‘Cult Mom’ Trial: Tammy Daybell Had Bruises Consistent With Asphyxiation, Chief Medical Examiner Reveals

Utah’s chief medical examiner testified on Monday that extensive toxicology testing produced nothing out of the ordinary in the death of Tammy Daybell.

Dr. Erik Christensen said police in Fremont County, Idaho, contacted his office in November 2019 about exhuming Tammy and performing the autopsy. Christensen attended the exhumation and reviewed her medical records beforehand, according to East Idaho News.

Tammy died in October 2019. At the time she was married to Chad Daybell, who is Lori Vallow Daybell’s current husband. Lori and Chad were married in November 2019, days after Lori’s two children disappeared.

Tammy’s initial cause of death was listed as pulmonary edema with the manner being ruled as natural. However, officials now believe she was asphyxiated her death was a homicide.

While on the stand, Christensen confirmed officials’ newest findings and noted bruises on Tammy’s arms which he believed were inflicted in the hours leading up to her death.

“They are consistent with someone being restrained and would be consistent with asphyxia being the cause of death as well,” he said, according to the East Idaho News.

However, toxicology testing which involved checking for hundreds of poisons, intoxicants, nerve agents, and pesticides reportedly turned up nothing. Christensen commented that there was no “toxicological explanation” behind Tammy’s death.

“We did a lot more testing in this case than we normally would, and everything came back negative except the medication she was prescribed,” he said, according to the East Idaho News.

Lori and Chad, Lori’s fifth husband, are charged with killing Tammy, Tylee Ryan, and J.J. Vallow. Lori is currently standing trial and Chad will be tried later.

J.J. and Tylee were missing for nine months before their remains were found on Chad’s property in June 2020.

J.J.’s body was reportedly found in a plastic bag that was wrapped in plastic. His face, arms, wrists, and feet were wrapped with duct tape. Tylee’s burned remains were on the property, though her entire body was not intact.

Prior testimony revealed that J.J. was suffocated with a plastic bag and duct tape. Tylee’s cause of death was undetermined due to the condition of her remains.

Lori has said she was with Melanie Gibb, David Warwick, or her husband when her son and daughter died in her brother’s apartment in Rexburg, Idaho. She allegedly said she was at her residence, also in Rexburg. She claimed she was in Hawaii when Tammy was killed at her husband’s home in Salem, Idaho. She stated she was with two other people at the time.

Lori — believed to have been involved in a so-called doomsday cult — allegedly told a friend that her children had become zombies and the only way to exorcise their bodies of evil spirits was to kill them.

In Arizona, Lori is charged in connection with the death of her fourth husband, Charles Vallow. Her brother, Alex Cox, fatally shot Charles in July 2019, months before Tammy’s death and J.J. and Tylee’s disappearances. Cox died, reportedly of natural causes, in December 2019.

Lori, who is not facing the death penalty, underwent psychiatric treatment twice before she was deemed fit to stand trial in Idaho. Cameras are not allowed in the courtroom per a court order.

The trial continues. 

For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast. Listen to the latest episode:

Join Nancy Grace for her new online video series designed to help you protect what you love most — your children.

[Featured image: Tammy and Chad Daybell/Facebook]