BOISE, Idaho (ABC4) — On the 18th day of Lori Vallow Daybell’s murder trial, Tammy Daybell’s death is discussed, with her sister, and a coroner as key witnesses.
Tammy Daybell was married to Chad Daybell, the current husband of Lori Vallow for 30 years prior to her death. Tammy died on October 19, in what was originally reported as a natural death. Her cause of death was later amended when more information was uncovered.
According to her sister, Samantha Gwilliam, Tammy seemed very healthy before she died. However, according to Chad, Tammy was having health problems for a while, had fainting spells, and even allegedly fell in the driveway about a month prior. Gwilliam said that Tammy would likely tell her if this happened.
On the day Tammy died, 911 received the following call:
“We just found my mom. She’s on the ground frozen…or she’s stiff. I don’t know,” Garth said. Then Chad interjected, “I’m Chad the husband. She’s clearly dead.” Dispatcher Christina West asked for clarification on where Chad lived. You can then hear Chad say, “Oh no,” as he’s reportedly crying, “She’s frozen.” Chad then gives the dispatcher his name calmly, “Chad Daybell.” Chad continued to reportedly cry while saying, “Oh man.” The dispatcher replied, “I’m so sorry,” and sent someone to the scene.
Officer Alyssa Greenhalgh with the Rexburg Police Dept. was assigned to the scene. She said when she arrived Garth and Chad met her in the living room, and Chad seemed “distraught.” According to Greenhalgh, the first thing they did was look for obvious signs of foul play, broken furniture, stab wounds, etc. She said there were no signs of a disturbance or break-in.
Tammy was found deceased on the bed. Greenhalgh said Chad told her that Tammy woke up coughing at 12 a.m., vomited, and afterward Chad helped her back to bed. Then around 5:45 a.m. Tammy allegedly partially fell off the bed. Greenhalgh said to the court, “Bodies don’t move if they are deceased. For her to fall off the bed, she would have been alive at that point.”
Chad said he and Garth moved her back onto the bed and covered her with blankets before calling 911. Chad called 911 at around 6 a.m. It appeared Tammy had been dead longer than 10-20 minutes when they arrived, as she was cold to the touch, Greenhalgh reported.
Cammy Willmore, a Fremont County Advanced EMT arrived at the scene as a deputy coroner. She said she was given the same story as Greenhalgh about Tammy waking up, throwing up, then going back to bed before partially falling off the bed. Willmore said when she walked in Tammy had foam coming out of her mouth, which was odd. Greenhalgh said she also noticed pink foam coming out of Tammy’s mouth.
Willmore said when she touched Tammy, she realized she had been dead for a while because she was so cold and her body was stiff. “She was 49 so this was unusual because she’s not that old. I was looking for things on her neck, bruising, scratches, those kinds of things,” Willmore said. But she said she only observed some old bruises.
Willmore said she saw the pink foam and wondered what caused it. She said she believed it could have been congestive heart failure. “It caused me enough concern that I got my phone and looked up poisoning. I also looked up foam just because I thought it was weird and I had not seen that before.” According to Willmore, she would have determined an autopsy was needed, however, it was not her call to make.
Coroner Brenda Dye finally arrived at the scene. Dye said she consulted with the detectives and morgue about whether to do an autopsy. Chad was allegedly adamant about not doing one. Dye said since there was nothing suspicious about the scene, they decided not to do an autopsy.
Dye asked Chad how Tammy could have fallen off the bed if she was deceased, and Chad said he must have rolled over in her sleep and pulled the top sheet off, releasing her. Dye estimated Tammy’s time of death between 12:30 a.m. and 2 a.m., approximately four hours before Chad called 911.
Dye completed a death certificate for Tammy and said she died of natural causes. This was reportedly based on information Chad, and one of his daughters gave Dye. Dye said she believed Chad’s version of events and agreed with the prosecution that Chad convinced Dye, the deputy, and the investigator that nothing bad happened.
Tammy’s sister Gwilliam said that Tammy’s funeral was just a few days after her death. “It was really quick,” Gwilliam said. When she asked Chad why the funeral was happening so quickly, he said Tammy would have wanted to avoid the fuss. Gwilliam said some family members weren’t able to come to the funeral because it happened so quickly.
Gwilliam said she learned Chad was remarried one month to the day of Tammy’s passing. “You don’t get married four weeks after you just buried your wife of almost 30 years. You just don’t do that,” Gwilliam said. She said they were devastated when they heard.
“As any good sister did, I went to the internet to see who this woman was,” Gwilliam said. “I discovered (Lori’s) name was tied to Vallow, and it brought up newspaper articles about a man in Arizona who had been shot in his own home by his brother-in-law. I took that to my husband and said, ‘I think this is the same woman who he married. He did not die of a heart attack.'”
Gwilliam said she found an obituary for Lori’s late husband, Charles, and a comment that said, “We will take care of JJ” from Charles’ sister. After learning there were children involved, Gwilliam said she told Chad, “Please tell me about this woman you replaced my sister with.”
Chad allegedly said that Lori had a hard life, and they were trying to stay away from the stigma of what had happened to her. Gwilliam asked him if they would be raising kids together, and he said no. “[Chad] told me no. There’s no children, and they were going to be empty nesters,” Gwilliam said.
When Gwilliam allegedly asked Chad about how he was going to support himself after Tammy died because she was the main breadwinner, Chad reportedly told her that his new spouse had lots of money.
A few months later, on December 11, 2020, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office exhumed Tammy’s body for an autopsy as her death was suspicious. The autopsy findings concluded that Tammy Daybell died “at the hands of another and died of asphyxiation.” To see how this fits in the timeline, read here.