FREMONT COUNTY, Idaho, Aug. 3, 2020 (East Idaho News/Gephardt Daily) — Chad Daybell is appearing before Judge Faren Eddins Monday as a two-day preliminary hearing begins in the case involving his wife’s deceased children, according to the East Idaho News.
Proceedings began at 9 a.m. in the Fremont County Courthouse. Daybell is charged with two felony counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence, and two felony counts of destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence.
Daybell was arrested June 9 after the remains of Joshua “J.J.” Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 16, were found buried on his property. Since then, he has appeared for court hearings from the Fremont County Jail via Zoom but now, he and his attorney, John Prior, will listen in person as Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood calls witnesses and presents evidence. Wood has been appointed as a special prosecutor in the case.
During Daybell’s hearing, Wood will need to convince Eddins that Daybell likely committed the crimes he’s accused of. Wood has subpoenaed several people to testify, including FBI Special Agent Benjamin Dean, FBI Special Agent Steven Daniels, FBI Special Agent Gary Lyu and Rylene Nowlin, an employee with Idaho State Police Forensic Services.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Eddins will decide whether Daybell’s case should be bound over, or advanced, from magistrate court to district court. If that happens, a district judge will be assigned, an arraignment will be scheduled and the case will eventually go before a jury.
Daybell’s wife, Lori Vallow Daybell, is scheduled for a preliminary hearing in Fremont County Monday, Aug. 10 on two felony charges of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence.
The first witness, called at 9:15 a.m., was Rexburg Police Det. Ray Hermosillo. He has been investigating the case since JJ and Tylee were first reported missing and has worked as a police officer for 19 years.
Hermosillo said in early November, he was asked to seize a Jeep by the Gilbert Police Department that was in Lori Vallow Daybell’s possession. He was asked to do a welfare check on Nov. 25, 2019 on Joshua Jackson “J.J.” Vallow. Hermosillo says he has never met J.J. or Tylee Ryan.
Wood introduced exhibits including the birth certificate and adoption records of Canaan Trahan. Canaan’s name was then changed to Joshua “J.J.” Vallow. His birthdate is May 25, 2012. Wood also introduced the birth certificate of Tylee Ryan — her parents are Joseph Ryan and Lori Noreen Cox. Wood also introduces the marriage certificate of Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell; the date of marriage is Nov. 5, 2019.
Hermosillo says when he went to do the welfare check on Nov. 26, Alex Cox, who is Vallow Daybell’s brother, now deceased, and Daybell were at the house but Cox said Vallow Daybell was not home. Hermosillo asked if JJ was home. Cox told Hermosillo JJ was with Kay Woodcock, his grandmother, in Louisiana. Hermosillo asked Alex for Vallow Daybell’s phone number and Alex said he didn’t have it.
Hermosillo asked Daybell when he last saw JJ. Daybell said he saw the child in Apt. 107, Cox’s home, in October. Hermosillo asked Daybell for Vallow Daybell’s phone number. Daybell told Hermosillo he didn’t have it. Hermosillo thought that was odd because the knew they had a close relationship. Daybell said he only knew Vallow Daybell because they had met a couple times through Cox. A few minutes later, Daybell gave Hermosillo Vallow Daybell’s phone number. When Hermosillo asked why he didn’t provide the number earlier, Daybell said it was because it sounded like he was being accused of something.
Other officers were called and Hermosillo called Lt. Ron Ball, he said. Ball told him he needed to get a search warrant. J.J. was never located that day. Hermosillo testified that their interactions that day were recorded on body cameras.
Hermosillo received a search warrant for a storage unit that Vallow Daybell had obtained. Inside they found old winter clothes and blankets featuring children. Hermosillo said they tried to contact family members to see where J.J. was and the FBI was brought in to assist. Hermosillo says Vallow Daybell and Daybell never called the Rexburg Police to report missing children. Daybell never returned any calls from police and Vallow Daybell never answered her phone. They obtained an attorney and refused to answer any questions, according to Hermosillo.
Hermosillo says after talking with Colby Ryan, police began looking for Tylee Ryan. Wood admitted an exhibit showing a photo of J.J., Tylee and Cox at Yellowstone National Park on Sept. 8, 2019. Wood admitted another photo from Vallow Daybell’s I-cloud account showing J.J. sitting on a couch on Sept. 22, 2019.
Hermosillo said police have not found any photographs of Tylee Ryan taken after Sept. 8, 2019. No photos of J.J. Vallow have been found that were taken after Sept. 22, 2019. There have been no sightings of either child after the respective dates.
Hermosillo said he went to Kauai in January and served Vallow Daybell with an order demanding she produce her kids in Rexburg within five days of Jan. 25, 2020. Hermosillo said a search warrant was also issued on Vallow Daybell’s rental vehicle and their rental townhouse. Hermosillo says there was never any sign of J.J. or Tylee in Hawaii.
Hermosillo said he went back to Kauai in the middle of February and served Vallow Daybell with an arrest warrant on Feb. 20. When Vallow Daybell first appeared in a Hawaii courtroom, Hermosillo says Daybell was in the courtroom. On June 9, Hermosillo said he went to Daybell’s house in Fremont County, Idaho to serve a search warrant.
Hermosillo said when Daybell was served the search warrant, he was told he would need an officer to stay with him or he could leave the home. Hermosillo said Daybell went and sat in his vehicle in the driveway after calling his attorney
He added Daybell was on the phone sitting in the driver’s seat of his vehicle as police were serving the search warrant on his property. Hermosillo said Daybell continually looked over his right shoulder, and would break contact, talk on the phone and then look back over his right shoulder. He got out of his vehicle at one point and Hermosillo went to stand by him. Hermosillo says from where Daybell was standing, looking over his shoulder one would see the pond area on his property.
Hermosillo said the FBI Evidence Recovery Team showed up at Daybell’s house around 9 a.m. The team and cadaver dogs worked the entire backyard. Areas were marked off and an area of interest was found right under the tree by the pond. Hermosillo says under the tree, there was a 4×2 area of sod/shorter grass in an area of longer weed growth. The 4×2 area stuck out based on the greenery around it. The ERT team began digging and methodically remove dirt.
The team discovered three large white rocks in a row while digging. The rocks were removed and underneath was some thin wood paneling. The paneling was removed and Hermosillo says he could smell the odor of a decomposing body. Hermosillo says he has been around deceased bodies on multiple occasions. In the last 19 years, he’s covered plenty of suicides and unattended deaths where the bodies were decomposing. Hermosillo said he recognized a similar smell once the wood paneling was removed. The ERT team moved away more soil from the area and there was a black plastic bag with a round object protruding through the dirt.
The team discovered white plastic underneath the black plastic and the crown of a head was exposed. A small body tightly wrapped in black plastic covered in duct tape was then discovered. The body was placed into the back of the coroner’s vehicle. This was around 11 a.m. The coroner brought the body to Madison Memorial Hospital where it was placed in the morgue. Hermosillo says before noon, he assisted Sgt. Wheeler in placing Daybell into custody.
The court then took a brief recess.
Gephardt Daily will have more on this developing story as information is made available.