FREMONT COUNTY, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Prosecutors on Monday began sketching out their evidence against a couple at the center of a bizarre case of two missing children whose bodies were later unearthed in rural Idaho, offering potential new details in an investigation with ties to doomsday beliefs and other mysterious deaths that captivated worldwide attention.
Chad Daybell's preliminary hearing will continue Tuesday. You can watch Monday's livestream below.
Daybell, 52, is charged with concealing evidence by destroying or hiding the bodies of 7-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan at his eastern Idaho home. Investigators found their remains during a search in June, months after the kids were last seen in September.
Daybell late last year married the kids' mom, Lori Vallow Daybell, who's charged with conspiring to help him keep the bodies hidden and faces the same hearing next week. Both have pleaded not guilty.
Throughout the hearing, we heard the details from several detectives on how they uncovered the evidence that eventually led them to find the remains of missing kids Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow.
The first witness called to the stand Monday was detective Ray Dennis Hermosillo of the Rexburg Police Department. He described finding JJ's body in a plastic bag on the property of Daybell's Fremont County home.
He said JJ was buried in a black plastic bag in red pajamas and black socks and with a white and blue blanket on top of him.
Hermosillo said he observed "several layers of duct tape tightly wrapped" around the boy's head, from his chin to his forehead.
JJ also had duct tape wrapped over his elbows, arms and hands, Hermosillo said in court, and his wrists and ankles were bound with the tape.
Daybell's attorney, John Prior, questioned Hermosillo about his recollection of dates and times of key moments in the case.
JJ's grandparents, Kay and Larry woodcock who were present at the hearing, got emotional hearing about when detectives found JJ's remains.
You can watch a recap of the first part of Chad Daybell’s preliminary hearing below.
After a recess for lunch, Ron Ball of the Rexburg Police Department took the witness stand, and then detective David Stubbs of the Rexburg Police Department took the stand.
Brigham Young University Idaho Dean of Students Wynn Hill was then called to the stand.
Chad Daybell's closest friend Melanie Gibb was then called as a witness.
Gibb ended Monday's testimony by speaking about her relationship with Lori and Chad.
Prosecutors played a recording that Gibb did on her own to get evidence for the police to prove that she had nothing to do with this.
During the call, Lori told Gibb, "It sounds like you've been influenced by somebody dark."
Monday was the first day of the hearing, which is expected to last two days. The judge plans to rule at the end whether there is sufficient evidence to go to trial.
The state has issued subpoenas to three FBI agents to appear Tuesday. They are Agent Gary Lyu, Special Agent Benjamin Dean and Special Agent Steven Daniels.
The state also issued a subpoena to Idaho State Police Forensic expert Rylene Nowlin.
Authorities haven't yet said how the children died or who caused their deaths. Court documents suggest JJ was buried in a pet cemetery on Chad Daybell's property and that Tylee's remains were dismembered and burned. Investigators found the bodies by tracking the movements of Lori's brother, Alex Cox, using cellphone data.
Cox is also dead, succumbing to an apparent blood clot in his lung at his Arizona home last December. Police Lt. Ron Ball in the small town of Rexburg, Idaho, wrote in court documents that Cox also was involved in the conspiracy to hide the kids' remains.
Court documents in Lori Daybell's criminal case include claims that the couple believed dark spirits, or "zombies," would possess people. Melanie Gibb said her friend Lori told her at different times last year that both children had become zombies and that the couple believed the only way to rid a person of a dark spirit was by killing them so the person could be at rest in the afterlife.
The strange case began last summer with Cox shooting and killing Lori's estranged husband, Charles Vallow, in suburban Phoenix in what he asserted was self-defense. Vallow had been seeking a divorce, saying Lori believed she had become a god-like figure who was responsible for ushering in the biblical end times.
A short time later, Lori and the kids moved to Idaho, where Chad Daybell lived. He ran a small publishing company and had written many fiction books about apocalyptic scenarios loosely based on the theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Friends said he claimed to be able to receive visions from "beyond the veil."
At the time, Chad Daybell was married to Tammy Daybell. She died in October of what her obituary said were natural causes. But authorities grew suspicious when Chad Daybell married Lori just two weeks later, ordering Tammy's body exhumed last December in Utah for further investigation. The results of that autopsy have not yet b een released.
Police began searching for Tylee and JJ in November after relatives raised concerns, and they soon discovered that both children were last seen in September. Police say the Daybells lied to investigators about the children's whereabouts before quietly leaving Idaho. They were found in Hawaii months later.
The case has drawn so much attention that Madison County Prosecutor Rob Wood recently hired a public relations firm to handle the influx of media requests his office receives. But the investigation isn't over, so authorities have not given details on exactly what they believe happened.
At least some of those details will likely be discussed in court this week, with three FBI agents and an Idaho State Police forensic specialist subpoenaed to testify.
Chad Daybell's defense attorney, John Prior, also will get a chance to argue his side. Neither the couple nor their lawyers have spoken publicly about the case so far.
In most preliminary hearings, defense attorneys try to show the judge that prosecutors' evidence is not strong enough to justify sending the case to trial.
Daybell is being held on $1 million bail.
Lori Vallow Daybell's preliminary hearing is scheduled for August 10 and 11. She is being held on $1,150,000 bail on charges in Fremont and Madison Counties.