Accused murderer Chad Daybell’s five children have insisted their father is innocent, and said that the two children found in shallow graves at their farm were killed by his new wife and her accomplices.
Daybell, from Idaho, faces the death penalty when he goes on trial in November on multiple counts of conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder, among other crimes.
The charges are in relation to the deaths in the fall of 2019 of two children whose mother, Lori Vallow, he had recently married – seven-year-old Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan – and the sudden death of Daybell’s first wife, Tammy Daybell.
On Wednesday night Chad Daybell’s five adult children – Garth Daybell, Emma Murray, Seth Daybell, Leah Murphy and Mark Daybell – spoke with CBS’ 48 Hours for the first time since his arrest last year, and defended their father.
‘I think he was fooled in the worst and most deadly way possible,’ said Emma Murray.
‘We don’t know Lori, but we know our dad.’
Chad Daybell’s five grown children broke their silence for the first time since their father’s arrest last June on murder charges
Daybell is set to go on trial in November. His wife Lori has been committed to a mental health facility for treatment
She said that they were all shocked when their father married Lori Vallow two weeks after their mother died.
‘That was really hard and it really surprised us,’ she told CBS.
‘As it was clear there was already an emotional connection.’
Asked whether she thought their father was having an affair, she replied: ‘Emotionally, yes.’
And she said they all accepted how their father’s hasty remarriage looked to outsiders.
‘It was a very socially inappropriate choice to make,’ she said.
‘But socially inappropriate doesn’t mean something bad happened.’
Emma Murray said that her father Chad Daybell was ‘fooled’ by Lori Vallow. Asked whether she blamed Vallow for the murder of her two children, Murray said: ‘Absolutely’
Garth Daybell said they had no idea that their new stepmother had two children until, in the fall of 2019, police began asking questions.
‘I first knew of her kids when a detective came to my work and asked about them,’ he said.
Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow went to Hawaii for a vacation while the missing children were being searched for, and Chad Daybell reassured the five that the two missing youngsters were fine.
Jonathan Vigliotti, host of the show, asked whether the five ever asked their father where the missing children were, and whether they demanded to be shown them.
‘He said: we can’t, for their safety,’ said Murray.
She added: ‘It all came down to our trust in our father.
‘We trusted him, and he trusted Lori.’
Emma Murray told Vigliotti about the moment when the badly-burnt body of Tylee and the duct-taped remains of JJ were found on their property, at the site of their family’s pet cemetery.
‘The first thing he asked me was do you know why they arrested me?’ said Murray.
‘I said dad, they found human remains.
‘His face when white and his eyes went white. He was shocked.’
Garth added: ‘It goes back to how we know him as a man.’
Garth Daybell (pictured) said they refused to believe their father was involved in the murder of their mother or Lori Vallow’s children
Murray said: ‘I do know my father believes that killing someone is not what God wants.’
Asked whether she held Lori Vallow responsible, Murray replied: ‘Absolutely.’
She added: ‘I think we would interpret it as anyone did. It does look really bad.
‘None of this would have ever happened if Lori Vallow hadn’t come into his life.’
The five said they were told by law enforcement officials that their mother, Chad’s first wife, died by asphyxiation, but they argue that does not prove that he had smothered her.
After Tammy Daybell suddenly stopped breathing at the family’s Idaho home on October 19, 2019, aged 49, her children said it was their decision, and not their father’s, to forgo an autopsy because they knew their mother was in declining health.
A coroner initially told them the woman had died of natural causes.
Daybell was arrested in June 2020 and pleaded not guilty to murder charges.
Lori Vallow Daybell in June 2021 was committed to a mental health facility to be treated for up to three months, in hopes of making her competent to stand trial on charges of murder and conspiracy.
Daybell also faces a murder charge related to the death of his first wife, Tammy (right). The couple’s children say they were told by cops that she had died by asphyxiation
Daybell (left) and his new wife, Lori Vallow Daybell (right), face murder and conspiracy charges stemming from the killings of the woman’s two children
In this aerial photo, investigators search for human remains at Chad Daybell’s residence outside Rexburg, Idaho, on June 9, 2020
Garth Daybell told 48 Hours that he was in his room on October 19, 2019, when he heard a thump from his parents’ bedroom down the hall.
‘And [I] heard my dad yell, ‘Garth, Garth, come quick,’ with the most panic I’d ever heard in his voice,’ the son recounted.
