Doctor shows emotional jurors photos of children’s autopsies in Chad Daybell murder trial

May 8, 2024, 4:54 PM | Updated: 6:44 pm

BOISE, Idaho — Dr. Garth Warren spoke in detail about the autopsies of Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan during his testimony Wednesday in the Chad Daybell murder trial.

He went over multiple pictures of each autopsy, detailing what he was able to find in the photos. These photos were shown to the jury but not to members of the public in the courtroom.

Warren said 7-year-old JJ was suffocated by duct tape and bags that had been placed on his head. He said the photos showed duct tape around his ankles, taping his hands and arms together, and covering his mouth.

While the photos of JJ were shown, multiple jurors were crying and wiping their eyes.

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Bruises were shown on JJ’s right arm, and there were “scratch-like abrasions” on his neck. Warren said these show he could have been trying to get the bag off of his head.

Chad Daybell was also watching the images of JJ on the screen and occasionally shook his head back and forth.

Tylee’s body was delivered in multiple bags, and Warren described photos of each bag. A brown paper bag contained multiple smaller brown paper bags with primarily charred bones and some pieces of flesh, he said.

Warren testified there were multiple organs and bones he was able to identify, despite them being broken and charred, including her heart and lungs.

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Warren said he was able to obtain a sample to conduct a toxicology test on 16-year-old Tylee’s remains, and they found she had levels of ibuprofen and caffeine in her system but nothing in the report that would explain her death.

He said FBI agents provided a deeper analysis of her bones and they discovered “sharp force markings” on them.

He said Tuesday that JJ had no evidence of natural diseases, and he did not believe any medical issues contributed to Tylee’s death. Tylee’s death was determined to be a “homicide by unspecified means,” and her body was dismembered and set on fire. Her autopsy took about a week.

Tara Martinez, a forensic scientist who responds to crime scenes, testified about analyzing the black plastic that was wrapped around JJ’s body on Wednesday. She said she found a couple of latent prints — also called hidden prints because they’re usually not visible to the naked eye — and matched them to Alex Cox, Lori Vallow Daybell‘s brother.

“I was not able to identify anyone else,” Martinez said.

Timing issues in reports of Charles Vallow’s death

Chandler (Arizona) police detective Ariel Werther testified Wednesday about researching cellphone records from the day Charles Vallow, Lori Daybell’s then-husband, was shot and killed by Cox. He said he searched for things that could verify pieces of the story they had been given by Lori Daybell and Cox, who claimed he fired the gun in self-defense.

Werther said they analyzed Chad Daybell’s phone records as well, although he was in Idaho at the time of the shooting death.

He said investigators wanted to verify information such as Lori Daybell’s reports that directly after her husband was killed, she went to a Burger King, a drug store to pick up flip-flops and to JJ’s school.

Werther said detectives “pretty quickly noticed” there was a timing issue.

He testified 911 was called at 8:36 a.m. on July 11, 2019, and Lori Daybell returned to the home at 8:48 a.m. He said most 911 calls are made “fairly quickly” after a shooting and said Lori Daybell told investigators she was at the home when her husband was shot and killed. That was before she drove to the multiple errands, but she was back at the house 12 minutes after 911 was called.

Werther said cellphone records placed Charles Vallow’s phone — which Lori Daybell claimed she had in her car while driving JJ to school — at a Burger King close to Lori Daybell’s home about 7:55 that morning. He said video at the Burger King shows Lori Daybell driving through the drive-thru at 7:54 a.m.

Werther said Charles Vallow’s phone was near one Walgreens at 8:08 a.m. and then at another Walgreens at 8:16 a.m. Footage shows Lori Daybell purchasing sandals, as she had reported saying they left the home too quickly to grab shoes. At 8:32 a.m. the phone was located at JJ’s school, and it arrived back at Lori Daybell’s home at the same time she arrived.

Based on his investigation, Werther said it’s likely that Charles Vallow’s phone arrived at Lori Daybell’s home about 7:32 a.m. and left about 7:50 a.m. in the possession of Lori Daybell.

Werther said if Lori Daybell left after Charles Vallow was killed, “then there’s at least a 45-minute delay between that event and 911 being called.” He said the other possibility is that Lori Daybell was not at her home when her husband was shot as she claimed.

He said Lori and Chad Daybell communicated with each other throughout that day, starting in the 6 a.m. hour, but the information in their texts or calls is unavailable.

Chad Daybell is on trial for first-degree murder in the deaths of Lori Daybell’s children, JJ and Tylee, 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.

Daniel Woodruff contributed to this report.

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Doctor shows emotional jurors photos of children’s autopsies in Chad Daybell murder trial