BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Prosecutors charged an Idaho man Wednesday with destroying or concealing two sets of human remains after police said they uncovered children’s bodies at his home while searching for evidence in the disappearance of his wife’s two kids.
The remains, found at Chad Daybell’s rural Idaho property Tuesday, have not yet been identified, but a prosecutor said they belonged to children and the way one was concealed was “particularly egregious.” He didn’t elaborate. The finding marked a gruesome turn in an investigation that has drawn global attention for its ties to two other mysterious deaths and the couple’s doomsday beliefs.
Daybell’s attorney, John Prior, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Daybell married Lori Vallow Daybell a few weeks after authorities say her children were last seen in September. Police began searching for then-7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan in November after relatives raised concerns. Police say the couple lied to investigators about the children’s whereabouts before quietly leaving Idaho and being found in Hawaii months later.
In court documents, Madison County Prosecutor Rob Wood said he believes Chad Daybell either concealed or helped hide the remains knowing that they were about to be used as evidence in court. Wood said the first body was hidden or destroyed sometime on or after Sept. 8 — the last known day that Tylee was seen — and the second on or after Sept. 22, the last known day that JJ was seen.
During a short court hearing Wednesday, a judge set Daybell’s bail at $1 million and ordered him to wear an ankle monitor and stay in the region if he’s released before trial. Daybell mostly responded with one-word answers when questioned.
A document that details the reasons behind the charges isn’t available to the public. Wood asked to have it sealed, saying it could compromise the criminal investigation. The prosecutor also noted how much media attention the case has received and said keeping the document secret would help preserve Daybell’s right to a fair trial.
Lori Daybell already has been charged with child abandonment and obstructing the investigation and is in jail on $1 million bond. Her attorney has indicated she intends to defend herself against the charges, and she is scheduled for a preliminary hearing next month.
Besides the missing children, the couple also have been under scrutiny following the deaths of both of their former spouses.
The complex case spans several states and began with Lori Daybell’s brother shooting and killing her estranged husband, Charles Vallow, in suburban Phoenix last summer in what he asserted was self-defense. Vallow was seeking a divorce, saying Lori believed she had become a god-like figure who was responsible for ushering in the biblical end times. Her brother, Alex Cox, died in December of an apparent blood clot in his lung.
Shortly after Vallow’s death, Lori and the children moved to Idaho, where Chad Daybell lived. He ran a small publishing company, putting out many fiction books he wrote about apocalyptic scenarios loosely based on the theology of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also recorded podcasts about preparing for biblical end times, and friends said he claimed to be able to receive visions from “beyond the veil.”
He was married to Tammy Daybell, who died in her sleep last October of what her obituary said were natural causes. Authorities grew suspicious when Chad Daybell married Lori just two weeks later, and they had Tammy Daybell’s body exhumed in December. The results of that autopsy have not been released.
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