death penalty.

Friend speaks about confronting Chad Daybell

David Warwick testified Monday about his interactions with Chad Daybell, whom he met at a conference in 2015 before beginning to date Melanie Gibb, Lori Daybell’s former best friend. He met Chad and Tammy Daybell at their home after another conference, and spoke with him about the possibility of writing a book.

“Chad’s always been very kind, very meek,” he said about their first few interactions.

He spoke about meeting Lori Daybell through Gibb at her home in Arizona and later at her home in Idaho on the weekend that JJ was last seen. In both of these meetings, Chad Daybell was also around.

Warwick said he confronted Chad Daybell about some of his teachings that did not fit his understanding of their religion, like the belief that Satan could remove spirits from bodies and that Chad Daybell had a calling to gather people before the end of times.

He also said the affection between Chad and Lori Daybell “bothered” him because Chad Daybell was still married to another woman, and he asked Chad Daybell about his marriage.

Warwick said Chad Daybell told him that Tammy Daybell was a good wife. “He said that Lori was going to be his next wife, they’d been married before (in another life) … that he’d had a dream Tammy was going to be passing by the time he was 50 or 51,” he said.

Warwick was with Gibb, staying at Lori Daybell’s home the night JJ was last seen, and said the next morning Lori Daybell “was a little dramatic” when describing JJ’s actions and said she was “talking fast and nervous.” She denied Warwick’s request to see JJ and told him that Cox was caring for the boy.

Warwick said Lori Daybell described JJ climbing on the top cabinets and knocking down a photo of Christ. But Warwick said he looked at the cabinets and did not think that was possible.

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‘Angels are angry’: FBI agent describes ‘manipulating’ texts between Lori and Chad Daybell