ST. ANTHONY — Kay Woodcock was not expecting to become so emotional during Chad Daybell’s arraignment Wednesday morning.
Woodcock traveled from Louisiana to St. Anthony on the one-year anniversary of her grandson, Joshua “JJ” Vallow, being found buried in Daybell’s backyard with his sister, Tylee Ryan.
The grieving grandmother sat on the first row of the courtroom next to Colby Ryan, JJ and Tylee’s older brother. When Daybell pleaded not guilty to eight felony charges, including murder and conspiracy to commit murder, Woodcock started to cry and grabbed Ryan’s hand.
“I didn’t expect it. As with all this, it comes over in a wave of emotion and it just makes it more real,” she said after the hearing. “It just seemed surreal for a long time and as you accept it more and more, things just get to be more real.”
Daybell and his wife, Lori Vallow Daybell, were indicted by a grand jury on May 24. They are also charged in connection to the death of Chad Daybell’s first wife, Tammy Daybell. Three of Chad and Tammy’s children sat behind their father during the arraignment and quickly left the courthouse following the hearing.
Several police officers, detectives and other investigators were in the courtroom along with a few members of the community. Daybell wore a white shirt and tie and repeatedly said, “Not guilty” as Judge Steven Boyce read him the charges.
“It’s hard. It’s really hard,” Ryan said afterward. “Seeing him, knowing he did it and knowing everything about the truth – this whole process is really hard. We’ve all had to go through it but he’s going to say what he’s going to say. He’s going to lie about it. From the beginning, they have lied. There’s nothing you can do about it.”
Ryan says he has spent the past year focusing on the positive and trying to remember happy times with his siblings – the normal days, swimming in the summer, hanging out together and laughing.
“I was just thinking about all the good times we’ve had. That’s all we can hold on to and remember. You don’t want to have all your memories be bad and you don’t want all your memories to be about them being gone,” he explains.
A hearing will be held on June 23 to set a trial date for Daybell. Lori Vallow Daybell has been declared incompetent and her proceedings are on hold until she is deemed fit for trial.
Woodcock is pleased proceedings are finally moving forward in Chad Daybell’s case and plans to be there every step of the way.
“I’m glad we’re moving on to the next step. Hard to believe it’s one year to the day where we found out they were for sure dead and (the police) unearthed them in (Daybell’s) backyard,” Woodcock says. “I think he should just give it up. How do you have two kids in your backyard and you don’t know anything about it. He’s a liar. He’s a liar.”