An Idaho husband and wife have been indicted on murder charges in the deaths of the wife’s two children who were found buried on the husband’s property roughly eight months after they went missing in 2019.
Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow-Daybell were indicted by a grand jury Monday on first-degree murder charges in the deaths of JJ Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 17, prosecutors in Madison and Fremont counties announced Tuesday.
Chad Daybell was additionally indicted on a count of first-degree murder related to the October 2019 death of his previous wife, Tammy Daybell. Tammy Daybell died in her sleep just two weeks before her husband moved to Hawaii with Vallow-Daybell and remarried. Her body was exhumed the following December for further testing.
Authorities have not revealed what evidence and information led to the indictments.
The couple additionally faces two counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and grand theft by deception in the children’s deaths.
Vallow-Daybell was also indicted on a charge of grand theft related to the alleged theft of Social Security benefits after her children were reported missing. Daybell was also indicted on two counts of life insurance fraud related to policies he took out on Tammy Daybell and cashed in after her death, prosecutors said.
The most serious charges carry the possibility of life in prison without parole or the death penalty. Prosecutors said they have not determined whether they will seek the death penalty in the case and that they have until after the defendants enter a plea to do so.
“This investigation is far from over,” Fremont County Prosecutor Lindsey Blake said Tuesday at a press conference that did not allow questions from the media.
The children’s disappearance in September 2019 quickly attracted nationwide attention as the couple was initially seen pursuing what appeared to be a blissful new life as newlyweds in Hawaii while authorities struggled to locate the two children. Authorities repeatedly described them as uncooperative during their search and accused Vallow-Daybell of giving them false information on her children’s whereabouts.
The couple’s religious beliefs also attracted attention, with both described by family as having been obsessed with the afterlife.
Daybell had been a doomsday writer who had written several books about the Christian belief of Christ’s return to Earth. Friends also said he claimed to be able to receive visions from “beyond the veil,” The Associated Press previously reported.
A friend of Vallow-Daybell’s, Melanie Gibb, testified that Vallow-Daybell told her on more than one occasion in 2019 that her children had become zombies and that she and Chad Daybell believed that the only way to rid of a person of a dark spirit was by killing them.
Vallow-Daybell’s previous husband, Charles Vallow, said in divorce papers that he believed she needed psychiatric help. He said she was obsessed with near-death experiences and believed she had lived numerous lives on other planets before her current life. He sought an order of protection as well as a mental health evaluation for her before his shooting death in the summer of 2019 by Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox, The Associated Press reported.
Cox was never arrested or charged in the shooting, which he said was an act of self-defense. In another twist, police have said Cox was involved in conspiring to hide the remains of his sister’s children. Cox died in December 2019 of what were later determined to be natural causes.