The body of doomsday mom Lori Vallow’s murdered teenage daughter had been hacked with a bladed tool and doused in gasoline before her remains were buried on an Idaho farm, a jury heard on Thursday.
Those were among the gut-retching details several expert witnesses revealed in Vallow’s murder trial in Ada County Court, including that 16-year-old Tylee Ryan’s DNA was found on a handle of a pickaxe and shovel discovered at Chad Daybell’s home.
“I found several presumptive positive blood stains on the tools and on several of the tools I found what could be charred flesh,” Katie Dace, a forensic biologist with the Idaho State Police, said about the 18 hand tools seized from the Daybell property, according to EastIdahoNews.
Prosecutors say that Tylee Ryan and her 7-year-old brother, Joshua “JJ” Vallow, were murdered in September 2019 by Vallow and Daybell, her new husband, before their bodies were eventually found about nine months later.
Authorities say that JJ was fatally strangled and found buried in a pet cemetery with a plastic bag over his head and duct tape over his mouth.
Tara Martinez, who works for the Idaho State Lab on latent fingerprints, revealed Thursday that finger and palm prints found on a garbage bag that JJ’s body was wrapped in matched Lori Vallow’s brother, Alex Cox. Cox died in December 2019 from a blood clot, months after shooting Vallow’s ex-husband, purportedly in self-defense.
JJ’s older sister, who was found dismembered and buried in a fire pit nearby, died by unspecified means, a forensic pathologist said. Vallow has pleaded not guilty to several charges in connection with her children’s murder and the October 2019 asphyxiation death of Daybell’s first wife, Tammy.
But while there are few details about how Tylee died, mostly because of the state of her remains when authorities found her, expert witnesses were able to piece together what happened to her body after her death.
Douglas Halepaska, who works for the FBI lab in the firearms and tool marks division, testified that he examined several sharp trauma areas on Tylee’s bones. In those areas, Halepaska said, he found marks believed to be caused by blows made by a “chopping-type action” from a serrated, bladed tool.
Halepaska, however, said he could not determine the exact tools used to dismember Tylee—but believed the markings could have been made by a hatchet, machete, or cleaver.
A retired Idaho State Police analytical chemist also described to jurors how he tested a can of Tylee’s decomposing flesh and other debris found on Daybell’s Idaho property.
“That can contained gasoline,” David Sincerbeaux said about Tylee’s remains.
The conclusion mirrored that of Dr. Garth Warren, who works for the Ada County Coroner’s Office and conducted the autopsies on Tylee and JJ. Warren testified on Wednesday that Tylee’s remains had been so badly burned that they were found melted in two different places in the backyard—in a fire pit and inside a buried melted green bucket.
“There weren’t nice clean bones. These were bones that had significant artifacts secondary to the fire,” Warren said. “They were blackened and charred.”
Dace also detailed to jurors how she examined swabs from JJ’s autopsy, as well as over a dozen tools from Daybell’s property and plastic from the burial site. She also analyzed the duct tape that was found on JJ’s ankles, hands, mouth, and around the plastic bag that was wrapped around his head.
According to EastIdahoNews, Dace noted that “most of the tape and plastic had apparent blood and decomposition fluid present. I tested all the items for blood, which was positive.” She added that she noticed irregular edges on the tape that looked like someone tore off the tape with their mouths and could have left saliva behind.
Analyzing tools found on Daybell’s property, Dace said, she found “several presumptive positive blood stains” and “what could be charred flesh.” She added that DNA analysis on one shovel and a handle of a pickaxe matched with Tylee.
The center of the pickaxe, Dace said, had an “oily texture” and a “dark, greasy ring around it.”