Chad Daybell Trial Day 7: No sorrow over death of Lori Vallow’s husband, texts show

BOISE, Idaho (ABC4) — The triple murder trial of Chad Daybell continued Friday with jurors hearing more about the self-styled religious visionary’s doomsday beliefs and seeing several private messages he sent to his now-imprisoned wife.

Daybell, 55, is charged with murder, insurance fraud and conspiracy to commit murder and grand theft in connection to the death of his former wife, Tammy Daybell, and the killings of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan. The children’s mother, Lori Vallow Daybell, was sentenced to life in prison last year in connection to the killings.

CONTEXT A complete timeline for the Daybell, Vallow murders

Daybell’s defense is working to show that Vallow Daybell was responsible for the deaths and drew Daybell, a self-published writer of doomsday fiction based loosely on LDS teachings, into an extramarital affair. On the other hand, prosecutors are arguing that Daybell and Vallow Daybell constructed an elaborate apocalyptic belief system to justify killing people in their way and benefiting from life insurance and social security payments.

Text messages between Daybell and Vallow Daybell

Doug Hart, a former FBI agent in Idaho, testified on Friday with an exhibit he created featuring several text message exchanges between Daybell and Vallow Daybell. In these, Daybell appears as a spiritual visionary to a small group of religious people. He could deem an individual to be either spiritually dark or light, giving them a precise numeral grade for either category.

Among the messages presented to the jury were fictionalized passages written by Daybell describing his connection to Vallow Daybell. He wrote that they’d been married in past lives and would soon be together again as they had a special mission to complete before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. They were exchanging these messages while Tammy Daybell was still alive and just days after Vallow Daybell’s former husband, Charles Vallow, was fatally shot by her brother, Alex Cox.

Neither Daybell nor Vallow Daybell showed any signs of grief or sorrow following Charles Vallow’s death, Hart told the court. They were only upset that Charles Vallow’s $1 million life insurance policy went to his sister and not Vallow Daybell. “It’s a spear thru my heart,” Vallow Daybell wrote in a message to Daybell. In another message, Daybell pondered if the beneficiary on Vallow’s policy was changed after “two bullets were put in his chest.”

Hart said the two would engage in sexting, noting that when they did meet up in person at religious conferences, they clearly had a “physical, sexual affair.” Daybell referred to Lori Vallow as his “goddess lover,” and told her that “permanent freedom is coming,” the texts show. Daybell would later marry Lori Vallow in Hawaii just weeks after his wife’s death.

Former friend said Daybell deemed children to be zombies

Melanie Gibb, a former friend of Vallow Daybell, took the stand for the second day Friday morning, telling the court how Daybell and Lori Vallow believed that people could be possessed by dark spirits and become “zombies.” When questioned by prosecutor Lindsey Blake, Gibb said that only Daybell was able to tell if someone was a zombie.

Shortly before their deaths or disappearances, Daybell told those in his inner circle that Tammy Daybell, JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan were zombies, Gibb said. The two children’s bodies were found in shallow graves on Daybell’s property in June of 2020, months after other relatives reported them missing. Daybell told police his former wife was battling an illness when she died in October of 2019, but an autopsy later found she died of asphyxiation.

Gibb told the court that after she met Vallow Daybell that they would take part in casting rituals to remove dark spirits from possessed people. These rituals involved praying for the spirits to leave, and violence was not used, Gibb said. However, once a spirit left a person, another would take its place.

Daybell trial comes to brief halt over discussion on whether prosecutor can be called as witness

According to what Daybell and Vallow Daybell believed, if a dark spirit left a person, their body would naturally die, Gibb told the court. She added that Daybell never indicated any intention to hurt anyone who was thought to be possessed. When asked by Daybell’s attorney, John Prior, if Gibb thought someone might die from a casting, she said: “I had no idea about what the result would be.”

Testimony in the trial is expected to continue next week, beginning with more from Hart, the FBI investigator. The entire trial process could take more than two months. While Daybell has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, if he is convicted, prosecutors have said they will seek the death penalty.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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