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Investigators discovered the remains of 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow buried in shallow graves at Daybell’s Idaho home in June of 2020—ending a months-long search for the missing children.
“I don’t know why [the bodies] would be there,” Chad’s daughter Emma Murray told CBS’s “48 Hours” in a new episode airing Wednesday. “But I do know that if he were to commit a crime, he wouldn’t be foolish enough to put the evidence in his own backyard.”
She insisted that her father had been framed by someone who secretly snuck onto the property to bury the children, telling reporter Jonathan Vigliotti that her father rarely went outside and said the location where the bodies were found could not been seen from his house.
“This is his property,” she said of the possibility of him being set up. “If there’s bodies buried here, it would be attributed to him.”
She said there are other more remote areas nearby if Chad had been trying to conceal a body and didn’t believe her father would have left such damning evidence so close to home, if he had been the one to carry out the acts.
Yet investigators have said that Chad texted his wife Tammy Daybell—who would die herself the next month—on Sept. 9, 2019, the day after Tylee was last seen alive, to report he had been out on the property burying a raccoon in the same area where the bodies were later discovered.
“Well, I’ve had an interesting morning!,” he wrote in the next message, according to a probable cause statement obtained by Oxygen.com. “[F]elt should burn all of the limb debris by the fire pit before it got too soaked by the coming storms. While did so, spotted a big racoon [sic] along the fence. hurried and got my gun, and he was still walking along. got close enough that one shot did the trick. He is now in our pet cemetery. Fun times!”
Vigliotti questioned the children about their father’s unusual behavior—including the text message, evidence that Chad had lied to police, and the fact that the children were found on his property.
“A lot of people are gonna say there’s a lot of convenient excuses here,” Vigliotti said. “What do you say to those people who are still very skeptical with all this?”
“It might seem like a convenient excuse,” Murray replied. “But if it’s the truth, we have to hold to it.”
Chad’s other children pointed out that the Tylee and JJ were found buried in shallow graves—yet their father had once worked as a gravedigger.
“This is … a man who buries pets at, like, as deep as he can,” Seth Daybell said. “He knew how to dig graves and that just doesn’t sound believable to me.”
Chad’s other children, Leah Murphy, Garth Daybell and Mark Daybell, also appeared in the interview to defend their father.
Chad and Lori are each facing murder charges in the children’s deaths—but they aren’t the only deaths that have been linked to the couple, who were said to have adopted a set of bizarre religious beliefs centered around the idea that the end of the world was approaching.
Chad, a religious author who often wrote about the end of days, is also facing murder charges for allegedly killing his wife, Tammy, in October of 2019, just weeks before he and Lori tied the knot in Hawaii.
Tammy’s death was initially believed to be the result of natural causes but after an investigation was launched to find Lori’s missing children, authorities exhumed the body and conducted an autopsy.
Although the results of that autopsy have never been publicly revealed, Garth Daybell said authorities told him that his mother had been asphyxiated.
“They told me that she’d been asphyxiated … but we never saw an autopsy,” he said.
According to Garth, he had been at home on Oct. 19, 2019 when his 49-year-old mother was found dead in her bedroom.
“My room was down the hall. And I heard a thump,” Garth Daybell told “48 Hours,” according to CBS News. “And I heard my dad yell, ‘Garth, Garth, come quick,’ with the most panic I’d ever heard in his voice.”
He said his mother was dead before he and his father could place the call to 911.
“My dad was just pacing back and forth,” he said. “Just saying, ‘Why? How could this happen?’ Pointing at pictures on the wall, ‘She can’t be dead. Like how could this be? What do we do?’”
Mark Daybell said even if his mother was asphyxiated, it doesn’t necessarily indicate what caused her death.
“Asphyxiation doesn’t necessarily mean smothered,” he said. “According to my understanding, it just means the breath was interrupted. And in the end, she wasn’t able to breathe. And according to that, there’s more facts that we need.”
His children said their mother’s health had been failing before she was found dead in the couple’s home outside of Rexburg, Idaho and insisted that they had made the decision initially not to perform the autopsy—not their father.
“The narrative is that he was going, ‘No, no, no autopsy.’ But he was standing there—in complete shock, traumatized, letting us make the decision,” Murray said. “If he was trying to hide something, you—I wouldn’t leave something like that up to my kids if I was trying to hide something.”
Chad has pleaded not guilty to all three murder charges. His children continue to insist he is innocent of the allegations against him and hope that he can get a fair trial in light of all the publicity the case has received.
“We presume innocence in this country,” Murray said. “Just because things look funny, we don’t send people to jail.”
Lori has also been charged with murdering her two children, but the case against her has been put on hold after a judge ruled that she was mentally unfit to stand trial earlier this year, according to court documents obtained by Oxygen.com.
Lori is also facing separate conspiracy to commit murder charges in Arizona in connection with the death of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow. Charles was shot to death by Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, in July of 2019 in what he claimed at the time had been self-defense.
However, in June the Maricopa County Attorney’s office announced the conspiracy charges against Lori in connection with Charles’ death. According to an indictment in that case, authorities believe that Lori “agreed” with Cox to carry out the first-degree murder of her late husband.
Investigators believe Cox likely played a role in the other slayings as well, but he died himself in December of 2019 from what authorities later determined were natural causes.
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