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Chad Daybell appears in court for preliminary hearing

Day 1: investigators and Melani Gibb give testimony
Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 4:32 PM MDT
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REXBURG, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - The step-father of the two missing Eastern Idaho children who were later found buried in his backyard appeared in court Monday.

Chad Daybell was at the Fremont County Courthouse for his preliminary hearing in front of judge Faren Eddins and Madison County prosecutor Rob H. Wood.

Law enforcement officials gave testimony most of the morning about the evidence collected that led them to charge Daybell with four felony counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration, or concealment of evidence.

Detective Ray Hermosillio of the Rexburg Police Department started off the the preliminary proceedings, when he testified that he conducted a welfare check on Lori Vallow’s adopted 7-year old son J.J. Vallow on November 26, 2019 at the request of the Gilbert Police Department in Arizona and J.J’s paternal grandmother Kay Woodstock, because she had not had, “contact with him for several months”.

Herosillio said he initially was unable to get in contact with Vallow at her apartment in Rexburg, but Daybell and Alex Cox, Vallow’s brother, were present at the premises.

The detective said that Daybell acted as though he hardly knew Vallow, and said he didn’t even have a contact phone number for her. Hermosillio also said that he knew Daybell and Vallow had been married weeks prior. Daybell also mislead the police by saying J.J was with his grandmother in Louisiana, but the detective told him that was unlikely considering she is the one who called in the welfare check. Cox suggested that the police check apartment #107, but the apartment was completely vacant.

Hermosillio said that he spoke with Daybell shortly after and was able to get a contact number for Vallow, and said the last time he saw J.J was in apartment #107.

Detective David Stubbs of the Rexburg Police Department, who also gave testimony on Monday, said he was able to track down Vallow at her apartment on November 26. Vallow told him and Lt. Ron Ball that J.J was with her friend Melani Gibb in Arizona. She also told investigators that she didn’t have a good relationship with J.J.’s grandmother, and that was the motivation behind her contacting police.

When Detective Hermosillio was able to get in contact with Gibb on December 6th she had informed police that Vallow and Daybell called her on November 26 at “seperate times”.

Gibb, who also testified Monday, said that Daybell told her that the police would be calling her about J.J. and not to answer the phone, and Vallow told her to tell police that J.J was with her in Arizona. She also said she became concerned when Vallow told her to take a picture of some random children so it appeared to police that J.J was with her. Gibb testified in court that the last time she saw J.J was in Vallow’s apartment on September 22, 2019.

Hermosillio said their investigation led them to obtain search warrants for three apartments in Rexburg, Vallow’s I-cloud account and a storage unit.

The detective said in the storage unit they found children’s clothes, a bike, and a blanket with family pictures on it. He also said the last picture they saw of J.J on Vallow’s I-Cloud account was dated September 22, 2019. It was taken on Vallows couch in her apartment. Hermosillio said at this time they were also concerned about the whereabouts of Vallow’s other child, 17-year old Tylee Ryan. The last picture of her was dated September 9, 2019 at Yellowstone National Park.

Investigators who testified Monday, said that the investigation eventually led them to obtain a search warrant for Daybell’s property in Fremont County on June 9, 2020, due to suspicious activity on the property by Cox, which they traced back to his cell phone activity and GPS location. Hermosillio said in court on Monday while they were on property investigating, Daybell looked somewhat uneasy about certain locations on his property from the way he was looking at them.

After an extensive search by RPD, Fremont County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI ERT team, Hermosillio said human remains were found on Daybells property. One set or remains was found near a pond near the north edge of the property. The site corresponded with GPS pings from Cox’s phone on September 23, 2019. The remains were later identified as J.J Vallow at the Ada County Coroner’s office.

Hermosillio said the other set of remains were found near a fire pit on Daybells property, which also correlated with GPS pings on Cox’s phone. The remains were identified as Tylee Ryan at the Ada County Coroner’s office.

The day ended Monday with Melanie Gibb giving testimony about her relationship with Daybell and Vallow, and what she observed about them. She said they appeared to be a loving couple, but she too was concerned when J.J went missing, and Vallow couldn’t give a straight answer as to where her son was or who he was with. A conversation between the two of them was played in court on Monday, where Gibbs brought up her concerns about Vallow’s behavior.

Janeese Summers and Annie Southan of Rexburg, who attended hearing Monday, wearing shirts in memory of Tylee and J.J said, “for her (Vallow) to say all those lies. . . at the time she was saying how she is a good person, and at the time her kids were already dead”.

Daybell is currently being held at the Freemont County Jail on a $1 million bond.

Day two of the hearing will be held at 9 AM Tuesday with Daybell’s attorney John Prior questioning Gibb.

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