Chris Matechen still takes the trash out every Wednesday at his Oak Drive home. It’s the same routine and the same place where his ex-girlfriend Alyssa Dayvault discarded their newborn son in a green, rollout bin two years ago.
“Sometimes I feel like my son's visiting,” Matechen said. “If I move somewhere, is he going to follow? Or is he just going to stay? It’s a really messed up thing to think about.”
Earlier this month, Dayvault was sentenced to 40 years in prison for killing her son as well as a newborn daughter in 2017. In both cases, she threw the children out with the garbage.
Standing off his North Myrtle Beach street, Matechen recalled a vivid dream he had, one of the few he can remember from the past several months. His late grandmothers were clutching his two children, letting him know they’re in a better place now.
While Matechen tries to put his past behind him, he acknowledged the impact of remaining at home, this home.
“I can't get rid of the thoughts and stuff that happened here,” he said.
At times, he feels he failed his two kids.
“A parent’s job in life is to protect their children,” he said. “My sole purpose was to protect them, and they didn’t last 30 minutes on the planet.”
Matechen hasn’t seen Dayvault's two daughters, whom he had grown close to, in a long time.
Maybe one day, he said, they’ll come across a photo of the three of them together and it’ll jog their memories.
Perhaps they’ll look him up. And if they do, he hopes he isn’t far away.
“I just don't want them to ever forget the memories we had,” he said.
These days, he tries to just to process each day as it arrives.
“It's been difficult, that's for sure,” he said. “It has not been an easy thing.”
Matechen still has trouble sleeping, and he doesn’t expect that to go away anytime soon.
“As soon as I go to sleep, I see two baby skeletons sitting in the dumpster,” he said.
He wants to honor his daughter Sunday. He plans to go to the old complex and perhaps the beach, maybe with his parents. He decided on a name for her, Gloria Ann Matechen, as a dedication to his two grandmothers.
“I don't know when the actual birthday was, but I picked the 15th as a day for her,” he said.
Matechen plans to name his late son, too. He detests his children each being called “Baby Dayvault” in official records.
He yearns to find out where his son’s ashes were spread. Matechen has considered getting tattoos dedicated to both babies.
“I want them to be remembered,” he said.
Matechen still visits the dumpster at the Cherry Grove apartment complex that his daughter was placed in, albeit not as frequently as in the past.
“I'll go by there every once in a while, not like I used to,” he said. “I'm sitting there, bawling my eyes out with a bouquet of flowers sitting next to the dumpster.
“People would come up and start talking to me, and, ‘Are you OK?’ And I was like, ‘I'm fine. Just leave me alone.’”
In October, a jury found Dayvault guilty of two counts of homicide by child abuse.
Dayvault admitted to placing both infants in the trash and told police the babies each took multiple breaths after their births. Both times, she gave birth at home.
She was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Matechen was pleased with the judge’s sentence.
“Her life's over,” he said.
Sitting in the courtroom during the trial and reliving old times was painful.
Matechen worried she’d be found not guilty.
He remembered choosing not to attend part of the proceedings — the same day a forensic pathologist testified.
“I couldn't,” he said. “I didn't even go that day. I just watched. I watched every second of it, but I watched at home, and I watched in tears basically.”
Dayvault was admitted to a hospital on Dec. 5, 2018, for complaints of heavy vaginal bleeding.
She delivered a placenta and umbilical cord, but there was no child inside her.
The hospital’s staff probed her medical records that said on Nov. 4, 2017, she was determined to be over 30 weeks into another pregnancy at a hospital. The fetus had a healthy heart tone.
In December 2018, the medical staff asked her what had happened with the 2017 pregnancy, and she denied knowing anything about it.
Police conducted a search at the Oak Drive home and found the male baby deceased in a trash can.
During her trial, prosecutors argued Dayvault’s case was one of neglect and extreme indifference to human life.
She had concealed both pregnancies from Matechen and her family, refusing to seek medical attention or help during each delivery.
During an interview with police played to the court, Dayvault talked about hiding being pregnant. Her boyfriend didn’t want kids, she said, and she was afraid of upsetting her mother.
Matechen said he had no clue Dayvault was ever pregnant. Police interviewed him, and he was cleared of any connection with the deaths. Matechen offered to take a polygraph but was not given one.
Sometimes, Matechen still finds himself thinking he should have known all along.
Looking back, he remembered Dayvault wearing a shirt that was tighter than normal during a trip to North Carolina in 2017. Her mother asked if she was pregnant, and she started to cry.
Amid media coverage, Matechen has received multiple Facebook messages about the case.
"I can't fathom how you can't be involved,” people wrote.
“How could you not know she was pregnant?” they’d ask.
“I would never say that to anyone,” Matechen said.
He recalled law enforcement telling him Dayvault had admitted to giving birth to a boy and saying the boy was dead.
