Forensic expert reveals fingerprints found with JJ Vallow’s body matched to his uncle

The townhomes in Rexburg where Lori Vallow Daybell resided with JJ and Tylee before their murders. Photo credit: Mario Miguel.
The townhomes in Rexburg where Lori Vallow Daybell resided with JJ and Tylee before their murders. Photo credit: Mario Miguel.

Fingerprints on the plastic bag found with JJ Vallow’s body were matched to his uncle, Alex Cox, a forensic scientist revealed in court on Thursday.

The revelation came on the 17th day of Lori Vallow Daybell’s murder trial.

Vallow Daybell, along with her husband, Chad Daybell, are accused of first-degree murder in the September 2019 deaths of two of her children: 7-year-old JJ Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan. They are also charged with murder for the October 2019 death of Chad Daybell’s first wife, Tammy. Vallow Daybell lived in Rexburg, Idaho from August 2019 until November 2019.

Tara Martinez, a forensic scientist with the Idaho State Police, told the jurors Thursday that she extracted two usable prints from the black plastic garbage bag in which investigators found JJ Vallow’s body buried in Chad Daybell’s backyard in 2020. Upon opening the bag medical examiners found JJ with his arms and ankles bound with duct tape, his mouth covered in duct tape and a white plastic draw string trash bag wrapped over his head. 

Martinez compared the prints from the black bag to those of Chad Daybell, JJ Vallow, Lori Vallow Daybell and Alex Cox. One matched Cox’s fingerprints while the other matched his right palm. 

Cox’s widow, Zulema Pastenes, previously testified in the trial that Cox believed himself to be his sister’s divinely appointed protector and “would do anything for Lori.”

Police believe JJ was murdered around the night of Sept. 23. David Warwick, a former friend of Vallow Daybell, stayed at her home that night and was one of the last people to see JJ alive when he watched Cox carry the boy to bed. The next morning Vallow Daybell reportedly told Warwick that in the middle of the night, JJ had been climbing onto the kitchen cabinets, so she had Cox come and take him. 

Earlier on Thursday, other witnesses provided additional information on the death of JJ’s sister, Tylee. Investigators found her remains, scattered in burnt pieces, buried in the Daybells’ backyard as well. The FBI forensics experts who testified Thursday morning focused their testimonies on the damages inflicted on the pelvic region of Tylee’s body where it appears the seventeen-year-old sustained the most wounds. 

Forensic Anthropologist Angi Christensen told the jury that in addition to the sharp trauma inflicted on her skull, there were five indications of sharp trauma inflicted on Tylee’s pelvis. There were also five sharp alterations on her right hip, one on her left hip and one on the left side of her sacrum. Though her remains were found in parts, Christensen said that Tylee’s injuries were not consistent with a typical dismemberment case as there were no cuts made at her joints.

Douglas Halepaska, an FBI forensic examiner specializing in firearms and tool marks, testified that he could not tell the exact tool or tools that were used to inflict Tylee’s wounds as he could not decipher sufficient individual and class characteristics of the tool marks left on her pelvic bones. He did indicate that the wounds were inflicted by stabbing and chopping actions. 

The stab marks were consistent with a bladed tool with a pointed edge such as a knife, though he said he could not rule out non-knives. He said the chop marks were consistent with a bladed tool with serrated teeth such as a machete, cleaver or hatchet.

Follow @MarioMScroll for live updates.