Chad Daybell, the husband of “doomsday” cult mom Lori Vallow, pleaded not guilty on Friday to felony charges related to the disappearance and deaths of Vallow’s two children.
Daybell, who appeared before a district court judge in Fremont County, Idaho, is accused of concealing evidence by hiding the bodies of Vallow’s autistic son Joshua “JJ” Vallow and his 17-year-old sister, Tylee Ryan, on a section of Daybell’s property in Rexburg, Idaho, in June 2019.
Daybell’s trial was set for January. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
The couple was part of a cult called Preparing a People, which believes in prepping for a second coming of Jesus Christ and the imminent end of times.
Vallow in the fall of 2019, around the time of her children’s’ disappearance, allegedly told a friend that JJ had become a “zombie” who was overtaken by a “dark spirit,” according to a probable cause affidavit for Vallow’s arrest.
She allegedly believed the only way to return a person’s true spirit to their body was by killing them, the document states.
Authorities have not charged anyone in the deaths of the two youths and have not detailed how they believe they were killed.
Vallow faces similar charges relating to the destruction of evidence in relation to her children’s deaths. Both Vallow and Daybell are each being held on $1 million bond.
Investigators are also exploring a possible connection between Vallow and the killing of her first husband, Charles Vallow, the father of her two late children.
Charles Vallow was shot and killed by Lori’s brother, Alex Cox, during a confrontation in Phoenix in July 2019. Charles had been seeking a divorce from Lori at the time after she had become involved in the doomsday prepper group.
Authorities are also probing the suspicious death of Daybell’s wife, Tammy, who died weeks before he married Vallow in Hawaii last November.
JJ and Ryan were last seen in September 2019. Authorities announced their disappearance in December and identified Daybell and Vallow as wanted for questioning.
A missing persons search and an investigation that led to their gravesites this June on Daybell’s property, where they were buried in a pet cemetery.
Daybell’s trial is slated to begin Jan. 11 and span three weeks through Jan. 29.
Vallow is next slated to appear in court this September.