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Tammy Daybell's sister, friends testify about her health at time of her death

Posted at 3:37 PM, Apr 28, 2023

BOISE, Idaho — On Day 18 of the trial of Lori Vallow Daybell, the focus was on the death of Tammy Daybell, Chad's first wife, with testimony from her sister and friends.

The prosecution opened with Tammy Daybell's sister, Samantha Gwilliam, resuming her testimony from Thursday.

GWilliam testified that she believed Chad buried her sister quickly, preventing some family members being able to attend her funeral, though Chad told her he thought Tammy would want to avoid any fuss. She also thought it was odd that Tammy was being buried in Utah, not Rexburg where her husband and children could visit.

She said that she and her husband found out about Chad marrying Vallow Daybell two weeks after her sister's death, leading her to conduct an internet search on Chad's new wife. Chad had told her Lori's last name was Ryan, and that her husband had died of a heart attack. Gwilliam's research is where she learned about Charles Vallow and that Charles had been shot and killed by his brother-in-law.

She testified that she had also seen a statement from Kay Woodcock regarding JJ, prompting her to ask about children. Chad told her he and Vallow Daybell were going to be "empty-nesters" when asked if they had any children.

The prosecution then called Dep. Colter Cannon from the Fremont County Sheriff's Office who was the responding officer to the 9-1-1 calls reporting the shooting in the Daybell driveway on October 9, 2019.

Tammy told the officer the shooter was a man dressed in all black and was wearing a ski mask. Tammy told the officer that when she confronted him, the man fired two shots.

Tammy felt sure it was a paint gun, though no paint nor shell casings were found. Cannon testified that Chad and his son, Garth, appeared calm.

After other testimony from several individuals, Cammy Willmore, the Fremont County Advanced EMT took the stand. Willmore testified she was fairly new in the coroner's office at the time of Tammy's death, and that Tammy's was one of the first half-dozen unattended deaths she had responded to.

Willmore testified that Chad was visibly distraught at the scene and that when she arrived, Tammy's body was cold and she was not breathing. Chad told her that Tammy had a coughing spell during the night, around midnight. She added that she observed quite a bit of pink foam coming from Tammy's mouth that seemed odd.

When Willmore touched the body, it was evident she was cold and stiff and most likely dead for several hours. She also observed bruises on Tammy's forearm, but didn't think they were new.

Willmore thought that the foam could have been caused by congestive heart failure. But she used her phone to look up poisoning, as she still thought it was weird and had never seen that before.

Chad told Willmore that Tammy had not been feeling well lately and was having fainting spells. Once the coroner, Brenda Dye, arrived, Willmore deferred to her.

Willmore testified that due to Tammy's age and the foam observed around her mouth, she and Dye offered to perform an autopsy, but Chad said he didn't want one.

Dye was then called to testify and said she received the call about the unattended deceased death of Tammy, and as the callers seemed to be quite distraught, had asked Willmore to go to the scene because she lived closer and could get there faster. Dye met her as soon as possible at the scene.

She said she also remembers that Chad was quite distraught.

Dye said that nothing was apparent at the scene that caused her concern. She testified that Chad told her about Tammy's coughing fit and that she had been sick before going back to bed. When Dye had asked about Tammy's health, Chad said Tammy had been feeling off lately. Chad described the fainting episodes, including one at Temple where Tammy had passed out on the floor. He told Dye that Tammy had very low blood pressure but wouldn't go to the doctor and preferred to treat everything naturally.

When Dye noticed the pink foam coming from Tammy's mouth, Chad said Tammy had leg convulsions and she had seizures. This information was not volunteered until he was asked questions.

Due to the lividity observed on her back, Dye had determined Tammy had been on her back when she died.

She testified that she consulted with detectives about whether or not to do an autopsy. She said again, that there was nothing suspicious about the scene, although confused about falling out of bed.

Dye felt it was odd that Tammy had fallen out of bed if she was already deceased. Chad explained that when he pulled the top sheet, it must have uncovered Tammy and caused her to fall on the floor.

The time of Tammy's death was estimated between 12:30 - 2:00 a.m. based on rigor mortis and lividity. At the morgue, after consulting with detectives, and since Chad didn't want one, she decided not to do the autopsy.

Based on information received from Chad and one of his daughters, Dye determined Tammy's death was due to pulmonary edema (too much fluid in the lungs), reporting the death was from natural causes.

Later in the day, Kelsey Harris to the stand. Harris was the teacher in a dancing class that Tammy attended regularly in Sugar City starting in early September until her death. Harris also attended a high fitness class with Tammy where they worked out next to each other.

Harris testified that Tammy was in good health and was always able to keep up with the class without any limitations on her ability.

Shanna Miller later testified on the stand, having taken a high fitness class with Tammy and her daughter twice a week, and testified that in the week prior to her death, Tammy had appeared to be very healthy. Specifically, it was a Zumba class that Tammy attended with her daughter between the fall of 2018 and the time she died.

The trial was then adjourned for the day with its resumption scheduled for Monday.