Jurors Hear Chad Daybell’s Chilling 911 Call for Ex-Spouse

A month after Lori Vallow’s children were allegedly murdered, her lover Chad Daybell called 911 to report his wife had suddenly died.

Daily Beast/April 29, 2023

By Pilar Melendez

A month after prosecutors say Doomsday author Chad Daybell colluded with his paramour to kill her two children, he called 911 about another death—this one a little closer to home.

“I’m Chad the husband. She’s clearly dead,” Daybell is heard saying in an October 19, 2019, call to a Fremont County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher, according to EastIdahoNews. “She’s frozen.”

The startling 911 call, played in Ada County Court on Friday, began when one of Daybell’s sons called in a panic after he found his mother, Tammy Daybell, “stiff.” Daybell, a former gravedigger-turned-popular apocalyptic novelist for the Mormon audience, suddenly took the phone to declare his wife of nearly 30 years was deceased. He began to cry as he gave dispatchers his Idaho address.

When Officer Alyssa Greenhalgh arrived at the home, Daybell was “distraught” and crying as he led deputies to his bedroom—where he said he had moved Tammy on the bed. Greenhalgh said Daybell then told her that his wife had woken up coughing the night before and she eventually fell off the bed. The officer told jurors that Daybell also made a point to stress that Tammy hated to see doctors.

Just two weeks later, after Tammy was pronounced dead of natural causes and laid to rest in a quick funeral, Daybell jetted to Hawaii to marry his lover and devotee, Lori Vallow.

Prosecutors allege that Tammy’s death, which has now been deemed a homicide after an autopsy later concluded she had been fatally strangled, was one of three murders the religiously fanatical couple committed in 2019. Authorities say that in September 2019, Vallow’s children, 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, were murdered and buried in Daybell’s backyard. A month later, the couple allegedly murdered Tammy for an insurance and Social Security payout before they fled to get married.

Vallow, who is standing trial first, has pleaded not guilty. She faces a maximum sentence of life in prison, while Daybell faces the death penalty in his trial later this year.

So far, Vallow’s trial has focused on the grisly deaths of her two children. Experts say one was fatally strangled with a duct-taped plastic bag while the other was dismembered and burned after her death. But on Friday, prosecutors pivoted their case to the third victim Vallow is accused of conspiring to murder: Tammy Daybell.

Prosecutors say that Vallow and Chad Daybell met in 2018 at a religious conference and began a months-long affair centered around their extremist beliefs. Jurors previously heard testimony about how Vallow’s former husband, Charles, found out about their affair and had emailed Tammy to inform her.

Charles was fatally shot in July 2019 by Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox. A few months later, Cox died of a blood clot. (Vallow faces separate charges in connection with Charles Vallow’s death.)

Tammy’s sister, Samantha Gwilliam, took the stand on Thursday and Friday to discuss Chad and Lori’s relationship leading up to Tammy’s slaying. She began to cry as she explained Daybell’s “weird” behavior and noted that her sister seemed “very awkward” in the summer of 2019.

“Something seemed off, they were very awkward at our house and Chad wouldn’t converse with my husband like they normally did,” Gwilliam told jurors on. “It seemed really strange and we didn’t know what was going on.”

Two weeks before Tammy was murdered, Gwilliam said, she spoke with her sister who seemed “very healthy.” But just days before she died, Tammy called her sister to let her know that she’d just evaded injury. On Oct. 9, 2019, police say Tammy called 911 to report that someone shot her with a paintball gun.

In a 911 call played in court on Friday, Tammy said that a man in a ski mask shot at her twice as she was unloading groceries from her car.

“I pulled up into our driveway and I was getting stuff out of the backseat of my car. He had a paintball gun like he was going to shoot at me,” Tammy is heard saying in the call, according to EastIdahoNews. “I kept asking what he was doing and I yelled for my husband. He took off behind my house.”

“The man in the driveway didn’t say anything. He was holding the gun like he had a rifle and was shooting at me but nothing came out of the gun so I don’t think it was loaded,” she added.

Just days later, Tammy’s son called dispatchers for help after he found his mom “on the ground frozen.”

“Or she’s stiff. I don’t know,” he added before Chad Daybell took the phone.

After Tammy’s death, Gwilliam said, Daybell wanted to have a quick funeral that some family members could not even attend. Fremont County Advanced EMT Cammy Willmore testified that Daybell did not want an autopsy, despite concerns about foam coming out of Tammy’s mouth at the time of her death.

About a month later, Gwilliam said, she learned that Daybell had remarried Vallow in Hawaii.

“You don’t get married four weeks after you just buried your wife of almost 30 years. You just don’t do that,” Gwilliam said. She added that she was “devastated” by the news and even confronted Daybell about the decision when she realized Vallow had children after finding Charles Vallow’s obituary online.

Gwilliam said Daybell told her that Vallow had a hard life but denied he was going to be raising her children. She said Daybell responded: “There’s no children and they were going to be empty nesters.”

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