The former gravedigger and cult father Chad Daybell said he believed his stepchildren were ‘possessed by evil spirits’ and covered up their disappearance with an earthquake he had ‘foreseen’, his friends revealed to Daily Mail.
The news outlet has also found a photo of the 51-year-old digging a grave from when he worked as a gravedigger, which he described as ‘rewarding’ but also ‘sad when you have to bury babies.’
The cult dad was arrested on June 10 after the bodies of 7-year-old JJ Wallow and 17-year-old Tylee Ryan were discovered in his backyard. He has been charged with two felony counts of concealment or destructions of evidence but entered a not guilty plea.
Lori Vallow’s children had not been seen since September last year and were reported missing in December by their grandparents.
His arrest comes four months after 46-year-old Vallow was arrested on charges of child neglect and abandonment but officers haven’t confirmed if she faces further charges as the bodies of his missing children have been discovered.
Daybell’s friends told Daily Mail how the couple, who were active members of Avow – a cult-like offshoot of the Mormon church – have become consumed by what they believed were ‘visions from God.’
60-year-old Charlene Campbell, who has known Daybell for five years, told Daily Mail: “Chad and Lori were so convinced of his revelations, they believed there was going to be a massive earthquake and it was going to wipe out Salt Lake City. The whole Wasatch Front [northern and central Utah].
“It is a predicted earthquake but they believed they knew the date. According to my friend [in Avow], she understood that he truly believed those children were [zombies].
“He convinced Lori of that. And then they destroyed the children. They were convinced they would not have to deal with the consequences because the fallout of that earthquake would be so monumental, all the way into Idaho.
“It would be such a huge distraction, no one would know that they buried the kids.”
Many friends said that Daybell had become obsessed with spiritual visions and near-death experiences in the past few years.
54-year-old Suzanne Freeman claims Daybell became increasingly involved with Avow and Parratt. Melanie Gibb, 46, claimed Vallow believed every word Daybell said.
Campbell told Daily Mail: “Chad was quite sweet and nice at the beginning. I didn’t find him to be a dark looking guy – he had a glow about him. And then he started having that ego and then the narcissism and then that following on Avow, Christopher [Parratt] promoting him and making a lot of money.
“I think it corrupted him. ‘There’s a lot of corruption on Avow. I think that’s the cult actually and it’s still going. Chad’s still on there writing and people are still paying him.
“Well not anymore but he was up until he got arrested. But he’s still on there trying to get money for his articles, prophesying things that never come true. He clearly believed in the earthquake.”
Freeman also said: “I think he’ll believe God told him to do it for the rest of his life. He believes God told him to do this so he will never deny that.
“He believes that these visions were real. He can’t deny the visions. He will never believe they could have been demonic.”
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