The disturbing way JJ Vallow’s body was positioned “reveals the crucial clue to death” as “cult mother” Lori faces a murder trial
JJ Vallow’s body was discovered on his gravedigger-stepfather’s property in a makeshift “vault” built to conceal the decomposing remains, Chad Daybell’s friend said.
A detective gave a first-hand account of discovering the bodies of JJ, seven, and Tylee, 16, during the much-anticipated murder trial of their mother, Lori Vallow.
Lori and her fifth husband Chad are accused of killing their children and lying to police about their whereabouts while enjoying their Hawaiian honeymoon in November 2019.
In June 2020, Rexburg Police Detective Ray Hermosillo obtained a warrant to search Chad’s property in Idaho, arresting him the day after he made a disgusting discovery.
Speaking before the Boise court on Tuesday, Hermosillo recounted how he dug up Tylee’s partially melted remains, which had been left in a plastic bucket for part of the day
JJ was found wrapped in garbage bags in a makeshift grave with the remains of his hands taped together.
The boy who was killed, who had autism, was still wearing his pajamas and pull-up diaper, Hermosillo said.
“We started finding burned flesh and decomposing bones,” the detective told the court.
“We had to take turns digging because the smell was so bad.”
Lori and Chad are also accused of murdering Chad’s ex-wife, Tammy Daybell, who died in her sleep about a month after the children disappeared.
Paul Defa, who worked as Chad’s gravedigger, buried and exhumed Tammy’s body, but had no idea that the man he called friend might one day face those allegations.
“Chad was there with his family and kids,” Defa told NewsNation, recounting the dark day.
“He was exactly the same person I knew when I worked with him – a very nice, friendly person.”
Hermosillo said the wood paneling and heavy stones placed on JJ’s body may have been a makeshift “vault” to hide the body, Defa told the outlet.
Concrete vaults are made by professional gravediggers to support shrinking bodies and prevent the earth from collapsing above.
“I think of when he tried to build a homemade vault for the corpse so it wouldn’t come up and expose itself after a while,” Defa said.
‘MASS OF TISSUE’
Detective Hermosillo said the search for the missing children had been so heated that authorities “got on their hands and knees” while digging on Chad’s property.
From experience, Hermosillo knew they were remains after noticing a foul odor.
“There were bits of bone, charred flesh, just lumps of flesh falling apart,” he said.
Prosecutors said Tylee’s body was burned, leaving only “a mass of bone and tissue.”
DNA was also discovered on a nearby pickaxe and shovel, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors believe Lori was part of a so-called “doomsday cult,” led by Chad, that went from gravedigging to writing books and recording podcasts.
Prosecutors spoke about haunting texts Lori laughed about “too many kids” in the months leading up to JJ and Tylee’s deaths.
A reporter at the trial claimed that Lori fell asleep while photos of her autopsy were shown to the court.
On May 25, 2021, an Idaho grand jury indicted Lori and Chad on multiple counts including first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and grand larceny in connection with the deaths of the children.
Chad was also charged with the murder of his former wife, Tammy, and both he and Lori were charged with conspiracy to murder Tammy’s death.
Lori and Chad both pleaded not guilty to all charges of murder, conspiracy and grand theft.
They will be tried separately, as requested by Chad’s lawyers.
It’s unclear when Chad will stand trial, having waved his right to a speedy trial, but he could still face the death penalty.