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Prosecutors in Lori Vallow murder trial say her husband's previous wife, Tammy Daybell, died of asphyxiation

Vallow is accused of killing two of her children and conspiring to murder Daybell.
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Prosecutors said at Lori Vallow’s murder trial Monday that her husband's previous wife, Tammy Daybell, died of asphyxiation.

Vallow is charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder and grand theft in connection with the deaths of two of her children, Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan, along with Tammy Daybell. She has pleaded not guilty, and her trial started April 3 in Boise, Idaho.

Tammy Daybell, Chad Daybell’s wife, was found dead in October 2019 of what were believed to be natural causes at the time. Investigators exhumed her body and conducted an autopsy, which ruled her death was a homicide.

Fremont County, Idaho, Prosecutor Lindsey A. Blake revealed the results of the autopsy in opening arguments of the trial Monday morning, according to NBC affiliate KSL of Salt Lake City. Tammy was married to Chad Daybell for 28 years before her death.

Chad Daybell is charged with murder in the death of his previous wife and accused of committing insurance fraud related to her death. 

Tammy Daybell died just a few months after Lori Vallow's brother, Alex Cox, shot and killed Vallow's estranged husband, Charles Vallow. A grand jury charged Lori with conspiracy to commit murder in the first degree nearly two years after his death, the county attorney's office in Maricopa County, Arizona, said. She will be tried separately, in Arizona, in that case. Cox died in 2019 and was never charged. 

Vallow and Chad Daybell married just two weeks after Tammy Daybell’s funeral, KSL reported. Police documents obtained by KSL revealed that Charles Vallow had learned of Lori Vallow’s infidelity with Chad Daybell 12 days before he died and threatened to tell Tammy Daybell. 

Prosecutors believe Vallow and Chad Daybell became obsessed with doomsday-focused religious beliefs that led them to commit a series of four murders: those of Vallow’s two youngest children and each of their spouses.

Vallow’s trial comes years after the disappearance of her children Joshua and Tylee made headlines, as the indictment against her and Chad Daybell took months of investigative work and Vallow’s mental competency was questioned. 

Vallow has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder, conspiracy and grand theft in the deaths of Joshua and Tylee, who were 7 and 16 when they disappeared in September 2019. Their disappearances sparked a monthslong search, and police eventually found their remains on property in rural Idaho belonging to Chad Daybell. 

Police uncovered the remains in June 2020 after they searched the property in Fremont County. Chad Daybell was arrested on charges of destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence, as well as desertion.

Days later, police confirmed that the bodies had been identified as those of Joshua and Tylee

Court documents later revealed that Joshua’s remains had been buried in a pet cemetery and that Tylee had been dismembered and burned in a fire pit. 

Vallow and Chad Daybell were not indicted on murder charges until May 2021.

Fremont County Prosecutor Lindsey A.Blake said in opening statements Monday that what was left of Tylee's remains were a mass of tissue and bone and that JJ's body was duct taped in garbage bags, NBC affiliate KTVB of Boise reported.

It was decided in a hearing last month that Vallow will not face the death penalty if she is convicted.

CORRECTION (April 11, 2023, 12 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the marital status of Chad and Tammy Daybell when Tammy died in 2019. Chad and Tammy were married at the time; Tammy was not Chad’s ex-wife.