Doomsday author Chad Daybell will appear in court Wednesday to face a charge of destroying or hiding evidence after authorities investigating the disappearance of his stepchildren found human remains at his Idaho home.
The macabre discovery is the latest development in a bizarre missing-persons case that has taken shocking turn after turn over the last six months.
“Throughout the investigation, detectives and investigators have recovered what is to believed to be humans remains that have not been identified at this time,” Rexburg Assistant Police Chief Gary Hagen said during a Tuesday news conference.
Authorities said the search warrants executed at around 7 a.m. on Tuesday are related to the disappearance of J.J. Vallow and Tylee Ryan, the children of Daybell’s second wife, Lori Vallow, who is in jail on child desertion and other charges.
The warrants are sealed so it’s not clear what evidence police had developed that caused them to bring backhoes and a K-9 unit to Daybell’s property. Aerial photos showed authorities dug up a patch of land and erected a tent, suggesting they had specific information about where the remains might be found.
According to East Idaho News, Daybell was pulled over a mile from his home at around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, handcuffed, and driven away. Police initially said he was taken in for questioning, but he was later booked into the Fremont County Jail on a charge of destruction or concealment of evidence. More details are expected to be released at his hearing on Wednesday.
J.J.’s grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, were hit hard by the news. “This is obviously a very difficult time for our family, and we ask that you respect our privacy as we wait further news with heavy hearts,” they said in a statement.
J.J., 7, and Tylee, 17, have not been seen since September and police have said they believed their lives were in danger. Their mother has refused to cooperate with the investigation and is now being held on $1 million bail for contempt of court and other alleged crimes.
Daybell and Vallow have been under a cloud of suspicion since police were asked to check on the kids, went to their home, and were given a bogus story about their whereabouts. When cops returned a day later to investigate further, the adults were nowhere to be found.
In a recent interview with EastIdahoNews.com, a friend of the couple revealed that she was asked to lie to police and say the kids were with her. She said she refused and later pressed Daybell and Vallow about the children.
“I think the first question I said is, ‘Why haven’t you told us where the kids are?’” Melanie Gibb said. “[Lori responded], ‘Well, for your safety, we cannot tell you.’ That was just alarming to me. What safety? Why am I in danger? I didn’t feel like I was in danger.”
In the ensuing weeks, the investigation uncovered layer after layer of disturbing intrigue—from the couple’s apocalyptic religious beliefs, to the recent deaths of their former spouses, to a string of other menacing events.
Meanwhile, Daybell and Vallow had skipped to Hawaii, where police arrested her on a warrant out of Idaho, where she was soon extradited.
The disappearance of the children sparked investigations into several other incidents:
—The Oct. 19 death of Chad’s first wife, Tammy. He said she went to bed with a cough and never woke up, and she was buried without an autopsy. He and Vallow got married in Hawaii weeks later, with no sign of the children. Authorities have since exhumed Tammy’s body to conduct an autopsy.
—The July 11 death of Vallow’s previous husband, Charles. He was shot to death by her brother, Alex Cox, in what was initially described as a case of self-defense. Cox has since died of natural causes, and police are taking a second look at the shooting. Charles Vallow had reported that Lori had become obsessed with doomsday visions and had threatened his life.
— An Oct. 2 drive-by shooting at the Arizona home of Brandon Boudreaux, who was in the process of getting a divorce from Lori’s niece, Melani Boudreaux. While Boudreaux never saw the shooter, the vehicle used was registered to Charles Vallow, who had been dead for months.