Jury begins deliberating in Chad Daybell triple murder trial

May 29, 2024, 1:06 PM | Updated: May 30, 2024, 12:11 pm

BOISE — Closing arguments ended Wednesday afternoon and jury deliberations began in the murder trial of Chad Daybell. Daybell is accused of killing three people including two children. The trial has continued over nine weeks and included the testimony of dozens of people.

Click here for complete coverage of the Chad Daybell trial

The prosecution

The prosecution reiterated that Chad Daybell was after power, money, and sex and was the person Lori Vallow and Alex Cox turned to for instruction.

Chad Daybell is accused of killing his Tammy Daybell, his wife of 29 years, who was also the mother of his five children,

Chad Daybell is also accused of killing two children: 7-year-old Joshua Jaxon “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan. Both were children of Chad Daybell’s current wife, Lori Vallow Daybell. If convicted, Chad Daybell could face the death penalty. The trial was moved to Boise in Ada County from Madison County.

The affair

The prosecution walked through the case from the time Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow met. The prosecution emphasized how, from the beginning, Lori Vallow came to Chad Daybell to learn.

“Chad was the one teaching; Chad was the one sharing these ideas and these concepts,” Lindsey Blake, a prosecutor for Freemont County, said.

Lori Vallow Daybell found guilty of murdering her children

The prosecution shared several excerpts of Chad Daybell’s writings, what they described as “Chad’s graphic description of his boundless lust of Lori Vallow.” The writings were about “James and Elena,” pseudonyms for himself and Lori Vallow.

“What is this about? Sex. He wants to have sex with Lori Vallow. He wants to have a relationship with her,” Blake said.

The prosecution alleged that Chad Daybell used his self-proclaimed religious abilities to justify his affair with Lori Vallow.

“Chad is the one with the information; Chad was the one with knowledge, and he was the one that shared it with others,” Blake said.

Throughout the affair, prosecutors pointed out there is no indication ever that Chad Daybell intended to divorce Tammy Daybell.

Video: Texts show Chad and Lori Daybell’s relationship days after her husband’s death

Charles Vallow‘s death

Ten days after Charles Vallow threatened to meet with Tammy Daybell to tell her about the affair, Charles Vallow was shot and killed by Alex Cox in Arizona.

“Instead of getting to take his son to school, he wound up dead,” Blake said.

The prosecutors said that when Zulema was asked if Alex Cox believed Chad Daybell, she responded “100%.”

“Chad said Charles was dark, Charles was a zombie, Alex shot and killed Charles Vallow. Alex 100% believed Chad,” the prosecution said.

Evidence shows Tammy Daybell read email from Charles Vallow before his death

The prosecution continued to point to a pattern of people turning to Chad Daybell for knowledge. Only Chad Daybell had the ability to see death percentages and determine if a person was light or dark, Blake explained.

“Chad texted Lori, ‘I was told extreme changes are coming for me, I welcome them both,’ What were the extreme changes? Charles had been dead for seven days. What extreme changes do we know happened in Chad’s life?,” Blake said. “Well, his mistress’s two kids end up dead on his property, and his wife Tammy ends up dead in their marital bed. ‘Extreme changes are coming and I welcome them.’”

The prosecution described how Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell would manipulate each other.

“Chad manipulated Lori with power. He held himself out to be a visionary,” Blake said. “Lori manipulates Chad with sex. From the minute he met her, he wanted to be with her and she knew it.”

The prosecution explained that Chad Daybell and Tammy Daybell had five children, a grandchild, and a life together that would prevent Chad Daybell from being with Lori Vallow.

Tylee Ryan‘s death

“Lori asked Chad, ‘Do you think there is a perfectly orchestrated plan to take the children?’ he responds, ‘There is a plan being orchestrated for the children,’” Blake said. “Again Lori asked Chad, Chad has the answers. What children are they referencing? Tylee and JJ.”

Before Lori Vallow moved to Rexburg, the prosecution explained, Chad Daybell had already shared with her that Tylee and JJ were “dark.”

“We know what happens when someone is dark; the body has to die. Knowing that, Lori still brought her children with her to Idaho – closer to Chad Daybell,” Blake said.

Lori Vallow asked about the death percentage for Tylee and JJ.

Family, friends gather for celebration of life of Tylee Ryan and J.J. Vallow

Chad Daybell’s response was “she’s at .13, I turned up the pain to 10.”

“Tylee is a 16-year-old girl, and he’s saying her death percentage is .13,” Blake said. “…who is she [Lori Vallow] asking for that information? Chad Daybell.”

Alex Cox’s device was tracked to Lori Vallow’s apartment at 2:42 a.m. on Sept. 9, 2019.

“The only time the device is there in early morning hours – is the date Tylee dies,” Blake said.

The morning of Sept. 9, 2019, Chad Daybell called Alex Cox. Location data shows after that call Alex Cox’s phone was on Chad Daybell’s property between 9 and 10 a.m.

JJ Vallow‘s death

Blake pointed out a similar pattern of events prior to JJ Vallow’s death. Lori Vallow reached out to Chad Daybell to check JJ’s death percentage.

