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With married couple Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell awaiting trial on charges related to the deaths of Lori's two children, authorities continue to review the death of Daybell's late wife

By Jeff Truesdell
February 05, 2021 11:50 PM
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Tammy and Chad Daybell

Authorities have wrapped up an autopsy for Tammy Daybell, who died just two weeks before her husband, religious doomsday author Chad Daybell, married follower Lori Vallow — a marriage that occurred just weeks before Lori's children were declared missing.

But for now, those autopsy results remain under seal as evidence "in an open and ongoing investigation," a sheriff says.

Len Humphries, the sheriff of Fremont County, Idaho, confirmed the completed autopsy on Tammy's exhumed remains in a Thursday statement obtained by PEOPLE.

Chad told authorities that Tammy died in her sleep after going to bed with a cough; at the time she was otherwise believed to be in good health and had been training to run a race, reports EastIdahoNews.com.

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

Tammy's body was exhumed in December 2019, while the search for Lori's children was still underway, reports EastIdahoNews.com. The 49-year-old was a mother of five.

The results of her autopsy, turned over Wednesday to the Fremont County sheriff's office, "will not be made public at this time as it is evidence in an open and ongoing investigation," the sheriff said. "We will release additional information as it becomes available."

Though no charges have been filed in Tammy's 2019 death, Chad and Lori both are jailed and facing multiple charges tied to the investigation into the disappearance and deaths of the children, 7-year-old Joshua "J.J." Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, whose bodies were found last June buried on Chad's Idaho property after a six-month search.

Both Chad and Lori are accused of two felony counts of conspiracy to commit destruction, alteration or concealment of evidence. Chad also is charged with two felony counts of concealment or destruction of evidence.

The charges are in addition to those accusing Lori of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children, resisting or obstructing officers, criminal solicitation to commit a crime, contempt of court and willful disobedience of court process or order.

Both Chad and Lori have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Joshua Vallow, Tylee Ryan
Joshua “J.J.” Vallow, at left, and Tylee Ryan
| Credit: Rexburg Police Department (2)

Also Thursday, the Fremont County prosecutor reclaimed sole authority over the probe into Tammy's death from the state attorney general's office, which last April said it was working with Fremont County — where Chad and Tammy were living when Tammy died — to investigate Lori and Chad for possible murder, attempted murder and conspiracy. No such charges have been lodged against either of the two.

Fremont County Prosecuting Attorney Lindsey Blake confirmed the takeover in a separate statement also obtained by PEOPLE.

The review of Tammy's death sprang from the parallel investigation into the children's whereabouts that began in November 2019, when J.J's out-of-state grandparents were unable to reach him and contacted police.

Lori had moved with the kids to Idaho from Arizona only months earlier, after the death of her previous husband, Charles Vallow, which also has attracted a second look from authorities.

Charles was killed in a July 2019 shooting by Lori's brother, Alex Cox, who died later from what a medical examiner said was natural causes. But before Charles was killed, he raised alarm about what he portrayed as Lori's increasingly extreme religious beliefs and threats. She had appeared with Chad as early as December 2018 on a podcast promoted under the banner "Preparing a People," designed to help its audience plan for the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world.

Following the death of Charles, Lori moved with her two kids to Idaho, where she and Chad married in November 2019, two weeks after Tammy's death.

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The allegations of desertion and nonsupport of dependent children against Lori, among others, stem from her alleged refusal to help authorities locate her kids after they disappeared.

J.J., her son who was adopted had autism, was last seen Sept. 23, 2019, at his school in Rexburg, Idaho, before his mother disenrolled him and told the principal she was considering home-schooling. The last known image of Tylee was taken Sept. 8, 2019, -- two weeks before her 17th birthday -- while Tylee was on a day trip to Yellowstone National Park with her mother, brother and uncle Alex Cox, according to a court filing in Madison County, Idaho.

Rexburg police said Lori and Chad fled as officers readied a search warrant. The couple was located in January 2020 in Hawaii without the children; Lori was given a deadline to turn them over to child welfare authorities but defied the order.