Vallow Daybell Trial


Utah medical examiner testifies that Tammy Daybell's cause of death was from asphyxiation caused by homicide.

Earlier in the day, Lori's DNA linked to evidence found on the remains of JJ Vallow
The Trial of Lori Vallow Daybell:  DNA Analyst Keeley Coleman and FBI Special Agent Rick Wright
Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow
The Trial of Lori Vallow Daybell:  Kay and Larry Woodcock hold hands during testimony
Posted at 8:32 AM, May 01, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-01 19:38:58-04

BOISE, Idaho — The fourth week of trial in the case of Lori Vallow Daybell is now underway at the Ada County Courthouse.

Lori faces charges for the murders of her two children and conspiracy to murder Tammy Daybell.

Related: Tammy Daybell's sister, friends and many investigators testify about her health at the time of her death


The prosecution's first witness of the day was Keeley Coleman, Senior DNA analyst at Bode Technology in Virginia, where the hair sample retrieved from the duct tape found with the remains of JJ Vallow.

The lab also received profiles from Lori, Tylee and Melanie Gibb.

After describing the process used to conduct testing, Coleman testifies that the hair found on the adhesive belonged to Lori.

The case report was entered into evidence.

As the defense begins cross-examination, they review the credentials of the witness and the processes used to test the hair for DNA.

Defense asks Coleman to confirm that the hair tested was found stuck to the adhesive retrieved from the duct tape used to wrap JJ.

The defense continues questioning the reliability of DNA as it relates to hair samples, pointing out that although the specimen tested high for a match, it does not provide 100% matching results.

The state, during re-direct, reiterates that the lab was testing against three known profiles and reviews the process used to test the hair. Coleman testifies that the hair was found in the adhesive of the duct tape in the presence of decomposition fluids.

Coleman also restates the DNA match on the hair was to that of Lori.

There are no further questions for this witness and Coleman is excused.


The prosecution calls FBI Special Agent Rick Wright in Pocatello who became involved as the case manager to investigate the disappearance of JJ. Wright had previously been involved with Violent Crimes Against Children and had investigated many crimes involving missing, abducted and trafficked children.

Wright testifies that his involvement was merited because JJ was under 12 years of age.

Wright says they became aware of Tylee's disappearance very early on, and that he was aware of investigations being conducted in the deaths of Tammy Daybell and Charles Vallow, as well as the shooting attempt on Brandon Boudreaux.

Wright further testifies that after he spoke with Ian Pawlowski (future husband to Melani Boudreaux) in early December 2019, he became more concerned regarding the children's safety, and Ian allowed him to record conversations between Ian, Melani, Lori, Alex Cox and Chad Daybell.

Wright collaborated with FBI Special Agent Nick Ballance to gather cell phone data beginning Sept 2019 related to Cox and provided a presentation showing the tracking of devices associated with Cox.

They went over the trip to Yellowstone on September 8, 2019, where there are pictures documenting Cox, Lori, Tylee and JJ visiting, and that trip, authorities speculate, was the last public sighting of Tylee. Wright testifies that he believes Tylee had returned to Rexburg with the family that evening.

The data presentation then maps the movements of Cox devices, between his and Lori's apartment, showing regular patterns throughout September, and how the pattern in the early morning hours of September 9 was different, and Cox's device was tracked several times between midnight and 8:00 am in Lori's apartment.

At 9:00 am that morning, the device was tracked traveling from Cox's apartment to the Daybell property (approximately 8 miles away). The device remained at the Daybell property for some time, then was tracked returning to the Rexburg area by 12:00 noon.

The prosecution then shows the text message sent by Chad to Tammy Daybell at 11:53 am that morning, telling her about the raccoon he needed to bury in the pet cemetery and debris he had burned.

Wright testifies that this stood out to investigators, and was one of the things that led to the warrant obtained to search the property. He said that human remains were found buried in the same areas that the cell phone data points had shown and that those remains were those of Tylee Ryan.

Write also testifies to a change in the movement patterns of Alex Cox, as related to cellular devices, on the evening of September 22. He notes several back and forths between Lori and Cox's apartments between 8:00 pm and midnight. The following morning, the device was tracked to the Daybell property (near the pond and front door), where it stayed for approximately 15 minutes before heading back to the Rexburg area, returning to the area closest to Lori's apartment.

