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Chad Daybell trial continues with gruesome testimony

BOISE, Idaho (KIFI) - UPDATE 5:00 p.m. In day two of testimony in the Chad Daybell trial, the day was filled with gruesome testimony about how detectives found the murdered children JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan.

Linda Larsen is covering the trial in Boise and said it was a tough day in court with heart wrenching testimony about how the children's bodies were found. 

When they first arrived at the courthouse Thursday morning, Larry Woodcock said he knew the day would be tough, but he felt good about the way things were going so far.

"His statements were unbelievable. I think the prosecution was dead on. I think they nailed it. I think the defense was admirable in what they did. But let's go to court. Let's get this to the jury," Woodcock said.

Judge Stephen W. Boyce did not allow the graphic photos to be shown over the livestream, but they were shown in the courtroom to the jurors over their monitors.

Rexburg Detective Ray Hermosillo was on the stand again talking about the way they found JJ and Tylee bodies that were buried in Chad's backyard. He said they found what was left of Tylee burned and parts of her thrown into a green plastic bucket and buried in the pet cemetery.

"When we lifted it, it all broke apart because it was nothing holding it together. So at that point, we had to go back in and remove all the pieces of the charred flesh and burnt bone and organs, pieces of Tylee at that put onto the tarp," Hermosillo said.

He also described the way they found JJ. He was buried under a tree with wood paneling and large stones placed over him to hide his body. He was bound and wrapped in plastic garbage bags.

"I observed a small child with duct tape on his head from his chin to his forehead area tightly wrapped around his head. He had red pajama pants, on red pajama shirt. He had his arms folded, this way across his body, and there was duct tape from elbow all the way around to his other elbow," Hermosillo said.

We also got our first look at cross-examination by the defense attorney John Prior.

He tried to poke holes into the state's case by shifting the blame for the murders to Lori Vallow-Daybell and her brother, Alex Cox.

"The allegation is JJ was acting up and went into the apartment of Alex Cox," Prior said. "Correct," Hermosillo said.

"And then Alex took JJ into a separate apartment?" Prior asked. "Correct," the detective said.

"And then the last time that anybody saw JJ was later that evening. Is that fair?" Prior asked. "Yes," Hermosillo said.

"And that was when Alex Cox was carrying JJ Vallow into the apartment of Lori, David and Melanie Gibb, right?" Prior said. "Correct," Hermosillo said.

"We're all staying there together, right?" Prior said. "That's true," Hermosillo said.

"And then somewhere at that point, whether it was at that point or subsequent to that evening, or that evening, that's when you believe that JJ Vallow was murdered?" Prior said. "That's correct," the detective said.

As you can imagine, this horrible testimony hard for everyone to hear but most of all Larry Woodcock, JJ's grandpa.

He was surrounded in the courtroom by family wrapping their arms around him and holding his hand.

His wife Kay was in the courtroom today for this part of the testimony.

Court is not in session Friday. Testimony will resume on monday. 

UPDATE 1:15 p.m. Court has resumed after a lunch break with more testimony from Rexburg detective Ray Hermosillo along with other witnesses from the state.

UPDATE 10 a.m. We are hearing graphic testimony now about the condition of the bodies of Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow. The judge will not show these disturbing photos over the livestream, so the jurors are viewing them on their monitors.

They talked about how JJ’s body was found with his head wrapped in several layers of plastic. His hands arms and feet bound still wearing his little red pajamas.

Larry Woodcock is clearly struggling with this testimony. He is with family members with their arms around him. Kay Woodcock is not in the courtroom Thursday.

UPDATE 9:15 a.m. Testimony now on how they found JJ’s body in the ground wrapped in plastic buried on Chad Daybell’s property.

After they found that, the evidence recovery team started excavating a site in the pet cemetery.

He said they were on their hands and knees excavating the site. They were starting to find pieces of bone and what he called 'globs of flesh' in that site. These were the remains of Tylee.

The smell was so intense they couldn’t work for very long before they had to trade out with other officers to continue working.

UPDATE 8:50 a.m. Rexburg Detective Ray Hermosillo is back in the stand continuing his testimony. He is being shown photos of Chad Daybell’s property and talking about where the bodies of Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow were buried.

Chad is sitting at the desk looking down.

UPDATE 8:44 a.m. Day two of testimony in the Chad Daybell trial is just getting underway Thursday morning. Not quite as many people are in the courtroom. We are expecting more testimony from the prosecution this morning.

ORIGINAL: In day two of the Chad Daybell murder trial Thursday, we will hear more testimony from Rexburg detective Ray Hermosillo along with other witnesses from the state. You can watch below.

Opening statements began Wednesday morning in boise.

The prosecution went first, using similar themes to what we saw in the Lori Vallow-Daybell case. 

Attorney Rob Wood told the jury this case is about sex, power and money.

He said Chad Daybell created an alternate reality for himself and Lori Vallow-Daybell to get what they wanted.

"This defendant believed he had a right, beyond normal, when he had a chance at what he considered his rightful destiny, he made sure that no person, no law, would stand in his way," Wood said. "His desire for sex, money and power led him to pursue those ambitions, and this pursuit led to the deaths of his wife and Lori's two missing children." 

