Skip to Content

Tammy Daybell’s sister takes the stand: “You don’t get married weeks after you just buried your wife”

ADA COUNTY, Idaho (KIFI) - Tammy Daybell’s sister, Samantha Gwilliam, returned to the stand in the Lori Vallow-Daybell trial Friday morning.

Samantha and Tammy were the only sisters in their family. She says the two lived very close before Tammy moved to Idaho.

Before her death, Samantha says Tammy loved working with her students. Tammy worked as a school teacher. Samantha says she even helped the school get a computer lab for the students, which was a big deal for the school.

Tammy allegedly had bouts of depression and health problems in the past. The sisters last saw each other in October 2019, just days before her death. Samantha tells the court before Tammy’s death, she looked very healthy.

Lindsay Blake asked Samantha when she found out about her sister’s death. Samantha responded Chad told her on the morning of Oct. 19, a few days after her sister came to visit her.

Samantha says she found Chad’s behavior after Tammy’s death odd. Much to her objection, Chad planned to have Tammy buried in Springfield.

Samantha thought Chad as Tammy’s husband should have buried Tammy’s body in Rexburg closer to her children. Chad allegedly told her he wanted Tammy in Springfield away from the snow.

Samantha says she found out Chad had remarried a month to the day after her sister’s death.

“You don’t get married four weeks after you just buried your wife of almost 30 years,” Samantha said. “You just don’t do that.”

 She asked her husband to find out exactly when Chad had remarried. They discovered Chad had remarried only two weeks after Tammy died.

Chad allegedly told her he had married a woman named Lori Ryan, and that Lori’s previous husband had died of a heart attack. Not trusting Chad, Samantha Googled Lori’s name and found the connection between her and news articles involving the death of Charles Vallow.

Chad and Tammy’s finances and publishing company

Jim Archibald conducted cross examination for the defense. He asked Samantha about the obituary for Tammy published by her family.

In the obituary it says Tammy died peacefully in her sleep. Archibald asked Samantha where that information came from. 

She tells the court that's what Chad Daybell told them.

“We were led to believe that she was sick and she had died in her sleep,” Samantha said.

Archibald then asked Samantha about the Spring Creek Book Company, the publishing company Chad and Tammy would run as a couple.

Samantha told the court they would publish books by Chad and other others and distribute them at Deseret Book, an LDS bookstore.

She says Chad’s books were spiritual in nature, but she only ever read one of them. She told the court at one point the publishing company went under which led to her sister(Tammy) getting a job within the school district.

Archiblad asked Samantha if Chad ever shared with her any of his “near death” or “spiritual” experiences. Samantha said he did.

Archibald then asked her to describe Tammy’s role in the publishing process. Tammy would help with the graphic design, and Samantha agreed Tammy was instrumental in helping publish Chad’s books.

“Most of them are fictional, like what the world could be like in the second coming(of Jesus Christ),” Samantha said. “It was almost like the dystopian books that teenagers would read but the focus was spiritual.”

Tammy: "Chad told us she [Lori] had lots of money"

Archibald asked Samantha if she was suspicious of Chad after Tammy’s death and subsequent remarriage.

Samantha told the court Chad didn’t even call her or her husband after he remarried to Lori. He had his daughter tell them.

“I felt like something had happened to her but I didn’t know why, I had no reason to suspect Chad, I had no reason to suspect anything, but as a spiritual person I felt like my sister was trying to tell me something,” said Samantha.

Samantha says she did know her sister was shot at in the weeks before. But Tammy told her some kid was playing with a paintball gun and nearly shot her.

Samantha said in the past, Chad was not able to financially support his family by himself and needed to rely on Tammy. Blake asked if she thought Chad would have to rely on support from his new wife.

“He told us she had lots of money,” Samantha said.

Tammy and the gunman

The state then called Dep. Colter Cannon of the Fremont County Sheriff's Office. He told the court he responded to Tammy Daybell’s report of a suspicious person with a paint gun on Oct. 9, 2019.

