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Chad Daybell trial: Court sees video of ‘cult dad’ telling his daughter ‘I’m not coming back’

Daybell, 55, faces the death penalty for the murders of his former wife, Tammy, and Lori Vallow’s two children, Tylee, 16, and JJ, seven

Andrea Cavallier
Tuesday 16 April 2024 00:55 BST
New video shows Chad Daybell discussing finances with daughter as he tells her ‘I’m not coming back’

Chad Daybell calmly talked to his adult daughter about handling finances and other family matters as he was detained on the day investigators found the remains of Lori Vallow’s two children buried in the backyard of his Idaho property.

“Yeah, I’m not coming back,” Mr Daybell told his daughter Emma in never-before-seen video footage that was played for the jury in his triple murder trial on Monday.

The “doomsday cult” author, 55, who is now on trial for the murders of his wife’s two children, Tylee Ryan, 16, and JJ Vallow, seven, as well as his former wife Tammy Daybell, was arrested at his home in Rexburg, Idaho on 9 June 2020.

Rexburg detective Eric Wheeler testified on Monday about taking Mr Daybell into custody after JJ’s body was found.

Prosecutors played video from the police cruiser that showed Mr Daybell in the back seat talking to his daughter Emma who was emotional as she approached the car and tearfully told her dad, “I love you so much.”

A screenshot of the video played in court shows Chad Daybell talking to his daughter after he was detained in 2020 (Judge Steven Boyce/YouTube)

Mr Daybell is heard telling his daughter where she can find $90,000 in cash and company bank cards to pay for the mortgage, and advises her to call his attorney, John Prior.

He tells Emma to use Telmate to communicate with him, and she responds that she already has an account because she has been talking with Lori Vallow, who had already been arrested.

Emma then asks her father if items can be sent from Amazon to the jail and Mr Daybell responds that Vallow would know the Amazon account, adding that he has around $265 in gift certificates in his Amazon account.

Last year, Vallow was convicted in the three murders and sentenced to life in prison. Jurors heard how she, Mr Daybell and her late brother Alex Cox were fuelled, in part, by their bizarre cult beliefs. If convicted, Mr Daybell faces either the death penalty or life in prison.

At the time of the police video footage, Tylee’s remains had not yet been found, but Detective Wheeler testified on Monday that he recalled seeing Mr Daybell look over in the direction of the fire pit – where Tylee’s charred remains were later found.

Daybell speaks to his attorney John Prior in court on Monday (Judge Steven Boyce/YouTube)

The detective arrived at Mr Daybell’s house earlier that morning while investigators were digging in the yard. He said he saw the 55-year-old leave in his vehicle, and park near by while occasionally looking “awkwardly” over his shoulder at the investigators working in his yard.

Mr Daybell then drove over to his daughter Emma’s house, which was kitty-corner to his property, Det Wheeler said, and went inside for about 90 minutes. When he got back in his vehicle and drove off “in a hurry,” Det Wheeler said he was then told to “hurry and go stop him.”

Det Wheeler said he stopped Mr Daybell near the Fremont/Madison County line, handcuffed him and detained him in his patrol car. The suspect was informed about JJ’s remains being found on his property.

After Mr Daybell was detained, Det Wheeler returned to the property and was part of the crew who found Tylee’s remains.

He described the “horrible odor” as they uncovered a portion of a skull, along with flesh and other bones melted in a bucket, which he assumed to belong to Tylee.

The children vanished nine months earlier, sparking a nationwide search and a closer look at several unexplained deaths surrounding the couple.

The remains of Tylee Ryan and Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow were found on Daybell’s property (Family handout)

One month after the children were last seen, Mr Daybell’s first wife Tammy, 49, died suddenly in her sleep after battling an illness, but an autopsy later revealed she died of asphyxiation.

Just three weeks later, Mr Daybell and Vallow got married on a beach in Hawaii.

It’s a bizarre and tragic case that has shocked the nation over the last few years – and which played out in court for the first time as Vallow stood trial.

The so-called “cult mom” was convicted of all charges and was sentenced to life in prison without parole in July.

Now, Mr Daybell faces the death penalty if convicted in the murders that the prosecution say were fuelled by his desire for “sex, money and power.”

His trial, which began on 1 April, is expected to last eight to 10 weeks.

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