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Chad Daybell found guilty in triple-murder 'doomsday plot'

By Ehren Wynder
Police found the bodies of Joshua "J.J." Vallow (L) and Tylee Ryan on doomsday author Chad Daybell's Idaho property after a monthslong search. File Photo courtesy of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
Police found the bodies of Joshua "J.J." Vallow (L) and Tylee Ryan on doomsday author Chad Daybell's Idaho property after a monthslong search. File Photo courtesy of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

May 30 (UPI) -- A jury on Thursday found Chad Daybell guilty for the murders of his first wife and his second wife's two children.

The verdict in the Idaho murder trial followed seven weeks of testimony revealing what prosecutors called a plot to pursue "money, power and sex."

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Prosecutors said they plan to pursue the death penalty for Daybell. His sentencing hearing began Thursday afternoon but could take days.

Daybell was convicted on eight felony counts, including the first-degree murders of his then-wife Tammy Daybell and his second wife Lori Vallow's two children, Joshua "J.J." Vallow, 7, and Tylee Ryan, 16, in a so-called "doomsday plot."

His conviction comes more than a year after Vallow was convicted on six felony counts for her role in the murder of her children and Tammy Daybell. She is serving a life sentence in prison without parole.

Judge Steve Boyce, who presided over both cases, granted a motion from Vallow's defense to dismiss the death penalty before her trial took place.

Daybell, who is an author of books about the apocalypse, promoted spiritual beliefs to justify the triple-murder and claimed that all three were possessed and "marked" for death, according to prosecutors.

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"Three dead bodies ... and for what? Money, power and sex. That's what the defendant cared about," prosecutor Lindsey Blake said in closing arguments Wednesday.

Prosecutors said Daybell and Vallow met at the religious conference and carried out a monthslong affair before Tammy Daybell was found dead in her bed in 2019.

Around that time, Vallow's brother, Alex Cox, shot and killed her previous husband, Charles Vallow, during a confrontation at their Arizona home, and her children went missing soon after, prosecutors said.

Vallow and Daybell married in Hawaii just 17 days after Tamara Daybell's body was found.

Police were investigating Cox's claims that he shot his brother-in-law in self-defense, but Cox died of natural causes months after the incident.

After a monthslong search, Idaho police in June 2020 found the children's remains buried in shallow graves on Daybell's Idaho property.

"Chad said the plan was for he and Lori to be together unencumbered by earthly relatives, earthly obstacles," Blake said.

Early in the testimony of Daybell's trial, prosecutors played a recording of a phone call between Daybell and Vallow from around the same time officers were searching the property for the remains of her children.

"They're searching the property," Daybell told Vallow in the call before telling her to pray and saying "I love you so much."

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Daybell now faces up to two weeks of jury deliberation over additional evidence to determine whether or not he should receive the death penalty.

Vallow also was indicted in 2021 on one count of first-degree murder for the killing of Charles Vallow and one count of first-degree premeditated murder for allegedly plotting to kill her niece's ex-husband Brandon Boudreaux.

Her trial in those cases in scheduled for August. She has pleaded not guilty to both charges.

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