Doomsday Dad Chad Daybell’s Kids Take Stand in Murder Trial

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty/Rexburg Police Department
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty/Rexburg Police Department

The night before Tammy Daybell was found dead in her Idaho bedroom in October 2019, the doomsday novelist’s wife told her son that all she wanted was her favorite meal and some rest.

“She said, ‘I don’t feel good today; I don’t want to cook. Can you go get some McDonald’s for us?’” Garth Daybell testified on Monday at the trial of his father, Chad Daybell, who is accused of murdering Tammy and his lover’s two children.

Garth Daybell said he made the McDonald’s run—making sure to get his mom a quarter-pounder with cheese—then left the house a few hours later for his night shift at a local haunted house.

When he got home around 1 a.m. on Oct. 19, 2019, he heard only Chad Daybell “snoring” when he fell asleep two hours later. He woke early the next morning to his father demanding he come to his bedroom—where his mother was on the floor, her feet tangled in the bedsheets.

“I felt she was cold, stiff and gray. I realized she’s not been breathing,” Garth said while choking up as his father sat several feet away at the defense table. “I immediately thought, ‘She needs my help,’ so I lifted her immediately into the bed.”

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Defense lawyers insist there is no evidence that Tammy’s death was a homicide, and Garth Daybell testified that if there had been a struggle between his parents, he would have heard it.

Prosecutors allege that Daybell and his then-girlfriend, Lori Vallow, were driven by their fringe religious beliefs to murder Tammy in October 2019. A month later, prosecutors say, they murdered Vallow’s children and buried them in Daybell’s Idaho backyard before getting married in Hawaii. Vallow is serving life in prison.

Garth and his sister, Emmy Murray, told jurors that they follow the teachings of the Mormon church but that their father’s faith was far more extreme.

Smiling at her father as she took the stand, Murray calmly detailed her mother’s declining health, which included bruising easily and anemia, in the months before she was found dead. Murray said her mother tried to exercise, took supplements like colloidal silver, and began using an antidepressant to alleviate her symptoms.

“She was always one to meet the demands of daily life without being exhausted and she started going to bed before dinner some nights,” Murray said. “It would be like 5, 6, -7 o’clock at night—and she would sleep in a lot.”

Murray said she was not at the family house the morning her mother was found dead but rushed over when she heard the news. Chad Daybell had told authorities that Tammy had been coughing and vomiting the night before she died.

She said she told authorities the family did not want an autopsy because Chad Daybell was so “emotionally out of control.”

“I know the grief he felt was real. He may not have had the same romantic relationship with my mother that he had in the past, but I knew he valued her as a person, and seeing her die was very traumatic,” Murray said. “I don’t think autopsies should be done on anyone. The idea of my mother’s body undergoing that was very distressing to me.”

Weeks later, Murray testified, the family took a trip to California before her father decamped to Hawaii with Vallow. Both children testified that they knew Daybell was with Vallow in Hawaii but did not learn the full extent of their relationship until Vallow’s February 2020 arrest.

Murray said she asked her father where Vallow’s two children were when she learned they were not in Hawaii with the couple. “From my understanding, I was told that the children were in a safe place,” she said.

During cross-examination, prosecutor Lindsey Blake asked Murray where the children were found. Taking a deep breath, she answered, “In the backyard. My dad’s property.”

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