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Chad Daybell worked as a cemetery sexton in Utah cemeteries; dug graves as a BYU student

We found a 2001 article about Chad Daybell. Here’s what he told us about his time as a cemetery sexton

SHARE Chad Daybell worked as a cemetery sexton in Utah cemeteries; dug graves as a BYU student
In this Friday, Feb. 21, 2020, photo, Chad Daybell walks into court in Lihue, Hawaii.

In this Friday, Feb. 21, 2020 photo, Chad Daybell, Lori Vallow’s current husband, walks into court for his wife’s hearing on child abandonment and other charges in Lihue, Hawaii. Vallow’s children, seven-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and his 17-year-old sister, Tylee Ryan, haven’t been seen since September.

Dennis Fujimoto, The Garden Island via Associated Press

Chad Daybell previously worked as a cemetery sexton in Utah almost 20 years before his name made national headlines in the Lori Vallow case, according to a Deseret News report from 2001.

Daybell has made national headlines over the last few months as the new husband of Vallow, the mother of two missing Idaho children in a case that has swept the nation. Daybell has remained mostly quiet in the ongoing case, mentioning only once that the “kids are safe.”

In the past, Chad Daybell made headlines for his work as a sexton in Utah cemeteries. According to the Deseret News, Daybell dug graves while he was a student at Brigham Young University. He said he believed digging graves helped him through school, the Deseret News reported.

Daybell later worked as a sexton in Springville, the Deseret News reported. His duties included “digging graves and keeping things tidy,” according to the Deseret News.

A sexton of a cemetery is often the caretaker of the cemetery. They are tasked with taking care of and maintaining the area, as well as digging graves.

According to the Deseret News report, Daybell didn’t see his job as glamorous. But, he told the Deseret News, a 4-year-old visitor referred to him as “the sexy one.”

“Taking care of the graves is rewarding, as well as helping widows and grieving family members deal with the trauma,” Daybell told the Deseret News at the time.

“Sad times are always when you have to bury babies. That’s always a poignant moment,” Daybell added, according to the Deseret News report.

Daybell wrote about his experiences in a nonfiction book titled “One Foot in the Grave: Secrets of a Cemetery Sexton.” The book is available on Amazon.

The description of the book reads:

In this entertaining book readers will meet such characters as a lock-picking ghost, a coffin-chasing cow, a rock band with boorish graveside manners, and Mrs. Robinson, whose leg preceded her to the grave.

Each chapter gives a behind-the-scenes look at different aspects of a sexton’s world, including cemetery blunders, meddling spirits, bizarre events and efforts to outfox the Grim Reaper.

Written in a humorous, tongue-in-cheek style, this collection of the author’s actual graveyard adventures is a curiously uplifting book you won’t be able to put down — or ever forget!

The book was released in 2001 — five years after he worked as a sexton in Springville, according to Daybell’s website.

“Once the book was completed, Chad realized what a weird job he had and has since moved on to another job. He certainly has less job security now, but the locks to his office haven’t been mysteriously opened, either,” according to Daybell’s about the author description.

According to the description, Daybell joked he would become a “riding lawnmower guy” at cemeteries when he retired from his next job, which ended up being in the publishing industry.

He told the Deseret News in 2001 that cemeteries are “fertile ground” for story ideas. Daybell went on to write more than 25 books, including the “Standing in Holy Places” series. He was the president of the Spring Creek Book Company.

But it didn’t stay that way. According to KSL’s investigation, Daybell worked part time in the Springville cemetery from August 2008 to 2009.

In 2009, Daybell became the sexton for Spanish Fork City, too. He made the switch because, he said, the economic downturn affected the publishing industry. He found a job at Spanish Fork City in 2009, according to the Daily Herald.

“I enjoy meeting the local citizens and helping them locate graves,” Daybell told the Daily Herald. “I also enjoy keeping the cemetery looking nice.”

He was hired in May 2013 as a cemetery sexton in Springville again before he resigned in October 2014, according to KSL’s investigation.

It’s clear working as a sexton was a big part of Daybell’s career. He told the Daily Herald at the time that he received a lot of questions about the job.

“People are really curious about why I would want to do this job,” Daybell told the Daily Herald. “There are always the questions about how someone gets into this line of work. But I enjoy it a lot and it has given me some pretty unique stories about cemeteries.”

Now, Daybell is living through his own unique story. His wife Vallow — the mother of two missing Idaho children Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 17 — made her first court appearance in Idaho last week. She faces felony charges of desertion and nonsupport.

She married Chad Daybell two weeks after his wife, Tammy Daybell, passed away. Chad and Tammy Daybell were married under 30 years. Tammy Daybell “died under circumstances police say may be suspicious,” according to USA Today.

Vallow and Daybell later traveled to Hawaii from Idaho. The couple lied to authorities about the whereabouts of JJ Vallow, according to reports.

Chad Daybell reportedly received $430,000 in life insurance after his wife died. According to the East Idaho News, Chad Daybell made “significant” increases to at least one policy before she died.

Almost two weeks after Tammy Daybell’s death, Chad Daybell wrote an essay titled “Moving into the Second Half of My Life,” saying that he is “in the process of implementing what she has told me to do. She has indicated that my life has two parts that were planned even before I came to earth.”

According to Fox 10, leaked emails from Daybell to Vallow highlighted the couple’s “seven missions to accomplish together,” which included “translating ancient records, writing a book about it, identifying locations in Arizona for ‘white camps,’ the presidency of the Church of Firstborn, establish food distribution as the tribulations start, ordain individuals to translation and provide supplies to righteous members of families.”