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Arizona detective continues testimony in Lori Vallow-Daybell trial

ADA COUNTY, Idaho (KIFI) - In Thursday's court proceedings, Detective Nathan Moffat of the Chandler Arizona police department took the stand. Det. Moffat worked as the case agent for the shooting of Charles Vallow in July 2019.

Charles Vallow murder investigation

After an initial investigation at the scene, Det. Moffat interviewed Alex Cox at the police station.

According to what Alex told him, Tylee came out of her bedroom with a bat trying to protect her mother. She allegedly poked it at Charles. Alex told him that Charles took the bat from Tylee and hit him on the back of the head.

Det. Moffat says he saw a small laceration on the back of Cox's head, but it was not consistent with being hit by a baseball bat.

According to what Alex told the detectives, Charles charged at him and shot him more than once.

After the interview, Det. Moffat, with other detectives, returned to the scene of the shooting to gather more evidence. There was one bullet lodged in a baseboard and another under Charles' body.

Moffat has been a homicide detective for over 11 years with hundreds of hours of experience.

From his experience, he determined that Charles was flat on the floor when he was shot through the shoulder. Which conflicted with the testimony of Alex Cox.

After the initial investigation, Moffat helped transport Alex Cox and Lori Vallow back to her home. He says their conversation was “bizarre-to say the least” Lori and Alex’s behavior was “lighthearted.”

Blake asked Moffat during his investigation if he ever found any information on Charles Vallow’s life insurance.

Moffat said he contacted Charles’ insurance company on July 17. He discovered Vallow had a million-dollar life insurance but that there was some confusion about who it went to.

Charles allegedly changed the beneficiary from his wife Lori to Kay Woodcock just days before. Through the investigation, Moffat learned Lori allegedly contacted the insurance company to file a claim. She never received a penny.

The defense objected to Det. Moffat’s testimony in entirety. Judge Steven Boyce overruled their objection.

The court did not question Det. Moffat further.

Lori hires a babysitter

State Attorney Rob Wood then called 26-year-old Sydney Schank of Arizona to the stand. Sydney was a student at BYU-Idaho in Rexburg in 2019.

In 2019, Sydney was looking for work as a nanny through the website when Lori Vallow contacted her. Lori was allegedly looking for care for her son JJ at the time.

The two women allegedly contacted each other through text. Sydney said that Lori told her about JJ’s autism diagnosis and that she was looking for help with childcare.

Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, Sydney met Lori for the first time in the defendant’s Rexburg townhome. The defendant greeted her with a hug and then introduced her to JJ.

Lori allegedly told her special instructions to care for JJ, and mentioned she had a daughter going to college at the time. Sydney says she never saw or met Tylee during the meeting.

First and last time babysitting JJ

The next day Sydney went to the house to babysit.

“I remember it went pretty well, he just played outside with the neighbor kids for a while. I brought him in for dinner. Then he went over to play at their home for a while,” Sydney said.

JJ and his friend got into an argument about toys and Sydney says she brought him home. JJ became upset and threw a tantrum. Sydney says, “Eventually he got upstairs and he just wanted to be alone and hide.”

Sydney says when Lori got home JJ was still pretty upset. Lori allegedly gave her cash but didn’t discuss another time to babysit.

After a few days, Sydney said she reached out to Lori to arrange another time to babysit.

“She responded that JJ had gone to his grandparents for a month. And that she was in Hawaii for a month,” Sydney said.

Sydney reached out a month later, but Lori did not respond.

Lori, “JJ will be homeschooled from now on”

Dr. David Joshua Wilson, the principal at Kennedy Elementary in Rexburg took the stand. JJ Vallow was enrolled at the school from September 3rd, 2019 until his disappearance.

As a principal, Dr. Wilson says he has access to attendance records and correspondence between the school and parents.

“She had indicated that they were removing JJ from school, from Kennedy, and sending him to Louisiana to be with grandparents.”

Wilson contacted Lori by phone to discuss sending JJ’s records to his new school in Louisiana.

Lori allegedly told him that they weren’t going to enroll JJ in any school, and that he would be homeschooled from now on.

Jim Archibald then began his cross-examination. He asked Dr. Wilson if he had any discussion with Lori Vallow indicating that JJ wouldn’t be in school for very long.

“It was my understanding that they were enrolling and that he was going to be there for the long term,” said Wilson.

The defense did not ask any further questions.

Lori, “My daughter is attending college”

The state then called Wynn Hill, the Dean of Students at BYU-Idaho, to the stand. He says the school uses a student management system to keep track of current and past student information.

Hill was contacted by the Rexburg police department to search for any application from Tylee Ryan. Hill searched for her under three different names; Tylee Cox, Tylee Vallow, and Tylee Ryan.

He says there is no indication she ever attended or applied to the school.

The defense refrained from questioning him.

Will Warwick be allowed to testify?

After a mid-morning break, David Warwick, Melanie Gibb’s husband, took the stand without the jury present. 

The defense had motioned Warwick’s testimony must be struck from the record for breaking court rules. 

While sick and on an antibiotic medication, Warwick allegedly listened to 45 minutes of Melanie’s testimony. Warwick claims he watched Melanie’s testimony on YouTube.

He says he wasn’t in the right mind, and he turned the testimony off when he remembered the rules.

Warwick says he has not been in contact with Melanie in the weeks since the case began and that nothing he heard will affect his testimony to the jury.

The state responded that he did not willfully violate the rules but was trying to support his wife.

