REXBURG — Tammy Daybell died in her Salem home on a Saturday. Her viewing was held two days later in Utah, and by Tuesday afternoon, she was buried in the Springville Evergreen Cemetery.
On Wednesday, a memorial service was held at the Henry’s Fork Stake Center in Rexburg. Many in attendance were alarmed at how fast funeral arrangements had been made and executed – especially considering Tammy’s death was unexpected. She was healthy, working as the librarian at Central Elementary School in Sugar City and was actively involved at church.
One man who attended the service agreed to speak to EastIdahoNews.com if we did not use his name. He’s known the Daybells for years and is in their Latter-day Saint ward (congregation).
“It was really weird because the casket wasn’t even there. It all came together so quick and felt rushed. There weren’t a lot of people at the service,” he recalls.
The Daybell’s children participated in the service and Tammy’s husband, Chad, was among the speakers. The closing song was ‘Families Can Be Together Forever’ and a poem called ‘Your Mother is Always With You’ was printed in the program.
Nine days after Tammy’s death, Chad published an essay titled ‘Moving into the Second Half of My Life’ in the LDS-AVOW (Another Voice of Warning) Global Initiative Newsletter. The first section of his post was sent to EastIdahoNews.com.
“My dear wife Tammy passed away in her sleep early Saturday, October 19. When I awoke at around 6 a.m., it was clear she had been gone for several hours,” he wrote. “It came as a shock. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t been awakened somehow, but all indications are that her spirit simply slipped away during the night. Her face looked serene, with her eyes closed and a slight smile. It was devastating to discover her that way, but I’m so grateful that her death was peaceful.”
Chad praised his wife’s faith, “brilliant mind” and said she wore many hats with their publishing company. He then wrote that Tammy conveyed to him “several messages…and I’m in the process of implementing what she has told me to do. She has indicated that my life has two parts that were planned even before I came to earth.”
Five days after the post was emailed to AVOW subscribers, Chad married Lori Vallow on a Hawaii beach. Court documents show he received $430,000 in life insurance money after Tammy died. Multiple sources say the funds came from several policies and Chad made “significant” increases to at least one policy before Tammy passed away.
Chad and Tammy have five children, including a son who is serving an LDS mission. None of them have spoken publicly about the case involving their father and his new wife, who will arrive in Idaho from Hawaii Thursday. She is charged with desertion and nonsupport of children in connection to the disappearance of 17-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow. They have not been seen since September.
A few weeks after Tammy died, a close friend of the Daybell children tells EastIdahoNews.com she had a conversation with one of their sons. She asked that we not use her name but provided verification that the conversation occurred.
“We were talking about how his family is doing and he told me his dad remarried,” she says. “I thought it was a joke because he kind of laughed about it afterward. I laughed and he said, ‘No, I’m serious. My dad went to Hawaii on a business trip and met a widow and they just got married.'”
The friend wasn’t sure how to respond and sensed the Daybell children were not happy their father had remarried so quickly.
“I’ll never forget he said, ‘My dad’s not a bad guy – he’s just done some bad things,'” she says. “I remember calling my mom that night and telling her how weird it was that Chad’s wife hadn’t even been in the ground a month and he’s already married again.”
Chad and Lori stayed in Hawaii a few weeks after their wedding but returned to Rexburg mid-November. Police arrived at Lori’s townhouse Nov. 26 to perform a welfare check on JJ and officers were told he was with a friend in Arizona, court documents say.
“Chad acted as if he didn’t know Lori very well and stated he didn’t know her phone number,” an affidavit of probable cause states. A short time later, Chad tried to drive away but was stopped by a detective and admitted he did know his wife’s number.
Investigators returned the next day with a search warrant. On Dec. 1, Chad and Lori Daybell caught an American Airlines flight to Lihue, Hawaii without the children.
A few days before Christmas, the Rexburg Police Department went public with the case and members of the Daybell’s ward were stunned Chad was involved.
“It’s so different than how he has ever acted before,” one member says. “I think everyone was just caught off guard and couldn’t believe it. A lot of people think we were defending Chad in the beginning but it was more about loving and supporting our neighbors in a Christlike way.”
Lori’s and Chad’s parents and extended family members have made no public comments about the situation with the exception of Chad’s younger brother, Matt Daybell. He sent EastIdahoNews.com a statement in January.
“My immediate family has had little association with Chad the last many years due to our concerns with his religious claims and particular books he had chosen to publish, including his own,” Matt wrote. “We are deeply saddened at the recent events that have played out the last several months. It is our hope and prayer that JJ and Tylee are safe. We want for the truth to be found – whatever that truth turns out to be. Neither I, nor my wife and children have any more information than what has been reported by the news media. I plead again for Chad to come forward and cooperate with the investigation so that this very difficult situation might be resolved.”
Chad has not been arrested or charged with any crimes. He returned to eastern Idaho days ago and is staying with family members. Fremont County Sheriff Len Humphries tells EastIdahoNews.com investigators are still awaiting Tammy’s autopsy results and he hopes they come back soon.
As Lori goes before a judge Friday in Madison County, a new chapter in the case begins – a chapter many hope will bring answers.