Doomsday Author Chad Daybell Convicted of Triple Murder

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Rexburg Police Department
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Rexburg Police Department

After five years and an investigation that spurred a wild true-crime saga, Idaho Doomsday author Chad Daybell had been convicted of killing his first wife and his second wife’s two children.

Daybell, 55, was found guilty on Thursday of all charges against him, including first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, grand theft, and insurance fraud, in connection with the 2019 murders.

Jurors deliberated for just six hours and Daybell, who was dressed in a blue shirt and yellow tie, appeared emotionless as the verdict was read out. He now faces the death penalty.

Prosecutors alleged that Daybell and his paramour-turned-wife, Lori Vallow, were fueled by their apocalyptic religious beliefs to murder her two children, 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, in September 2019. A month later, the couple buried the children in Daybell’s backyard and killed Daybell’s first wife, Tammy, prosecutors said. Weeks later, they went to Hawaii to start their new life.

Vallow was sentenced to life in prison last year in connection with the case.

“Money, power, and sex. That’s what the defendant cared about,” Fremont County prosecutor Lindsey Blake told jurors during closing arguments.

Witness Undercuts Doomsday Dad Chad Daybell’s Story of Wife’s Death

Defense lawyers, however, insisted that there was no evidence to prove Daybell was directly tied to any of the murders—or even that Tammy Daybell didn’t die from natural cases. During closing arguments, they noted that several witnesses, including Daybell’s own children, spoke about his normal life and his love for Tammy before he met Vallow in 2018.

“[Lori] pursued him. She encouraged him,” defense attorney John Prior said during opening statements, adding that the pair eventually had an affair while they were both still married to other people.

Throughout the seven-week trial, however, witnesses testified that Daybell and Vallow had a shared religious belief and labeled people who stood in their way as “zombies” and “dark spirits.”

“If someone's dark and they're an earthly obstacle—the body has to die. Knowing that, Lori still brought her children to Idaho, closer to Chad Daybell,” Blake said, paraphrasing the pair’s beliefs. “Chad labeled her children dark. Their bodies were buried on his property, hidden from those looking for them. With them gone, he could be with Lori. Her time was completely free for him.”

Blake said that the couple were married in Hawaii on Nov. 5, 2019, but were immediately thrust into controversy after JJ’s grandmother reported her missing.

"They had money, power, sex, and no obstacles and, specifically, no earthly relatives, no encumbrances. However, they left a wake of destruction and tears for those that had trusted them," Blake said.

Vallow’s children were found in June 2020 buried on Daybell’s Idaho property. Witnesses described the harrowing details: JJ was found smothered with a plastic bag duct-taped over his head in Daybell’s pet cemetery, while Tylee was discovered in a fire pit. Tammy Daybell was asphyxiated in her Idaho home and her death was initially deemed due to natural causes, a medical examiner said.

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