“I always say to them, ‘Look, the night it happened, they cleared me.’ The second the detective told me what happened, … he knew — I mean, unless I'm the greatest actor in the world — there's no way I was involved.
“I lost it. I don't even remember what happened.”
During the trial, prosecutors said fecal matter was found in a trash bag the male infant had been placed in. That evidence, they argued, showed the baby defecated before dying — something deeply disturbing to Matechen.
But Dayvault’s attorneys said there was no evidence proving the cause of death in both cases.
She told police she passed out for several minutes after giving birth to the baby boy in 2018.
Her attorney said she essentially blacked out.
When Dayvault came to, the child was blue, limp and cold.
The defense cited medical records from 2017 that showed Dayvault had hypertension and anorexia. Those issues can cause problems with the delivery of a child and serious complications, an expert witness said.
Dayvault’s lawyers said the baby girl’s umbilical cord was wrapped around her neck. Dayvault needed a life-saving blood transfusion after the delivery.
Long before the trial in May 2019, a judge gave Dayvault a $35,000 surety bond. She was able to post bail.
The fact bond was set at all remains mindboggling to her former partner.
“I couldn't put that together, you know?” Matechen said. “And that really, really took years off my life I would say.”
He noted someone had bail set at a much higher price tag for marijuana-related charges.
“Just the thought that she's out there having a good old time, it really made me sick,” he said. “Like, literally sick to my stomach.”
Fast forward to October, when Dayvault was a no-show for her trial.
“It was weird because me and my parents were sitting there waiting for the trial to start at the courthouse,” he said. “And it was like 8:30, and we were sitting there talking to one another. My dad was like, ‘I wouldn't show up.’
“He's like, ‘You're getting ready to go to jail. … I'd be in Mexico. I don't understand why she's out.’
“And then three hours later or so, we're informed that, yeah, she's a no-show.”
Matechen had hoped Dayvault would be present when the eventual guilty verdict was read to the court.
“I wanted to see her reaction to that but didn't get to,” Matechen said. “Now that she's away, it kind of makes everything easier to take. But when she was out, I just kept feeling like there's no justice being served.”
A day after she was convicted, Dayvault turned herself in to local police.
Before her sentence was announced last week, the last time Matechen saw her in person was in late 2018.
In handcuffs and dressed in jail clothes, Dayvault wept as she apologized to her family during her sentencing hearing.
“The whole time I was shaking my head,” Matechen said.
She apologized to the Matechen family and noted the relationship between them and her daughters had been severed.
“She's a good liar,” Matechen said. “The only reason she was crying is because she's going to jail for basically the rest of her life.”
Matechen’s love for Dayvault is gone now, but before everything happened, the couple had planned to wed.
“It would have probably been this Halloween when we would have gotten married,” he said. “It's just weird to think about that and how different of a person she is.”
Since the deaths of his two newborn children, many things have changed.
“It’s definitely been an uphill battle,” he said.
Matechen, who frequently lists items for sale online and does work for his parents, finds himself laboring a lot, particularly at night.
“I find myself not liking to be around people," he said, “which kind of sucks, but it's the way it is.”
Even walking into a store like Walmart can be difficult.
“I walk past the baby section, I mean, I just start crying,” he said. “It’s such a messed up thing.”
He credits his large family with helping him cope. That includes his mother and father, who retired on the Grand Strand after living in Pennsylvania.
“They've been a big support system,” he said.
Times have been tough for them, too.
“I wish I could keep them out of all this,” Matechen said.
Even his outlook on dating has shifted.
“I just don't see how I'll ever be able to trust anyone to the point where they deserve,” he said.
As of now, he has no desire to go out with anyone.
“I was in love with Alyssa, and I really thought she was the one,” he said. “You just don't get over someone with the snap of a finger.”
He still remembers their roughly two-year relationship. And, he said, the lies.
There were other strange occurrences, too, that weighed on him during the past several months.
One night, a neighbor alerted him of a female outside his home.
He discovered two chairs outside had been flipped over.
He received messages on social media from someone threatening to kill his dog.
At one point, Matechen sought treatment amid his grief.
But, he said, the sessions didn’t seem to make him feel better. If anything, he felt worse.
And the effects of drugs are only temporary.
Now, Matechen’s approach to life isn’t the same, as he tries to maintain a positive outlook.
“It definitely made me a better person, just because I look at things differently,” he said. “I appreciate little things more.”
The little things include the few more hours of sleep he gets a night.
The fact he wakes up each morning.
Memories of time spent with Dayvault’s two daughters.
“Even just pictures of the girls and stuff,” he said. “At least I can look back at those and be like, I had this memory with them.”
Matechen doesn't know how they will react once they're old enough to comprehend all that’s occurred.
He wonders if, in death, he will see the two infants in an afterlife.
“I just hope that I see them,” he said. “Someday.”