Chad Daybell, husband of Lori Vallow, pleads not guilty to concealment charges, trial set for January

Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY
·4 min read

Facing a maximum of 20 years in prison, Chad Daybell, the new husband of Lori Vallow, pleaded not guilty to four felony charges he faces in connection with the disappearance and death of Vallow's two children.

A trial was set for January as Daybell is accused of concealing the remains of Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow, whose bodies were found on his property in June.

Daybell appeared before District Judge Steven W. Boyce in Fremont County, Idaho, via video conference on Friday. The three week trial is slated to begin Jan. 11 and continue through Jan. 29. A pretrial conference was also scheduled for Dec. 10.

The four felony counts Daybell faces include two counts of the destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence and two counts of conspiring to do so.

Daybell last appeared in court Aug. 4 when the court heard evidence against him and a judge ruled that prosecutors had shown probable cause.

No one has been charged with the children's deaths, however. Vallow faces similar conspiracy to destroy evidence charges as her husband, and is expected to appear in court Sept. 10. She also is facing trial on misdemeanor charges alleging she failed to meet a court-ordered deadline to bring the children to authorities earlier this year.

The complex case began last summer in Arizona and has since spanned multiple states and includes several suspicious deaths. Vallow's and Daybell's alleged divergent, cult-like religious beliefs also drew national interest as the search for the children continued for nearly half a year.

Police in Rexburg, Idaho, first announced in December that the children hadn't been seen since September and that Vallow and Daybell were wanted for questioning.

Court documents later alleged that Vallow and Daybell lied to police about their relationship, asked a friend to not cooperate with authorities and fled to Hawaii.

Months prior in July, Vallow's brother, Alex Cox, fatally shot her ex-husband, Charles Vallow, after an alleged dispute in Chandler, Arizona. Cox, who died of an apparent blood clot in December, claimed self-defense, and while police didn't initially file charges, authorities said earlier this month they intend to submit a conspiracy to commit murder charge against Lori Vallow in connection with the death.

In divorce filings before his death, Charles Vallow claimed Lori Vallow believed she was "a god assigned to carry out the work of the 144,000 at Christ's second coming in July 2020." She also told Charles that she would kill him if he got in her way and that she had "an angel there to help her dispose of the body," court documents said.

Shortly after Charles Vallow's death, Vallow moved with her children to Rexburg, Idaho, where Daybell lived with his family and ran a small publishing company. Daybell's books 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 October, Daybell's wife of 30 years, Tammy Daybell, was found dead. An obituary said it was due to natural causes, but police have since exhumed her remains and performed an autopsy.

Daybell and Vallow married on a Hawaiian beach weeks later, with the children no where to be seen. For weeks, the newlyweds were spotted around Hawaii while the question, "Where are the children?" persisted.

Vallow was arrested in February in Hawaii and later extradited to Idaho on the misdemeanor charges.

In June, a break in the case came when police used information from the cellphone of Alex Cox to find the children's remains buried on Daybell's property.

The court heard grim evidence about the alleged manner the children were buried during Daybell's hearing.

FBI special agent Steve Daniels' 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.

Rexburg police detective Ray Hermosillo testified that officers 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.

Vallow's friend, Melanie Gibb, also testified about the last time she saw JJ alive and a call she received from Daybell asking her to lie to authorities about the child's whereabouts.

Follow USA TODAY's Ryan Miller on Twitter @RyanW_Miller

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chad Daybell, Lori Vallow husband, pleads not guilty, Idaho trial set