Wright testifies that Cox's device was traced at or near the Daybell property four times in September, September 6, 9, 23 and 25.

Wright then testifies that Cox's device was tracked to a window tinting business on September 25. The prosecution draws the parallel to the attempted shooting of Brandon Boudreaux in AZ on October 2. The vehicle described by Boudreaux was a Jeep with tinted windows.

After police had seized that vehicle, found to be the vehicle that belonged to Tylee, they found receipts inside placing it in AZ on October 1.

The other receipt recovered from that same vehicle was from the evening of October 18, from a restaurant in Ammon, ID. The date on this receipt was noted by law enforcement, as it was the night before Tammy Daybell had died (early morning hours of October 19).

Wright also testifies to evidence indicating additional cellular phone purchases made and found to belong to Cox. Authorities recovered records linking text messages sent to Chad Daybell from one of these phones on the evening of October 9.

Wright then testifies to several dates that devices owned by Cox were tracked to gun ranges, pointing out that some of the dates correlated with dates of the attempted shootings of Brandon Boudreaux and Tammy Daybell.

Testimony continues to items purchased at a sporting goods store and why they were of interest to the FBI. Cox's devices had been tracked to the sporting goods store on multiple occasions, and several receipts were recovered, though some drew more attention than others.

Wright continues his afternoon testimony about cellular data points from a device owned by Cox on October 9, 15 and 18.

The defense started cross-examination by reviewing the credentials of Special Agent Wright.

Questioning then moved to the amount of data required to develop what Wright refers to as a person displaying pattern behavior. Wright states Wright states that if someone does the same thing every day for a week, he calls it a pattern. In the two months of data he had on devices owned by Alex Cox, his activities appeared to vary day to day.

The defense then asks questions about the mapping software, Wright testifies the FBI used Google Earth.

Wright is asked his opinion about the amount of time (17minutes) Cox was tracked to be on the Daybell property on September 23, and if he thought it was enough time to dig a grave. Wright says, in his opinion, it was not.

During prosecution re-direct, the state has Wright clarify information they are able to obtain using data points based on cellular activity, and re-asks the witness if 17 minutes was enough time for one person to dig a grave. Then asks if it was possible if more than one person was involved. After answering yes, Wright reiterates that the 17 minutes was the time showing the device was there, not necessarily the time it took to dig the grave site.

Special Agent Wright is excused from the witness stand.


The next witness called by the prosecution is Utah Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Erik Christiansen, who preformed the autopsy on the exhumed body of Tammy Daybell. He explains that the state of Utah uses medical examiners to perform autopsies, they do not have a coroner's office.

As a practice, Christiansen reviewed Tammy's medical records before she was exhumed. He testifies that the casket was dry and conditions were good before he started the autopsy.

Christiansen determined that the cause of death was asphyxiation caused by homicide. Asphyxiation is when someone is deprived of oxygen, through smothering, hanging or even chemicals can cause someone to stop breathing. He determined Tammy had lost consciousness and did not suffer a natural death, and that bruising found on her body had happened within hours of the time of her death.

Based on her medical history, Tammy was a relatively healthy 49-year-old female who had no medical record of seizures. Toxicology tests (from liver samples, as no blood was available due to embalming) did not detect any poisons or medications that would have contributed to her death.

They discussed the foam that had been found coming from Tammy's mouth, and Christiansen says he has seen this before, and it comes from the lungs. It is consistent when someone suffers from asphyxiation.

The prosecution enters photographs showing the bruising found on Tammy's body during the autopsy into evidence. Christiansen remarks that the bruising most likely occurred before she died, as it is harder to cause hemorrhaging after a person's circulation has stopped. Christiansen testifies that the injuries occurred around the time of death.

The testimony also includes that signs of lividity were observed on Tammy's back. Lividity, Christiansen testifies, is formed where blood pools at the lowest point in the body after death. Lividity does not, however, determine the cause of death.

Based on what was reported to Christiansen regarding Tammy's body being cold and stiff, he estimates the time of death had been at least a few hours earlier.

The prosecution's questioning concludes as they show graphic photos of Tammy's body to the jury. Many are not made available for the rest of the audience to see.

Court is adjourned for the day, and will begin tomorrow with cross-examination by the defense.