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Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Chad Daybell, the ‘doomsday couple’ husband accused of killing his ex-wife and children

Summary List PlacementIdaho prosecutors will seek the death penalty against "doomsday cult" husband Chad Daybell, who is accused of killing his ex-wife and the two children of his current wife, according to a Madison County court record viewed by Insider. Daybell and his wife, Lori Vallow, have been indicted on murder charges in connection with the deaths of Vallow's children, Tylee Ryan, 17, and 7-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow. The children hadn't been seen for two months before their grandparents reported them missing to police in November 2019. Their bodies were found buried on Daybell's rural property in June 2020. Daybell, a former...

Chad Daybell at a court hearing in Idaho in August 2020.

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Idaho prosecutors will seek the death penalty against “doomsday cult” husband Chad Daybell, who is accused of killing his ex-wife and the two children of his current wife, according to a Madison County court record viewed by Insider.

Daybell and his wife, Lori Vallow, have been indicted on murder charges in connection with the deaths of Vallow’s children, Tylee Ryan, 17, and 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow.

The children hadn’t been seen for two months before their grandparents reported them missing to police in November 2019. Their bodies were found buried on Daybell’s rural property in June 2020.

Daybell, a former grave digger, has also been charged with the murder of his first wife, Tammy Daybell. He has pleaded not guilty to all the charges. Vallow is also charged with planning the murder of her ex-husband, Charles Vallow.

“The State will seek the death penalty against Chad Guy Daybell in the event of the defendant’s conviction for any of the three counts of first-degree murder and/or any of the counts of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder as charged in the Indictment,” according to newly filed court documents.

In the court documents, the prosecutors called the murders “especially heinous, atrocious, cruel, or manifesting exceptional depravity.”

Daybell, the documents state, “exhibited a propensity to commit murder and will probably constitute a continuing threat to society.”

Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow

A web of conspiracy and deaths

The disappearance of Vallow’s children captivated the US in early 2020 when she was found vacationing in Hawaii with Daybell, a well-known apocalyptic novelist, while they were both entangled in a web of suspicious death and missing persons investigations. 

Vallow moved to Rexburg, Idaho from Arizona soon after her ex-husband, Charles, had been shot dead by her brother on July 11, 2019. She and Daybell were married a month after the death of Daybell’s wife, Tammy. 

In November 2019, police in Rexburg went to Vallow and Daybell’s home to check on J.J. and Tylee. Vallow told police the kids were staying with family, which authorities later learned wasn’t true.

The couple disappeared the next day, and were discovered vacationing in Hawaii in February.

In May 2021, Vallow and Daybell — who are followers of the Preparing the People doomsday movement — were both charged with first-degree murder after the children’s remains were found on Daybell’s property. They are also both charged in the deaths of their former spouses.

Those who know Vallow told officials that she believed her two children were “possessed and had become zombies,” according to court documents in an unrelated case involving Vallow’s niece.

Vallow and her brother, Alex Cox, who has since died, believed she had special powers and was a goddess chosen to prepare 144,000 people for the end of the world, according to an affidavit filed in the case of Charles Vallow’s death.

Vallow was found “not competent to proceed” with a trial in that case, and since has been receiving mental health treatment, but the case involving Charles Vallow’s death continues. Daybell’s cases are also proceeding. 

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