Warren Jeffs’ Wives Endured A Culture Of Abuse

“For a man to become a god, he must have a plurality of wives.” These phrases had been spoken by infamous cult chief Warren Jeffs, the topic of Peacock’s new true crime docuseries Preaching Evil. Filmed largely from the perspective of his “favorite wife” Naomi Jessop and former spouse Vicki Thompson, the four-part sequence explores the “culture of sexual abuse” that Jeffs fostered at the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), a polygamy-centric sect of the Mormon Church created in 1930 and designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

FLDS is positioned in Short Creek, which sits on the border between Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona. Jeffs turned the president of FLDS in 2002; per The Guardian, he ran his church like a dictator, splitting households aside, banning all socializing with the surface world, and ruling from a 44-room mansion. All FLDS girls had been compelled to put on conservative prairie clothes, and had been assigned to males at Jeffs’ leisure. Warren Jeffs allegedly had round 80 wives all for himself, lots of whom had been kids once they had been compelled into marriage. The ladies had been informed to “keep sweet” — smile on a regular basis — and he routinely anticipated his wives to take part in group intercourse that he known as “heavenly sessions.” According to The Daily Mail, 29 of Jeffs’ wives had been previously married to his father, Rulon, whereas 56 of them had been sisters and 24 had been underneath the age of 17.

Jeffs got here underneath authorities scrutiny in 2005 after he compelled two teenage ladies into marriages with grownup males, which landed him on the FBI’s most wished record. He was arrested in 2006, and in 2011, Jeffs was discovered responsible of assaulting two ladies and was given a life sentence on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Louis C. Powledge Unit.

As an intensely secretive sect, there may be scant details about what has occurred to all of Warren Jeffs’ wives. Here’s all the things we learn about his wives who’ve publicly spoken out.


Naomie Jessop, The “Favorite Wife”

Naomie Jessop was Jeffs’ father’s spouse, however married Jeffs when Rulon died. As his former step-mother and a scribe for the church, Jessop knew of the internal workings of FLDS and was thought-about an in depth confidant. But her detailed logs of Jeffs’ phrases, travels, and unlawful actions additionally helped create a “roadmap for criminal activity” that prosecutors later honed in on for his arrest. Jessop is prominently featured in Preaching Evil, the place she tells the story of her upbringing and her time within the church.

Josephine Jessop, Naomi Johnson Jessop, Della Black

In the wake of the upheavals after Jeffs’ arrest, the sisters Josephine Jessop, Naomi Johnson Jessop (to not be confused with “favorite wife” Naomie), and Della Black got an eviction discover in 2015. (Judges discovered that the police pressure and city officers deferred to Jeffs, and congregants didn’t personal any houses however moderately had been assigned them by FLDS leaders.) The three had been fleeing their residence in two separate vans when a flash flood hit. All three girls, together with 9 of their kids, died, per NBC News.

Briell Decker

Briell Decker was spouse quantity 65, and she or he opened up about her traumatic experiences with Jeffs in a TED Talk and the Year of Polygamy podcast. Decker grew up in Sandy, Utah, and moved to the FLDS space as a teen. Her sister was married to Jeffs’ father, Rulon Leffs, and she or he was “turned in” by her father when she was 18, that means she was given to Warren Jeffs with out her consent. She stated it wasn’t a contented event, together with her mom screaming “no” whereas her siblings informed her that marrying Jeffs was like attending her personal funeral.

Eight years later, Decker fled the compound and modified her identify, her social safety quantity, and was legally adopted in Tennessee. But she later returned to buy Jeffs’ 44-room mansion. She now makes use of it as a refuge for different girls fleeing FLDS, in addition to these coping with substance misuse and psychological well being points.

Barbara Jeffs

Jeffs’ second spouse was Barbara, and whereas she by no means spoke out, her daughter Rachel later did. Per The Salt Lake Tribune, Barbara died in 2004 from most cancers. Rachel stated that Warren Jeffs didn’t permit any sort of a viewing line for her physique, and her kids weren’t even allowed to see the casket; the funeral was additionally restricted to individuals solely on the compound, which meant that her outdoors relations by no means obtained to pay their respects. Jeffs additionally made her loss of life about himself: “He turned it into, ‘Oh, I’m so poor because my wife died,’” Rachel informed the Tribune.

Barbara was buried at the Yearning For Zion ranch in Texas, however when the state moved to promote the property, her physique was exhumed. Rachel paid to have the physique moved, and she or he’s now buried subsequent to her father, Isaac Barlow, in Arizona.

Warren Jeffs’ Other Wives

Little info is thought about his many different wives. Decker informed NBC 12 News that one spouse (who might have been Barbara Jeffs) was recognized with most cancers, and in response Jeffs informed her that she was being punished for having an “evil spirit.” Decker alleges that the spouse was locked up in solitary confinement and solely fed by way of a door till she died. Per Deseret News, there are possible wives who’re nonetheless loyal to Jeffs, as two separate girls had been caught making an attempt to smuggle contraband to him in jail. Others allege Jeffs nonetheless wields energy over his followers from his cell, even to today.

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