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An Idaho mom and her 3 children saw Chad Daybell and several cop cars speed past them before the Doomsday author's arrest

By K.C. Baker
June 11, 2020 03:16 PM
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Chad Daybell Lori Vallow
Chad Daybell, left, and Lori Vallow
| Credit: Rexburg Police Department ; Madison County Sheriff's Office/AP/Shutterstock

Idaho mom Brittany Chapple and her family often pass Chad Daybell’s house on their way to town, hoping to see the Doomsday author who's made worldwide headlines in recent months along with his wife, Lori Vallow.

“You’re always looking to see if you can get a glimpse of Chad out in his yard,” Chapple, 37, tells PEOPLE. “I don’t know him on a personal level but obviously, living in the same town, we’ve kept up with the story. There’s a lot of curiosity.”

Lori Vallow and her husband Chad Daybell in Hawaii
Chad Daybell, at left, and Lori Vallow
| Credit: Eric Grossarth/ EastIdahoNews.com

Chapple and her family have seen Daybell performing mundane outdoor tasks like mowing the lawn and puttering in his yard.

But Tuesday morning was anything but humdrum for Chapple and her three kids, 15, 12, and 8, when they witnessed Daybell’s  arrest firsthand while driving home from nearby Rexburg.

“We saw a little silver car fly past us and it was followed by a marked cop car and a couple undercover cop cars with their lights on,” says Chapple. “My kids recognized his car and went, ‘Mom! That was Chad Daybell!’” she says.

Lori and JJ Vallow
Lori and JJ Vallow
| Credit: FBI

With her kids urging her to find out what was happening, Chapple turned around and sped off in the other direction.

“By the time we flipped around, they had gotten him to pull over and got him out of the car,” she says. “They surrounded him. Then a couple other cop cars showed up. When they handcuffed him, there were 7 cop cars around him.

“They put him in the back of the car and took him off.

“It was crazy.”

On Tuesday morning, Rexburg police, along with the Fremont County sheriff's office and the FBI, executed a search warrant of Daybell's property – their second major search since January. 

Daybell, a former gravedigger, and then-girlfriend Lori Vallow, made worldwide headlines when her two children, Tylee Ryan, 17, and Joshua “JJ” Vallow, 7, vanished in September 2019.

17-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old J.J. Vallow
Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow

The couple, said to have been part of a doomsday cult, quietly left Idaho for Hawaii, where on Nov. 5, 2019, they wed in a quickie oceanside ceremony just weeks after Daybell’s wife, Tammy, died -- and just 4 months after Vallow’s husband was killed by her brother.

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On Tuesday, authorities made the shocking discovery many had feared when they found remains, believed to be those of the missing kids, on Daybell’s property.

Daybell is charged with two counts of destruction, alteration, and concealment of evidence.

He is also currently under investigation for potential murder, attempted murder and conspiracy charges in the death of his first wife.

Vallow was arrested in February on charges of failing to produce her two missing children to police, Vallow currently faces a slew of other charges including desertion and nonsupport of dependent children. She has pleaded not guilty.

Daybell has not yet entered a plea.

Both are being held in the Madison County Jail on a $1 million bail.

Daybell's attorney did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Like others, Chapple is upset that the missing children are gone. “It’s sad,” she says. “At the same time, the family needs closure.”

The community, Chapple says, is relieved that Daybell has been arrested. “The public feels that it’s long overdue that he’s finally been arrested.”