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The internet search from Alex Cox that caught an investigator’s attention

Idaho rests its case in the Lori Vallow Daybell trial

SHARE The internet search from Alex Cox that caught an investigator’s attention
Idaho has rested its case in the trial of Lori Vallow Daybell, the mother charged with murder, conspiracy and grand theft in connection to the deaths of her two children.

This file photo from June 9, 2020, shows the spot were investigators in Idaho said they recovered human remains in the backyard of Chad Daybell’s home in Salem. Idaho has rested its case in the trial of Lori Vallow Daybell, the mother charged with murder, conspiracy and grand theft in connection to the deaths of her two children.

John Wilson, KSL-TV

When looking through data pulled from an iCloud account belonging to Alex Cox, an internet search piqued Nicholas Edwards’ interest.

What would a Grendel round do to a Dodge Dakota?

“The Daybells owned a Dodge Dakota, and that naturally caught my attention,” Edwards, an investigator for the Idaho attorney general, told prosecutors Tuesday in the trial of Lori Vallow Daybell, the mother charged with murder, conspiracy and grand theft in connection to the deaths of her two children, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old JJ Vallow, and Tammy Daybell, the spouse of her now husband, Chad Daybell.

Prosecutors believe Cox, Vallow Daybell’s brother, was an accomplice in the murders. He died on Dec. 12, 2019, the day after Tammy Daybell’s body was exhumed, of what investigators believe were natural causes. He was never charged in the case.

Chad Daybell is also charged in the three deaths and will face a separate trial.

According to Edwards, Cox made the search in question on Oct. 9, 2019 — the same day Tammy Daybell reported a masked man had shot at her while she was in her driveway. And 6.5 Grendel is a rifle round that can be shot from a specific AR-15 model, which police found at Cox’s apartment while carrying out a search warrant.

Cox that day also searched “how to clean an AR (15)?” And the day before, he searched “Grendel 6.5 drop from 100 to 300 yards.”

“If you’re searching for a drop, you’re trying to figure out how far you can shoot and hit the target?” prosecutor Lindsey Blake asked Edwards, who answered, “Yes.”

Edwards, who participated in the joint investigation into Tammy Daybell’s death and the disappearance of Tylee and JJ, said he reviewed call logs, internet searches and texts between the couple and Cox. Prosecutors showed timelines of that communication Tuesday.

Data shows dozens of calls and messages between Chad Daybell, Vallow Daybell and Cox on two key dates — Oct. 9, the day Tammy Daybell was shot at, and Oct. 19, when investigators say she was killed in her sleep. Data also puts Cox’s cellphone in or around a church parking lot on Oct. 9 that is roughly 2 miles from the Daybell residence.

The exact contents of that communication were not disclosed in the timeline Tuesday, a point Vallow Daybell’s attorneys zeroed in on. The prosecution noted that other officers did in fact review the contents of much of that correspondence.

The defense and prosecution have also clashed over whether Tammy Daybell was shot at with a real gun, or a paintball gun, which is what she originally thought happened.

“You don’t have those text messages, right? ... So you don’t know what they were talking about?” asked John Thomas, one of Vallow Daybell’s attorneys.

“Based on my training and experiences, I believe they were talking about an attempted shooting,” Edwards answered.

“Of a paintball gun?” Thomas clarified.

“No, of an attempted homicide,” Edwards said.

As part of his investigation, Edwards said he canvassed the community, asking if any neighborhood kids owned a paintball gun — they didn’t. He also told prosecutors that the specific gun found at Cox’s apartment could be mistaken for a paintball gun, with a large scope mounted on top that might look like a hopper, which feeds paintballs into the gun’s chamber.

But the exact sound it would make was another sticking point — Edwards told the defense that it likely wouldn’t make a “whooshing” sound, which is what Tammy Daybell originally reported. But then he told prosecutors that if it jammed or misfired, it could make that noise.

Prosecution and defense rest case; closing arguments to begin Thursday

Prosecutors with the state of Idaho rested their case against Vallow Daybell Tuesday, wrapping up six weeks of witness testimony that included law enforcement officers, friends, family and others close to the murders.

Then, following a brief recess where Vallow Daybell and her attorneys discussed how she wished to proceed, the defense followed suit, with Jim Archibald telling the judge: “We don’t believe the state has proved its case so the defense will rest.”

Vallow Daybell also told the judge that she would not be testifying, ending weeks of speculation over whether the mother accused in the murders of her children would take the stand.

Her attorneys also asked Judge Steven W. Boyce to consider Idaho Rule 29, a motion for judgement of acquittal. Boyce did not issue a ruling Tuesday.

On Wednesday, the court will go over jury instructions, a process that is expected to be closed to the public. On Thursday, closing arguments in the case will begin.

The jury heard opening arguments on April 10, where prosecutors said that Vallow Daybell was motivated by “money, power and sex.”

“It didn’t matter what obstacle she had to remove to get what she wanted ... if it was a person, it didn’t matter who,” Blake said.

Her children, Blake said, were in the way. JJ, a 7-year-old special needs child, required time, effort and energy. “That took away from what Lori wanted, which was spending time with Chad.”

Tylee, 17, was receiving Social Security benefits from the death of her father — Lori wanted that money, and now Tylee is gone, the prosecutor said.

And Tammy Daybell, who investigators say was killed by asphyxiation, had a life insurance policy of which Chad Daybell was a beneficiary. “Lori wanted those things,” Blake said.

Archibald, meanwhile, countered Blake’s impassioned argument by telling the jury that the case is full of unanswered questions — and reminded them that it is Vallow Daybell on trial, not Chad Daybell or Cox.

The mother was in her own Rexburg apartment with her friends Melanie Gibb, David Warwick “and/or” Chad Daybell when the children were killed in an apartment belonging to Cox, her now deceased brother, according to an alibi filed on Vallow Daybell’s behalf. He also told the jury that Vallow Daybell was in Hawaii when Tammy Daybell was killed, which was later proven in witness testimony.

“You’re here to determine if there even was a conspiracy. Cases, again, can be solved with evidence, they can be solved with a lack of evidence,” Archibald said.