SALT LAKE CITY — Chad Daybell returned to court Wednesday to face new charges that he conspired with wife Lori Vallow Daybell to keep hidden the remains of her two children at his rural Idaho property.
Prosecutors filed the two new felony charges late Tuesday after charging Lori Daybell with the same counts a day earlier.
The couple has been jailed on earlier charges in southern Idaho as authorities have looked into the deaths of their former spouses, their reported apocalyptic religious beliefs, and teachings about evil spirits and “zombies.”
The monthslong search for Joshua “JJ” Vallow, who was 7 years old at the time of his disappearance, and Tylee Ryan, 17, came to an end three weeks ago when authorities unearthed the children’s remains buried at Chad Daybell’s home. The kids had last been seen alive together on a family trip to Yellowstone National Park in September, authorities said.
The case has drawn international attention. So far, no one has been charged in the deaths of the children.
Prosecutors say Chad Daybell, 51, sent a text message Sept. 9 as a guise for hiding or destroying Tylee’s partially charred remains. Court documents say he texted his now-deceased wife that day, saying he shot and killed a racoon and buried it in a “pet cemetary” at their property. They also say Lori and Chad Daybell urged a friend, Melanie Gibb, not to cooperate with police before detectives interviewed her.
A judge kept bail for Chad Daybell at $1 million Wednesday. He appeared in court over video in a white shirt and striped tie as he sat next to his attorney, replying “yes,” to brief questions from a judge.
Chad Daybell previously pleaded not guilty to two earlier charges of concealing or destroying evidence. Investigators Monday served a warrant at his home in Salem, Idaho, near Rexburg, but have not said what they were searching for.
Lori Daybell, 47, was arrested in Hawaii earlier this year, where authorities say she and her husband traveled after they were questioned about the children’s whereabouts. She was charged in February with counts including felony child abandonment.
Around the same time her kids vanished, Lori Daybell told Gibb the kids had become “zombies,” their bodies overtaken by dark spirits that could be vanquished only by death, reflecting a teaching of Chad Daybell’s, court documents say.
Authorities also say cellphone data places Lori Daybell’s now-deceased brother at her Idaho home in the hours after the kids were last seen alive, and then at the sites where their remains were found months later.
The uncle, Alex Cox, shot and killed Lori Daybell’s former spouse, Charles Vallow, in a July 2019 confrontation in Arizona. Cox, who said he shot Vallow in self-defense, later died of a blood clot in his lung, a medical examiner found.
Remains of Chad Daybell’s former wife Tammy Daybell, whose obituary says she died in her sleep in October, have been exhumed; an autopsy has not yet been released. Chad and Lori Daybell wed about two weeks after Tammy Daybell’s death.
The couple has separate preliminary hearings scheduled for August.