Prosecutors Zero in on Chad Daybell’s Suspicious Google Searches

Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Fremont County Sheriff
Photo Illustration by Thomas Levinson/The Daily Beast/Fremont County Sheriff

The day before Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow allegedly murdered her teenage daughter—before hiding her burned body in his Iowa backyard—the Doomsday author searched online about wind direction.

The Sept. 2019 Google searches for “ssw wind” and “what is the definition of ssw direction” were one of several suspicious searches from a Gmail account associated with Daybell that FBI Tactical Specialist Nicole Heideman highlighted for Ada County jurors on Tuesday at his murder trial.

Nine months after the wind search, and a lengthy investigation that gripped the nation, authorities found Tylee Ryan near Daybell’s fire pit, so burned that her cause of death could not be determined. Nearby on the property, her 7-year-old brother, J.J. Vallow, was found with a plastic bag over his head and duct tape over his mouth after prosecutors say he was allegedly strangled to death.

The harrowing slaying was among three murders prosecutors say Daybell and Vallow executed before fleeing to Hawaii to start their new life in 2019. The pair, who believe in a renegade brand of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, were also charged in the Nov. 2019 death of Daybell’s first wife, Tammy Daybell.

Vallow was sentenced to life in prison last year for her role in the murders. Daybell is on trial and facing the death penalty.

“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,” Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood said of Daybell in his opening statements.

Defense attorneys insist that no evidence directly ties Daybell to the murders. Witnesses, however, have detailed how Vallow and Daybell’s electronic footprint shed light into their mindset after their affair began in 2019.

Heideman explained that authorities obtained search warrants for a Google account associated with Daybell amid the investigation into Vallow’s missing children, 7-year-old J.J. Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan. She said that between Oct. 2018 and June 2019, the Gmail with Daybell’s name also searched for “bodies possessed after original occupant dies,” malachite jewelry, and whether the star signs Cancer and Leo are compatible.

Daybell’s lawyer, John Prior, tried to explain his client’s wind searches as an inquiry before working in his backyard. He said that the day after the search, Daybell emailed Tammy saying he was going to “burn some limbs in the yard.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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