Tylee’s best friend, people who examined her body testify in Chad Daybell murder trial

May 13, 2024, 4:07 PM | Updated: 6:33 pm

BOISE — When Ashlyn Rynd’s best friend Tylee Ryan temporarily moved to Texas in 2017, they stayed in contact. But about two weeks after Tylee moved to Idaho, she said they “tried for two weeks” but then fell out of contact.

Rynd testified Tuesday during the murder trial of Chad Daybell, who is accused of killing 16-year-old Tylee and her younger brother, 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, before marrying their mother.

Click here for complete coverage of the Chad Daybell trial

Rynd said Tylee’s relationship with JJ was “almost maternal.”

“She was there for him … Tylee would always be the one to show up,” Rynd said.

Police began searching for the two siblings in November 2019 before their bodies were eventually found buried in Daybell’s Salem, Idaho, backyard in June 2020.

Trauma to Tylee’s body

Rexburg police detective Chuck Kunsaitis, who testified earlier in the trial, was called back to the stand Monday to testify about satellite images of Daybell’s property from shortly before Tylee is believed to have been killed and before her body was found months later.

Satellite photo shows Chad Daybell property on likely day of child’s burial

He pointed out discoloration in the images marking the spot where he later would uncover her remains.

Dr. Angi Christensen, a forensic anthropologist, talked about her analysis of Tylee’s bones and said trauma was inflicted on the bones while they were still “biomechanically fresh.” She said the trauma could have happened either before Tylee’s death or shortly afterward, and she could tell because of the way the bones were bent and broken.

She said there was evidence that some of the bones had been burned and they had marks from sharp trauma. She also said there were signs of “carnivore scavenging” on some of the bones.

Christensen said over 100 bones were sent to her for analysis, but she was not able to determine whether all of them were human bones.

Exclusive 3D model offers unique view of Daybell crime scene

Photos of the bones she examined were shown to the jury and the people in the courtroom but not to the public on the livestream.

Douglas Halepaska, a forensic examiner with the FBI, also testified Monday about his examination of Tylee’s remains. He said there were markings on her bones consistent with a “stabbing action,” but most were consistent with a “chopping action.”

He did not have specific tools to test, but some of the tools he said could have been used were a single-bladed knife, a hatchet or blade, and an ice pick.

Halepaska said a stabbing action with one of the tools caused Tylee’s hip bone to fracture and shatter.

Communications around Tammy Daybell’s death

FBI agent Nickolas Ballance testified that although investigators believe Tylee was killed around Sept. 9, 2019, her phone continued to be used, each time in a location near Lori Daybell. He said Tylee’s phone was used in northeast Kansas, eastern Idaho, outside of Phoenix, and Hawaii connecting to towers near her mother’s phone in the months after her disappearance.

Ballance, who has also testified earlier in this trial, was recalled to the witness stand Monday afternoon to testify about the usage of Tylee’s phone and about Chad Daybell’s communications around the time of his wife’s death.

On October 18, 2019, the evening before Chad Daybell reported his wife’s death, he sent multiple texts with both Lori Daybell, then-Lori Vallow, and her brother Alex Cox, Ballance testified.

He said on Oct. 8, 2019, an account associated with Chad Daybell purchased a phone at Walmart, and the number for that phone was later attributed to Alex Cox. This purchase happened the day before a man dressed in black confronted Tammy Daybell in her driveway and pointed a gun at her.

Ballance said Cox’s phone reported a location at a church near Chad Daybell’s home both on Oct. 9, 2019, between 4:57 p.m. and 5:03 p.m., and on the night Tammy Daybell died, between 10:07 p.m. and 10:45 p.m.

Between 1:36 p.m. and 8:54 p.m. on Oct. 18, 2019, the evening before his wife died, Chad Daybell sent multiple texts to Lori Daybell and Alex Cox, Ballance testified. He said Chad Daybell and didn’t communicate by phone with anyone else that night and continued to text Alex Cox between 9:35 p.m. and about 11:00 p.m.

After Cox’s phone left the area, Ballance testified that it made a 16-minute call to Lori Daybell’s phone, which was in Hawaii.

Chad Daybell is charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife, Tammy Daybell, as well as the deaths of his new wife Lori Vallow Daybell’s two children, JJ and Tylee. He is also charged with conspiracy to commit first-degree murder of each of the victims, grand theft and two counts of insurance fraud.

Lori Daybell was found guilty after a trial last year, and was given five sentences of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

If Chad Daybell is found guilty, the same jurors who make that decision would be tasked with deciding whether he deserves the death penalty.

Testimony ended early Monday afternoon and is scheduled to resume Tuesday morning at 8:30 MDT.

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Tylee’s best friend, people who examined her body testify in Chad Daybell murder trial