The man at the center of the investigation into the mysterious deaths of his wife's two children implored a friend to lie to police about the whereabouts of her son, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing into the case Monday.
The friend, Melanie Gibb, said she received a phone call last November from Chad Daybell asking her to tell police detectives that wife Lori Vallow's son had been with her, when he had not.
Gibb said she carried out his wish, telling an officer that the son 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.
Vallow's daughter and adopted son, Tylee Ryan and Joshua "JJ" Vallow, were found dead on Daybell's property nearly two months ago. The complex case, spanning multiple states and involves several suspicious deaths, has attracted national attention because of the couple's alleged doomsday beliefs.
Rexburg police Detective Ray Hermosillo testified that officers later 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.
Daybell is facing evidence destruction charges, a felony, as well as charges alleging he was part of a conspiracy to destroy evidence. No one has yet been charged in the deaths of the children, whose disappearances sparked a high-profile, months-long search. His bail has been set at $1 million.
Gibb said she was horrified when Daybell called and asked her to lie to support Lori Vallow's assertion that JJ was with her
"I was not OK with it because she told something to the police that was not true which I had no knowledge of. I had a very bad feeling in my stomach and I felt very shook up by it," Gibb said.
Prosecutors played body camera footage of police officers’ when they went to visit Vallow as part of a welfare check and she told them JJ was staying with her friend, Gibb, in Arizona.
The hearing will continue Tuesday.
At issue in the case against Daybell are allegations that in September of last year he sent text messages in an effort to conceal Tylee's body, lied to police in November about his relationship with Vallow and asked a friend in November not to cooperate with police in the search for JJ, according to a criminal complaint.
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.
Prosecutors believe the allegations made in the criminal complaint all happened before police went public with the effort to find Vallow's children in December, an effort that didn't conclude until their bodies were found in early June.
The case began last summer, when 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.
In the audio recording played in court Monday, Vallow alleges her brother from Kansas wanted to kill her, and said she found emails between Charles Vallow,and her brother saying that they were conspiring to kill her.
Shortly after Charles Vallow's death, Lori and her children moved to Idaho, where Chad 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.”
USA TODAY has reached out to Daybell's attorney for comment.
Contributing: Chris Woodyard and Ryan Miller, USA TODAY; The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Chad Daybell, Lori Vallow's husband, in Idaho court for hearing