Idaho author Chad Daybell, who wrote a series of doomsday books for Mormon readers, confided in a friend that he had visions his first wife would die. “Angels had told him that he was going to lose Tammy,” Julie Rowe told a local TV station this week.
Tammy did end up dead—and now Daybell is at the center of a tangled mystery that includes the exhumation of her body, an investigation into two missing children, and questions about the deaths of his second wife’s husband and brother.
Daybell and wife Lori Vallow have not been seen since October. They reportedly left their Rexberg home before police showed up with a search warrant amid concern that two of Vallow’s children, a 17-year-old girl and an adopted 7-year-old with special needs, were missing.
In a Dec. 20 statement, police said the missing children, Tylee Ryan and Joshua Vallow, may be tied to a suspicious death investigation. They say neither was reported as missing to authorities but that their whereabouts are unknown.
Lori Vallow married Daybell just weeks after his first wife Tammy Daybell died in the family’s home at the age of 49. After Daybell refused to order an autopsy on his wife, which is his right, the coroner listed her cause of death as “natural.” Vallow’s own husband Charles Vallow was fatally shot by Lori Vallow’s brother Alexander Cox during a domestic disturbance in July that is now also under investigation. Cox died on Dec. 12 of unknown causes.
Vallow and Daybell were members of an organization called Preparing a People that says its goal is to “help prepare the people of this earth for the second coming of Jesus Christ.” Vallow’s extended family members told East Idaho News that they felt the group was a cult. “I don’t want to attack anyone’s beliefs,” Brandon Boudreaux, a relative of Vallow’s said. “But when you look at the fruit that’s come from this group and its beliefs … it certainly, from my mind, doesn’t come from God.”
Preparing a People founders Michael and Nancy James deny the group is a cult or represents a specific religion. They have removed references to the couple, both contributors, from their website.
“We considered Chad Daybell a good friend, but have since learned of things we had no idea about,” they wrote. “We recently learned of Chad's new marriage to Lori Vallow a couple weeks after Tammy Daybell died... We did not know Lori as well as we thought we knew Chad.”
Rowe was also a Preparing a People member—and a close friend of Daybell’s since he published her book on a near-death experience at the publishing house he founded with his first wife. She said Daybell told her he wanted to get out of the publishing business but that Tammy did not.
“He said I’m ready to get out and Tammy doesn’t want to get out,” Daybell told Rowe, according to local media reports. “When she passes, I’m done, I can’t keep doing this.”
Rowe, who said she is using her own visions to try to send messages to Daybell, insists the missing children are safe. “I do know the kids are safe. I can see them,” she said. “I can see their energy and that they’re in a bright house.”
Police aren’t so sure.
On Dec. 11, Rexberg police exhumed Tammy’s remains to conduct a proper autopsy. Those results have not been released, but Daybell and Vallow denied any wrongdoing through attorney Sean Bartholick—who says he does not know where the couple or Vallow’s children are, says they deny any accusations.
“Chad Daybell was a loving husband and has the support of his children in this matter,” Bartholick told the East Idaho News. “We look forward to addressing the allegations once they have moved beyond speculation and rumor.”