Coroner Recalls Emotional Day Doomsday Dad’s First Wife Died

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Rexburg Police Department
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Rexburg Police Department

When Fremont County Coroner Brenda Dye arrived at Chad Daybell’s Idaho home in October 2019, she immediately had questions about how the prominent Doomsday author’s wife had died.

Just 45 minutes earlier, Daybell’s son had called 911 in a panic after finding his mother, Tammy Daybell, “stiff” in her bedroom. Daybell then told officers that his wife of nearly 30 years was “clearly dead” and that she was “frozen.”

Dye entered the home to find Daybell “very upset and distraught,” Dyle told Ada County jurors on Wednesday. She then walked into the couple’s room, where Tammy had been moved to the bed—and wrapped in a blanket.

“I observed the blood coming from her mouth, kind of a pink foam,” Dye said on Wednesday, noting that Tammy was already “cold to the touch.”

Daybell explained that his wife, who had not been feeling well over the last few months and suffered from fainting spells, had woken up coughing that night and eventually fell off the bed. He also claimed that Tammy Daybell suffered from low blood pressure—but insisted on treating everything naturally because she hated going to the doctor.

Dye said that despite her questions, she respected Daybell’s wishes not to complete an autopsy, and Tammy was ultimately pronounced dead of natural causes. Months later, after Daybell jetted off to Hawaii with his paramour Lori Vallow and the pair came under suspicion for the disappearance of her children, Tammy’s body was exhumed.

It was then that Dye said she performed an autopsy and learned that Tammy was a homicide victim who had died from asphyxiation.

“Had I known that information, I would have ordered an autopsy,” Dye said, expressing regret for her original determination. “At that time, with my limited training and being new, I did the best I could with the training I had at that time.”

The admission came on the 10th day of Daybell’s death penalty trial in Idaho. Prosecutors allege Daybell, 55, and Vallow conspired to murder Tammy in October 2019 for an insurance payout before flying to Hawaii to get married 17 days later.

“As they were dissecting the bruise, it was a very deep bruise on her arm. It didn’t make sense she had thrown up the night before because she had stomach contents,” Dye said about Tammy’s autopsy. “Her stomach was full of food. If she threw up, there wouldn’t be food in her stomach during the autopsy.

“I am the one who signs the death certificate that makes that determination. All of her organs were healthy,” she added. “The only organ that was not healthy was her lungs. There was a lot of foam in her lungs.”

The slaying was allegedly the last of three murders the religious fanatics committed that year after killing Vallow’s children, 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, in September 2019 and buried them in his backyard, prosecutors say.

Daybell has pleaded not guilty to several charges—including first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, grand theft, and insurance fraud—and his lawyers allege there is no direct evidence tying him to the murders. In July, Vallow was sentenced to life in prison for her role in the crimes.

“When he had a chance at what he considered his rightful destiny, he made sure that no person, no law would stand in his way," Madison County Prosecuting Attorney Rob Wood said in his opening statements. “His desire for sex, money, and power led him to pursue those ambitions and this pursuit led to the deaths of his wife and Lori's two innocent children.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.