As Emma Murray looks over her father Chad Daybell’s nearly four-acre property just outside of Rexburg, Idaho, her fond memories of cookouts and yard games with her family are forever tarnished by the day in June 2020 when the remains of 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old JJ Vallow were found there. The two children of her father’s current wife,, had disappeared in September of 2019, sparking a flurry of headlines, speculation of cults with extremist beliefs, and a nationwide search. It all culminated with authorities descending on her father’s backyard to make the of just 50 yards apart in shallow graves.
“I don’t know why they would be there,” Murray told “48 Hours” contributor Jonathan Vigliotti while touring the property. “But I do know that if he were to commit a crime, he wouldn’t be foolish enough to put the evidence in his own backyard.”
Daybell’s five children allowed “48 Hours” first-time access to their father’s land. They believe the shallow burials of the remains found on the property prove that Daybell, a former gravedigger, is innocent of murdering JJ and Tylee. Their exclusive interview will be featured on “The Secrets of Chad Daybell’s Backyard,” an all-new “48 Hours” airing Wednesday, September 1 at 10/9c on CBS and streaming on Paramount+.
“It must be hard for you to come and visit this area,” said Vigliotti while standing near where Tylee’s remains were found. “I don’t come back here,” Murray answered. “It’s horrific to even think about.”
After JJ and Tylee’s remains were found in his backyard, both Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow Daybell were charged with murder in May 2021. Before she entered a plea, Lori Vallow’s case was placed on hold after a judge ruled her incompetent to stand trial while she undergoes mental health treatment. That leaves Chad Daybell, who pleaded not guilty, as the only one currently scheduled to face a jury.
His children — Emma Murray, along with her sister, Leah Murphy, and brothers Seth, Mark, and Garth Daybell — have decided now is the time to break their monthslong silence. They say that their father is innocent and that he had no idea the remains of the two children were even buried on his property and that they were secretly buried there to frame him.
“This is his property, said Murray. “If there’s bodies buried here, it would be attributed to him.”
Murray says there was ample opportunity while the property was unattended during the day for someone to sneak on and secretly bury the remains. She pointed out to Vigliotti while they toured the property that her father rarely went outside and that you could not see either burial site from the house. She and her siblings believe it is absurd that Chad would hide the children in his own backyard — saying there are plenty of remote places nearby to hide a body that wouldn’t have pointed authorities right to Chad Daybell.
“You can look around for miles and miles,” Murray told Vigliotti. “There’s not houses and neighbors. You could go down to the river that way. There’s … land down there that no one would ever touch.”
Most important, say his children, the shallowness of each grave seems a rookie mistake, especially for someone like Chad, a man who used to be a gravedigger.
“This is … a man who buries pets at, like, as deep as he can,” said Seth Daybell. “He knew how to dig graves and that just doesn’t sound believable to me.”
“Saying that somebody’s prior experience as a gravedigger means that they wouldn’t just sloppily bury somebody in their own backyard sort of discounts all of the psychological pressure that might be affecting somebody who’s trying to get rid of bodies,” says investigative reporter and CBS News consultant Morgan Loew.
Loew has been covering this case since JJ and Tylee first went missing, and he says that although it is possible Chad Daybell could have been framed as his children claim, there is mounting evidence to say otherwise. He points to a cryptic text Chad sent appearing to explain one of the new graves, lies he told police early on, and the fact that the children were found on his property.
“A lot of people are gonna say there’s a lot of convenient excuses here. What do you say to those people who are still very skeptical with all this?” asked Vigliotti.
“It might seem like a convenient excuse,” Murray replied. “But if it’s the truth, we have to hold to it.”
Chad Daybell’s children say they are looking forward to his trial, which is currently scheduled for November 8, and hope that the evidence presented will clear his name — and theirs.
“And I hope that my dad can get a fair trial,” said Murray. “And I hope that one day, our community can treat us like we’re part of it again.”