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Who’s who in the triple-murder trial of Chad Daybell

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Chad Daybell, a self-published doomsday fiction author, is on trial in Idaho in the deaths of his wife and his new girlfriend’s two children. It’s a complex triple-murder trial that investigators say involves unusual claims that the victims were possessed by evil spirits — and more typical claims related to life insurance and social security benefits.

The children’s mother, Lori Vallow Daybell, has already been sentenced to life in prison. But Chad Daybell has pleaded not guilty to murder, conspiracy and insurance fraud charges in the deaths of his late wife, Tammy Daybell, as well as the children, Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan. The trial is expected to take more than two months.

Here’s a look at some of the people connected to the case.

CHAD DAYBELL

Chad Daybell, 55, was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and self-published fiction loosely based on its teachings. He married Tammy Daybell in 1990. They had five kids and a home in rural southeastern Idaho.

Prosecutors say he met Vallow Daybell at a conference in Utah in 2018. They became a couple, insisting they had been married in a past life, police said. They led a group of friends in trying to cast out evil spirits by praying and doing what they called “energy work,” prosecutors said.

In some cases, they claimed, a person could become a “zombie,” and the only way to banish a zombie was to kill the person, friends said. One friend told police she heard Vallow Daybell call the children zombies before they disappeared.

In October 2019, Daybell reportedly told authorities that his wife had been battling a respiratory infection and died in her sleep. The death was initially attributed to natural causes, but authorities became suspicious when Chad Daybell married Lori Vallow Daybell just two weeks later.

Tammy Daybell’s body was exhumed and an autopsy showed she died of asphyxiation.

LORI VALLOW DAYBELL

Lori Vallow Daybell, 50, is a beautician by trade, a mother of three and a wife — five times over. She was convicted last year of murder, conspiracy and grand theft charges and has been sentenced to life in prison without parole. She is also facing charges in Arizona related to the 2019 death of her fourth husband.

Vallow Daybell’s first marriage, to a high school sweetheart when she was 19, ended quickly. She married again in her early 20s and had a son. In 2001, Vallow Daybell married again, this time to a man named Joseph Ryan. The couple had a daughter named Tylee in 2002, but divorced a few years later. Ryan later died in his home of a suspected heart attack.

After her father’s death, Tylee received social security survivor benefits — which Vallow Daybell collected herself after Tylee disappeared in 2019.

During her sentencing, Vallow Daybell gave a long statement saying that “accidental deaths happen.” She claimed the spirits of the three victims visited her regularly and were all happy in the “spirit world.”

In summer 2019, after her fourth husband was shot to death by her brother, Vallow Daybell moved with her two youngest kids to southeastern Idaho, where she could be closer to Chad Daybell. That September, the children disappeared, and Chad and Tammy Daybell applied to increase Tammy Daybell’s life insurance benefit, prosecutors said.

Tammy Daybell died the next month.

The children’s bodies were found the following year, buried in Chad Daybell’s yard.

CHARLES VALLOW

Charles Vallow, a member of the LDS church, entered the picture several months after Vallow Daybell and Joseph Ryan divorced. Vallow Daybell joined the LDS church and the two married in 2006. They later adopted Joshua Jaxon “JJ” Vallow.

By 2019, the marriage had soured. Charles Vallow filed for divorce, contending in court papers that Vallow Daybell believed herself to be a deity tasked with helping to usher in the Biblical apocalypse.

The two were estranged but still married when Vallow Daybell’s brother, Alex Cox, shot and killed Charles Vallow outside his suburban Phoenix home.

Cox told police the shooting was in self defense and was never charged in the case. Shortly after Charles’ death, Vallow Daybell moved to eastern Idaho with her brother and two children.

ALEX COX

Both Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell are accused of conspiring with Vallow Daybell’s brother, Alex Cox, in the deaths. But Cox was never charged — he died suddenly in December 2019.

Autopsy and toxicology reports showed Cox died of a pulmonary blood clot, and law enforcement officials have said Cox’s death is believed to be from natural causes.

During Vallow Daybell’s trial, prosecutors presented several witnesses and pieces of evidence that appeared to tie Cox to the deaths, including GPS data on Cox’s phone that was traced to the places where the children’s bodies were found.

Prosecutors say Cox also tried to shoot Tammy Daybell in October 2019.

Friends of Cox and Vallow Daybell testified last year that the siblings were very close, and that Cox believed he was put on Earth to serve as Vallow Daybell’s “protector.”

Cox also believed people could be possessed and turn into zombies, his wife, Zulema Pastenes, testified. When Cox learned Tammy Daybell’s body was being exhumed, he said he was the “fall guy” but wouldn’t elaborate, Pastenes said. He died the next day.

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