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Idaho: Jury convicts Chad Daybell of killing his first wife and his second wife's two children – One America News Network

(Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

James Meyers of OAN
8:40 a.m. – Friday, May 31, 2024

A jury in Idaho has convicted Chad Daybell of murdering his wife and his girlfriend's two youngest children.

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The verdict marks the end of a years-long investigation that has revealed wild claims about zombie children, apocalyptic prophecies and illicit affairs.

The jury must now decide whether Daybell should be sentenced to death for the crimes.

Prosecutors charged Daybell and his youngest wife, Lori Vallow Daybell, with multiple counts of murder, conspiracy and grand theft in connection with the September 2019 deaths of Vallow Daybell's two youngest children, 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan.

In addition, prosecutors filed charges against the couple in connection with the death of Chad Daybell's wife, Tammy Daybell, in October 2019.

Prosecutors also stated that if Chad Daybell is convicted, they would seek the death penalty.

Meanwhile, Vallow Daybell was convicted last year and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The trial now moves to the sentencing phase, where prosecutors will try to prove that the crimes deserve the death penalty because the acts were heinous or cruel and meet one of the other “aggravating factors” listed in state law. Daybell's defense will try to present mitigating circumstances to the jury that will show the jury that a lighter sentence is more appropriate.

The case began in September 2019, when distant family members reported the two children missing and police launched a multi-state search.

Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell were having an affair when both spouses died unexpectedly, investigators said. Vallow Daybell's husband was shot and killed by her brother, Alex Cox, in Arizona in July 2019. Her brother claimed it was self-defense and was not charged.

Vallow Daybell, her children JJ and Tylee, and Cox later moved to eastern Idaho to be closer to Daybell, who was then self-publishing doomsday-themed novels loosely based on Mormon teachings.

However, in October 2019, Tammy Daybell died. Chad Daybell told police she had been battling an illness and died in her sleep, but an autopsy later revealed she died of asphyxiation.

Chad Daybell and Vallow Daybell married just two weeks after Tammy Daybell's death, which came as a shock to family members.

Nearly a year after the children disappeared, their remains were found on Chad Daybell's property in eastern Idaho. Investigators working the case later determined that both children had died in September 2019. Prosecutors say Cox conspired with Chad Daybell and Vallow Daybell in all three deaths, but Cox died of natural causes during the investigation and was never charged.

Prosecutors called dozens of witnesses to support their claim that Chad Daybell and Vallow Daybell conspired to kill the two children and Tammy Daybell to remove all obstacles to them living together. They also stated that they did it to obtain money from survivor benefits and life insurance policies.

Prosecutors claimed throughout the trial that the couple justified the murders by creating an apocalyptic belief system in their minds in which people could be possessed by evil spirits and look like demons. They also stated that the killers believed the only way to save a person's soul was for the “possessed” body to die.

According to Fremont County Prosecutor Lindsay Blake, Chad Daybell identified himself as a leader of what he called the “Church of the Firstborn” and told Vallow Daybell and others that he could tell if someone had become a “zombie.” He also claimed he could tell if a person was close to death by reading the “death rate,” which he described as a “percentage,” Blake said.

Blake further explained that Daybell followed a specific pattern with each of the victims he killed.

“Chad Daybell would call them 'dark.' Their 'mortality rate' would go down. Then they would have to die,” she said in her closing argument.

However, Daybell's defense attorney, John Prior, refuted the prosecution's claims about Daybell's faith. He said Daybell was a traditional member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and a deeply religious man who wanted to talk about his faith at every opportunity.

Prior then attempted to pin the murders on the children's deceased uncle, Cox. He argued that Cox had previously killed JJ Vallow's father in Arizona and that the two children were the only witnesses to that shooting. In addition, he said Cox attempted to pin the blame on Daybell by burying the murdered children in Daybell's Idaho yard.

Witnesses from both sides agreed that Chad Daybell and Vallow Daybell had begun their affair before Tammy Daybell's death.

Chad Daybell's son, Garth Daybell, told jurors he was home the night his mother died and did not hear any disturbance. He also claimed authorities tried to pressure him into changing his testimony and said they threatened him with charges at some point in the proceedings.

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