‘No peace to be found for anyone’: family of victims speak in Chad Daybell sentencing

May 31, 2024, 1:53 PM | Updated: 6:03 pm

Photos of all three murder victims...

Tylee Ryan, Joshua "JJ" Vallow and Tammy Daybell all died in late 2019. Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell were convicted of conspiring and killing them to removed them as obstacles to their happiness.

BOISE — Multiple people, parents grandparents, brothers, sisters, and other relatives gave victim impact statements during the sentencing portion of the Chad Daybell trial.

The statements ranged from grief-stricken to angry, from disbelief to devastation.

The victim impact statements

Ron Douglas, Tammy Daybell’s father spoke first.

He said his wife passed away last June and that the tragedy of the case harmed their relationship with their grandchildren.

“It makes me angry. It destroys me to know Tammy was treated as she was,” Douglas said.

He concluded. “I find it comforting to know that Tammy is resting peacefully in Utah buried alone and with her beloved mother.”

Kay Woodcock, JJ Vallow’s grandmother spoke next.

“I am filled with pride as I remember and speak about what an amazing grandson we have and grief-stricken at speaking about how devastated I am about his loss,” she said.

She described JJ as a “fighter,” born 10 weeks premature and who later defied odds with his growth.

“That joy and love that JJ created and the impact of his death – no words can truly describe the depth of pain,” Kay Woodcock said.

JJ was 7 years old when he was killed.

“He would have celebrated his 12th birthday just a few short days ago,” she said.

Matthew Douglas, Tammy Daybell’s brother said the case had been a nightmare that never ends.

“Tylee and JJ – two kids I never knew existed before all of this and who my family are forever tied to,” Matthew Douglas said.

Matthew Douglas became emotional as he said he has kids close to their ages.

Matthew Douglas thanked Larry Woodcock for his tireless love for the “dear children.” He said without it, they may not have gotten to this point.

“You’ve been a voice for my sister when others wouldn’t have,” he said.

Annie Cushing, described her 17-year-old niece, Tylee Ryan.

“She was intelligent clever, funny, sarcastic, and had the voice of an angel,” Cushing said.

Cushing explained how Tylee had her whole life ahead of her.

“Her 18th birthday couldn’t have been further from the celebratory event I had imagined for her as her remains had been recently discovered in the defendant’s backyard,” Cushing said.

Cushing said the case had taken a toll on her family, her health and her overall perspective.

“Tylee had her whole life ahead of her. She had dignity, she had dreams, she had goals. The defendant stole all of that,” Cushing said.

Cushing said she did believe justice has been served.

“‘The wheels of justice turn slowly, but grind exceedingly fine,’ I believe that has happened in this case,” she said.

Kelsie Douglas, Tammy Daybell’s sister-in-law, said her children and Tammy’s grandchildren are missing out on family connections that had brought so much richness to Tammy’s children’s lives.

“The joy of family gatherings Sunday dinners at grandma’s, running around the neighborhood with their cousins, all the things that made our family vibrant and united are now lost,” she said. “I cannot overstate the closeness, the bonds, the depths of the relationships that have been shattered.”

Kelsie Douglas said she desperately hoped those relationships could be repaired.

“Tammy’s murder is the direct cause of our suffering, pain, fractured relationships, and unhealed wounds, are all part of the aftermath. This is the legacy of anguish and sorrow that will haunt our family for generations,” she said.

Benjamin Douglas introduced himself as Tammy’s youngest brother.

He spoke of the loss of the relationship with Tammy Daybell’s children, his nieces and nephews.

He concluded with simply, “I miss my sister.”

Colby Ryan spoke next. He is the only living child of Lori Vallow Daybell, and the brother of Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow.

“It’s very hard for me to put into words what it means to have lost my entire family,” he said. “I lost the ability to watch Tylee and JJ grow up.”

Colby Ryan mourned the opportunity for his own children to meet his siblings.

“It’s not an overstatement to say that I lost everything. But more importantly, we all lost Tylee and JJ,” Colby Ryan said. “I stand here today motherless, fatherless, sisterless, and brotherless.”

Colby Ryan closed by saying the only way forward was trust in Christ and that he prayed for all “with bleeding hearts.”

Samantha Gwilliam is Tammy Daybell’s sister.

“I speak out for my sister Tammy Daybell because she can not speak for herself. She is dead and others who were supposed to stand up for her and protect her did not,” she said.

Gwilliam said from the moment Tammy Daybell was gone, she has never felt peace. She said so many questions came up as there was a quick funeral, no autopsy, and no answers.

She described as her family was informed Tammy’s body would be exhumed, and police began to ask them about missing children.

“I am asked about a pet cemetery and a few days later I watch with the world as the bodies of two precious missing children are found on the same property where my sister died,” Gwilliam said. “I retched and sobbed for JJ and Tylee. Two more victims and no peace to be found for anyone.”

Gwilliam said Tammy Daybell was her best friend and that before she moved to Idaho they spoke every day.

“She loved being a mom and especially a grandma. She was so excited to be part of their lives,” she said. “She was content and happy. She and I had made plans that when we were old we would live next to each other. We raised children together and looked forward to the future.”

Gwilliam said her family is seeking to feel peace in the first time in five years after their sister was “ripped from our lives.”

“I miss my sister every day I will grieve for her for the rest of my life,” she said.

Michael Douglas, the oldest of the Tammy Daybell’s siblings, spoke last.

He spoke of the shock at his sister’s death.

“I tried to keep everyone from jumping to conclusions mostly myself,” he said. “I probably should have done more jumping.”

He said he told others at the time that he couldn’t pursue autopsy because “I was doing everything I could to keep my mom and dad alive.” The family was devastated by the exhumation. Months later, he heard about the missing children.

“I remember where I was, what I was doing, and the feeling of ‘please no, please don’t let this be so,'” he said. “Chad told us they were empty nesters, surely this is a mistake.”

He said people would come up and ask if the children had been found yet when they saw him in public. He expressed the extreme impacts the case had had on his health and said he did not sleep for six weeks after the autopsy of his sister.

“I failed to protect Tammy,” he said. “…People don’t understand because they‘re not the big brother whose sister was killed.”

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‘No peace to be found for anyone’: family of victims speak in Chad Daybell sentencing