Chad Daybell Convicted of Killing Ex-Wife and Two Children

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BOISE, Idaho — Chad Daybell was found guilty on all counts Wednesday for murdering his ex-wife and his girlfriend’s two youngest children.

Daybell, 55, faced charges of first-degree murder, insurance fraud, and conspiracy to commit murder and grand theft in connection with the 2019 deaths of Tammy Daybell, 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan.

Prosecutors have indicated they plan to seek the death penalty.

Closing arguments

The trial extended roughly two months, with testimony from numerous witnesses, frequently veering into bizarre and gruesome territory, and final arguments concluding Wednesday.

Prosecutors presented dozens of witnesses to support their assertion that Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow conspired to murder the two children and Tammy Daybell, Chad’s first wife, to eliminate any obstacles to their relationship and to gain financial benefits from survivor benefits and life insurance.

Chad Daybell’s defense attorney, John Prior, argued that there was insufficient evidence to directly link him to the deaths or to definitively prove that his late wife, Tammy Daybell, was murdered rather than dying of natural causes. Several witnesses, including Chad and Tammy Daybell’s adult children, testified for the defense.

Prosecutors allege the couple rationalized the killings by creating an apocalyptic belief system that claimed people could be possessed by evil spirits and turned into “zombies,” and that the only way to save a possessed person’s soul was for the possessed body to die.

Prosecutor Lindsey Blake stated Wednesday that Daybell presented himself as a leader of what he called “The Church of the Firstborn” and asserted that he could determine if someone had become a “zombie.” Daybell also maintained he could gauge how close a person was to death by reading their “death percentage,” Blake said.

Vallow was convicted of killing her sons last year and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. She currently faces additional charges in Arizona for conspiring to kill her estranged husband Charles Vallow and her niece’s ex-husband Brandon Boudreaux.

Who is Chad Daybell?

Chad Daybell is now married to Vallow, his second wife. He originally married Tammy Daybell in 1990, and they had five children.

He previously operated a small publishing company and authored fictional books on apocalyptic scenarios loosely inspired by the theology of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also hosted a podcast on preparing for the apocalypse.

Those close to Chad Daybell claimed he asserted he received visions from “beyond the veil.”

Prosecutors say he met Vallow at a conference in Utah in 2018. The two reportedly experienced an “instant connection” and claimed they had been married to each other in a past life, according to police records.

Friends of the couple told investigators they shared unusual beliefs, including the ability to discern if someone had been taken over by an evil spirit.

Chad Daybell and Vallow led a group of friends in attempting to cast out the supposed evil spirits through prayer and “energy work,” according to prosecutors. Friends told police that in some cases they determined a person had become a “zombie,” entirely controlled by the evil spirit.

Vallow claimed the only way to rid of a “zombie” was to destroy the person’s body, prosecutors say. One friend told police she heard Vallow refer to the children as zombies before they disappeared.

Taylor Delandro
Taylor Delandro
Digital Reporter. Most recently, Delandro worked as a web producer for ABC7 Chicago. Prior to that, she was a morning show producer at WLBT-TV3 in Jackson, Mississippi. Delandro graduated from the University of Mississippi with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism. Originally from New Orleans, Louisiana, Delandro lives in Chicago with her fiancé.

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