By: Cooper McCauley
BOISE, Idaho (KIVI) — Prosecutors continued their case against Lori Vallow Daybell on Wednesday, with witness testimony focusing on her alleged financial crimes.
Rexburg Police Detective Chuck Kunsaitis began testifying on Tuesday to the financial aspect of the investigation into Lori Vallow Daybell, who is charged with murder and accused of using her dead children’s money to help finance her lifestyle.
A full day of witness are expected from the prosecution Wednesday, in the trial of Lori Vallow Daybell.
Kunsaitis testified to finances, bank statements and other business documents related to the case on Wednesday, the first of which was a loan document for the Jeep Wrangler which belonged to Tylee and was purchased in April 2019.
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Payments had been made on the vehicle for three months after the purchase of the vehicle before Tylee’s account had insufficient funds. Police seized the vehicle on November 4, 2019.
The next document presented to the jury was an email sent by Chad Daybell to Julie Black, a realtor in Hawaii. The email was sent just three days after Lori and Chad were married and reads, “We are interested in seeing this property. Would the owners be interested in leasing this property to a couple with no pets or children? Please let us know. Thank you.”
The next exhibit concerned a transaction from Tylee Ryan’s Venmo account made on October 10, 2019. $100 was sent from Tylee’s account to Colby Ryan with the message “We love you” attached. The IP address on the transaction was registered to a Residence Inn in Kansas City, Missouri, around where Lori was at the time visiting friends with Melanie Boudreaux.
This was supported by the next document presented to the jury, a receipt from the Residence Inn in Kansas City. The receipt for the room matched the date of the Venmo transaction, which was made using Tylee’s phone.
Documents were presented regarding pharmaceutical searches when JJ Vallow was reported missing. Though prescriptions were filled for JJ in 2015 and 2017, detectives found no records of prescriptions being filled in 2019.
The courtroom then viewed an email that Lori sent to her accountant. In the email, Lori explains that Charles Vallow died and she wants information about how to file tax returns at her new address. The email was dated September 9, 2019, at 5:03 p.m. which was just “hours after we believe Tylee was buried in the backyard,” said Kunsaitis.
After outlining other documents related to Lori’s spending and flight habits, the prosecution concluded their questioning, however, the detective will be called again later to discuss other items pertaining to the case.
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Mike Douglass, an FBI forensic accountant, was called to the stand by the prosecution. Douglass reviewed 80 bank accounts for multiple individuals involved in the case and began his testimony by presenting two exhibits.
The first of the exhibits was a timeline of Tylee’s life, beginning with the death of her father, Joeseph Ryan, in April 2018. The second timeline outlined JJ’s life following the death of Charles Vallow.
While outlining the details of the bank accounts, Douglass explained that “Tylee was responsible with her money. I never saw her have one negative balance.”
In spite of this financial responsibility, the death benefits of her father’s life insurance policy were paid into one of Lori’s bank accounts. Additionally, Tylee’s social security benefits were modified to be deposited in one of Lori’s accounts starting on August 16.
Douglass testified that JJ’s social security funds, which were being sent due to his father’s death, also began to be paid to Lori’s account in September 2019.
The jury was then shown a document detailing social security deposits made to Lori’s bank account a month after JJ and Tylee died.
Additionally, Douglass explained documents that outlined suspicious behavior on the Venmo accounts of both Lori and Tylee. After multiple attempts to transfer funds using Lori’s account, a new account was added to Tylee’s Venmo account. This account was added after her death and was used to send money to Colby as both Lori and Tylee often did. After Tylee’s death, Lori’s account stopped sending money to Colby while Tylee’s account continued to do so.
Douglass then testified about the accounts belonging to Chad Daybell, explaining how his spending habits drastically changed after the death of his former wife, Tammy Daybell. Chad was the beneficiary of his wife’s life insurance policy.
The spending habit increases included tickets for a family trip to Knott’s Berry Farm purchased right after Tammy’s death.
Highlights in the transaction history of Chad’s accounts also included three transfers of $8,000 to each of his children. The transfers occurred as officers were searching his property, leaving $4,400 in the account.
The prosecution then called Scott Cowden to testify. Cowden is a firefighter and paramedic who responded to the July 11 shooting of Charles Daybell.
Recalling the scene of the shooting, Cowden said he and other firefighters found Charles lying on his back unconscious on the floor. After assessing the body, Cowden began to administer CPR.
“We were led to believe CPR had started prior to our arrival communicating with dispatch. We were led to believe the caller, the shooter, had started CPR,” said Cowden.
However as Cowden was giving CPR, he noticed a “crunch” in the victim’s sternum. If someone had been performing CPR, he would not have expected to feel that “crunch”.
Cowden also noted that his gloves were covered in blood after administering CPR, due to the amount of blood on Charles’ shirt. Cowden believes that there would have been blood on the hands of anyone doing CPR on someone who had been shot.
Cowden was then dismissed with no cross-examination.
Detective Ariel Werther was called to the stand by the prosecution. Werther works for the Chandler Police Department in the robbery/homicide unit.
Werther had been tasked with calling Lori the day after Charles had been shot in order to check in on JJ because he was present at the scene during the initial investigation.
When asked to detail JJ’s whereabouts, Lori explained she had stopped at Burger King with him in the morning before dropping him off at school.
