The question 'Dateline NBC' correspondent Keith Morrison hopes will be answered during Chad Daybell's trial - East Idaho News
Daybell Case

The question ‘Dateline NBC’ correspondent Keith Morrison hopes will be answered during Chad Daybell’s trial

  Published at

BOISE — Ever since the Daybell case broke over four years ago, Keith Morrison has had one question: was Chad Daybell leading Lori Vallow along or was it the other way around?

The “Dateline NBC” correspondent hopes he will learn the answer as Chad Daybell’s trial begins this month in Ada County.

“The real puzzle for me has always been who was driving the bus. Was it Chad and his way out there ideas he published and she decided was the most wonderful thing she’d ever heard as he told her she was a goddess so she bought into it and went along with what she wanted? Or was she manipulating him? I don’t know,” Morrison tells EastIdahoNews.com.

The veteran journalist has been following the case closely since December 2019 and says few other stories he’s covered in his career “could ever loom larger” in his memory than this one.

“There are a few that come close, but this is a pretty extraordinary tale,” he explains.

chad lori hawaii
Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell are confronted by EastIdahoNews.com reporter Nate Eaton in Hawaii in January 2020. | EastIdahoNews.com file photo

Chad Daybell is charged with multiple crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty. Lori Vallow Daybell was found guilty of similar charges last year and is serving three life sentences without the possibility of parole. The charges are in relation to the deaths of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan — two of Lori’s kids — and Chad’s first wife, Tammy Daybell.

“Dateline” has produced multiple programs and the ‘Mommy Doomsday’ podcast over the years as the Daybell case has unfolded. Morrison was in Hawaii before Chad and Lori were arrested and has witnessed the shocking twists and turns including the discovery of JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan buried on Daybell’s property and the fact Tammy Daybell died of asphyxiation.

“Chad had just been so circumspect the whole time. I doubt very much that he will testify. Why would he? I’m sure he won’t but boy, would I love to see that,” Morrison says. “He laid out so much of his odd philosophy in the things he wrote about and the physical evidence in this case is so overpowering and so disturbing that I’m going to be very interested in what his defense could possibly be.”

Morrison is convinced Chad and Lori are “true believers” in the theology they espouse and is fascinated by the dynamic in the couple’s relationship.

READ: The ‘romance novel’ Chad Daybell wrote to Lori Vallow Daybell

“As we looked into her background, you could see she would habitually develop incredible enthusiasm for a new person in her life. The early parts of those relationships were intense and then later they would all fall apart in rancor,” Morrison explains. “Chad had been laconic for a long time with his wife that to have that sudden intensity inserted into his life had to have changed him. I can see him feeling like he was carried along helplessly on the power of her magnetism and the fact she seemed to be in love with him. He became putty in her hands. That’s what makes you wonder – who really was behind this?”

Watch our entire interview with Keith Morrison in the video player above.

SUBMIT A CORRECTION