Chad Daybell receives death penalty


BOISE, Idaho — Chad Daybell has been sentenced to death for the murders of his ex-wife and his current wife’s two youngest children.

Daybell, 55, faced charges of three counts 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.

Closing arguments

The trial, lasting about two months, heard from numerous witnesses in times that turned strange and gruesome, with final arguments concluding on Wednesday.

Prosecutors presented several witnesses to support their claims that Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow conspired to eliminate the two children and Tammy Daybell, Chad’s first wife, to clear the path for their relationship and obtain money from survivor benefits and life insurance.

Daybell’s defense attorney, John Prior, argued that there was insufficient evidence to definitively link him to the deaths or even prove that his late wife, Tammy Daybell, was murdered instead of dying from natural circumstances. Witnesses, including Chad and Tammy Daybell’s adult children, testified in defense.

Prosecutors alleged that the killings were justified by an apocalyptic belief system, suggesting that individuals could be possessed by evil spirits and transformed into “zombies,” necessitating their physical death to save their soul.

Prosecutor Lindsey Blake mentioned that Daybell portrayed himself as the leader of “The Church of the Firstborn” and claimed to have the ability to identify a “zombie” and predict death based on a “death percentage.”

Vallow, convicted of killing her children last year, received a life sentence without parole and awaits trial in Arizona for additional charges related to conspiracy to murder her estranged husband and her niece’s ex-husband.

Who is Chad Daybell?

Chad Daybell is currently married to Vallow, his second wife. His first wife was Tammy Daybell, and they shared five children.

Prior to these events, Daybell operated a small publishing company and authored fictional books centered on apocalyptic scenarios loosely tied to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints theology. He also hosted a podcast on apocalypse preparedness.

According to those close to Daybell, he claimed to receive visions from the afterlife.

Daybell and Vallow, along with a group of friends, attempted to rid evil spirits through prayer and “energy work,” as per prosecutors. Friends reported that they determined certain individuals were “zombies,” fully controlled by malevolent spirits.

Vallow allegedly believed that the only way to eliminate a “zombie” was to destroy the person’s body, with a friend claiming to have heard Vallow refer to the children as zombies before their disappearance.

Sean Noone
Sean Noone
Digital Reporter. Sean is a graduate of the University of Dayton and previously worked at WGN-TV and Tribune Media in Chicago. He’s a fan of the Cubs, Minneapolis alternative rock pioneers The Replacements and the Grateful Dead. He's also an avid reader of Mike Caro, John Steinbeck, Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, J. R. R. Tolkien and Stephen Donaldson.

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