Daybell prosecutor requests a veteran homicide, death penalty attorney join the case

Daybell prosecutor requests a veteran homicide, death penalty attorney join the case File Photo

ST. ANTHONY – Madison County Attorney Rob Wood wants to add a veteran homicide prosecutor to his team to help with the ongoing case against Chad and Lori Daybell.

Wood applied to District Judge Steven Boyce Thursday to include Rachel Smith, a Missouri attorney, on the case. According to a request from, Smith is an active member of the Missouri Bar, the professional association that regulates the legal profession in the state.

Smith is filing for admission to the Idaho jurisdiction in “all investigative or consequential cases or charges relating to the conduct of the defendants in connection with crimes against Tylee Ryan and Joshua Vallow in Idaho.”

The Daybells pleaded guilty to no crime related to altering, destroying and concealing the bodies of 7-year-old Joshua “JJ” Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, two of Lori’s children. Investigators found the remains buried in the back yard of Chad’s Salem house in June 2020. The case is currently in Fremont County, where Wood is serving as the special prosecutor.

No one has been charged with the children’s deaths to date, but the case is still an active investigation.

Wood explained his case for the additional attorney in a letter from sent to the Madison County Commissioners on Tuesday.

“Few offices our size in the entire county have the manpower to handle a case this size without disrupting their day-to-day commitments,” Wood wrote. “The temporary addition of a seasoned attorney to handle the Daybell case will allow us to meet the increased manpower needs as this important matter continues and will ensure justice for the victims and people of Madison County.”

Wood calls Smith “a seasoned murder prosecutor” with 25 years of experience in complex criminal matters. Her résumé spans over 100 murder and death penalty cases. She currently works as a special attorney across Missouri helping other prosecutors.


“Having Ms. Smith as part of our team for the next several months is also a long-term benefit,” Wood wrote in his letter. “While we have an excellent staff of skilled prosecutors in the office and our community has a relatively low crime rate, Ms. Smith’s experience in criminal proceedings and instructional instruction will help prepare our team for future complex situations, if and when they do occur. ”

The Vera Causa Group, which is acting as an advisor on the Wood case, referred Smith to Madison County while Wood sought additional help on the case.

If Boyce approves the motion, Wood or another Madison County assistant attorney would have to accompany Smith to a trial unless the judge authorizes her to attend alone.

Two additional documents were filed in the Daybell case over the past week. One is an order to seal part of the case and the other is a motion to protect certain information in the case from being released outside of the attorneys involved.

The Daybells are now scheduled for a hearing on Monday at 3 p.m. to discuss Smith’s possible addition to the case.