JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan’s remains tell the stories of their final days

Apr 26, 2023, 9:56 AM | Updated: 4:46 pm

jj vallow pictured on tylee ryan's lap...

JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan pose together in family photo.

Editor’s note: this story contains mentions of graphic content. Read at your discretion.

BOISE, Idaho — Jurors heard more testimony in the trial of Lori Vallow Daybell on Wednesday, this time focusing on the autopsy results for JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan. 

A larger than usual crowd filled the courtroom on Wednesday — most of them women and several of them true crime fans. Some family made their way into the courtroom too, but Kay and Larry Woodcock, JJ’s grandparents, didn’t show up until hours later.

Lori is charged with the murders of her two children, Tylee and JJ. She faces an additional charge of conspiring to murder her husband’s first wife, Tammy Daybell. Lori pleaded not guilty to her charges.

Finding JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan’s remains

Wednesday’s testimony opened with FBI special agent Steve Daniels, as he took the stand for the second day in a row.

On Tuesday, Daniels took the jury through a detailed story of how investigators found Tylee’s body buried on Chad Daybell‘s property. An attentive jury heard about the gruesome state Tylee’s remains were found in and the discovery of JJ’s burial site.

Unlike Tylee, JJ was found bound and covered. Jurors saw photos from the burial site showing his small body wrapped in plastic and duct tape.

JJ’s autopsy and cause of death

Next, testimony from a forensic pathologist, Dr. Garth Warren, revealed that 7-year-old JJ Vallow died of asphyxiation caused by a plastic bag taped over his head.

He was bound with duct tape and had layers of plastic covering the red pajamas he was wearing. Bruises and scrapes laid beneath duct tape on his mouth, neck and arms. The bruising on JJ’s arms happened before his death, Warren said.

At one point during cross-examination, defense attorney John Thomas questioned Warren’s findings on JJ’s cause of death. Thomas pointed to the fact that Warren found no microplastics inside JJ’s nose.

“He was found with a plastic bag over his head, it was tight and there were signs of a struggle,” Warren responded. 

And, Warren said, deaths like JJ’s don’t usually require testing inside the victim’s nose.

Following Warren’s testimony about JJ’s cause of death, the prosecution gave jurors and the defense photos from JJ’s autopsy.


Tylee’s autopsy and cause of death

As he continued his testimony, Warren revealed Tylee’s cause of death was “homicide by unspecified means.”

This means that 16-year-old Tylee was definitely killed but Warren wasn’t able to pinpoint how it was done. 

It was here that Kay and Larry Woodcock stepped into the courtroom for the first time on Wednesday.

Warren then testified that Tylee’s autopsy went very differently than JJ’s because of the state her remains were in. 

As the prosecution showed photos and Warren described Tylee’s remains, Larry sat, gently rocking back and forth on his seat.

Tylee’s body had been so damaged from burning and dismemberment that some of her remains were unidentifiable to the naked eye.

A deeper dive

The state next called Dr. Angi Christensen, a forensic anthropologist with the FBI. Her job, she explained, is to take a closer look at bones and remains.

Investigators gave Christensen about 100 to 150 bones from Tylee’s remains. Burn marks showed up on several. On others, something sharp marked them.

 Christensen’s testimony ended with a CT scan of a sharp trauma mark.

Testimony will continue Thursday.

More on the Trial of Lori Vallow Daybell:

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JJ Vallow and Tylee Ryan’s remains tell the stories of their final days