Dispatch described the suspect as a male wearing all black with a black ski mask.

When he arrived on the scene, he spoke to Tammy Daybell, but Chad and Garth Daybell were also there. He only ever spoke to Tammy and Joseph Murry, the Daybell’s son in law and neighbor.

Dep. Cannon described Tammy as “shook up” but not hysterical.

Tammy told the deputy she had been coming home from a grocery store. When she got out to unload her things, she saw a man dressed in all black standing next to her car. Tammy later told Dep. Canon she first thought the man was her son Garth because they had similar builds.

She asked the man what he wanted and he pointed the gun at her and took two shots. Tammy screamed for her husband, and the man took off running.

Joseph Murry told Cannon he heard Tammy scream and called the police. Dep. Cannon describes Garth and Chad’s behavior as “normal.”

Dep. Cannon searched the surrounding area for shell casings or other evidence that night but didn’t find anything. He didn’t search the surrounding area because Tammy told him the suspect was holding a paintball gun. He says it was also dark, and he didn’t want to disturb the neighbors.

On Jan. 3, 2020 Dep. Cannon assisted the FBI in a search for evidence. He said there was no indication or evidence of shell casings or paint in the area Tammy indicated.

Tammy’s voice in the courtroom

Dep. Helena Kaaiakamanu, formerly a dispatcher for the Fremont County Sheriff's office, took the stand next.

 On Oct. 9, 2019 she received calls from Joseph Murry and Tammy Daybell reporting an attempted shooting with a paintball gun.

Kaaiakamanu was not familiar with Tammy beyond that she was the librarian at her children’s school.

Prosecutors asked Dep. Kaaiakamanu if she could authenticate a dispatch call from the night of Oct. 9, 2019. She said she could.

Prosecutors then played the audio recording of the dispatch calls from the night of the attempted shooting.

The first recording is a call from Joseph Murray. He tells the dispatcher his mother in law was threatened by a man with a paintball gun.

The prosecutors then played an audio recording of the call between Dep. Kaaiakamanu and Tammy Daybell.

“He was all dressed in black and he had a paintball gun,” Tammy shakily describes her attempted shooter in the recording.

“...I pulled up into our driveway, and he was standing there and had a paintball gun like he was going to shoot at me,” the recording continues.

“He didn’t say anything, but he was holding the gun like he had a rifle to shoot at me. But nothing came out of the gun so I don’t think it was loaded,'' Tammy's recorded voice echoes through the courtroom.

In the recording, Tammy tells the dispatcher her husband and son attempted to search the property for the ma, but they found nothing.

Chad about Tammy, “she’s frozen…She’s clearly dead.”

Next Dep. Christina West, another dispatcher from the Fremont County Sheriff’s office, took the stand. Dep. West received a dispatch call on Oct. 19, 2019 reporting the death of Tammy Daybell.

The prosecution then played the recording for the court.

The first voice in the recording is unclear, but allegedly came from Tammy’s son. He claims they just discovered their mother frozen.

Then Chad Daybell takes the phone.

Chad Daybell can be heard on the call, saying “she’s frozen” and “she’s clearly dead.” Chad continues the call with dispatch, seemingly distraught.

The court then broke for a break.

After the break, Fremont County Coroner and Dep. Corner Brenda Dye and Alyssa Greenhalgh then took the stand. They spoke about how they found Tammy Daybell on Oct. 19, 2019.

Chad told them Tammy had fallen out of bed around 5:30 in the morning.

They said Chad and his son Garth had picked Tammy up and placed her back on the bed before contacting law enforcement.

The coroner and deputy coroner said Tammy had a pinkish foam coming from her mouth.

Dye estimated the time of death between 12:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. based on rigor mortis and the temperature of Tammy's body. That would be almost five hours before Chad said she fell out of bed.

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

Jump to comments ↓

Author Profile Photo

Seth Ratliff

Seth is a reporter for Local News 8.


KIFI Local News 8 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content