On Aug. 10, Chad Daybell said JJ Vallow is at 0.

“When Chad determines someone is dark, they have to die,” Blake said.

Police found missing children’s debit card, iPad with Daybells in Hawaii, sergeant says

On Sept. 23, Chad Daybell called Alex Cox, Alex Cox then went to Chad Daybell’s property. The location of his device is traced to the property at 9:56 a.m. and 10:02 a.m.

Blake reiterated that Alex Cox believes Chad Daybell 100%.

“Chad labeled her children dark,” Blake said. “Their bodies were buried on his property, hidden from those who were looking for them. With them gone, he could be with Lori.”

The prosecution described the funds Lori Vallow was receiving in social security for both of her children.

“Had the children been discovered – Lori wouldn’t continue to receive those benefits,” Blake said.

Tammy Daybell‘s death

In July Chad Daybell texted Lori Vallow “Tammy is very close her percentage has fallen steadily.”

Prosecutors said when Tammy Daybell died, Lori Vallow was in Hawaii.

“Alex Cox was supposed to go on that trip. Alex didn’t go because ‘Chad needed help with something,’” Blake said.

Tammy Daybell’s voice heard in court following emotional testimony

The location of Alex Cox’s device was tracked to a church near the Daybell residence the night of Tammy Daybell’s death.

“Alex believed Chad 100%,” Blake said.

Blake pointed out that despite what Garth Daybell had testified about coming home from work and seeing two lumps in his parent’s bed, it conflicted with what he told his coworker Mackay Abegglen.

Autopsy results reveal Tammy Daybell died of asphyxiation

“You heard from Mackay Abegglen when Garth [Daybell] got home from work, he found his mom dead in her bed and his dad was nowhere to be found,” Blake said.

The prosecution pointed out that Chad Daybell’s statements about Tammy Daybell’s death changed over time.

“Nothing in her medical records supports seizures,” Blake said. “Nothing in her medical reports support negative reactions with homeopathic medicines. Those statements were provided by Chad Daybell.”

Blake said once Tammy Daybell and the kids were gone, “they had money, power, sex, and no obstacles.”

Tammy Daybell’s siblings release statement as Chad Daybell’s trial begins in Boise

The prosecution concluded: Tammy Daybell was a mother and grandmother – JJ and Tylee had their whole lives ahead of them, but all three were labeled dark and possessed and they had to die.

“All three victims gone too soon,” Blake said.

The defense

The defense began its closing arguments at 2 p.m.

Defense attorney John Prior explained to the jury that Chad Daybell was innocent until proven guilty. He said the state has to prove that he was involved in a crime, if they failed to do that, the jury must find Chad Daybell not guilty.

Prior said that it’s not a crime to talk about religious beliefs.

“It’s not uncommon to talk about light and dark in the LDS faith,” Prior said.

Widow describes fringe religious teachings from Chad and Lori Daybell surrounding 3 deaths

Prior referenced the many texts from Chad Daybell shared with the jury that involved death percentages, light and dark rankings, and a plan.

“At no time did the prosecutor show you a text message that said, ‘Let’s kill the kids. Let’s kill Tammy,'” Prior said.

Instead, Prior explained, that plan was the gathering of the 144,000 ahead of the second coming. Prior said Daybell was “a traditional Mormon.”

Prior said prosecutors need to establish an agreement between Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow, or between Chad Daybell and Alex Cox in order to prove Chad Daybell is guilty of conspiracy. 

“There’s no agreement. Show me the text message that says there’s an agreement. Show me the text messages that says here’s what we’re going to do,” Prior said. “The crime of conspiracy involves an agreement to commit a crime.”

The murders

Prior pointed out that despite the testimony of many people who worked with Tammy Daybell and testified she was healthy, two of her own children, who were closer to her, said she had health problems prior to her death.

Prior claims Alex Cox had the motive to kill Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow because they witnessed him shooting and killing Charles Vallow in 2019.

“Chad didn’t know where the kids were,” Prior said.

Human remains found on Daybell property were missing children, family says

Prior said while Alex Cox’s location showed he was on the Daybell property on Sept. 9, there was nothing that put Chad Daybell on the property at that time.

Neighbors of the Daybells didn’t report seeing a bonfire of any sort, so Prior alleged Tylee wasn’t burned there.

“Alex Cox murdered Tylee Ryan. Lori Vallow knew what was going on,” Prior said. “Where’s the best place to bury bodies if you’re considering killing husband number five? Chad Daybell’s property. Set Chad up.”

Prior said that Chad Daybell often spoke of uncomfortable topics, but that he had every right to talk about those things, discussing religious beliefs was not a crime.

“Of the 18 tools in Chad Daybell’s garage, how many of them had his DNA on them? Zero,” Prior said.

Prior told the jury there simply isn’t enough evidence to tie Chad Daybell to the crimes without a reasonable doubt.

New evidence in Chad Daybell trial includes necklace found on Daybell property, Google searches

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Jury begins deliberating in Chad Daybell triple murder trial