By the time first responders were summoned, Garth said his mother had died.
‘My dad was just pacing back and forth,’ Garth said. ‘Just saying, ‘Why? How could this happen?’ Pointing at pictures on the wall, ‘She can’t be dead. Like, how could this be? What do we do?”
The Daybell children said a coroner who arrived at the home later that same day told them it appeared Tammy, a seemingly fit 49-year-old librarian, had died of natural causes.
Emma Murray said that contrary to previous reporting, Chad was not the one who declined to have an autopsy performed on Tammy.
‘The narrative is that he was going, ‘No, no, no autopsy.’ But he was standing there — in complete shock, traumatized, letting us make the decision,’ said Murray.
‘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.’
Two weeks later, Chad married Lori Vallow while police were frantically searching for her missing children.
In December, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office reclassified Tammy’s death as suspicious. Her body was exhumed and an autopsy was performed.
The results of the autopsy have not been made public, but Garth said he was told by the authorities that they believe his mother had died by asphyxiation.
‘Asphyxiation doesn’t necessarily mean smothered,’ son Mark Daybell argued.
‘According to my understanding, it just means the breath was interrupted. And in the end, she wasn’t able to breathe. And according to that, there’s more facts we need.
‘We don’t just say, ‘Oh, well, bye, Chad.’ No there’s still love, there’s still connection.’
Standing near the spot where JJ and Tylee’s remains were unearthed by law enforcement officials last summer, Murray said it would have made no sense for her father to hide the bodies outside his own home in Salem, Idaho, amid an intense, months-long search for the missing children that put a spotlight on him.
‘I don’t know why they would be there, but I do know that if he were to commit a crime, he wouldn’t be foolish enough to put the evidence in his own backyard,’ she said.
The bodies of Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow, 7 (left), and his half-sister, Tylee Ryan, 17 (right), were found in shallow graves on Daybell’s property
Location aside, Daybell’s children also pointed out that as a former gravedigger, he would not have made the mistake of burying the remains in shallow graves outside his home, especially given that his property is surrounded by acres of open space seldom visited by anyone.
‘He knew how to dig graves and that just doesn’t sound believable to me,’ Daybell’s son Seth Daybell said.
Emma Murray, Daybell’s daughter, argued that her father was ‘framed’ because he would not have hidden evidence on his own property
All five children argued that their father played no part in the deaths of JJ and Tylee.
‘My father needs someone to be a voice for him. To let people know what’s real – what we know,’ Emma Murray said.
Daybell is scheduled to appear in court for a closed-door hearing on Monday. His trial is set to begin on November 8.
In an indictment, Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell are accused of being a members of a doomsday cult revolving around bizarre religious beliefs to encourage or justify the killings.
The twisted case began in 2018, according to the indictment, the Daybells — both still married to other people — began espousing their apocalyptical system of religious belief.
Lori’s then-husband, Charles Vallow, eventually decided to seek a divorce. He wrote in court documents that his wife believed she had become a god-like figure responsible for ushering in the end times.
The two were still married but estranged in the summer of 2019 when Lori Daybell’s brother Alex Cox shot Charles Vallow, in suburban Phoenix.
Cox asserted the shooting was in self-defense, and he was never charged. Cox later died of an apparent blood clot in his lung.
Shortly after Charles Vallow’s death, Lori Daybell — then still Lori Vallow — and her children moved to Idaho, where Chad Daybell lived.
He ran a small publishing company, releasing doomsday-focused fiction books loosely based on the theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He also recorded podcasts about preparing for the apocalypse, and friends said he claimed to be able to receive visions from ‘beyond the veil.’
At the time, Chad Daybell was married to Tammy Daybell, a fit 49-year-old school librarian who helped him run the publishing company. She died in October of 2019. Her obituary said she died in her sleep of natural causes.
Authorities grew suspicious when Chad Daybell remarried just two weeks later, and they had Tammy Daybell’s body exhumed in Utah in December. The results of that autopsy have not been released.
Police began searching for Tylee and JJ in November after relatives raised concerns.
Police say the Daybells lied to investigators about their whereabouts before quietly leaving Idaho. They were found in Hawaii months later, without the children. The children’s bodies were eventually found buried in a ‘pet cemetery’ on Chad Daybell’s eastern Idaho property.
