A day after police confirmed two sets of human remains were found at Chad Daybell’s home, new morbid details emerged about the Idaho stepfather who now faces felony charges along with his wife in the disappearance of their two children.
Daybell once worked as a gravedigger at a Utah cemetery where he “did his job well,” according to a city official who spoke to CBS affiliate KUTV 2 News in Salt Lake City.
And in Salem, Idaho, where police made the grisly discovery, a neighbor said he saw investigators digging in the same place where Daybell lit several bonfires in recent months, according to Fox 13 News in Salt Lake City.
Several backhoes were seen entering the property Tuesday around the time of Daybell’s arrest. Blue tarps and canopy tents peppered the landscape around a large barn-like structure.
Aerial photos also showed detectives examining a circular fire pit on the grounds. Nearby, mounds of dirt were excavated with a little more than a dozen 5-gallon buckets.
“We noticed they were having a few bonfires that were kind of out of the ordinary,” said Matthew Price, who lives across the street. “They had a big bonfire last fall, and they had two or three big bonfires this spring,” he said, adding that Daybell, a once-talkative-and-friendly neighbor, became distant and aloof after the children vanished.
The new revelations come as investigators continued to scour Daybell’s property after authorities confirmed finding two sets of children’s remains there.
Although officials have not released the identities of the dead, relatives confirmed to Fox10 News in Phoenix that the bodies were those of 8-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and his sister, 17-year-old Tylee Ryan, who both disappeared in September.
The children’s grandparents, Kay and Larry Woodcock, arrived at the house in Salem on Wednesday, according to reports. A vigil for the children is planned for Friday night in Idaho Falls, according to East Idaho News.
The family of Tammy Daybell, Chad’s former wife who mysteriously died in October, released a statement Thursday, expressing sympathy after the children’s bodies reportedly were found, according to a Fox 10 reporter.
Chad Daybell, charged with two felony counts of destruction and concealment of evidence, made his first court appearance Wednesday and remains in the Fremont County Jail on a $1 million bond.
The mother of the children, Lori Vallow, was arrested in Hawaii in February on felony abandonment charges and has refused to cooperate with investigators. She was extradited back to Rexburg, Idaho, in March and remains jailed on a $1 million bond.
Friends and family say Daybell and Vallow were involved in a cult that believed the end of the world was near.
Police have not yet announced any charges related to the two bodies that were found.
Documents in the case, including the warrants to search Daybell’s property, have been sealed.
Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood described the manner in which one of the bodies was hidden as “particularly egregious,” but he would not elaborate.
At Wednesday’s bail hearing, Wood called Daybell a flight risk.
The judge ordered Daybell to wear an ankle monitor and remain in the area if he meets the bond.
Daybell, the author of several apocalyptic novels based loosely on principles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was once a sexton at the city-owned graveyard in Springville, Utah, according to reports.
At the time, he was still married to his previous wife, Tammy Daybell, who began working there before Chad. As secretary, she was responsible for cemetery records, selling plots, and ambulance billing among other duties, city spokesman Rod Oldroyd said in a statement.
“Both Chad and Tammy were excellent workers and did their jobs well and beyond expectation,” Oldroyd said, according to KUTV. “Chad worked here more than once because he always did his job well.”
“Both Chad and Tammy were well respected in our community. They both continue to have many family members living here and our thoughts are with them,” Oldroyd said.
Chad Daybell is now under investigation after Tammy went to bed Oct. 19 and never woke up. Two weeks after her death, Daybell eloped to Hawaii with his new bride, Lori Vallow, where they had a beach wedding.
Back in Idaho, authorities carrying out a welfare check on the children at the Vallow home arrived to find no one there.
Daybell and Vallow were 3,000 miles away at the time, enjoying a monthslong honeymoon at an exclusive resort before authorities finally tracked them down to Kauai.
There were no signs the children were ever with them.
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism. AJC.com. Atlanta. News. Now.
Download the new AJC app. More local news, more breaking news and in-depth journalism.
With the largest team in the state, the AJC reports what’s really going on with your tax dollars and your elected officials. Subscribe today. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.
Your subscription to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism. Visit the AJC's Georgia Navigator for the latest in Georgia politics.