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FBI forensic investigator breaks down Tylee Ryan autopsy

ADA COUNTY, Idaho (KIFI) - The Lori Vallow-Daybell trial began Thursday with the continued testimony of forensic anthropologist Dr. Angi Christensen. Dr. Christensen resumed explaining her findings in the autopsy of Tylee Ryan.

They presented photographs from the autopsy, including broken sections and fragments of the pelvis and limbs. Some sections of Tylee’s bones had thermal damage indicating the body had been partially burned.

Dr. Christensen said she found sharp alterations or trauma in the pelvic and lumbar regions inconsistent with typical dismemberment.

She explains,  “Sharp trauma refers to trauma which was imparted by an object with a small surface area.”

FBI investigator Douglas Halepaska then took the stand. Halepaska has worked for 13 years as a forensic examiner in the firearms and tool marks unit in Quantico. Before that, he received two and a half years of training under the direct supervision of a senior qualified examiner.

Halepaska says he used silicone to make castings of different items in the autopsy to get a better look at the tool marks or damage. Prosecutors asked Halepaska to break down the findings of his autopsy focusing mainly on the remains of Tylee’s pelvic region.

Halepaska pointed out regions of the bones that were chopped and stabbed by some type of tool in the dismembering.

“I wasn’t able to identify any particular tool, but there were tool types I was able to speculate caused those marks…” said Halepaska pointing to sections of damage.  “In this type of chopping type action, it’d be from a bladed tool such as a cleaver, a machete or a hatchet.”

On another segment of bone, Halepaska points out the unique damage that pushed material from parts of the bone. He says “It indicates that there may have been some serrated teeth on the blade.” 

Halepaska clarifies that damage was unique to some section of the bones, indicating a different tool was used to dismember or damage different parts.

Prosecutors then ask him to explain the damage on the outer region of the hip.

“There were soot marks along the bone,” Halepaska said. “So part of the bone was damaged, I believe with fire.”

Chad Daybell allegedly taught that possessed person’s bodies needed to be dismantled and burned.

John Thomas indicated he would again conduct cross examination for the defense. The court then broke for a mid-morning break.

After the break, the state called David Sincerbeaux, formerly of the Idaho State Police. Sincerbeaux has studied and worked as an analytical chemist since 1985.

As an analytical chemist and with Idaho state Police, Sincerbeaux investigated several cases of fire damage and potential arson cases.

In the investigation into the death of Tylee Ryan and subsequent autopsy, Sincerbeaux received a pint sized can of flesh to test for chemicals and other substances.

The prosecutors ask him to describe the findings of his examination. Sincerbeaux immediately responds the can contained gasoline.

In cross examination, Thomas asks Sincerbeaux if he was specifically tasked with looking for gasoline in his investigation.

Sincerbeaux describes the analysis can find trace amounts of any flammable substances, for example; paint thinner, gasoline, propane, ect.

Thomas asks, “It could have been anywhere from a little bit and a whole bunch?”

“It was enough for me to determine that gasoline was present,” Sincerbeaux responds.

The state then called Rylee Nowlan, the forensic laboratory manager in Meridian Idaho. Over the course of 20 years Nowlan says she has tested thousands of samples of DNA.

“In forensics we’re looking at those portions of DNA that are unique to an individual. But I can use that DNA in evidence in that case and compare it to known individuals in the case.”

She explains matching DNA to a person is a process of breaking down the cells and analyzing the unique portions of the DNA. They refer to the number assignments of the information in the DNA as a DNA profile.

Nowlan was asked to examine biological samples from Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow during the initial murder investigation. She was also given biological samples of known people in the case including Lori Vallow-Daybell.

Using the samples of Tylee Ryan, Nowlan was able to create her DNA profile which she compared to a DNA profile of Lori Vallow-Daybell.

Nowlan says the DNA testing confirmed Lori had a 99.99% chance of being Tylee’s mother, which she explained was as close to 100% as possible in DNA science.

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.


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