The Death of Chad Daybell's First Wife Was First Ruled Natural — Coroner Brenda Dye Disagreed

"It's just hard to imagine someone doing that to someone they care for and love," said Brenda Dye.

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Apr. 25 2024, Published 5:53 p.m. ET

Tammy Daybell smiles in a picture
Source: YouTube/KTVB (video still)

Chad Daybell's first wife, Tammy Daybell.

According to Tammy Daybell's obituary, she "passed away peacefully in her sleep on Saturday, Oct. 19, 2019, in Salem, Idaho." When she died, Tammy was married to Chad Daybell, who would later marry convicted killer Lori Vallow mere weeks after his first wife's death. In life, Tammy put much of her love and focus into her family, which included the five children she shared with Chad.

Article continues below advertisement

When Daybell called 911 after discovering his wife's lifeless body, he said Tammy was frozen. "She's clearly dead," he told the operator. Eventually Brenda Dye, the Fremont County coroner, arrived on the scene and confirmed Tammy was dead and took note of bruises on her arms and "pink foam at her mouth," per KSL News Radio. It was later determined that Tammy died of pulmonary edema, but that cause of death was later changed.

Article continues below advertisement

Brenda Dye is the coroner who was tasked with changing the cause of death on Tammy Daybell's death certificate.

On Dec. 11, 2019, the body of Tammy Daybell was exhumed when police began to suspect she died under suspicious circumstances, per ABC News. At the time of her death, there was no autopsy performed on Tammy's body as Idaho is a coroner state, which means they aren't legally obligated to do so. While testifying during Daybell's trial in April 2024, Dye said she changed the cause of death on Tammy's death certificate. It was now deemed a homicide with a cause of death being asphyxiation by suffocation.

After her body was exhumed, a medical examiner from Utah oversaw the autopsy while Dye was in attendance. While testifying, Dye explained there were inconsistencies based on what Daybell said about his wife's activities the night before she died. Daybell told authorities she had thrown up, but the autopsy revealed that Tammy still had something present in her stomach.

Article continues below advertisement

Daybell also claimed Tammy had been suffering from seizures, but Dye said her organs and brain were both healthy. There was no indication that any seizure-like activity had gone on. What they did find was a large amount of foam still in Tammy's lungs. "There shouldn't have been that foam in the lungs," said Dye. It had been two months since she died.

Article continues below advertisement

Brenda Dye is haunted by the deaths of J.J. Vallow and Tylee Ryan.

While speaking with KSL in November 2023, Dye said her involvement in the death investigations of two of Lori Vallow's kids, 16-year-old Tylee Ryan and 7-year-old Joshua "JJ" Vallow, were the most difficult cases she had ever worked on. (Vallow was found guilty of their murder; Daybell is currently on trial for their murder as well as the murder of Tammy.) "It's just hard to imagine someone doing that to someone they care for and love," said Dye. "I have kids and I just can't imagine what the family has had to go through." She told the outlet that every time she has to speak about this case, it conjures up horrifying images.

Learning to process these feelings is part of the job, but sometimes it really gets to Dye, who was drawn the work because she loves "trying to save people and get them to the hospital in time. If that's not possible, then I want to (be involved) in determining the cause of death." She previously worked in the emergency medical services field, hence the life-saving part. What she values most is helping people get closure. Hopefully the families of Tammy Daybell, J.J. Vallow, and Tylee Ryan were able to find some.

More from Distractify

Latest Human Interest News and Updates

    Opt-out of personalized ads

    © Copyright 2024 Distractify. Distractify is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.