The court heard a three-minute phone call Tuesday that Lori Vallow Daybell placed to her husband Chad from jail on the June day investigators searched his property and found her children's remains. The call was entered into evidence during the second day of Chad's preliminary hearing on felony charges of willfully destroying, concealing or altering evidence.
"I love you so much," Chad tells Lori in the June 9, 2020 call. When Lori asks if she should try to call Chad back later, he tells her, "I don't know, you can try. I'll answer if I can." Chad was arrested later that day after investigators unearthed the remains of Lori's children, Tylee Ryan, 16, and Joshua "JJ" Vallow, 7, who had been missing since September.
Former friends of the couple, Melanie Gibb and David Warwick, as well as law enforcement officers were among the witnesses who took the stand Tuesday as part of prosecutor Rob Wood's case against Chad, who is also facing two counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence. Chad has pleaded not guilty and denies all allegations of wrongdoing. His attorney, John Prior, has not responded to Inside Edition Digital's requests for comment.
The audio of the June 9 call between Lori and Chad was hard to make out at times, and Magistrate Judge Faren Eddins told the court he would be listening to it again privately as he weighs whether there is sufficient evidence to advance Chad's case to district court. But parts of the call were audible as they were played for the court and broadcast over Zoom.
"Are you okay?" Lori begins by asking Chad.
"Well, they're searching the property," Chad tells her.
"The house again?" Lori asks.
"Yeah, yeah [inaudible]. So, Mark Means [Lori's attorney] will be talking to you," Chad tells her.
"Okay. Are they in the house?" Lori asks.
"No, they're on the property," Chad replies.
"Are they seizing stuff again?" Lori asks.
"They're searching," Chad says, followed by several words that are inaudible and then what sounds like "for the kids."
After an exchange that is difficult to make out, Lori asks Chad, "What can I do for you?"
Chad seems to say to her, "I'm feeling pretty calm. I told Mark I'm relieved."
The other part of Tuesday's testimony included statements from FBI Special Agent Steven Daniels on how investigators searched Chad's property that day for Tylee and JJ's remains. Daniels testified that the remains of Tylee were "dismembered" and some of them had been burned in a fire pit on the property and then buried in a pet cemetery.
Daniels testified that the "clandestine grave" in which investigators found the remains of JJ was covered with stones and pieces of wood, which was important to investigators because it showed "the effort of how this was done." JJ's body was wrapped in a trash bags and covered with duct tape, Daniels told the court.
JJ's grandfather, Larry Woodcock, held his head in his hands as Daniels described finding JJ. Larry and his wife, Kay Vallow Woodcock, have attended both days of the preliminary hearing against Chad, who has not shown emotion as he listens to witness testimony.
Prosecutor Wood must convince the judge that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that there is probable or sufficient cause to believe Chad has committed the crime in order for the case to proceed under Idaho law. If Eddins determines there is sufficient evidence to move forward, Chad's case will be "bound over" to a district court and assigned a new judge. If Eddins determines there isn't sufficient evidence, he can dismiss the charges and Chad is free to go.
Lori is set to appear for her preliminary hearing before Eddins on Monday on felony charges of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence in Fremont County. Wood is also the prosecutor assigned to her case.
In addition, Lori faces misdemeanor charges of resisting and obstructing an officer, solicitation of a crime and contempt in nearby Madison County. She has pleaded not guilty and denies all allegations of wrongdoing.
Separately, Lori and Chad are currently under investigation by the Idaho Attorney General's office for "conspiracy, attempted murder and/or murder" in the death of Chad's first wife, Tammy, who died weeks before the couple married.
The Rexburg Police Department asks anyone with information regarding the case to contact them at 1-208-359-3000.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.