Everything We Know About Chad Daybell Following His Arrest in Missing Idaho Kids Case
Chad Daybell wrote 25 books about the end of the world, near-death experiences and his work digging graves.
Chad Daybell has been arrested and charged with willfully destroying, concealing or altering evidence after two sets of human remains were found on his Rexburg, Idaho property amid the search for his wife's two missing children. The extended families of Joshua "JJ" Vallow and Tylee Ryan have confirmed the remains are those of the children. Autopsy results are still pending, according to police.
Chad is being held on $1 million bond at the Fremont County jail, and is due to appear in court on July 1 for a preliminary hearing. His wife and the children's mother, Lori Vallow Daybell, is also being held on $1 million bond on felony charges of deserting JJ and Tylee. Lori has pleaded not guilty, and the couple has previously denied all allegations of wrongdoing. Chad's attorney, John Prior, did not respond to Inside Edition Digital's request for comment.
Before making headlines around the world, Chad was an author and publisher whose work focused on the end of the world, near-death experiences and communicating with people "on the other side of the veil." People who once believed in Chad's ideas have since called them "dangerous."
Here's what we know about the man charged in connection to the case involving two missing children.
Chad Guy Daybell was born in Provo, Utah on August 11, 1968 to Sheila and Jack Daybell. Chad wrote that his middle name comes from his maternal grandfather, Guy Chesnut, who told him a story about meeting a "messenger from heaven" at a temple one day. The story seems to have stuck with Chad and sparked his belief that people on Earth could communicate with people "on the other side of the veil."
"I was a teenager when Grandpa first told me this experience, and it really had an impact on me. Up to that point, I figured only the prophet or apostles could receive visits from messengers. But I realized it could happen to common members of the Church under the right circumstances," Chad wrote on his website in 2015.
Receiving messages from heaven and acting on them soon became a part of Chad's life. He had two near-death experiences, one at 17 and the other in his early 20s, that he said showed him glimpses into the spirit world, as well as visions of what could happen here on Earth.
At 17, Chad wrote, "he had a near-death experience while cliff jumping. He crossed into another dimension and realized there was a world beyond this one." Then, in his early 20s, Chad wrote, he was hit by an enormous wave at the beach in California, and while his body was being tossed around, "his spirit was visiting with his grandfather, who showed him future events involving his still-unborn children."
Chad wrote of himself, "this accident caused his 'veil' that separates mortal life from the Spirit World to stay partially open, so he often feels as if he has a foot in both worlds." The two near-death experiences became the foundation of his book, Living on the Edge of Heaven, and Chad spoke at conferences and on podcasts about what he had seen and been told in the "spirit world."
That included visions of an apocalyptic United States before the second coming of Jesus Christ, which Chad wrote about in a series of books he called Times of Turmoil. The events depicted in the books include a massive earthquake in Salt Lake City, Utah and "a convoy of United Nations peacekeepers is making its way to Utah to assist in the full invasion of the United States by the Coalition forces, which will spark World War III."
Marriage and children
Chad met Tamara Douglas during the summer after her freshman year at Brigham Young University, and the two married in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Manti temple on March 9, 1990.
Tammy initially was the breadwinner, working as a secretary for the Springville, Utah parks department "while Chad continued his schooling," according to her obituary. Chad graduated with a BA in journalism from BYU in 1992.
Tammy and Chad had five children together: Garth, Emma, Seth, Leah and Mark. Chad alternated between working as a writer and publisher and digging graves and caring for cemetery grounds as a sexton.
Chad wrote about his experiences digging graves and seeing ghosts in a humorous book he first published in 2001 and republished in July 2019 called One Foot in the Grave: The Strange But True Adventures of a Cemetery Sexton. Some of those words seem chilling now after police said the children's remains were found buried in Chad's yard. "You may have heard that when a person is buried he is six feet under," Chad wrote. "That depth is more a myth than a fact. Actually, we dig the hole about five feet deep, which is sufficient."
A fictionalized version of his daughter, Emma, also appeared in many of his books. Tammy raised the couple's children and worked as a computer teacher at an elementary school.
The Daybells lived in Springville, but while they were vacationing at a rented cabin in Idaho in 2014, Chad wrote "the Spirit" told him to move there.
"On the way to the cabin, we stopped at a gas station in the town of St. Anthony, north of Rexburg. As I filled the van with gas, I looked south back over the valley. A voice simply said, 'You’ll live here soon,'" Chad wrote on his website. "After our vacation, I went to the Provo Temple to get a confirmation about the prompting. The Spirit assured me it was true, but I was still left in the dark concerning the timing."
