End-times cult leader Chad Daybell’s attempt to cover his tracks with a text message actually led to his arrest and that of his wife Lori Vallow on suspicion of murdering her two children, a new book, exclusively obtained by DailyMail.com, reveals.
He had sent the text to his then-wife Tammy saying he had shot and burned a raccoon, but when a cop saw the message months later he realized something was wrong.
Raccoons are nocturnal, Detective Ron Ball of Rexburg Police Department in Idaho reasoned — but the text had been sent at 11.35 am, writes author John Glatt in his book The Doomsday Mother.
Ball called in the FBI’s Cellular Analysis Survey Team (CAST) to analyze the text and others based on cell phone tracking data pinging off local cell masts and when they did, the whole case started to unravel.
And rather than finding a burned raccoon, cops found the charred body of Lori’s 17-year-old daughter Tylee Ryan in a shallow grave in the backyard.
Lori Vallow and doomsday evangelist husband Chad Daybell were charged on multiple counts including the first-degree murder of Lori’s two children, Tylee Ryan, 17, and JJ Vallow, 7.
Tylee was last seen on September 8, 2019 while JJ was last seen with his uncle Alex Cox on September 22. Their bodies were found in Daybell’s backyard in June 2020
Detective Ron Ball worked out that Daybell is unlikely to have killed a raccoon in broad daylight as the animals are nocturnal
Tylee and her brother Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow, 7, vanished in September 2019, leading to a nationwide hunt. Their bodies weren’t found until the following June.
Tylee was last seen in Yellowstone National Park on September 8, the day before Daybell sent the raccoon text. Lori’s brother Alex Cox had taken her and JJ on a day trip.
Photographs of that day were released by investigators when they still hoped they might find the children alive. They show Tylee and JJ with their uncle, smiling and trusting.
JJ was known to be alive as late as September 23, the day before his mother told his school in Rexburg that she was pulling him out.
The Doomsday Mother, by John Glatt will be published by St. Martin’s Press on January 18, 2022
He was last seen being carried — apparently asleep — across Cox’s shoulder.
The FBI discovered Cox had been at the Daybell property on both September 9 and 23.
A joint task force of law enforcement, across states in which Vallow and Daybell had lived, began looking for Tylee and JJ in November as Vallow’s initial claims that Tylee was at university and JJ was staying with friends fell apart.
Daybell, 53, had met Vallow, 48, at a ‘prepper’ conference in 2018. With his apocalyptic prophecies and visions, the best-selling author and excommunicated Mormon drew thousands of followers – most of them women – into his thrall.
Unknown to Tammy, the couple started a torrid affair. In his September 9 text, he told his wife he had been burning ‘lime debris’ in the yard.
He said he had had ‘an interesting morning’ and that he had, ‘shot a huge raccoon and burned it.’ He signed off, ‘Fun Times!’
Daybell is currently awaiting trial for the murders of the children and of Tammy who was found dead less than a month after the raccoon text was sent. He faces the death penalty if found guilty.
Vallow has been been determined mentally unfit to stand trial for the killings and is being treated in a secure mental health facility.
In his book, Glatt exposes the depths of Daybell and Vallow’s depravity and lays bare their outlandish beliefs, including Daybell’s conviction that wizards and witches exist and that the spells of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter could be manifested with, ‘great focused will.’
Vallow was arrested in connection with her children’s disappearance on January 26, 2020, four months after they were last seen alive. But it wasn’t until that June that the bodies were found and murder charges could be brought.
Tylee had been dismembered and burned. JJ was bound, stuffed in trash bags and covered with planks of wood and dirt. Both were buried behind Daybell’s home in Salem, Idaho.
Daybell had been a gravedigger for many years when he was younger. It appeared to investigators that he had put his old skills to use to help dispose of his mistress’s children’s bodies.
He was at his house when cops came to execute their search warrant. Sitting in his truck he looked on. He made a call to Vallow as the bodies were unearthed before making a break for it, Glatt writes.
He didn’t get far. He was flagged down by police within a mile of his home, cuffed and taken into custody. The jig was up.
According to Glatt, Vallow had made overtures to cooperate just before the bodies were found but Daybell talked her out of it.
Daybell had ‘prophesied’ about his wife Tammy’s death for some time, but when the mother of his five children died in her sleep in October 2019, the apparently healthy 49-year-old’s death was initially ruled to be from natural causes.
Daybell married Vallow in Hawaii two weeks later.
It was only after suspicion fell on Chad and Lori over her kids’ disappearance that Tammy’s body was exhumed from a cemetery in Utah. An autopsy was carried out and her death was ruled suspicious.
Vallow was arrested in connection with her children’s disappearance on January 26, 2020, four months after they were last seen alive.