Daybell's defense team told the jury to pay attention to the facts and the evidence.

During his opening statements, John Prior pushed the blame to other people namely Lori Vallow-Daybell and her brother Alex Cox.

"You'll hear testimony about this beautiful, vivacious woman, very sexual person and very manipulative. And she knows how to get what she wants. And she drove through Chad Daybell into a relationship and an unfortunate relationship, you know. So Chad fellow. After that things started rolling. Issues started happening that eventually yes, there was a murder and there was a burial," Prior said.

Here’s a look at some of the people connected to the case.


Chad Daybell, 55, was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and self-published fiction loosely based on its teachings. He married Tammy Daybell in 1990. They had five kids and a home in rural southeastern Idaho.

Prosecutors say he met Vallow-Daybell at a conference in Utah in 2018. They became a couple, insisting they had been married in a past life, police said. They led a group of friends in trying to cast out evil spirits by praying and doing what they called “energy work,” prosecutors said.

In some cases, they claimed, a person could become a “zombie,” and the only way to banish a zombie was to kill the person, friends said. One friend told police she heard Vallow-Daybell call the children zombies before they disappeared.

In October 2019, Daybell reportedly told authorities that his wife had been battling a respiratory infection and died in her sleep. The death was initially attributed to natural causes, but authorities became suspicious when Chad Daybell married Lori Vallow-Daybell just two weeks later.

Tammy Daybell’s body was exhumed and an autopsy showed she died of asphyxiation.


Lori Vallow-Daybell, 50, is a beautician by trade, a mother of three and a wife — five times over. She was convicted last year of murder, conspiracy and grand theft charges and has been sentenced to life in prison without parole. She is also facing charges in Arizona related to the 2019 death of her fourth husband.

Lori Vallow-Daybell

Vallow-Daybell’s first marriage, to a high school sweetheart when she was 19, ended quickly. She married again in her early 20s and had a son. In 2001, Vallow-Daybell married again, this time to a man named Joseph Ryan. The couple had a daughter named Tylee in 2002, but divorced a few years later. Ryan later died in his home of a suspected heart attack.

After her father’s death, Tylee received social security survivor benefits — which Vallow-Daybell collected herself after Tylee disappeared in 2019.

During her sentencing, Vallow-Daybell gave a long statement saying that “accidental deaths happen.” She claimed the spirits of the three victims visited her regularly and were all happy in the “spirit world.”

In summer 2019, after her fourth husband was shot to death by her brother, Vallow-Daybell moved with her two youngest kids to southeastern Idaho, where she could be closer to Chad Daybell. That September, the children disappeared, and Chad and Tammy Daybell applied to increase Tammy Daybell’s life insurance benefit, prosecutors said.

Tammy Daybell died the next month.

The children’s bodies were found the following year, buried in Chad Daybell’s yard.


Charles Vallow, a member of the LDS church, entered the picture several months after Vallow-Daybell and Joseph Ryan divorced. Vallow-Daybell joined the LDS church and the two married in 2006. They later adopted Joshua Jaxon “JJ” Vallow.

Charles Vallow

By 2019, the marriage had soured. Charles Vallow filed for divorce, contending in court papers that Vallow-Daybell believed herself to be a deity tasked with helping to usher in the Biblical apocalypse.

The two were estranged but still married when Vallow-Daybell’s brother, Alex Cox, shot and killed Charles Vallow outside his suburban Phoenix home.

Cox told police the shooting was in self defense and was never charged in the case. Shortly after Charles’ death, Vallow-Daybell moved to eastern Idaho with her brother and two children.


Both Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow-Daybell are accused of conspiring with Vallow-Daybell’s brother, Alex Cox, in the deaths. But Cox was never charged — he died suddenly in December 2019.

Alex Cox of the Phoenix area died in December, a few months after he fatally shot his sister's estranged husband in what he said was self-defense. Cox's sister is Lori Vallow, who is being detained in Idaho on charges related to the disappearance of her two children.

Autopsy and toxicology reports showed Cox died of a pulmonary blood clot, and law enforcement officials have said Cox’s death is believed to be from natural causes.

During Vallow-Daybell’s trial, prosecutors presented several witnesses and pieces of evidence that appeared to tie Cox to the deaths, including GPS data on Cox’s phone that was traced to the places where the children’s bodies were found.

Prosecutors say Cox also tried to shoot Tammy Daybell in October 2019.

Friends of Cox and Vallow-Daybell testified last year that the siblings were very close, and that Cox believed he was put on Earth to serve as Vallow-Daybell’s “protector.”

Cox also believed people could be possessed and turn into zombies, his wife, Zulema Pastenes, testified. When Cox learned Tammy Daybell’s body was being exhumed, he said he was the “fall guy” but wouldn’t elaborate, Pastenes said. He died the next day.

You can view a timeline of events and all our past stories on Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow-Daybell HERE.

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Linda Larsen

Linda is an anchor and reporter for Local News 8.

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