In February 2015, Chad wrote that another voice came to him and told him, "Moving to Rexburg will be a tremendous blessing to your children and your grandchildren."
While Tammy wasn't thrilled with the idea of moving and uprooting the lives of their five children, Chad wrote, the family did resettle in Rexburg in 2015. The house where they lived, just north of town in Fremont County, is the same house where police said they discovered two sets of human remains amid their search for JJ and Tylee.
In addition to their five children, Tammy and Chad moved the publishing company they had started together to Rexburg as well. Since 2004, the couple had worked together at Spring Creek Book Company.
One of the first authors they published was Suzanne Freeman, who told EastIdahoNews.com she met Chad 16 years ago after a friend connected them to write about her near-death experience.
Chad wrote about meeting Freeman on his website, calling her "a humble housewife from a small Utah town [who] had actually died, met the Savior, and returned."
Together, they published three books, according to Chad's website.
Freeman said she was impressed and moved by Chad's love for Tammy, whom he described as his "soul mate."
"Tammy, she was a sweetheart, I think she was the heart of the business, she was just really good at it, really kind and really genuine. He would talk at least twice, and probably more, that she was his soul mate," Freeman said. "I was impressed by that, I thought, 'Wow, they have a really sweet relationship, really tender.' And I was impressed by him and by that, how humble he was and how he felt about his wife. That’s not very common."
"I was really honored to be Chad’s friend early on, because I love to see good men, there’s good men out there and I like associating with good people," she added.
Chad also published several books by Julie Rowe, who told InsideEdition.com she connected with Chad through LDS AVOW, an online end-times preparedness forum, in February 2014. Rowe said she had decided to write about the dreams and visions she had after a near-death experience in 2004, during which she spent two and a half days in a comatose state.
Rowe published her first book with Chad and Tammy in May 2014, and met the couple in person for the first time in July. They went on to publish more books together and Rowe said she became friends with Chad, Tammy and their children.
"We worked closely the first couple of years, talked on the phone almost every day, every other day, every couple of days, related to the books and the work we were doing," Rowe said of Chad. "We would compare notes on our visions and things that we saw coming in the future. I became good friends with he and his wife and his kids."
Gradually, Rowe said, she and Chad both became busy with separate projects and were in touch less. Rowe started a podcast, began doing energy work with clients and launched a nonprofit focused on helping people after natural disasters called the Greater Tomorrow Relief Fund.
Rowe said when she spoke to Chad, he told her he was busy speaking at conferences organized by Preparing A People, a media company with a mission to help "prepare the people of this Earth for the second coming of Jesus Christ."
Rowe, who believes in the existence of past lives, said Chad also told her about an out-of-body experience he had at his Rexburg home.
"His spirit came out of his body, his kids were there, his wife was there to witness it, and he was completely outside of his body in his house for a few minutes and then he got back in," Rowe said. "And after that experience, I started to notice some changes in him. He started talking to me about past lives."
Meeting Lori Vallow
Chad also began discussing past lives with other people he met. While speaking at a conference in St. George, Utah, Chad met a married mother of three from Arizona, Lori Vallow. Lori's friend, Melanie Gibb, told EastIdahoNews.com that during that first meeting, Chad informed Lori they had been married to each other in past lives. In this life, Chad and Lori quickly became close, Gibb said.
"[Lori] had one special phone that her and Chad would communicate with, and he had a special phone outside of his cell phone number, so it was just for their personal communication," Gibb recalled.
Gibb said Chad also told her he had made a "portal" in Lori's closet so the two could "interact spiritually."
"A portal is something that he created for her, I don't know exactly how he did it," Gibb said. "It's just a spot where he maybe said a prayer, or however the words he uses to create this portal."
A document written by Lori's niece's husband, Ian Pawlowski, also describes Lori's alleged belief in the existence of "zombies," "teleportation" and people who have been "possessed by a demon."
Gibb said Chad and Lori spent a lot of time talking about their spiritual beliefs, which Gibb said she once shared. Those beliefs included that Chad and Lori had a special role to play in the end of the world, she said.
"They did believe they were the head of the 144,000," Gibb said, referring to a Bible passage from the book of Revelations about a group of people chosen by God. "They believed that that was what their assignment was."
"I often see [Chad] as the hand and [Lori] as the puppet on the hand," Gibb added. "They’re two people who have a lot of passion for a lot of things and they think a lot alike, as far as spiritual ideas go."
Chad, Lori and Gibb appeared together on episodes of a now-deleted podcast called "Time to Warrior Up," which were distributed by Preparing A People. Chad also wrote the foreword to Gibb's book, Feel the Fire.