Siblings JJ and Tylee are seen smiling and hugging while standing on a boardwalk in front of a thermal feature at Yellowstone National Park in Idaho on September 8, 2019 with their uncle Alex Cox
Both Tylee and JJ’s remains were uncovered on the property belonging Lori Vallow’s new husband Chad Daybell on June 9, 2020. Human remains were discovered near both the pet cemetery and the pond. Alex Cox’s cell phone had pinged at both of those locations
No cause of death has ever been made public, but Glatt notes that first responders observed ‘pink foam’ around her mouth.
As well as the murder counts that Vallow and Daybell now face, the couple has been charged with theft and insurance fraud.
Vallow has also been indicted in Maricopa County, Arizona, for conspiring to kill her third husband, Charles. He was shot by Alex Cox in July 2019. Cox claimed self-defense.
But Cox himself died on December 12, 2019, the day after Tammy Daybell’s body was exhumed.
He was found unconscious at home and, like Tammy, had pink foam coming out of his mouth. But blood clots were found on his lungs along with signs of arterial disease.
With his history of high blood pressure, his death was not ruled suspicious.
Between July and December 2019, three people had died and two children had disappeared — and the one thing they all had in common was their closeness to Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell.
Cox’s death made the case against Daybell and Vallow more complicated as cops believed that he may have been the person who actually killed Tylee and JJ.
Vallow, pictured during a March 2020 hearing, is awaiting trial. The once devout Mormon and doting mother has been declared mentally incompetent and is currently being treated in a secure mental health facility in Idaho
According to investigators and interviews with family members, Vallow and Daybell had become convinced that certain people – including Vallow’s husband Charles and her children Tylee and JJ – were zombies who had been possessed by dark spirits and could only be released through death
In his book, Glatt explores Vallow’s hold over her older brother. Cox, a strange misfit and wannabe stand-up comedian would, others noted, do ‘anything’ for his sister.
Friends recall Vallow parading around in her bikini at Sunday lunches, in front of her apparently fascinated brother.
And one of Vallow’s closest childhood friends reveals that Vallow confided to her that Cox was trying to sleep with her.
The true nature of the sibling bond may never be known, but whatever it was it saw Cox shoot Vallow’s third husband, Charles, dead.
Cox claimed self-defense telling officers who attended the scene in Chandler, Arizona, that Charles had attacked Tylee then come at him with a baseball bat.
At first the story, though contradicted by his sister’s account, seemed to wash. But investigators found Vallow’s demeanor odd – she laughed during interviews and seemed unconcerned by her husband’s violent death.
It had never truly been laid to rest, and when the Doomsday Couple’s life unraveled, Vallow was charged with conspiring to bring about Charles’s death.
Daybell is currently sitting in prison awaiting trial, scheduled for January 2023. He and Vallow are also charged in the death of Chad’s previous wife, Tammy Daybell
Daybell had ‘prophesied’ about Tammy’s (pictured) death for some time, but when the mother of his five children died in her sleep in October 2019, the death was initially ruled to be from natural causes
Tammy was buried in her hometown of Springville, Utah, in a cemetery where Chad Daybell once worked but her body was exhumed to see if there was any foul play
Tammy’s obituary said she ‘passed away peacefully in her sleep’ in this home in Salem, Idaho, on October 19 2019
Vallow and Daybell had allegedly hoped to benefit from Charles’s life insurance. But what they did not know was that Charles, who had started and then stopped divorce proceedings, feared her.
He had changed the policy to name his sister, Kay, as the sole beneficiary even telling family that if anything happened to him then Vallow and Daybell would be behind it.
By then Vallow had bought into Daybell’s bizarre belief system wholesale and told Charles that she believed him to be a zombie possessed by a dark spirit.
Daybell claimed he could see these light and dark spirits and that he had lived many times over. He said that he and Vallow had been married in previous lives.
In this aerial photo, investigators search for human remains at Chad Daybell’s residence in Salem, Idaho, in June 2020
Authorities confirmed they uncovered human remains at Daybell’s home as they investigated the disappearance of his new wife’s two children
Lori is also charged in Arizona with conspiring to kill her former estranged husband, Charles Vallow, in 2019 with the help of Alex Cox (Lori and Charles are pictured at their wedding in 2006)
Lori Vallow is seen laughing and smiling as she’s being interviewed by police hours after her former husband, Charles Vallow, was shot dead in her home
Between them they became convinced that certain people – her husband Charles and later Tylee and JJ among them – were zombies who had been possessed by dark spirits and could only be released through death.
Killing these zombies, Daybell preached, was acceptable.
He also believed that he and Vallow were ‘translated beings’ who did not require food or sleep, had accelerated healing powers, could not be mortally wounded and could teleport.
These days neither Vallow nor Daybell are going anywhere anytime soon.
Daybell sits in prison awaiting trial, currently scheduled for January 2023.
