Testimony reveals new details about Tammy Daybell’s death

Posted at 1:52 PM, April 28, 2023 and last updated 5:13 PM, April 28, 2023


ADA COUNTY, Idaho (Court TV) – Prosecutors turned their focus to the murder of Tammy Daybell on Friday as they continued to build their case against Lori Vallow Daybell.

Lori is accused of killing her two youngest children, JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan, and conspiring to kill her fifth husband’s first wife, Tammy Daybell.

Samantha Gwilliam began testifying on Wednesday, offering the jury more insight into Tammy’s life, health and marriage to Chad Daybell. On Thursday, Gwilliam talked about Tammy’s death and funeral.

Courtroom sketch of Samantha Gwilliam

Samantha Gilliam testifies in court on April 28, 2023. (Sketch by Lisa Cheney)

Gwilliam testified that Chad held Tammy’s funeral quickly, and when she questioned him about the timing, he told her that it was what Tammy would have wanted. Chad also chose to bury Tammy’s body in Springville rather than Rexburg, which he told Gwilliam was because of the colder weather in Rexburg.

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

Gwilliam said she learned that Chad had gotten remarried one month to the day after her sister’s burial and was shocked to find out he had married only two weeks after Tammy died. She testified that Chad told her that he had married a woman named Lori Ryan, whose previous husband had died of a heart attack.

Gwilliam said that she asked Chad about whether Lori had children, and that he said no, they would be empty nesters.

During cross-examination, Lori’s defense attorneys questioned Gwilliam about Tammy’s obituary, which she helped to write, and said that Tammy died of natural causes. Gwilliam said that she wrote that in the obituary because that was what Chad had told the family. She said that Chad said Tammy was sick and had died in her sleep.

Gwilliam disputed Chad’s account that Tammy had been sick, describing her as a healthy person, and said that she never mentioned any vision of Chad’s that implied she would die.

Deputy Colter Cannon, one of the responding officers to the scene after Tammy was shot at with a paintball gun, was the next witness to take the stand. Cannon testified that on October 9, 2019, officers were called after Tammy reported coming home from the grocery store and seeing a man standing at the back side of a vehicle wearing all black and a ski mask, holding what she believed to be a paintball gun. When she asked him what he wanted, she heard two shots before the suspect ran around the side of the property and Tammy went inside.

Cannon testified that Tammy at first believed the gunman was her son, Garth.

During cross-examination, Cannon said that officers did not return to the scene to look for bullets or shell casings until January 3, 2020, and that nothing was found.

WATCH: A Look at the Death of Tammy Daybell

Helena Kaaiakamanu, an emergency dispatcher who answered 911 calls the day of the attempted shooting, testified as the calls were played for the jury.

A neighbor and Tammy Daybell both called 911. In the call from Tammy, she said that the suspect was “all dressed in black and he had a ski mask on.” She also referenced the suspect as holding a paintball gun and said that he did not say anything to her.

Christina West, the 911 dispatcher who received the call the day Tammy died, was next to testify. The 911 call Chad placed after his wife died was played for the jury. A male voice can be heard saying, “I’m Chad, the husband” and “She’s clearly dead.”

West testified that there was no indication that lifesaving measures had been taken at the scene.

Courtroom sketch showing multiple witnesses who testified on Friday

A number of witnesses took the stand on April 28, 2023, to testify about Tammy Daybell’s death. (Sketch by Lisa Cheney)

Rexburg police officer Alyssa Greenhalgh, who responded to the scene of Tammy’s death, testified that when she arrived at the scene, she found Chad and Garth in the living room. She described Chad as distraught and crying, while Garth was reserved and quiet.

Greenhalgh testified that Chad told her that Tammy had woken up at approximately midnight with a coughing fit and vomited multiple times. She said that Chad said he helped Tammy before returning to bed and woke up later that morning to find Tammy had fallen from the bed and was unresponsive. Chad told her that Tammy had fallen a month prior and didn’t have any major medical issues.

Greenhalgh described seeing Tammy as the jury was shown photos of her body on the bed. She testified that Tammy had pink-red foam on her mouth and going down her cheek, and as officers moved the blanket covering her, she noticed lividity on her back and legs as well as pink foam on Tammy’s face.

Fremont County Deputy Coroner Cammy Willmore testified that she responded to Tammy’s death on October 19, 2019. She described Chad as distressed and appropriately distraught.

Willmore described arriving at the scene, saying, “When I came in she had this foam coming out of her mouth, quite a bit of foam, and I remember thinking that was odd.”

Willmore testified that when she asked Chad about Tammy’s health, he said she had low blood pressure and that in the last month, she didn’t feel well. Willmore said she noted a homeopathic natural remedy book on Tammy’s nightstand.

Willmore said that she initially believed Tammy may have died from congestive heart failure after seeing the pink foam, but she did not see any other signs of congestive heart failure. She said that having never seen pink foam before, she was concerned it could be poisoning and began to look it up on her phone.

The examination of Tammy’s body was done at the scene. Willmore testified that when asked, Chad said he did not want an autopsy performed.

Fremont County Coroner Brenda Dye was the next witness to take the stand. She testified that Chad was distraught and crying. Chad also told Dye that Tammy had been feeling off lately and that she had episodes of fainting. Chad referenced a recent fainting episode at the temple when she went to stand up and passed out on the floor. He also told Dye that Tammy had shaking fits. When Dye asked whether Tammy had seizures, he told her that she had had some convulsions.

Dye testified that when she was at the scene, she asked Chad how Tammy could have fallen out of bed if she had already died and how her legs were still wrapped in covers. She testified that Chad told her he must have pulled on the top sheet, releasing her body.

Dye estimated that Tammy’s time of death was between 12:30 and 2 a.m., and not 5:30 a.m. as Chad had suggested. She confirmed that Chad did not request an autopsy, and that she signed off on a death certificate that listed Tammy’s death as natural causes due to pulmonary edema.

Dye testified that she attended the exhumation and autopsy of Tammy’s body, and said that the medical examiner then found that Tammy’s cause of death was asphyxiation and declared her death a homicide.

Under cross-examination, Dye testified that she had not changed Tammy’s death certificate to reflect she was the victim of a homicide. She also testified that both Chad and his daughter, Emma, were opposed to Tammy having an autopsy.

Two witnesses were called to the stand to testify about Tammy’s health before she died. Kelsey Harris, who taught Tammy’s cardio clogging class, testified that Tammy was a student in her 60-minute clogging class in 2019 and that she appeared to have no physical ailments. She described Tammy as being fit and in good health.

Shanna Miller, who worked with Tammy and saw her the day before her death, testified that she appeared happy and jovial in the 24 hours before her death. She said that she did not observe any coughing and that Tammy did not complain about being sick.

Court is scheduled to resume on Monday at 8:30 a.m. MT/10:30 a.m. ET.