Authorities have released audio of a phone call between ‘cult’ mom Lori Vallow and her husband Chad Daybell hours before the bodies of her two missing children were found on his property in Idaho.
Lori made the call just after 11am on June 9 from the Madison County Jail, where she’s been locked up for over five months on charges related to the disappearance of her kids Joshua ‘JJ’ Vallow and Tylee Ryan.
Chad informs Lori that police had arrived at his home in Salem and were searching the backyard area, adding: ‘We’ll see what transpires.’
The couple spoke slowly and cautiously, as if they were nervous about what would be uncovered during the search.
Lori offers to pray for Chad before they exchange ‘I love yous’ and promise to speak again soon – though he suggests that he might not be able to pick up if she calls him later in the day.
Within minutes of that phone call, authorities announced that they had recovered human remains from Chad’s backyard that were later confirmed to belong to JJ and Tylee.
Chad was taken into custody at about 11.30am after police said he watched the search unfold from a driveway across the street and then drove off as the remains were uncovered.
On Tuesday he celebrated his 52nd birthday from behind bars at the Fremont County Jail.
Fremont County prosecutors played the phone call in court during Chad’s preliminary hearing last week, where he faced two counts each for destruction or concealment of evidence and conspiracy to destroy or conceal evidence. He has pleaded not guilty.
After Chad’s hearing Lori waived her right to her own preliminary hearing and agreed to go straight to trial on charges of conspiracy to destroy or conceal evidence.
Lori is also facing three other charges in Madison County for misdemeanor resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime, and contempt of court. Those charges were presented when she was first arrested back in February when the children remained missing.
Parts of the three-minute phone call are difficult to understand from a recording inside the court room, but the overall tone of the conversation indicates that both Lori and Chad were unsettled by the search.
‘Hi, babe,’ Lori says cheerily. There’s a moment of silence before Chad replies: ‘Hello.’
‘Are you okay?’ Lori asks.
‘No… they’re searching the property,’ Chad says in a shakey voice.
‘The house right now?’ Lori asks.
Chad says ‘yeah, yeah’ and mumbles something unintelligible before telling Lori that her attorney, Mark Means, will be contacting her soon.
‘Okay. What, are they in the house?’ Lori asks.
‘No, they’re out in the property,’ Chad says.
There’s another brief pause before Lori asks, in a notably tenser tone: ‘Are they seizing stuff again?’
‘They’re searching,’ Chad says before another prolonged silence. ‘I’m glad you called.’
‘Yeah,’ Lori says.
‘So, we’ll see what transpires,’ Chad says.
‘Kay…’ Lori says. ‘What do you want me to do? Pray?’
Chad struggles to understand Lori before they both speak over each other, causing her to let out a strained chuckle.
He then tells her to call her attorney and that he needs to answer another phone call.
‘I love you so much,’ he says.
‘Okay. I love you. Should I try to call you later?’ Lori asks.
‘Um, I don’t know. I, I don’t know,’ Chad stammers.
‘Uh, you can try. Yeah. I’ll answer if I can.’
Lori says okay, they exchange more ‘love yous’ and then hang up.
That phone call marked the last known communication between Lori and Chad.
They are both now preparing to stand trial this fall as the one-year anniversary of the children’s disappearance draws near.
Tylee vanished on September 8, 2019, just days before her 17th birthday. Investigators said her body was burned and dismembered before being buried sometime the following day.
JJ was last seen two weeks later on September 23. His body was wrapped in duct tape and plastic and buried the same day, investigators said.
Authorities believe Lori’s now-deceased brother Alex Cox brought the children’s bodies to Chad’s home to bury them.
Chad turned 52 on Tuesday but likely won’t see much of a celebration as he sits behind bars at the Fremont County Jail.
East Idaho News journalist Nate Eaton reported that he’ll be served freezer meals for breakfast and dinner, along with pot pies and sandwiches at lunch.