Lori Vallow Daybell trial continues, prosecution takes a deep dive into search histories

Apr 24, 2023, 12:22 PM | Updated: Apr 25, 2023, 12:47 pm

Lori Vallow Daybell looked at her sister, Summer Shiflet, when Summer entered the Ada County courtr...

The second day of the fourth week of Lori Vallow Daybell's trial began with more information about timelines, and then a devastating phone call between sisters.

BOISE, Idaho — The fourth week of Lori Vallow Daybell’s murder trial picked up where it left off last Thursday, with testimony from law enforcement. The bulk of the testimony went over search histories for Lori and her husband Chad Daybell.

Vallow Daybell is charged with the murders of her two children, Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow. Additionally, she’s charged with conspiring to commit the murder of Tammy Daybell, Chad’s first wife.

Throughout the trial, Lori paid attention to the evidence presented but had no reaction to any speculation from the witnesses.

During breaks, Lori often laughed with her attorneys. At one point, when the prosecution was bringing up Chad’s search history, Lori scribbled something down and passed it to her attorney, smirking.

Kay and Larry Woodcock, JJ’s grandparents, were in attendance again, watching the proceedings intently.

Searching electronics

Det. David Stubbs, pictured below in a courtroom sketch, with the Rexburg Police Department picked up where he left off in his testimony from last week, explaining the search warrants executed in late 2019. At this point, police hadn’t been able to find any evidence of where Tylee or JJ were. 

a court sketch shows det. david stubbs and judge steven boyce during lori vallow daybell trial

Stubbs said police had about 20 to 21 search warrants for electronic devices. Police targeted information like emails, phone numbers and GPS locations.

Lori, Chad and her brother Alex Cox each had multiple phone numbers, which police say were all from burner phones. Those phones, Stubbs said, can still collect data.

The prosecution had a bump in the road when trying to present evidence on a flash drive, put together by Stubbs.

After some back and forth with the defense team and Judge Steven Boyce, the prosecution moved on to evidence that shows that Lori had multiple phone numbers belonging to her.

Search history on Lori’s device

Search history from a device Lori owned showed that the user of the account looked up and ordered two malachite wedding rings. This search was on August 25, 2019 — a month after her husband Charles Vallow died and almost two months before Tammy’s death.

The prosecution later brought out photos of Lori and Chad’s wedding day. When looking at a closeup of the couple’s wedding rings, Stubbs said they looked like a match to the rings Lori had ordered in August.

In another search, in September 2019, Lori looked for the definition of “possessed.” She also searched how to remove a seat in a Jeep, which Stubbs said caught his attention because of the attempted shooting of Brandon Boudreaux.

During the defense’s cross-examination, defense attorney John Thomas asked Stubbs whether Alex was the only person who could be placed at several key locations on several important dates. Stubbs agreed.

Stubbs later agreed that Lori couldn’t be placed at key locations like Chad’s backyard, where Tylee and JJ’s bodies were found.

At this point, the defense excused Stubbs.

Email addresses and burner phones

The next witness called by the prosecution was FBI agent Nicole Heideman, pictured below in a courtroom sketch. Heideman took a deeper dive into Lori and Chad’s search histories. She said she was able to link searches to several email addresses and phone numbers belonging to Chad and Lori.

a court sketch shows fbi agent nicole hiederman during lori vallow daybell trial

An email address of Chad’s was linked to searches about a 1996 death in Lousiana, along with the name Ned Snider. Neither the prosecution nor Heideman explained the relevance of the searches.

The evidence also showed that an email belonging to Lori had looked up a life insurance policy for children and searched for information about selling a service dog — which JJ had.

Lori also searched for wedding dresses in Hawaii the same day as Tammy’s funeral.

From there, Heideman went through a presentation made by the FBI. The presentation focused on the multiple phone numbers Lori, Chad and Alex had. Each were found to have had three numbers of interest.

Chad’s number linked him to some activity in Hawaii. He also at one point told Lori he’d use a number with a Rhode Island area code to call her.

During this testimony, Lori interrupted Heideman and asked her for clarification. It’s unclear what Lori asked for clarity on.

A number belonging to Lori was found to have been used when she requested a quote on the price of a Hawaii wedding.

Lori had also linked her iCloud and Google accounts to her phones.

Wedding planning 

Heideman next moved to a presentation, outlining Lori and Chad’s efforts to plan a wedding. Some of that planning happened before Tammy’s death.

One document submitted as evidence was titled “Presiding Council of Archangels.” Within it were mentions of Tuesday, malachite and aliases Lori and Chad used.

From there, Heideman testified that Lori attempted to buy malachite wedding rings two times before successfully purchasing them. That purchase was made before Tammy Daybell’s death. Heideman also included the fact that Lori returned the rings and got new ones in the correct sizes after Tammy’s death.

The jury then saw text messages between Lori and Chad, sent on July 13, 2019 — two days after Charles’ death. The texts included many “I love you’s” between the two.

One text from Chad read “I feel she’ll be gone by then,” after mentioning a graduation ceremony coming up for his family.

In more texts sent on July 22, 2019, Chad references the fact that he and Lori will be able to be together soon.

Heideman later pointed out that Chad and Lori had spent more time together in the month leading up to Tammy’s death.

Lori and Chad married on November 5, 2019, a little over two weeks after Tammy’s death.

Cell phone locating

The state next called Idaho FBI agent Nicolas Ballance, pictured below in a courtroom sketch, to the stand.

a court sketch shows fbi agent nicolas ballance during lori vallow daybell trial

Ballance began his testimony by explaining to the jury how cell phone locating works.

Next, he explained what he had found on the day of Sept. 9, 2019. That’s the day authorities believe Tylee was killed.

Cell phone activity shows that Alex, Lori and Chad communicated multiple times that morning. Ballance found that Alex’s phone location turned up at Chad’s property later that morning — near the spot where Tylee’s remains were later found.

Following Ballance’s testimony, court adjourned for the day.

More on the Trial of Lori Vallow Daybell:

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Lori Vallow Daybell trial continues, prosecution takes a deep dive into search histories