Werther says that Lori was at the Burger King at 7:55 a.m. while the 911 call reporting that Charles had been shot occurred at 8:36 a.m. that same day. Werther says it is not plausible that Lori would have taken as long as she did to return home.
Werther also noticed that the location history of Charles’ phone that morning matched Lori’s own movements, indicating that Lori had his phone with her that morning. Werther also says Charles’ phone was not recovered during the investigation into the shooting.
On cross-examination, Jim Archibald asked who made the 911 call and Werther replies that Alex Cox made the call, though he did not speak with Alex.
Archibald then asks who else was in the car with Lori at Burger King. Werther responds that he is not sure but that there was someone in the passenger seat of her car according to surveillance video. Werther explains that he understood two people were with Lori, presuming them to be Tylee and JJ.
Sandra Ynclan with the Chandler Police Department was the next witness called to the stand.
Ynclan responded to the scene after Charles Vallow was shot and officers had secured the area. Ynclan recalled moving Tylee and Lori to the crisis response unit van to discuss the shooting. That was when Ynclan recalled learning that Lori was the wife of the victim and sister of the shooter.
Ynclan was with Lori when she learned that Charles had died. According to Ynclan, “She didn’t have much of a reaction. When she was informed that Charles was deceased, she responded that she already knew and made statements that she was present when it happened. This was new information to detectives.”
Ynclan also noted that Lori “appeared calm, very non-emotional, was kind of hanging out and having general conversations. She was not really upset and at one point she was laughing.”
Ynclan was also assigned to follow up with Lori and Tylee later that day in the police station’s family advocacy center.
The footage from Lori’s interview that day can be viewed here.
Lori told Ynclan that Charles had been living in Houston and that at one point she had allowed him to take JJ back there with him despite JJ’s special needs, which Charles did not have the services or support for.
As Lori moved on to discuss the day of the shooting. She explained that Charles arrived at the house that morning to pick up JJ for school. She described JJ as reluctant to go with Charles, but they got him settled down to leave for school.
According to Lori, Charles left the house to take JJ to school only to find that he had forgotten his phone inside the house. Lori explained that Charles was very angry when he returned to find that Lori was holding his phone.
Lori claimed Charles began to move around the kitchen to get the phone back and she refused to give it to him, sparking an argument.
Lori then told Ynclan that Tylee responded to this argument by coming out of her room with a bat which she was using to keep Charles away by “prodding” him in defense of Lori.
Charles ended up taking the bat from Tylee’s hands before Alex Cox came into the room behind Charles. Alex grabbed him from behind and pulled him backward, at which point a physical struggle broke out between the two.
At this point, Lori says she told JJ and Tylee to go outside. She then moved into the kitchen where she could hear the struggle but did not see when Alex fired his gun. After the shot was fired, Lori went back into the room to find Charles on the floor.
Lori says she then went outside, where JJ and Tylee were waiting, and drove off to drop JJ at school with Tylee.
Charles’ phone was later recovered, though it was not in the house at the scene of the crime. Instead, it was found in Charles’ rental car.
With Lori’s interview finished, Ynclan began her interview with Tylee while Detective Moffitt interviewed Alex separately. After these interviews finished, the detectives returned the group to the house.
Ynclan says Lori was “very nonchalant about what had happened, not upset, and there was some chatter about Tylee, school and mundane conversation.”
Attorney Jim Archibald began his cross-examination by asking Ynclan if she arrested Alex Cox on the day of the shooting. She says she did not.
Archibald then asked Ynclan if the details of the argument were consistent across all of the interviews. She responded that they were.
Archibald also asked Ynclan if there was a correct or incorrect way to behave “when your estranged husband is shot”, to which she replied that she doesn’t know, but that the reaction Lori had left an impression on her.
On re-direct, Blake asked Ynclan if she is aware of whether Alex Cox is alive. Ynclan replies that she is aware of his death. Blake then asked, “If Alex Cox was still alive, do you believe your agency would have made a recommendation that charges be filed?”
The defense objected to this question, which is granted by Judge Boyce.
Blake continued, asking Ynclan if arrests are typically made on the day an investigation begins. Ynclan replies that they are not.
April Raymond, Lori’s friend from Hawaii who taught children scriptures at Sunday school with her, was the next witness called to the stand.
Raymond testified that she met Lori at a branch of the LDS Church in Hawaii and outlined some of the occult subjects that Lori would speak to her about.
One of these subjects was Lori’s divorce from Charles. Raymond explained that Lori told her Charles had been possessed by a demon named Ned Snyder.
Lori also told Raymond about the light and dark energy scale and that she was preparing for the second coming of Christ.
After Raymond explains that Lori told her to leave her children and join the occult group, The 144 Thousand, the prosecution ended their questioning.
Raymond’s cross-examination began as she was asked by Jim Archibald if there was a noticeable change in Lori’s belief system since they had met. Raymond responded that there was and that it was because of The 144 Thousand.
Raymond finished by explaining she believes that on a 2019 trip Lori took to Hawaii, she had engaged in “subtly grooming” Raymond to get a reaction and include her in the new belief system.
This line of questioning concluded as Raymond was excused from the stand, finalizing witness testimonies for the day with the plan to resume the trial tomorrow morning.
This story was originally published on April 19, 2023, by KIVI in Boise, an E.W. Scripps Company.