On Tuesday, the seventh day of Lori Vallow-Daybell’s murder trial, Rexburg police detective Ray Hermosillo took the stand to give testimony of his role in the investigation of the disappearances of Joshua “JJ” Vallow and Tylee Ryan. In describing the search of Lori’s home, Hermosillo said police discovered two rifles, two silencers, one handgun a ghillie suit.
Hermosillo, a 22-year veteran of the Rexburg Police Department, conducted part-time surveillance of Lori Vallow’s home from Nov. 1, 2019 until about Nov. 15, 2019 on behalf of the Gilbert Police Department in Arizona. Gilbert police were interested in a Jeep Wrangler owned by the defendant that may have had a connection to an attempted homicide on Brandon Boudreaux, ex-husband to Lori’s niece, Melanie Pawlowski.
On Nov. 25, Hermosillo was asked by Arizona authorities to conduct a welfare check on JJ on behalf of his grandmother, Kay Woodcock, who had not heard from him in two months. Upon arriving outside Lori’s townhome the next morning, Hermosillo and his partner, Detective Dave Hope, encountered Alex Cox and Chad Daybell sitting in Cox’s pickup truck. Hermosillo testified that the pair was initially silent and looked at each other when asked about JJ’s whereabouts. When asked again, Alex told the detectives that he was with Kay Woodcock. Hermosillo responded that that was unlikely given that Woodcock requested the welfare check, to which Cox and Daybell once again gave no response besides looking at each other.
After knocking on Lori’s door with no answer, Hermosillo caught Chad leaving the complex in his SUV and asked him when the last time was that he saw JJ. Chad responded that it had been in October, but that he hardly knew Lori. Hermosillo said he already knew at the time that the two had gotten married two weeks prior.
Once authorities got ahold of Lori at her home, she told them that JJ was in Arizona with Melanie Gibb. Gibb denied this, so authorities obtained a search warrant the following morning.
When police arrived, Lori was gone. Most of her belongings were left behind except her clothing. The hangers in the closet were empty. In the garage Hermosillo discovered two rifles, two silencers, one handgun and a ghillie suit. One of the rifles was threaded to hold a silencer. Boudreaux, who testified in court on Monday, said that the rifle that was used to shoot at him from a Jeep in his driveway had a silencer.
Later in his testimony, Hermosillo described the search of Chad’s property on Jun. 9, 2020. After Chad was served the warrant, he went to his car to make a phone call. Hermosillo recalled seeing Chad look over his shoulder multiple times in the direction of a tree under which JJ Vallow was eventually found buried. Lori’s defense attorney, John Thomas, challenged Hermosillo on this recollection during his cross-examination, arguing that he could not have possibly known exactly where his eyes were pointed. Hermosillo maintained his statement with Thomas concluding, “we’ll agree to disagree.”
The court was shown photographs of JJ Vallow’s body enveloped in a black trash bag. The seven-year-old was found buried by a tree near a pond in Chad’s yard. The area caught the attention of searchers because it had shorter-than-normal grass. This appeared to upset Vallow-Daybell, who requested to be excused from the remainder of the day’s proceedings. Nate Eaton of East Idaho News says she appeared “visibly upset” following the Court’s return from lunch and after a recess during which she spoke with her attorneys, she re-entered the courtroom red-faced like she had been crying. Judge Steven Boyce denied her request saying that to preserve her due process and fair trial she should be required to stay.
The state continued to exhibit graphic evidence, including photos from JJ’s autopsy and photos of Tylee’s remains.
Once the plastic black bag was removed from JJ’s body, Hermosillo said the boy was found with his arms and ankles bound together with duct tape, his head covered in a white trash bag, his mouth covered in tape, his face dark and green from decomposition, and his arms bruised.
Tylee’s remains, buried in the Daybell ‘pet cemetery,’ were in burnt pieces, many of which were found in a melted green bucket. Some teeth and bone fragments belonging to the 17-year-old were found at a fire pit.
Key Dates presented as evidence at the hearing
Key Dates Pre-Investigation:
- July 11, 2019 – Charles Vallow dies.
- Sept. 2-3, 2019 – Lori, Tylee & JJ move to Rexburg,
- Oct. 2, 2019 – Attempted shooting of Brandon Boudreaux.
- Oct. 9, 2019 – Attempted shooting of Tammy.
- Oct. 19, 2019 – Tammy dies.
Key Dates During Investigation:
Nov.1, 2019 – Fremont County contacts Hermosillo about conducting surveillance for Gilbert police.
Nov 4, 2019 – Jeep Wrangler seized.
Nov. 5, 2019 – Chad and Lori get married.
Nov. 25, 2019 – Welfare check is requested.
Nov. 26, 2019 – Hermosillo makes contact with Alex & Chad.
Nov. 27, 2019 – Search warrant executed on Lori’s home.
Jun. 9, 2020 – Search warrant executed at Chad’s property.
June 10, 2020 – Hermosillo goes to Ada County Coroner’s office to see JJ’s autopsy.
The trial is expected to continue for at least another month.
Live updates are currently being provided on Twitter by Scroll Crime Reporter @MarioMScroll.