Chad Daybell, the husband of Lori Vallow, will stand trial for charges of concealing evidence after Vallow’s two children were found dead on his property, an Idaho judge ruled Tuesday.
Judge Faren Z. Eddins found that after a two-day preliminary hearing, the state had shown probable cause and scheduled an arraignment for Aug. 21 in district court. Daybell faces four felony counts in the complex case that spans multiple states and includes several suspicious deaths.
Vallow’s children, Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow, were found dead on Daybell’s property in June; nobody has been charged with their deaths. Vallow is expected to face a preliminary hearing on similar charges next week.
The case has attracted national attention because of the couple’s alleged doomsday beliefs.
At issue in the case against Daybell are allegations that he sent text messages in an effort to conceal Tylee’s body, lied to police about his relationship with Vallow, and asked a friend to not cooperate with police in the search for JJ, according to a criminal complaint. Daybell is facing evidence destruction charges, as well as charges alleging he was part of a conspiracy to destroy evidence. His bail has been set at $1 million.
Tuesday’s hearing began with Vallow’s friend, Melanie Gibb, testifying that she saw 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow the night of Sept. 22, 2019, in Vallow’s apartment with Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox. Gibb said she spent the night and she did not see the boy the morning after, which was the day JJ was reported to be last seen.
FBI special agent Steve Daniels also testified Tuesday about how he supervised the discovery of human remains on Daybell’s property. He offered grim details of the discovery and his testimony suggested that the body of Vallow’s daughter Tylee Ryan — who was 16 when she was last seen alive — was burned.
Daniels described finding a melted green bucket near a “mass of human remains” on Daybell’s property. The description of the remains was consistent with previous testimony about the girl’s body.
Also presented during the hearing: A jailhouse recording of Daybell and Vallow speaking by telephone to each other on the day authorities found the childrens’ bodies.
“I love you so much,” Chad Daybell said in the recording after telling Lori Daybell police were searching the field behind the house.
“I love you,” Lori Daybell responds. “Should I try to call you later?”
“I don’t know,” Chad Daybell said. “You can try.”
Investigators said they found the bodies by tracking the movements of Lori Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox, using cellphone data. Cox died of an apparent blood clot in his lung at his Arizona home last December. Police in court documents said Cox was involved in the conspiracy to hide the children’s remains, and his name has come up frequently in the hearing.
On Tuesday, Gibb testified that she, her boyfriend, David Warwick, and Vallow were recording a podcast about religious beliefs the night of Sept. 22, 2019, in Vallow’s apartment. She said they all subscribe to beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as does Daybell.
Gibb said JJ normally slept in a small bed in the corner of Lori Vallow’s bedroom.
Warwick, Gibb’s boyfriend, said Tuesday at the witness stand that JJ was not at the apartment when he woke up there the next morning on Sept. 23. Vallow told him the boy, who had autism, was “out of control” and “being a zombie” so she said Cox had to come pick him up, Warwick testified.
Rexburg police detective Ray Hermosillo testified Monday that officers in June found the body of JJ wearing red pajamas near a pond. It was covered in plastic bags and layers of duct tape and was underneath a set of rocks and a wood panel.
Also Monday, Gibb said she received a phone call last November from Chad Daybell asking her to tell police detectives that Vallow’s son had been with her, when he had not. Gibb said she did tell an officer that the boy had been with her but had since left to be with his mother. She said she felt “horrible” about the false account and later went back to the same detective in Rexburg, Idaho, to inform him of the lie.
The case began last summer, when Lori Vallow’s brother shot and killed her estranged husband, Charles Vallow, in Phoenix. Her brother, Alex Cox, said the shooting was in self-defense. Charles Vallow had filed for divorce, claiming Lori believed she had become a god-like figure who was responsible for ushering in the biblical end times. Cox died in December of an apparent blood clot in his lung.
Then last fall, Daybell’s wife of 30 years, Tammy Daybell, died in her sleep from natural causes, her obituary said. Authorities grew suspicious when Chad Daybell married Lori just two weeks later and had Tammy Daybell’s body exhumed in December. The results of that autopsy have not been released.
Shortly after Charles Vallow’s death, Lori and her children moved to Idaho, where Daybell lived. He ran a small publishing company, where he published many of his own fiction books that centered on apocalyptic scenarios loosely based on Mormon theology. He also participated in podcasts about preparing for biblical end times, and friends said he claimed to be able to receive visions from “beyond the veil.”
In the audio recording played in court Monday, Vallow alleges her brother wanted to kill her and said she found emails between Charles Vallow and her brother saying that they were conspiring to kill her.
Contributing: Chris Woodyard and Ryan Miller, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chad Daybell case: Trial of Lori Vallow’s husband to proceed