Chad and Lori’s Lovey-Dovey Call as Cops Found Kids’ Bodies

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty Images/Handout
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty Images/Handout

Dozens of law enforcement officers were descending on doomsday author Chad Daybell’s Idaho home, where they would eventually find the buried bodies of his new wife Lori Vallow’s children.

He called her in jail to give her the update.

“They’re searching the property,” he said in the June 9, 2020, call, which was played Monday at his murder trial.

“They’re searching.”

The pair said nothing about the dark facts behind the search, focusing instead on their devotion to each other and their faith. They said “I love you” at least a half-dozen times during the three-minute conversation.

“What do you want me to do? Pray?” Vallow asked at one point.

"Yeah, pray,” Daybell replied, promising to call her back.

The two were the prime suspects in the disappearance of 7-year-old J.J. Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan. Lori had already been arrested on child-welfare charges. And an hour after the phone call, Daybell would be in custody, too.

Investigators found J.J. and Tylee’s body in the backyard—one found wrapped in plastic near a pond on the rear of the property and the other near the fire pit—ending a nine-month mystery that gripped the nation.

Lori Vallow was sentenced to multiple life terms after being convicted of the murder of the children and Daybell’s first wife, Tammy Daybell. Now Daybell is on trial, facing the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder and other charges.

Prosecutors say the couple was driven to bloodshed by their desire to start a new life together in Hawaii and the apocalyptic beliefs of a renegade branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“When he had a chance at what he considered his rightful destiny, he made sure that no person, no law would stand in his way," Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood said of Daybell in his opening statements.

“His desire for sex, money, and power led him to pursue those ambitions and this pursuit led to the deaths of his wife and Lori's two innocent children.”

Defense attorneys argue that no evidence directly ties Daybell to the children's murders or that Tammy’s death was a homicide.

Doomsday Author’s Wife Faced ‘Health Struggle’ Before Death, His Lawyers Say

Vince Kaaiakamanu, a former investigator with the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, walked jurors through the investigation that unfolded after the children were reported missing in November 2019.

Vallow was arrested in Hawaii after she was unable to produce her two children under court order, and authorities used cell phone data to track the movements of Lori’s brother to Daybell’s property around the time the kids were suspected to have gone missing.

Rexburg Police Detective Eric Wheeler told jurors on Monday that authorities showed up to Daybell’s house around 7 a.m. for the June 2020 search. He said that Daybell looked “awkwardly” over his shoulder while investigators searched his property and kept writing in a yellow notepad.

At one point, he said, Daybell got into his car and sat there for a while before going into his home again to chat with his daughter. Wheeler said that Daybell then got into his car again and left the property in a hurry.

“Is he trying to run?” Wheeler said he thought at one point.

He stopped Daybell down the road and placed him in handcuffs, informing the author that the 7-year-old’s remains had been found.

“I’m sorry,” Daybell told his crying daughter back at this home, according to a video played in court Monday. “I’m not coming back.”

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