Alleged ‘doomsday’ cult leader Chad Daybell to go on trial for murder of two children

US

An alleged leader of a “doomsday” cult is to go on trial today charged with murdering his wife’s two children in a killing that transfixed America.

Sci-fi author Chad Daybell is rumoured to have gathered followers through his Mormon-inspired books about the apocalypse – including his wife Lori Vallow.

He is accused of murdering two of Vallow’s children – Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, and his sister Tylee Ryan, 16 – as well as his ex-wife Tammy.

The killings of the children sparked a months-long search and gripped news audiences across the US. If convicted in the trial, which is expected to start on Monday, Daybell could face the death penalty.

It comes almost a year after Vallow – the children’s mother – was jailed for life for the murders of the two children and conspiring to kill Daybell’s ex-wife.

Lori Vallow Daybell poses for a booking photograph after being found guilty of killing her two children and conspiring in the murder of her husband’s first wife, at Madison County Jail in Rexsburg, Idaho May 12, 2023. Madison County Sheriff's Office/Handout via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. THIS PICTURE WAS PROCESSED BY REUTERS TO ENHANCE QUALITY. AN UNPROCESSED VERSION HAS BEEN PROVIDED SEPARATELY
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Lori Vallow was jailed for life. Pic: Reuters

What happened to JJ and Tylee?

In September 2019, two children vanished from the city of Rexburg in Idaho.

Months of searching came to nothing – it was not until June 2020 that police found the mutilated remains of JJ and Tylee at a rural property that belonged to Daybell.

JJ’s body was wrapped in rubbish bags, his arms bound in front of him with duct tape. Tylee’s remains were charred.

Daybell was arrested after the grim discovery.

Joshua Vallow and Tylee Ryan. Pic: Fremont County Sheriff's Office
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Joshua Vallow and Tylee Ryan. Pic: Fremont County Sheriff’s Office


Read more:
Did fear of apocalypse drive Vallow to murder her children?

Prosecutors in Vallow’s trial said she and Daybell – her fifth husband – went from being followers of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons) to something altogether darker and cult-like, it was claimed.

Vallow’s longtime best friend, Melanie Gibb, told investigators that Vallow and Daybell believed they were part of the “Church of the Firstborn” and that their mission in that church was to lead the “144,000” mentioned in the Book of Revelation.

Daybell has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit murder and first-degree murder in relation to the deaths of Tammy, JJ and Tylee.

Jury selection is expected to begin on Monday and the trial is set to last several weeks.

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