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Judge upholds felony charges against step-father of Rexburg children found buried on property

The judge ruled there’s enough evidence for a man to go to trial
Published: Aug. 4, 2020 at 4:36 PM MDT
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REXBURG, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - An Idaho judge upheld felony charges against a man whose step-children were found buried in his backyard in June. The judge ruled Tuesday there’s enough evidence for a man to go to trial.

Chad Daybell, the step-father of two missing Rexburg children who were later found dead in his backyard, was in court for the second day on Tuesday.

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

According to an amended complaint, the 51-year-old is charged with four felony counts of destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence after the remains were found on his property.

Day one of the hearing focused mostly on the evidence that led investigators to discover human remains on Daybell’s property in Freemont County.

Tuesday morning’s hearing was more about the last time anyone saw 7-year-old J.J.

Daybell’s wife, Lori Vallow’s friend Melanie Gibbs told prosecutors Monday and early Tuesday that her and Vallow shared similar religious beliefs, but Vallow started to drift away and become more extreme — some of which she learned from Daybell.

She also said the last time she saw Vallow’s adopted son was on Sept. 22, 2019 at Vallow’s Rexburg apartment.

Gibbs’ boyfriend at the time, David Warwick, also took the stand Tuesday morning and told prosecutors a similar story.

He recalls Vallow’s brother Alex Cox bringing J.J. into her apartment late that night to put him to bed, and he also he saw Daybell in Vallows apartment earlier in the day.

He told prosecutors the next morning J.J. was gone and he asked Vallow where he was.

“She (Vallow) said he was being a zombie,” Warwick said. “He climbed up on the cabinets, climbed up on top of the fridge, smashed her picture of Christ down, and then got up on the upper cabinet between the cabinets and the ceiling. I asked to see him and she just said he was out of control and asked Alex to come and get him.”

Warwick also said Cox was a frequent visitor at Vallow’s apartment and watched J.J. often.

But after two days of grueling testimony and both sides making their case on whether the charges should be dropped or upheld, Judge Eddins made his decision.

“I find there is probable or sufficient cause that the defendant Chad Daybell committed the counts one through four as designated in the amended criminal complaint,” said Eddins.

Daybells’ arraignment is scheduled for August 21, 2020, and he is charged with four felony counts of destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence. .Each count carries a maximum count of up to five years in prison and/or $10,000 fine.

He is currently being held at the Fremont County jail on a $1 million bond.

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