Ricks College art student Shane Turman was working at the Rexburg Food Center when the then Rexburg Police Chief Blair Siepert approached him about serving on the police force.
“He said ‘We have an opening for a patrol officer. Come tryout,” said Turman. “I went home and talked to my parents. They said it would be a good idea. The next thing I know, I’ve got the job.”
That happenstance launched Turman’s 34-year career with the Rexburg Police Department. In that time, he served as a patrol officer, oversaw the detective division, and, for the past nearly 12 years, Turman has worked as the Rexburg police chief. He took over that position from Chief Lynn Archibald.
Turman plans to retire this month, and to celebrate his years of service, the city of Rexburg will hold a retirement party scheduled at 2 p.m. Monday at Rexburg City Hall.
Rexburg Mayor Jerry Merrill says that while he’ll miss Turman, he’s excited for Turman’s next adventure.
“I appreciate his dedication to the Rexburg Police Department,” Merrill said. “I’m glad he’s able to retire, enjoy a new stage of life and pursue his life in different things.”
One of Turman’s pursuits is to finish his art degree at Brigham Young University-Idaho. There he hopes to hone his sculpting skills. Turman also plans to “catch up on a lot of fishing” and “honeydos.” In addition, he plans to work on his 14-acre farm and spend more time with his wife, Kelly, and their children, Holden and Katelyn.
Turman says the best thing about being a police officer is helping people in need. It’s been especially worthwhile to rescue children from harm, he said.
“I’ve dealt with several cases dealing with child abuse,” he said. “(It’s) being able to get a child out of a dangerous situation and saving their lives.”
The most heartbreaking cases have also involved children. In one case, an 8-week-old boy was killed by his parents, Turman said.
“The baby was tortured over eight weeks,” he said.
The little boy eventually died from violent shaking, but that was just a small part of the cruelty he had endured during his short life.
“It was horrific,” he said. “I would rather not talk about it. It was that bad.”
The most famous case Turman has dealt with involves the Chad Daybell and Lori Vallow-Daybell murder cases. The two are charged in the killing of Vallow-Daybell’s children Tylee Ryan, 16, and J.J. Vallow, 7. Chad Daybell has also been charged in the murder of his first wife Tammy Daybell.
“You don’t expect something like that to happen in Rexburg,” he said. “You don’t expect all the national news agencies to show up at your front door. I think it’s been a good learning experience for all of us, but it’s over a very horrific thing. We hope we never have to go through something like that again.”
It was Rexburg Police detectives who responded to a welfare check in November 2019 concerning the children. The officers visited Vallow-Daybell at her Rexburg apartment where she told them J.J. was with a female friend in Arizona.
Detectives called the friend who said J.J. wasn’t with her.
“We have some great detectives that just followed their instincts,” Turman said.
The following day, detectives returned to Vallow-Daybell’s apartment and learned she and Chad Daybell had fled to Hawaii. Shortly after, police sent out a press release asking for information on the missing children.
The press release set off international interest, and Turman fielded phone calls from press agencies from all over the world. The children’s bodies were located in Chad Daybell’s Salem backyard in June 2020, Police believe they had been there since September 2019.
“It was horrible. Our hope was to find them alive and well,” Turman said.
Turman says that he relies heavily on his Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints faith when dealing with horrific crimes. It also helps to return to a loving family after dealing with tragedies.
“I have the best wife in the whole world. It’s going home and hugging my kids,” he said.
Turman grew up on the family farm in Lyman, and after graduating from Madison High School in 1983, he attended college in Wyoming for two years. He later served a church mission in the Hartford Connecticut Mission where he served throughout the New England states.
“I loved it back there,” he said. “The people were wonderful.”
In all the years that Turman has served with the Rexburg Police Department, he’s never had any desire to serve as a police officer in Salt Lake City, Denver or New York City.
“I only wanted to go there on vacation,” he said.
Following retirement, Turman will miss his staff.
“I’ll miss the good people in this department,” he said.
For more information on Turman’s retirement party, call the city at 208-359-3020.