Chad Daybell's Kids Say He Was 'Fooled' by Lori Vallow in 'Most Deadly Way Possible'

Chad Daybell's children defended him in a CBS News' 48 Hours broadcast against allegations that he and his wife, Lori Vallow, murdered her two children

Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell
Lori Vallow, at left, and Chad Daybell. Photo: Rexburg Police Department (2)

Chad Daybell's five kids are defending their father against allegations he killed their mother and the two children of his new wife, Lori Vallow, claiming he wouldn't be under suspicion if not for her.

"I think he was fooled in the worst, most deadly way possible," Daybell's daughter Emma Murray told CBS News' 48 Hours in a special on the case that aired Wednesday.

Not until late 2019, when authorities came around asking about Lori's missing son Joshua "J.J." Vallow, 7, and daughter Tylee Ryan, 17, did Chad's son, Garth Daybell, even know his new stepmother had children.

"I first heard of her children when a detective came to my work and asked me about them," he told the program. "I had never heard of them before that point."

Now, both Chad and Lori stand accused of conspiracy and murder tied to the deaths of J.J. and Tylee, whose remains were found buried on Chad's property outside of Rexburg, Idaho, in June 2020, seven months after J.J.'s grandparents reported him missing. Chad also is charged with the murder of his children's mother, Tammy, who was killed two weeks before he married Lori.

Both have entered not guilty pleas.

Tylee Ryan and Joshua Vallow
Joshua “J.J.” Vallow, at left, and his sister Tylee Ryan.

In speaking out together for the first time, Chad's five children told 48 Hours that his involvement with Lori connected him to a series of mysteries that authorities have been trying to unravel since Lori's children were reported missing in November 2019. But they don't believe their father had a role in any of them.

"My father needs someone to be a voice for him," Emma Murray told 48 Hours contributor Jonathan Vigliotti. "To let people know what's real, what we know."

Children Claim Daybell Was 'Framed'

According to Lori's friends, Lori became a fan of Chad's after encountering his books in which he wrote about the apocalypse. In time she met and appeared with him on a December 2018 podcast promoted by an entity called Preparing a People, which is run by a multimedia company that hosted lectures and videos focused on "helping to prepare the people of this earth for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ," according to its website.

The indictments unsealed in May that charged each with the murders of J.J. and Tylee allege that between Oct. 26, 2018 and June 9, 2020, Lori and Chad "did endorse and espouse religious beliefs for the purpose of encouraging and/or justifying" the killings.

Chad Daybell Lori Vallow
Chad Daybell, left, and Lori Vallow. Rexburg Police Department ; Madison County Sheriff's Office/AP/Shutterstock

Lori apparently had asked her future husband to gauge her children's "dark" and "light" spirits, allegedly telling a friend that her children had become "zombies," and that she was on a religious mission with Chad "to rid the world of 'zombies'" months before the children's remains were found.

"[T]he term 'zombie' refers to an individual whose mortal spirit has left their body and that their body is now the host of another spirit," Rexburg police Lt. Ron Ball wrote in an affidavit obtained by PEOPLE. "The new spirit in a 'zombie' is always considered a 'dark spirit.'"

Authorities also allege the couple conspired with Lori's brother, Alex Cox, to plot a murder attempt on Tammy Daybell that was not carried out.

In June 2019, Cox shot and killed Lori's previous husband, Charles Vallow, during an alleged altercation in Lori's Arizona home. Charles by then had filed for divorce, citing his wife's growing religious extremism. Cox claimed self-defense and was never charged; he died months later, from what authorities eventually determined were natural causes.

Lori Vallow and her husband Chad Daybell in Hawaii
Chad Daybell, at left, and Lori Vallow Daybell. Eric Grossarth/

But after Charles Vallow's death, Cox moved north from Arizona to Idaho with Lori and Lori's children to Rexburg, where Chad lived.

Pings from Cox's cell phone are what led investigators to search Chad's property where the buried remains of J.J. and Tylee were discovered, after authorities allege that both Lori and Chad made misleading statements about the missing children's whereabouts.

"He was framed," Emma Murphy said of her father, as she visited the property with Vigliotti. "This is his property. If there's bodies buried here, it would be attributed to him."

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"Who framed your father?" Vigliotti asked her.

"I think it's pretty clear it was Lori and Alex," Murray replied. "Alex came ... and left for periods of time. ... We don't know ... exactly what he was doing."

Marriage to Lori 'Really Surprised Us,' Says Daughter

J.J., who had autism, was last seen Sept. 23, 2019, at his school in Idaho before Lori withdrew him and told the principal she was considering home-schooling. The last known image of Tylee was taken Sept. 8, 2019, while she was on a day trip to Yellowstone National Park with her mother, brother and Cox, according to a court filing.

17-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old J.J. Vallow
Joshua "J.J." Vallow, at left, with sister Tylee Ryan, center, and Alex Cox.

The children were reported missing in November by the grandparents of the adopted J.J., and Lori and Chad quickly became targets of scrutiny. But before police could execute a search warrant on their home in Rexburg, police say the couple fled, only to be located without the kids two months later in Hawaii.

Lori defied a court order to produce the children, and was arrested and jailed on felony counts of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children, among other charges.

RELATED VIDEO: Lori Vallow Ruled Incompetent to Stand Trial After Mental Evaluation

After the discovery of the children's remains, Chad was arrested and charged with two counts of destruction, alteration and concealment of evidence, and two counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence. Lori then was charged with additional counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence.

The search for the missing children led authorities to revisit the deaths of Charles Vallow and Tammy Daybell, and Chad subsequently was charged with killing Tammy. Yet another charge accused the couple of conspiring with Alex Cox in a separate failed attempt on Tammy's life.

Tammy and Chad Daybell
Chad Daybell, at left, with his deceased wife Tammy Daybell.

Chad's children don't believe their father would hurt their mother, either, but they were taken aback when he married Lori so soon after her death.

"That was really hard," Emma Murray said. "And it really surprised us … And it was clear that he already had an emotional connection with her."

In his interview, Vigliotti asked Chad's gathered children: "I know this is a difficult question. But was your father having an affair with Lori while he was married to your mother?"

"That depends on your definition of affair," Emma said. "Emotionally, I would say yes. But physically, I think my father thought he was in the right because, 'I haven't had sex with her, so I'm being faithful.'"

Vigliotti asked: "Did it ever cross your mind, even for a moment, that your father killed your mother to clear the way so that he could marry Lori?"

No, the children answered in unison.

Chad and Lori have pleaded not guilty to all charges against them. Chad's trial for the murders of J.J. and Tylee, now set for November, is likely to be pushed into 2022, reports East Idaho News. Both he and Lori currently are being held in Fremont County jail.

Following a mental evaluation, Lori was judged unfit to be tried on the murder charges at the present time.

Lawyers for Chad and Lori have not returned PEOPLE's requests for comment.

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