Judge orders trial tied to discovery of missing kids' bodies

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Chad Daybell listens during his preliminary hearing in St. Anthony, Idaho, on Tuesday, August 4, 2020. A preliminary hearing continues to decide whether there is enough evidence to hold Daybell for trial. He and the children's mother face charges related to the hiding of the remains of 17-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow, although authorities have yet to say how the two died. (John Roark/Post Register via AP, POOL)

BOISE, Idaho – A judge ruled Tuesday there’s enough evidence for a man to go to trial after the bodies of his new wife’s two children were found buried on his Idaho property. The bizarre case involving doomsday beliefs and the deaths of several people linked to the couple has attracted national headlines.

Chad Daybell, 52, has pleaded not guilty to charges related to hiding the remains of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan. Investigators found their bodies during a search in June, months after they were last seen in September.

Daybell last year married Lori Vallow Daybell, who has pleaded not guilty to conspiring to help him keep the bodies of her children hidden. Authorities have yet to file charges related to the deaths of the children.

They also have yet to say how or when the children died, but the prosecuting attorney on Tuesday during closing arguments called both deaths homicides based on the condition of the bodies.

The two-day hearing included graphic testimony about unearthing the duct-tape bound body of the boy and the charred and dismembered remains of the girl.

A friend of Lori Daybell, Melanie Gibb, testified how people involved in the case became acquainted through a doomsday belief system that led them to “preparedness” meetings loosely affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

An FBI analyst who reviewed cellphone records testified that on Sept. 9 Chad Daybell sent a text to his then wife, Tammy Daybell, saying he was burning debris and that he had also shot and buried a large raccoon on his property. The analyst said that was notable because Tylee Ryan was last seen alive on Sept. 8 in Yellowstone National Park.

Prosecutors also said cellphone location records indicated that the day after Joshua “JJ” Vallow was last seen alive in late September, Lori Daybell's brother, Alex Cox, showed up at Chad Daybell's property just as he had shown up at Tylee Ryan's grave site the day after she disappeared.