Chad Daybell Hearing: Former Friend Melanie Gibb Shares Explosive Secret Recording of Phone Call With Couple
Chad and Lori Daybell's former friend, Melanie Gibb, secretly recorded a call with the couple months after Lori's kids went missing, which was played in court Monday.
The second day of Chad Daybell's preliminary hearing began with more testimony from Melanie Gibb, who shared an explosive secret recording of a phone call in which Lori Vallow Daybell told her, "I did exactly what I felt the Lord was instructing me to do" months after police say her children were killed and buried in Chad's backyard.
Tuesday's hearing began with Chad's attorney, John Prior, cross-examining Gibb. Gibb, who said she once considered Chad and Lori close friends and shared their end-times religious beliefs, testified Monday that she had secretly recorded a Dec. 8, 2019 phone call with the couple and shared it with investigators. On Monday, the court heard that call.
"Hello, sweet Melanie," Chad can be heard saying as he answers the phone.
When Gibb asks the couple where they are, Chad replies, "We're just hanging out."
In the call, Lori tells Gibb her son, Joshua "JJ" Vallow, is "safe and happy" but that she cannot tell anyone where he is because various people are after her. Investigators believe JJ and his sister, Tylee Ryan, 16, had been dead for months by that point, buried on Chad's property by Lori's brother, Alex Cox, shortly after they were last seen in September.
In the Dec. 8 recording, Lori says "most of my family are working against me" and Chad tells Gibb they can't tell her where JJ is to "keep you protected."
Gibb then asks Lori about a comment Cox had made to her when she asked him about JJ.
"I asked Al at one point– your brother– if I wanted to know, like, where [JJ] was, and he said I did not want to know and that he could not be found. So what does that mean?" Gibb asks Lori in the call.
"I don't know why he would say that, but it's the same story," Lori replies.
Investigators say Gibb stayed at Lori's house during a crucial period during which JJ was last seen in September. On Monday, Gibb testified that Cox was taking care of JJ on the night of Sept. 22 while Gibb, Lori and Gibb's boyfriend recorded an episode of their podcast, "Time to Warrior Up," between 9 p.m. and after midnight.
"[Alex] carried [JJ] and he was asleep," Gibb testified of the last time she saw JJ. The next morning when she woke up and went downstairs to speak with Lori, she did not see the boy.
Earlier in the day, Detective Ray Hermosillo of the Rexburg Police Department testified JJ's body had been found wearing red pajamas and wrapped in a white and blue blanket as well as layers and layers of duct tape. Police believe Cox buried JJ on Chad's that day, Sept. 23.
Gibb testified Lori had previously told her she planned to send JJ to stay with his grandmother, Kay Vallow Woodcock.
"[Lori] was expressing that she wanted JJ to go live with Kay," Gibb testified. "She said that she expressed to Kay that she was sick or something was wrong with her so that she could live with him."
Shortly after she returned home after visiting Lori, Gibb testified, Lori told her that Kay had taken JJ.
"[Lori] told me that they met up in an airport and she told Kay she had breast cancer and that she would need help with JJ for a period of time and she said it went well," Gibb said.
But none of that happened, because Kay and her husband, Larry Woodcock, hadn't spoken to JJ in months. They asked police in Idaho to perform a welfare check on their grandson. But when officers from the Rexburg Police Department arrived at Lori's rented apartment on Nov. 26, they did not find JJ. Lori lied and said JJ was staying with Gibb, according to police, and then asked Gibb to lie and tell investigators she had taken JJ to see "Frozen 2."
Gibb recounted how Lori had also asked her to take a photo of random children playing and tell police it was JJ.
During Gibb's testimony and the playing of the recording, Kay and Larry Woodcock shook their heads, visibly disturbed and frustrated. In the recording, Lori continuously describes Kay as "dark" and complains about the fact that Lori's late husband, Charles Vallow, had changed the beneficiary on his life insurance policy from her to Kay.
In the recording, Lori and Chad both tell Gibb they believe God is on their side.
"I promise you I have done nothing wrong in this case, but sometimes you have to hide in a cavity of a rock for your own life's safety, and that's what the Lord requires of you sometimes, and that's how it is," Lori says. "And I'm sorry that's how it is, because there is a lot of darkness on the Earth. They're after me for zero reason."
Chad then tells Melanie he knows there are "conspiracy theories" about his first wife's death. Tammy Daybell, 49, died at home in October weeks before Chad and Lori married. Separately, Lori and Chad are currently under investigation by the Idaho Attorney General's office for "conspiracy, attempted murder and/or murder" in Tammy's death.
Prosecutor Rob Wood is taking two days to lay out his case against Chad, who faces felony charges of willfully destroying, concealing or altering evidence related to the children's remains and 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 has not responded to Inside Edition Digital's requests for comment.
Gibb was among five witnesses who testified Monday. Three members of the Rexburg Police Department shared details about their investigation into the children's disappearance and deaths, and Wynn Hill, the dean of students at Brigham Young University-Idaho, testified that Tylee had never been enrolled as a student there.
Under Idaho law, a prosecutor must convince a judge during a preliminary hearing that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that there is probable or sufficient cause to believe the defendant has committed the crime in order for the case to proceed. That means if Magistrate Judge Faren Eddins determines there is sufficient evidence to move forward, Chad's case will be "bound over" to a district court. If Eddins determines there isn't sufficient evidence, he can dismiss the charges.
Lori is due to appear in court before Eddins next week. She has been charged with two felony counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence in Fremont County. She is also facing misdemeanor charges of resisting and obstructing an officer, solicitation of a crime and contempt in Madison County. She has pleaded not guilty and denies all allegations of wrongdoing.
The Rexburg Police Department asks anyone with information regarding the case to contact the department at 1-208-359-3000.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
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