Retired FBI agent applauds investigators for ‘putting together the pieces’ in Daybell case
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IDAHO FALLS — A retired FBI agent says prosecutors and investigators have done a good job “putting together the puzzle pieces” that led to murder charges against Chad and Lori Daybell.
Frank Montoya worked for the FBI over 25 years and served in a variety of high-profile positions, including the head of national counterintelligence and as the special agent in charge of the Honolulu and Seattle divisions. Montoya oversaw counterintelligence squads and led several national security investigations but says he has never seen a case like the Daybells.
“The indictments really illustrate how this complex case, with all these twists and turns, just how intensive, time-consuming and difficult it can be to put everything together,” Montoya tells EastIdahoNews.com. “It was a painstaking, lengthy process but they needed to put together all the pieces.”
Montoya was not surprised to learn a grand jury found enough evidence to indict the Daybells for murder, conspiracy to commit murder and other crimes. From the beginning, many have assumed the couple was connected to the death of Lori’s children, Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan, along with Chad’s wife, Tammy Daybell.
“One of the very big challenges of these cases is you pretty much know who did it but you have to prove who did it. That’s not as easy as it might seem and this is not a 60 minute crime show,” Montoya says.
The indictments lay out some details about the alleged crimes, such as allegations that Lori and Chad sent text messages to each other “regarding death percentages for Tammy and JJ” three months before Tammy died. Investigators also found texts between the couple about Tammy being “possessed by a spirit named Viola.”
But a lot of information, including how Tammy and the children died, was not contained in the court documents.
“You don’t want to reveal all of your trial strategy in your indictment because that provides the defense with many more opportunities to craft its own defense,” Montoya says. “It’s very prudent the prosecution lays out a sufficiently detailed indictment while not exposing everything because they still have a prosecution to look forward to.”
Prosecutors Rob Wood and Lindsey Blake address Chad and Lori’s religious beliefs in the indictments by saying they were used “for the purpose of encouraging and/or justifying” the alleged homicides. As the case progresses, Montoya believes that could play a major part and we could learn “if they are super committed or is it just a cover for sex, greed and a lust of money?”
At a minimum, it will be months before a trial is held on the new charges. Between now and then, Chad or Lori could enter a plea agreement and share what they know with investigators.
Montoya says those involved in this case from the very beginning should be applauded for their work.
“The point of justice being served for these victims – JJ, Tylee and Tammy – absolutely depended on the cooperation and efforts of all of these agencies working together,” Montoya says. “That’s what you saw yesterday was a culmination of all these efforts.”
Watch our entire interview with Montoya in the video player above.