Lori and Chad were each indicted by a grand jury in May on charges of conspiracy, murder and grand theft in connection with the deaths of JJ and Tylee.
Chad was also charged with one count of murder and insurance fraud in connection with the death of his first wife.
After a psychological assessment, the court found Lori wasn’t able to assist in her own defense or make informed decisions about her mental health treatment.
Timeline of JJ and Tylee’s disappearance
July 11, 2019: Lori Vallow’s husband, Charles Vallow, is killed by her brother, Alex Cox, in Arizona. Police initially rule that Alex acted in self defense but reopen the case months later after the children are reported missing.
August: Lori moves children JJ and Tylee to Rexburg, Idaho, where her future husband Chad Daybell lives with his wife Tammy.
September 8: The last time Tylee is seen during a trip to Yellowstone National Park with Lori, JJ and Alex. In the following weeks she tells people who ask where Tylee is that she’s studying at Brigham Young University’s Idaho campus.
September 23: The last time JJ is seen at his school in Rexburg. Lori emailed the school the following day and claims she is moving the family to California for a new job.
October 2: Brandon Boudreaux, the ex-husband of Lori’s niece Melanie Pawlowski, is targeted in a drive-by shooting in Arizona. Police identify the vehicle carrying the shooter as a Jeep registered to Charles Vallow, Lori’s late husband.
October 19: Chad’s wife Tammy, 49, dies at their Idaho home. An obituary states that she passed away peacefully in her sleep. Chad declines an autopsy and her death is listed as natural causes.
October 25: A friend of Tylee receives a vague ‘miss you’ text from her phone but says that it didn’t sound like the teen.
November 5: Lori and Chad tie the knot on a beach in Kauai. Receipts indicate that Lori purchased her own wedding ring from Amazon nearly three weeks prior to Tammy’s death.
November 26: Out-of-state relatives ask Idaho police to perform a welfare check on JJ. Lori and Chad claim he is in Arizona with relatives and ask their friend, Melanie Gibb, to lie and say she took the boy there for Thanksgiving. Police soon learn that no one has seen JJ, or his older sister Tylee, since September.
November 27: Police execute a search warrant related to the children at Lori’s home and discover that she and Chad have fled Idaho.
December 11: Tammy’s body is exhumed from a Utah cemetery and her death is reclassified as suspicious.
December 12: Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, is found unresponsive in a bathroom in Arizona and dies. Months later an autopsy determines that he died of natural causes while he had the overdose drug Narcan in his system.
December 21: Rexburg police issue the first press release about JJ and Tylee, revealing they believe their disappearance could be linked to Tammy’s death and asking the public for information.
December 24: Lori and Chad issue a statement through an attorney saying they love their son and daughter and look forward to addressing ‘allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor’.
December 30: Police accuse Lori and Chad of lying to investigators and say they believe the couple know where the kids are or what happened to them.
January 3, 2020: Police search Chad’s home in Salem and remove 43 items, including tech devices and journals. They also comb over sections of the snow-covered yard with rakes and metal detectors.
January 26: Lori and Chad are seen for the first time in months as police serve them with two search warrants in Kauai. Lori is also served with a court order to produce the children to authorities in Idaho in five days. The couple are approached by the media while officers serve the documents and refuse to say anything about the children.
January 30: Lori misses the court deadline to produce the children to Idaho authorities.
February 20: Lori is arrested in Kauai and charged with two felony counts for desertion and nonsupport of dependent children, and one misdemeanor count each for resisting and obstructing an officer, solicitation of a crime, and contempt of court.
March 5: Lori is extradited to Idaho, where she is held on $1million bond at Madison County Jail.
March 17: Lori professes her innocence in a statement through her attorney as two other members of her defense team quit and the judge removes himself from the case.
March 24: Court documents filed in the divorce of Lori’s niece Melani and her husband Brandon Boudreaux allege that Lori told people she believed her children were zombies before they disappeared.
April 9: Authorities reveal they are investigating Lori and Chad for murder, attempted murder and conspiracy in connection with Tammy’s death.
May 25: Idaho police issue a statement expressing hope that the kids will be found safe on what would have been JJ’s eighth birthday.
June 9: Police search Chad’s home in Salem for the second time and discover human remains in the backyard. Chad is taken into police custody and charged with destruction or concealment of evidence.
May 25, 2021: Lori and Chad are charged with first degree murder in the deaths of the children. Chad is also charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife Tammy.