What to know about Chad Daybell, charged in "doomsday" murder case

·6 min read

"48 Hours" will air "Lori Vallow Daybell: Guilty" Saturday, May 13 at 10/9c on CBS and streaming on Paramount+.

Half of the couple at the center of an Idaho murder case involving extreme religious beliefs is still facing trial after the conviction of his wife. A judge severed the trials of Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell, after Daybell waived his right to a speedy trial. Lori Vallow Daybell went on trial separately and was convicted May 12 of all charges, including the murders of her two children.

What is Chad Daybell charged with?

In total, Daybell faces six charges.

He is charged with murder in the death of his first wife, Tammy Daybell, and in the deaths of his wife Lori Vallow Daybell's children, 7-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan.

He is also charged with conspiracy to commit murder in all three deaths. In the deaths of JJ and Tylee, that conspiracy charge also includes conspiracy to commit grand theft by deception. Lori Vallow Daybell was convicted of grand theft for taking the children's Social Security checks after their deaths.

He has pleaded not guilty. While Boyce took the death penalty off the table for Vallow Daybell, who will be sentenced in about three months, it could still be a possibility for Daybell.

When is Chad Daybell's trial?

Daybell's trial has not yet been scheduled. The judge in the case, Judge Steven Boyce, ruled in March that Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell would be tried separately, granting a motion to sever the trials by Daybell's attorneys. Daybell had earlier waived his right to a speedy trial.

His attorneys had asked in January to delay the joint trial, initially set for April, until 2024, but the judge had ruled against that motion, saying Lori Vallow Daybell had not waived her right to a speedy trial. Vallow Daybell's trial started April 3.

Boyce has said it could be delayed by more than six months, but it is unclear when that might be.

Who are the other people involved in the case?

Lori Vallow Daybell, 49, had a daughter, Tylee Ryan, from a previous relationship when she married Charles Vallow, her fourth husband, in 2006. In 2012, the two adopted then 2-year-old Joshua, whose biological father was Vallow's nephew — the son of his sister, Kay Woodcock. Joshua, known as JJ, had autism, and by all accounts he and his sister Tylee were close.

7-year-old Joshua
7-year-old Joshua

Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell, now 54, met in 2018. The Vallows separated the following year, with Charles Vallow filing for divorce. He said in the divorce filing that his wife had threatened to murder him.

"She threatened me, murder me, kill me," he told police in a conversation captured on video, "48 Hours" reported.

A timeline of events in the case

Lori Vallow Daybell guilty of unimaginable crimes

Charles Vallow was killed in July 2019, shot in an altercation with Vallow Daybell's brother, Alex Cox, in Arizona, where the Vallow family — including JJ and Tylee — and Cox were living at the time. Soon after, Vallow Daybell and her children moved to Idaho. In a separate case in Arizona, Vallow Daybell is charged with conspiring to murder Vallow. Cox died unexpectedly in late 2019.

The last time anyone saw Tylee Ryan was in September 2019, when the family took a trip to Yellowstone National Park. JJ Vallow's biological grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, said that the last time they spoke to the 7-year-old was in August, and asked police to check on him in November.

On Oct. 19, 2019, Tammy Daybell, the wife of Chad Daybell and the mother of his five children, died at the Daybell's home in Idaho of what officials initially said were natural causes but later said was suspicious. Daybell told police he did not want an autopsy.

Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow married in Hawaii two weeks later, on Nov. 5, 2019.

By December, police and the FBI were searching for 16-year-old Tylee and 7-year-old JJ. The hunt continued even as police arrested Vallow Daybell in Hawaii on two felony counts related to the missing children and three other misdemeanors. She was extradited to Idaho.

The search continued into 2020, when police executed a search warrant on Daybell's property in Rexburg, Idaho. There, they found human remains, later identified as JJ and Tylee — his body duct-taped and in red pajamas, and hers, badly burned.

A picture of Tylee Ryan and J.J. Vallow is seen on a fence opposite the property where their bodies were found in 2020, in Rexburg, Idaho. / Credit: NATALIE BEHRING / Getty Images
A picture of Tylee Ryan and J.J. Vallow is seen on a fence opposite the property where their bodies were found in 2020, in Rexburg, Idaho. / Credit: NATALIE BEHRING / Getty Images

How does religion play a part?

Both Lori Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon church. Daybell owned a religious publishing company, and his own writing focused on fringe beliefs, including what he said were his own near-death experiences and the end times.

Vallow Daybell, friends said, was increasingly convinced that doomsday is around the corner. As part of that belief, she said people's bodies — including JJ, Tylee and Charles Vallow — were possessed by evil spirits, turning them into "zombies," former friend April Raymond told "48 Hours."

"Part of her mission on Earth was to eliminate the darkness, the demonic — the evil," Raymond said.

Chad Daybell sits during a court hearing on Aug. 4, 2020, in St. Anthony, Idaho.  / Credit: John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP, Pool
Chad Daybell sits during a court hearing on Aug. 4, 2020, in St. Anthony, Idaho. / Credit: John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP, Pool

Daybell had a religious-focused podcast on which Vallow Daybell appeared. The two also held gatherings of people who shared their increasingly fervent beliefs: "48 Hours" reported Vallow Daybell believed she was chosen to lead the 144,000 people who would survive the end times. Her late husband told police she believed she was "a resurrected being — a god," "48 Hours" reported.

Vallow Daybell's trial included testimony about their beliefs in "zombies" — people who had evil spirits take over their bodies — as well as past lives as biblical figures, the end times and a rating scale of how close people were to death.

Text messages between the two included a number of religious elements, including the use of the names "James" and "Elena," the names they couple believed they'd had in a past life, during which they had also been married.

What have people close to Chad Daybell said?

Chad Daybell's five adult children have come to their father's defense, and told "48 Hours" they are convinced of his innocence. They believe the way JJ and Tylee were found — buried shallowly — suggests their father, a former gravedigger, was not involved, and he would have been smart enough not to bury the bodies on his own property.

"He was framed. This is his property. If there's bodies buried here, it would be attributed to him," said Emma Murray, his daughter. She blamed Vallow Daybell and her brother, Alex Cox, whose GPS put him at the property on the day prosecutors believe Tylee was buried.

"I think it's pretty clear it was Lori and Alex. … Alex came and left for periods of time. … We don't know — what exactly he was doing," she said.

His family also said they were the ones, not their father, who made the decision about not having an autopsy for their mother.

"But he was standing there — in complete shock, traumatized, letting us make the decision. If he was trying to hide something — I wouldn't leave something like that up to my kids if I was trying to hide something," Murray said.

And a source close to Vallow Daybell's trial told CBS News she was angry with her lawyers for trying to shift blame to Daybell during closing arguments.

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