Prosecutors have sought the death penalty. They have cited the fact that all his alleged crimes were committed for remuneration – life insurance and social security payments – as aggravating circumstances.
And they have described the murders of Tylee and JJ ‘especially heinous, atrocious or cruel, manifesting depravity.’
Vallow is also awaiting trial. But the once devout Mormon and doting mother has been declared mentally incompetent. She is currently being treated in a secure mental health facility in Idaho.
According to Glatt she writes to Daybell and reads scripture every day and at night she can be seen in her cell, dancing to music that only she can hear.
‘The Doomsday Mother Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell and the End of an American Family’ by John Glatt is published by St Martin’s Press on January 18, 2022.
Timeline of JJ and Tylee’s disappearance
July 11, 2019: Lori Vallow’s husband, Charles Vallow, is killed by her brother, Alex Cox, in Arizona. Police initially rule that Alex acted in self defense but reopen the case months later after the children are reported missing.
August: Lori moves children JJ and Tylee to Rexburg, Idaho, close to where her future husband Chad Daybell lives with his wife Tammy.
September 8: Tylee is seen alive for the last time during a trip to Yellowstone National Park with Lori, JJ and Alex. In the following weeks Lori tells people that her daughter is studying at Brigham Young University’s Idaho campus.
September 23: The last time JJ is seen at his school in Rexburg. Lori emails the school the following day claiming she is moving the family to California for a new job.
October 2: Brandon Boudreaux, the ex-husband of Lori’s niece Melani Pawlowski, is targeted in a drive-by shooting in Arizona. Police identify the vehicle carrying the shooter as a Jeep registered to Charles Vallow, Lori’s late husband.
October 19: Chad’s wife Tammy, 49, dies at their Idaho home. An obituary states that she passed away peacefully in her sleep. Chad declines an autopsy and her death is listed as due to natural causes.
October 25: A friend of Tylee receives a vague ‘miss you’ text from her phone but says that it didn’t sound like the teen.
November 5: Lori and Chad tie the knot on a beach in Kauai. Receipts indicate that Lori purchased her own wedding ring from Amazon nearly three weeks prior to Tammy’s death.
November 26: Out-of-state relatives ask Idaho police to perform a welfare check on JJ. Lori and Chad claim he is in Arizona with relatives and ask their friend, Melanie Gibb, to lie and say she took the boy there for Thanksgiving. Police soon learn that no one has seen JJ or Tylee, since September.
November 27: Police execute a search warrant related to the children at Lori’s home and discover that she and Chad have fled Idaho.
December 11: Tammy’s body is exhumed from a Utah cemetery and her death is reclassified as suspicious.
December 12: Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, is found dead in a bathroom in his Arizona home. Months later an autopsy determines that he died of natural causes while he had the overdose drug Narcan in his system.
December 21: Rexburg police issue the first press release about JJ and Tylee, revealing they believe their disappearance could be linked to Tammy’s death and asking the public for information.
December 24: Lori and Chad issue a statement through an attorney saying they love their son and daughter and look forward to addressing ‘allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor’.
December 30: Police accuse Lori and Chad of lying to investigators and say they believe the couple know where the kids are or what happened to them.
January 3, 2020: Police search Chad’s home in Salem and remove 43 items, including tech devices and journals. They also comb over sections of the snow-covered yard with rakes and metal detectors.
January 26: Lori and Chad are seen for the first time in months as police serve them with two search warrants in Kauai. Lori is also served with a court order to produce the children to authorities in Idaho in five days. The couple are approached by the media while officers serve the documents and refuse to say anything about the children.
January 30: Lori misses the court deadline to produce the children to Idaho authorities.
February 20: Lori is arrested in Kauai and charged with two felony counts for desertion and nonsupport of dependent children, and one misdemeanor count each for resisting and obstructing an officer, solicitation of a crime, and contempt of court.
March 5: Lori is extradited to Idaho, where she is held on $1million bond at Madison County Jail.
March 17: Lori professes her innocence in a statement through her attorney as two other members of her defense team quit and the judge removes himself from the case.
March 24: Court documents filed in the divorce of Lori’s niece Melani and her husband Brandon Boudreaux allege that Lori told people she believed her children were zombies before they disappeared.
April 9: Authorities reveal they are investigating Lori and Chad for murder, attempted murder and conspiracy in connection with Tammy’s death.
June 9: Police search Chad’s home in Salem for the second time and discover human remains in the backyard. Chad is taken into police custody and charged with destruction or concealment of evidence.
May 25, 2021: Lori and Chad are charged with first degree murder in the deaths of the children. Chad is also charged with first-degree murder in the death of his wife Tammy.
May 27: Lori is deemed incompetent to stand trial on the murder charges in Idaho.
August 5: Prosecution announces it will seek the death penalty for Chad.