‘I ripped up our marriage license’: Messages between Baby Joe’s mother, her boyfriend detail relationship

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DICKSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — During Facebook conversations in the days leading up to Joe Clyde‘s disappearance, the boy’s mother, Krystal Daniels, told her boyfriend in Kansas that she wasn’t happy with her husband and ripped up her marriage license, a TBI agent testified Thursday morning.

Zachary Burkhart, an agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, took the stand on day seven of the murder trial for Joseph Daniels, the Dickson County man accused of fatally beating his five-year-old son, Joe Clyde, then dumping his body in a rural area.

Joseph Daniels in the courtroom on Day 7 of his murder trial (Photo: WKRN)

During Burkhart’s testimony, he provided records of Facebook conversations, including one dated March 2, 2018, between Krystal Daniels and her boyfriend, Thomas Richards, who lived in Wichita, Kansas.

The conversation reportedly took place on a tablet belonging to Alex Nolan, the eight-year-old son of Krystal Daniels and stepson of Joseph Daniels, the agent testified.

Alex Nolan and Joseph Daniels (Photo: WKRN)

“If it tells you anything I ripped up our marriage license, and I went and had the papers drawn up. All that has to be done is him sign them and then the papers have been filed with the court,” Krystal Daniels wrote.

She added, “I haven’t been happy for the last 3 years.”

The conversation becomes graphic and sexual in nature.

Agent Burkhart testified the conversation appears to imply that Krystal Daniels was planning to leave her husband and discusses a sexual encounter with Thomas Richards that also appeared to involve Joseph Daniels.

Joseph and Krystal Daniels - Baby Joe parents
Joseph and Krystal Daniels (Photos: WKRN)

Data was also presented from an extraction of Joseph Daniels’ cell phone, including that a Google search was done for “anonymous parental test” on the night of March 30, 2018, days prior to the suspect reporting Joe Clyde missing.

The websites — Genovate.com and DNATesting.com — had been visited, as well, according to Burkhardt. About an hour later, the data showed a search of the websites for Southwest Airlines, Greyhound and Enterprise, which included a destination city of Wichita, Kansas on the Greyhound site.

The timeline of data extracted from the phone:

March 30, 2018 ((11:51PM)): Google search for “anonymous parental test”

March 30, 2018 ((11:51PM)): Visited Genovate.com

March 30, 2018 ((11:52PM)): Visited DNATesting.com

March 31, 2018 ((12:06AM)): Sent text to mother — “[Expletive] this world, by the time you see this message, I’ll be 6 ft under”

March 31, 2018 ((12:39AM)): Visited Southwest Airlines website

March 31, 2018 ((12:44AM)): Visited Greyhound website

March 31, 2018 ((12:46AM)): Searched Greyhound website with destination city as Wichita, Kansas

March 31, 2018 ((12:47AM)): Visited Enterprise website

April 3, 2018 ((9:48AM)): Text from Krystal to Joseph — “Hey where are you”

April 3, 2018 ((9:59AM)): Text from Joseph to Krystal — “Mental health”

During cross examination, Jake Lockert, the public defender representing Joseph Daniels, asked Agent Burkhart when his client had read the Facebook messages.

Burkhart explained he could not speak to whether Joseph Daniels had read them and was not certain he had knowledge of the relationship.

The agent also testified that it could have been Joseph or Krystal Daniels who searched the Southwest Airlines, Greyhound and Enterprise websites on Joseph Daniels’ phone.

Joe Clyde Daniels
Joe Clyde Daniels (Courtesy: Tennessee Bureau of Investigation)

Burkhart also testified that Joseph Daniels had called Nashville State Community College to get a copy of his transcripts on the morning of April 4, 2018, a few hours after he called 911 to report his son, Joe Clyde had escaped.

During Burkhart’s testimony, e-mail correspondence was shown between Joseph Daniels and DeVita Kidney Care, where he was attempting to get a job. The e-mails show a conversation, during which DeVita was trying to get documentation of Joseph Daniels’ educational background.

Dash camera video played for the courtroom shows that Joseph Daniels was seen driving south on Garners Creek Road around 7:33 a.m., past the heavy law enforcement presence responding to his residence after he reported Joe Clyde missing around 6:22 a.m. The suspect is then seen driving the other direction, again past law enforcement, and returns around 9:19 a.m.

Agent Burkhart said phone records show Joseph Daniels called Nashville State Community College while he was out, as several agencies were out looking for his missing son.

BURKHART: “There are some oddities in that when your child is missing.”

DEFENSE: “So what, what do people and what should they do when their child is missing when they’re staying in the house? Waiting on the news, what should they do? That wouldn’t be nefarious or odd to you?”

BURKHART: “Personally, I would not call Nashville State Community College while I’m out trying to find my son.”

DEFENSE: “They’ve contacted him asking for information, though, right?”

BURKHART: “He contacted them.”

DEFENSE: “Right and then they sent back replies saying what they needed… He still has a wife and two kids and hoping that this child is found. So should he not pursue opportunities to bring in money for his family.”

BURKHART: “He is free to do whatever he wants. Yes, sir.”

DEFENSE: “But that’s odd in your eyes.”

BURKHART: “There are some oddities to that. Yes, sir.

Krystal and Joseph Daniels
Krystal Daniels and Joseph Daniels (Photo: WKRN)

In a recorded interview with law enforcement on the night of April 6, the suspect confessed to fatally beating the five-year-old after he urinated on the floor of a bedroom, then dumping his body in a rural area.

The body of Joe Clyde has never been located.

Day seven of the trial began around 8 a.m. Thursday. and ended at approximately 2:45 p.m. after the state rested its case and the defense chose not to call any witnesses.

Closing arguments are scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. Friday.

The jury was chosen from a pool of people in Chattanooga, all of which the judge said had never heard the name “Baby Joe.” That jury consists of 12 jurors and four alternates, made up of ten women and six men.

Joseph Daniels faces five charges, including first-degree murder and evidence tampering. He was jailed in Nashville, but has been moved to the Dickson County jail during the duration of his trial.

His wife, Krystal Daniels witnessed the fatal beating, but went to bed instead of helping her son, according to investigators. She is charged with aggravated child abuse and neglect and will be tried separately from her husband.

News 2 will have live streaming coverage of Joseph Daniels’ trial at WKRN.com. Josh Breslow will be joined by News 2’s legal expert, Grover Collins to provide analysis on the trial from the opening statements to the verdict.

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