Lori Vallow Daybell trial sees more forensic evidence, revelation about Alex Cox’s possible involvement

Apr 27, 2023, 12:48 PM | Updated: 4:26 pm

a mural of the experts who testified and gave evidence during the lori vallow daybell trial on apri...

(Courtroom sketch)

(Courtroom sketch)

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

BOISE, Idaho — Testimony about Tylee Ryan and JJ Vallow‘s remains continued during day 12 in the trial of Lori Vallow Daybell. The biggest news out of Thursday’s testimony came when an analyst announced that a latent fingerprint from Alex Cox, Lori’s late brother, was found on evidence from JJ’s body.

Cox’s latent fingerprint from his pinky and a palm print from his right hand matched prints left on a black plastic bag wrapped around JJ.

Before the news broke about Cox’s latent fingerprints, the courtroom saw a number of forensic experts testify.

Forensic evidence

Dr. Angi Christensen is a forensic anthropologist for the FBI. She picked up her testimony where she left off Wednesday, restating that marks left on Tylee’s bones weren’t consistent with dismemberment. The prosecution believes that Tylee was dismembered and burned after her death.

Next, Douglas Halepaska, a forensic examiner in the FBI’s firearm and tools unit, took the stand. His testimony went over the possible tools that were used to make the marks on Tylee’s bones.

Halepaska linked serrated blades, a knife and a tool like a hatchet, cleaver or machete to different marks on the bones. 

David Sincerbeaux, a forensic analyst and analytical chemist at the Idaho State Police’s forensics lab testified that gasoline was present on evidence from Tylee’s burial site. He examined samples of fire debris and Tylee’s flesh — though it’s unclear which sample had the gasoline on it.

Katherine Dace, a forensic biologist for Idaho State Police Laboratory then went over DNA evidence collected from tools seized by the FBI. Namely, a shovel had Tylee’s DNA on it and a pickaxe had a partial DNA match to her too.

During cross-examination, the defense wondered aloud, why did the FBI send the tools to the Idaho State Police?

Tara Martinez, a forensic scientist for the Idaho State Police took the stand next, focusing her testimony on fingerprints. Martinez tested duct tape and plastic found on JJ’s body for prints, checking against fingerprints from Lori, Chad and Lori’s brother Alex Cox.

It was Martinez who dropped the bombshell about Cox’s latent fingerprint match.

Though jurors didn’t reveal much through their body language or facial expressions, most began taking notes after the revelation.

More pieces to the puzzle

Testimony Det. Chuck Kunsaitis involved in the recovery of JJ and Tylee’s bodies presented jurors with satellite images of Chad’s property. One image showed a dark spot in the backyard, taken during the suspected time frame of Tylee’s death and disposal.

Then, the state called its final witness for the day, Samantha Gwilliam. Gwilliam is Tammy’s sister and Chad Daybell’s sister-in-law.

Gwilliam testified that the morning after her sister’s death, Chad called to tell her about Tammy’s death. He claimed Tammy died because she was “really sick.”

The news didn’t make sense to Gwilliam, who had seen her sister just two weeks earlier. 

Tammy’s autopsy results, released during opening arguments, found that she died of asphyxiation, not illness.

Gwilliam ended her testimony on Thursday by saying Tammy and Chad’s relationship seemed different, even odd, in the weeks before Tammy’s death.

Testimony resumes Friday morning.

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Lori Vallow Daybell trial sees more forensic evidence, revelation about Alex Cox’s possible involvement