Judge Steven Boyce ruled Warwick’s testimony would move forward, but due to his conduct, the defense would be allowed to question his credibility in cross-examination.

Meeting Chad and Lori

Warwick has been married to Melanie Gibb for just more than two years. In August 2019, the couple was dating, and she began to introduce him to her friends.

He says she introduced him to Lori Vallow in Arizona after the death of Charles Vallow.

In August 2019, they met at Vallow’s Chandler Arizona home. Lori allegedly played host to a social group, including Chad Daybell, Zulema Pastenes and Melani Pawlowski.

Warwick says two years previously, Chad Daybell reached out to him trying to write a book together.

On September 22-23 2019, Warwick took a long weekend to visit his son in Pocatello Idaho and attend a Book of Mormon conference in Rexburg. While there he went to visit Melanie at Lori’s house and record a podcast with them.

In Rexburg, Warwick allegedly saw Alex Cox, Lori, and JJ. He says he never saw Tylee Ryan at the time but was told she was attending BYU-Idaho.

JJ was playing with toys on the couch at the time. Warwick has a son with Down Syndrome and that motivated him to try to include JJ. JJ seemed to ignore him.

Warwick allegedly never saw JJ interact with the family, beyond a short reaction with Alex Cox. He says JJ seemed most active and happy outside playing with his friends.

Warwick to Chad “I don’t believe you.”

During the visit, Warwick says Chad Daybell started talking about his beliefs. He allegedly told him about his beliefs in the One-hundred and Forty-four thousand, and Satan could push spirits out of their bodies.

Lori was allegedly present for the conversation, but Chad led the way.

Warwick is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the main branch of the religion, the Prophet is the head or leader of the church. 

Warwick said he did not believe him and told Chad he didn’t have the authority to predict or do that. Warwick allegedly told him that “if the lord was gathering the One-hundred and forty-four thousand he would do it through his prophet.”

Later in the visit Chad and Lori allegedly took Warwick to a field next to a church where they claimed to see a beautiful “spiritual” building. Warwick says he saw nothing and told them so. He didn’t completely understand their beliefs and wanted to be respectful.

Chad wanted Warwick to see 80 acres near his home. Warwick knew an investor in Idaho who could develop the property so Alex allegedly took him to the area. While there Chad showed up with a realtor, who asked Warwick if he had any questions about the property.

Warwick told them repeatedly that he doesn’t do business on Sundays and the conversation ended.

Dreams and nightmares

Warwick tells the court as the weekend continued Chad would tell him more about his bizarre religious beliefs.

Chad allegedly told him about a dream he had three years before, where he predicted his wife “Tammy Daybell” would die before he turned 50. 

Chad told him he and Lori were destined to organize what he called the “Church of the First Born” which branched off of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Warwick allegedly told Chad once again he[Chad] didn’t have the authority to do or predict that.

That night he recorded a podcast with Melani and Lori. Alex was allegedly babysitting JJ and Warwick later saw him carrying JJ upstairs to bed.

That night Warwick said he had “one of the worst nightmares of my life. It was very real.” Melanie woke him up and suggested getting Chad or Lori to help. Warwick says he never saw Chad and Lori that night.

When he woke up the next morning Lori told him that JJ had an episode. She told him he climbed up on the cabinets and knocked down a picture of Christ. She said she had Alex come and get him.

Warwick says he saw no sign the cabinets had been turned over or anything else Lori told him JJ had done. He allegedly asked if he could see JJ, but Lori repeated that Alex had come to get him.

The couple left Lori's apartment but never saw JJ again.


In cross-examination, defense attorney Jim Archibald questioned Warwick on his beliefs and religious podcasts.

Warwick allegedly publishes podcasts talking about his “visions” or religious experiences and predictions. He told the court he doesn't receive money from his podcast but makes them to build faith.

Archibald then asked him about podcasts and predictions that he had published, including predictions of “secret combinations" or societies in Washington DC.

Smith objected that the defense was questioning the credibility of the witness by attacking or bringing up his religious beliefs. She said his beliefs were not relevant to the case.

Judge Steven Boyce responded, “That's thrown out a long time ago with this case.” Judge Boyce ruled for Archibald’s cross-examination to continue.

Warwick confirms he has created podcasts claiming to have those visions.

Archibald continues to question Warwick about his podcast and beliefs, listing bizarre predictions Warwick had made on them. Warwick allegedly claimed visions of a war with Russia and China invading the United States, that the government would be sacrificed, ect.

Smith objected Warwick’s beliefs were irrelevant and Archibald was drifting off topic. Judge Boyce then asked Archibald to narrow his questions.

Archibald then asked Warwick about dreams, visions, Chad and Lori and the church of the first born. Eventually, he asked Warwick why he didn’t call the police after leaving Lori’s if he was concerned for JJ.

Warwick responded he didn’t suspect anything. He says Lori seemed like a wonderful woman and that what they[Chad and Lori] were teaching didn’t match their characters.

The state then continued with questioning. “The defense asked you about dreams and visions. I want to ask you about reality,” Smith began.

She asked him to repeat what Lori told him the morning he left her home.

Warwick repeated to the court that he saw no evidence that JJ had a tantrum. He repeated for the court that Lori said Alex Cox had come to take JJ.

We will continue to update this story as the day progresses.

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

Article Topic Follows: Vallow-Daybell Coverage

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Seth Ratliff

Seth is a reporter for Local News 8 and Eyewitness News 3.


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