Chad Daybell sentenced to death in triple murder of family

Daybell was found guilty this week in the triple murder of his family.

June 1, 2024, 1:38 PM

An Idaho jury sentenced Chad Daybell, the man who was convicted this week for the 2019 murders of his first wife and second wife's two children, to death.

Daybell did not show any emotion when the judge read the jury's verdict. It took two days for the jury to come to their decision.

Chad Daybell, right, stands with defense lawyer John Prior after the jury's verdict in his murder trial is read at the Ada County Courthouse in Boise, Idaho, on May 30, 2024.
Kyle Green/AP

Lindsey Blake, the Fremont County, Idaho prosecutor, told reporters she was hopeful the verdict would allow the victims' families and friends a chance to heal.

"We are pleased with the outcome and justice has been served for the victims in this case," she said at a news conference later Saturday.

The jury found Daybell guilty on all counts Thursday in what prosecutors said was a plot to pursue "money, power and sex."

Daybell, 55, was charged with murder and conspiracy in the deaths of the two children, Joshua "JJ" Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 16, as well as his former wife of nearly 30 years, Tamara "Tammy" Daybell, 49, with whom he had five children. She died in their home on Oct. 19, 2019, with the cause of death determined to be asphyxiation, according to investigators.

Prosecutors said Daybell, the author of books about the apocalypse, promoted spiritual beliefs to justify the murders and had claimed that all three were possessed and "marked" them for death so that he and his new girlfriend Lori Vallow could be together "unencumbered by earthly relatives, earthly obstacles."

Daybell and Vallow were married in Hawaii two weeks after the killings, according to prosecutors.

Daybell's guilty verdict came more than a year after Vallow was also convicted of murdering her two youngest children. She was sentenced to life in prison after a judge granted the defense's motion to dismiss the death penalty in her case.

Vallow faces charges over the death of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, who was shot and killed by her brother in 2019.

Chad Daybell was also found guilty of two counts of insurance fraud related to $430,000 in life insurance policies he had on Tamara Daybell for which he was the beneficiary.

Before the jury began their deliberations over the sentencing Friday, several family members recalled their grief over Tamara Daybell's sudden death on Oct. 19, 2019, and the ensuing anguish and anger to learn that, following an exhumation to conduct an autopsy, she was murdered.

"My sister should not be dead right now," Samantha Gwilliam told the court. "She should be here alive, smiling, with her family and friends. She should be doting on her grandchildren and taking care of her animals."

Her siblings expressed their shock and horror at learning that two children were also killed.

"I retched and sobbed over learning about JJ and Tylee," Gwilliam said through tears.

Larry Woodcock, gets a hug after the verdict in the Chad Daybell murder trial was read at the Ada County Courthouse in Boise, Idaho, on May 30, 2024.
Kyle Green/AP

Ryan was a child from Vallow's third marriage while JJ was the nephew of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow, whom they adopted.

Kay Woodcock, JJ's grandmother, described her "immense pain" over the boy's death, which she called a "betrayal that can't be explained."

"There's a hole in my heart, in the hearts of every member of my family, that can never be filled and will remain for the rest of my life," she said, crying.

She said JJ was incredibly smart and compassionate and cried over the fact that she could not create more memories with him.

"The constant question remains -- who would he have become?" she said. "Would he be a famous scientist with incredible math skills? What would his amazing imagination have bloomed into? Would have been the next Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs, Tim Burton, Elon Musk? We will never know. But we do know how incredibly special he was to us."

The children's brother, Colby Ryan -- Vallow's eldest child -- expressed his grief at not seeing his siblings grow up.

"It's very hard for me to put into words what it means to have lost my entire family," he told the court. "In short, I've lost everything I've ever known."

Chad Daybell sits at the defense table after the jury's verdict in his murder trial was read at the Ada County Courthouse in Boise, Idaho, on May 30, 2024.
Kyle Green/AP

Chad Daybell did not address the court during the sentencing phase of the trial. He also did not take the stand to testify in his own defense prior to the verdict.

Since the death penalty was established in Idaho in 1864, the state has carried out 29 executions, most recently in 2012, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

There are currently eight residents on death row in Idaho, according to the state Department of Corrections.

ABC News' Jeffrey Cook and Samara Said contributed to this report.