Couple indicted on murder charges for missing children appear in court

"JJ" Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan were reported missing in September 2019.

May 26, 2021, 1:58 PM

Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell appeared virtually for a court hearing Wednesday afternoon, one day after they were indicted for the murder of her two children, 7-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan.

In the brief hearing, Judge Faren Eddins ordered Chad Daybell to be held without bail. His formal arraignment was set for June 9, the anniversary date of when investigators discovered JJ's and Tylee’s remains on his property.

Lori Daybell appeared virtually wearing blue prison garb and a face mask. Her attorney, Mark Means, asked to reschedule her appearance. Judge Eddins agreed despite the defense’s objection. No date was given for the next court appearance.

The children were last seen alive in September 2019 and were reported missing by family members two months later. The case has garnered national attention and the indictments were handed down Tuesday, on what would've been JJ's 9th birthday.

Chad Daybell was also indicted for the murder of his former wife Tamara Daybell, according to prosecutors.

PHOTO: Lori Vallow Daybell glances at the camera during her hearing, March 6, 2020, with her defense attorney, Edwina Elcox, right, in Rexburg, Idaho.
Lori Vallow Daybell glances at the camera during her hearing, March 6, 2020, with her defense attorney, Edwina Elcox, right, in Rexburg, Idaho.
John Roark/The Idaho Post-Register via AP, FILE

On June 9, 2020, police said they found two sets of unidentified human remains at Chad Daybell's property in Fremont County, Idaho. He was subsequently charged with two felony counts of destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence. He has pleaded not guilty. A few days after the discovery, authorities confirmed the remains belonged to the children.

In addition to two counts of first-degree murder, Lori and Chad Daybell were indicted by the grand jury Tuesday on two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and grand theft by deception for the deaths of JJ and Tylee.

Before they were reported missing, Chad Daybell's former wife, Tamara Daybell, died on Oct. 19, 2019. Her obituary said she "passed away peacefully in her sleep" and Chad Daybell declined to have an autopsy performed. He received a $430,000 life insurance payout. Her body was exhumed in December 2019 and an autopsy was conducted. A medical examiner has since ruled that death a homicide, prosecutors said.

PHOTO: Chad Daybell, lower left, with his attorney John Prior, attend a virtual court hearing with Judge Feran Eddins, top right, May 16, 2021.
Chad Daybell, lower left, with his attorney John Prior, attend a virtual court hearing with Judge Feran Eddins, top right, May 16, 2021.
Judge Faren Eddins

Lori and Chad Daybell were both indicted on a charge of conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Tamara Daybell. Chad Daybell, 52, was indicted on one count of first-degree murder in her death.

Additionally, Lori Daybell, 47, was indicted on the charge of grand theft related to Social Security survivor benefits allocated for the care of her children "that were appropriated after the children were missing and ultimately found deceased," Madison County prosecutor Rob Wood, one of two Idaho prosecutors on the case, said at a press briefing Tuesday.

Chad Daybell was also indicted on two counts of insurance fraud related to life insurance policies he had on Tamara Daybell for which he was the beneficiary, Madison County prosecutor Rob Wood said.

PHOTO: Missing children Joshua Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 17, were last seen on Sept. 23, 2019 in Rexburg, Idaho.
Missing children Joshua Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 17, were last seen on Sept. 23, 2019 in Rexburg, Idaho.
National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

Prosecutors allege the crimes occurred between Oct. 26, 2018, and Jan. 15, 2020, in Fremont and Madison counties and elsewhere.

The penalty for the most serious charges ranges from life in prison without the possibility of parole to the death penalty.

PHOTO: Chad Daybell listens during his preliminary hearing, Aug. 4 2020, in St. Anthony, Idaho.
Chad Daybell listens during his preliminary hearing, Aug. 4 2020, in St. Anthony, Idaho. Lori Vallow Daybell and Chad Daybell were each indicted by a grand jury on May 24, 2021, on charges of conspiracy, murder and grand theft in connection with the deaths of Lori Daybell's two youngest children, 7-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan. Chad Daybell was also charged with one count of murder in connection with the death of his late wife, Tammy Daybell, just weeks before Lori and Chad married.
The Idaho Post-Register/Pool via AP, FILE

Lori and Chad Daybell, an author of doomsday books about the end of the world, were married on the Hawaiian island of Kauai on Nov. 5, 2019.

Lori Daybell was previously charged with two felony counts of conspiracy to destroy, alter or conceal evidence following the discovery of the remains on her husband's property. In September she pleaded not guilty to those charges.

Investigators who searched Chad Daybell's property last year said they found one body tightly wrapped in black plastic and covered in duct tape and recognized what could be JJ's hair. Charred remains and part of a human skull were allegedly found in another part of the property. The human remains were matched through dental records, investigators said.

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