Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell have been indicted for murder.
The pair were indicted by a grand jury this week on two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Lori's children, 17-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow, Madison County (Idaho) Prosecutor Rob Wood announced at a Tuesday news conference.
The death penalty is on the table as a possible sentence if either of the two is convicted, and prosecutors will have 60 days to determine whether to pursue the death penalty after the Daybells enter their pleas in the cases, KSL TV reported.
Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell were also indicted with one count of conspiracy to commit murder in the death of Tammy Daybell, Chad Daybell's deceased wife, Wood said. Chad Daybell was charged with murder in connection with the death of Tammy Daybell.
Lori Vallow Daybell has also been charged with theft of Social Security benefits allocated for the care of Tylee and JJ, and Chad Daybell was charged with two counts of life insurance fraud for policies connected to Tammy Daybell.
Prosecutors allege the couple used their religious beliefs to justify killing JJ, and to justify or encourage the death of his sister and Tammy Daybell.
Attorneys for Chad and Lori Vallow Daybell didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment Tuesday.
Chad Daybell's initial appearance is scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday, and Lori Vallow Daybell is scheduled for an initial appearance at 11:30 a.m., EastIdahoNews.com reported.
Fremont County Prosecutor Lindsey Blake said progress on the case has been slowed by pandemic court restrictions. Prosecutors recently obtained permission to present the case to a grand jury, she said.
"I want to assure everyone that despite the delays, we have been working diligently to pursue justice for the victims in this case, to ensure we have the evidence required to prove the facts beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law," Blake said at the news conference.
Wood said law enforcers from Idaho, Arizona and the federal system have dedicated thousands of hours to solving the mystery of the children's deaths.
"The unprecedented cooperation among law enforcement has been remarkable," he said.
The remains of Tylee and JJ were found on Chad Daybell’s property in Salem, Idaho, last June. The two had been missing since September 2019.
Tylee had last been seen at Yellowstone National Park on Sept. 8, 2019, with JJ, Lori Vallow Daybell and Lori's brother, Alex Cox. JJ was last seen at Kennedy Elementary School in Rexburg on Sept. 23, 2019, according to police.
The case garnered national attention after the children disappeared. Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell were named as persons of interest in the case in December 2019 but went to Hawaii for at least a month that winter. They were served with a search warrant in Hawaii in January 2020, and Lori Vallow Daybell was initially arrested in February 2020 on suspicion of child desertion.
The case then came back to Idaho, where human remains were found on Chad Daybell’s property on June 9, 2020. He was subsequently arrested on suspicion of destructing or concealing evidence.
Chad Daybell's first wife, 49-year-old Tammy Daybell, died at the Salem property on Oct. 19, 2019. Authorities had labeled her death as "suspicious" and exhumed her body in December 2019 for further investigation.
The charges were handed down Tuesday on what would have been JJ's ninth birthday, according to Annie Cushing, Tylee Ryan's aunt.
Contributing: Garna Mejia, KSL TV