Electronic devices tracked to Daybell property in September 2019

Posted at 3:22 PM, April 24, 2023 and last updated 7:18 AM, April 25, 2023

By: Christine Coates

BOISE, Idaho (KIVI) — The third week of the trial in the case against Lori Vallow Daybell began on Monday with a focus on digital evidence in the case. The eastern Idaho mother is accused of killing her two children and conspiring to kill Tammy Daybell, her husband’s previous wife.

This week, prosecutors are expected to call more friends, family members and investigators to the stand. So far they’ve called 24 witnesses, but their case remains ahead of schedule.

Courtroom sketch of David Stubbs testifying

David Stubbs testified Monday against Lori Vallow Daybell. (Sketch by Lisa Cheney)

Court began on Monday with prosecutors recalling Rexburg Detective David Stubbs to the stand, where he clarified the apartments that detectives searched and further reviewed the data found on electronic devices.

READ MORE: ID v. Lori Vallow Daybell: Daily Trial Updates

Two of the devices found at the apartment in question belonged to Alex Cox, and police obtained search warrants to access information on them. Stubbs testified that Cox’s phone was the only one repeatedly tracked to the area where the remains of JJ and Tylee were found.

Stubbs also testifies that they found several burner phones associated with Lori, Chad and Cox that used various aliases.

The prosecution entered a thumb drive, said to contain Chad Daybell’s search history, into evidence.  Data on the drive showed there was a search looking for upwind directions ahead of what Chad had told his then-wife, Tammy Daybell, would be his burn day.

Stubbs also testified to searching Lori’s browser history. Of note was a search for wedding rings, which detectives flagged because the search date was prior to Tammy Daybell’s passing. They also found a search for wedding dresses in Kauai in October, on the same day as Tammy’s funeral.

The defense opened their cross-examination by asking he detective to review his qualifications for extracting data from electronic devices and the use of burner phones.

They also asked if the detective knows about ring sizes for the defendant and others, presumably suggesting that the search for wedding rings could have been related to the wedding of Zulema Pastenes and Alex Cox. Stubbs said he does not know ring sizes.

On re-direct, the prosecution asked Stubbs who usually uses burner phones. The detective described that in his experience, it has been people trying to hide their relationships or their behavior.

RELATED: Who’s who in the Lori Vallow Daybell trial

The defense had one more question after re-direct, asking Stubbs if he found anything that explicitly asked about killing the kids or wanting to kill her children. The detective testified he did not.

The next witness the state called was FBI agent Nicole Heideman, who was asked to review searches on accounts belonging to Chad. Several things were flagged, including searches in early 2019 for names that were later associated with the ‘demons’ Lori had claimed inhabited the body of Charles Vallow. Heideman also confirmed the search for wedding dresses on Lori’s account on the same day as Tammy’s funeral.

Courtroom sketch of Nicole Heideman

FBI tactical specialist Nicole Heideman testified about electronic data in the trial of Lori Vallow Daybell. (4/24/23)

Heideman also testified that the FBI had determined Chad had nine phone numbers between October 2018 and January 2020. During the same time period, Lori and Cox each had six phone numbers.

The afternoon session saw Nicole Heideman from the FBI still on the stand, and again, a lot of attention was paid to the dates and content of text messages, web searches, and purchases related to the marriage of Lori Vallow and Chad Daybell.

An exhibit showing locations and dates of Temple visits by Lori and Chad that were closely related to the alleged death dates for Tylee, JJ and Tammy Daybell was reviewed.

During cross-examination, the defense questioned why Heideman flagged the ‘Ned Schneider’ search, and she answered that was a cursory search to aid in the investigation. The defense continued to question items that were flagged and went to accuse her of only looking for evidence that aided the prosecution.

The defense pointed out, and Heideman agreed, that the visits to Temple that were highlighted are only a fraction of the number of times Lori and Chad visited Temple. They also pointed out that the research did not indicate whether or not Lori and Chad were in a group during these visits, and Heideman confirmed she only conducted the search on Lori and Chad. She also confirmed that she was not aware of their activities during the visits, only that they were in attendance.

The state called FBI Special Agent Nick Ballance, part of the FBI Cellular Analysis Survey Team (CAST) which takes cell phone data and tracks it on a map, to the stand. This process and technology is used regularly in cases of homicides, missing persons, etc.

Courtroom sketch of Nick Ballance

FBI special agent Nick Ballance testified about electronic data retrieved in the trial of Lori Daybell Vallow. (4/24/23)

Ballance testified that individuals can be tracked by internet, Wi-Fi and cellular data, with cellular being the least accurate.

The agent prepared a report detailing phone records and multiple Google accounts associated with Lori Vallow. The summary of the report was admitted into evidence. Ballance made it clear that his mapping involves the electronic device and not an actual person.

Items that were detailed were account names belonging to Cox and where they were tracked between August and November 2019.

Ballance testified that on the morning of September 9, a lot of communication was tracked on devices linked to Chad and Cox, including a call between Lori and Chad.

Ending the day’s testimony, Ballance described Cox’s movements and testified that Cox’s phone was near the Daybell property on September 9, 2019.

This story was originally published on April 24, 2023, by KIVI in Boise, an E.W. Scripps Company.