Preparing a People's owners, Michael and Nancy James, have since distanced themselves from Chad and Lori, writing in December they were "shocked" and "deeply disturbed" to learn of the investigation into the children's whereabouts. The website for the company has since been taken down.
Both Lori and Chad believed their spouses, Charles and Tammy, would die in car accidents, allowing them to be together, Gibb said. While neither Charles nor Tammy died in a car accident, both passed away within months of each other.
Lori's fourth husband, Charles, was shot and killed by Lori's brother, Alex, while he was picking up JJ on July 11. Alex claimed he fired in self-defense and wasn't charged in the incident. Charles' death remains under investigation.
After Charles' death, Lori moved to Rexburg to be closer to Chad with JJ and Tylee in September. Rowe, who said she had fallen out with Chad after warning him about Lori and over publishing issues, said she received a call that fall from him that disturbed her.
"Three weeks before Tammy dies, he said to me, and he was in this frustrated voice, 'My plan can't move forward until Tammy's dead,' or 'until Tammy dies,'" Rowe said, explaining she believes Chad was referring to his "life plan," or the plan that God had for him.
"I felt darkness in it, I felt his frustration and his anger, and it was a big caution for me. It was enough of one that I talked to my husband about it, and I was very concerned," she added.
Tammy, 49, was found dead in the couple's Rexburg home on Oct. 19. While Tammy's death was ruled to be from natural causes, her body was exhumed and the results of an autopsy are still pending, according to authorities. Tammy's death remains under investigation.
Weeks later, on Nov. 5, Chad and Lori wed on the beach in Hawaii. Freeman, the author who worked with Chad, said she was shocked.
"What I first heard was that Chad went to Hawaii and found a widow there and got married, and I thought, God, Chad really loved his wife, why would he marry that soon? That just doesn’t make any sense. She’s not even cold in the grave, why would he remarry that fast?" Freeman said.
Lori and Chad are now under investigation by the Idaho Attorney General's office for "conspiracy, attempted murder and/or murder" in Tammy's death. Neither Chad nor Lori have been charged with any crime in connection to Tammy's death and both deny all allegations of wrongdoing.
Search for the children
Chad and Lori were living in Kauai when Lori was arrested on Feb. 20 and charged with with two counts of felony desertion of a child in the disappearance of JJ and Tylee, as well as misdemeanor charges of resisting and obstructing an officer, solicitation of a crime and contempt.
Police have said there is no evidence JJ or Tylee were ever in Hawaii with Chad and Lori. The couple had also told Chad's parents, Sheila and Jack Daybell, that Lori was "an empty nester," according to the affidavit of probable cause filed in the mother of three's case.
Lori was extradited to Idaho to face charges, and Chad traveled back to Rexburg on his own. He was living at the home he had shared with Tammy and his children when he was arrested Tuesday after human remains were found there, police said.
Chad's parents, as well as his brother, Paul Daybell, and members of their extended family offered their condolences to JJ and Tylee's families after the discovery of the remains.
"We have hoped and prayed over the many months for the safety and well-being of JJ and Tylee and we are devastated by their passing," the Daybell family wrote in a statement to EastIdahoNews.com. "We are heart-broken that these beautiful children’s lives were ended tragically and prematurely and for the emptiness and pain it leaves in the lives of their loved ones.
"We also continue to mourn for Tammy, who has been a daughter and sister to us and part of our family for nearly 30 years," the statement continued. "She was the sweetest and kindest person and a wonderful mother to her children."
Chad's brother and sister-in-law, Matt and Heather Daybell, issued their own statement offering condolences and acknowledging, "Some in our extended family are still struggling to accept the reality that Chad could have been involved in something so terribly wrong."
Tammy's parents, siblings and extended family spoke of the need for justice.
"As the family of our beloved Tammy, we want to extend our deepest and heartfelt love and sympathy to the families of Tylee and JJ. We share the pain of the tremendous and shocking loss you are enduring. We still suffer and we will suffer with you for many years to come. Please know we will continue our prayers to strengthen your families, as you are finally able to properly lay to rest your precious Tylee and JJ," the Douglas family wrote in a statement to EastIdahoNews.com. "As matters move through the judicial process, we pray that each of our families can be strengthened and trust that justice will be swiftly served."
Those who knew Chad and Lori are left wondering how their lives took this turn. Gibb said she believes the couple let their desire to be together trump everything else.
"Sometimes, when we really want something, that’s how we fall," Gibb said. "Sometimes the answer is no, wait, but boy did [Lori] not have patience. That’s one thing she did not have was patience. And it led to a fatal attraction, unfortunately."
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