Editor’s note: This story originally ran in the East Idaho News and is used here with permission.
IDAHO FALLS, Feb. 14, 2020 (East Idaho News/Gephardt Daily) — Keith Morrison has been a news reporter for more than 45 years and says he has never seen another story like the Chad and Lori Daybell case.
The Dateline NBC correspondent, known for his dramatic delivery of real-life murder mysteries, has been working with his team and EastIdahoNews.com on a two-hour special called “Where Are the Children?”
“It’s nothing like anything else. I’ve been doing this for a long time and this stands alone,” Morrison said Thursday afternoon during a FaceTime interview from an edit bay at NBC News Headquarters in New York City.
“To make sure we get everything just right, we’ve had screenings for senior producers and lawyers…and anybody who has seen this for the first time is gobsmacked.”
Joshua “J.J.” Vallow and his sister, Tylee Ryan, have not been seen since September. They were living in Rexburg with their mother, Lori Vallow Daybell. She and her new husband, Chad Daybell, are considered persons of interest in the disappearance.
The couple has been in Hawaii for at least two months while police in Arizona investigate the death of Lori’s former husband, Charles Vallow, and police in Idaho investigate the death of Chad’s wife, Tammy Daybell. Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, also passed away in December and an investigation is underway into his death.
“It’s so disturbing,” Morrison says. “When I read Chad Daybell’s book and he described what he called near-death experiences, it’s the kind of thing one hears when these things go bad. I’ve heard a lot and when you begin to hear those kinds of stories, potentially you’ve got some trouble.”
Morrison interviewed several associates of Chad and Lori. Many are speaking for the first time about unusual behavior they’ve witnessed in their friends over the years and to raise awareness that J.J. and Tylee are still missing.
“We’ve been able to use those people in a way that I think hasn’t been done before. I think we’re able to kind of bring the whole story into one and you’ll see, sort of, from beginning to end everything to do with this story,” Morrison says.
Dateline was with EastIdahoNews.com Jan. 26 when the Daybells were served search warrants outside a Kauai resort. Cameras were rolling as the couple ignored questions for three minutes. Both news organizations have been working together since December covering this complex story that spans several states.
“The relationship we’ve had with (EastIdahoNews.com) has been so helpful. We share materials, share breaks in the story, share ideas. You’ve been tremendous for us,” Morrison says.
The veteran newsman has visited eastern Idaho several times over the years, most recently for his reports on the Angie Dodge murder case. He’s familiar with Idaho Falls and while eating lunch at Great Harvest last week, two women stopped to compliment his work. It likely happens everywhere he goes, and Morrison remains humble about his fame.
Dateline NBC will produce follow-up episodes as the case continues to develop.
You can watch “Where Are the Children?” in Utah tonight, Feb. 14, at 8 p.m. on KSL-5. The show will also be posted online here.