Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The False Prophet: Warren Jeffs

Tyranny

Rulon Jeffs with two wives
Rulon Jeffs with two wives

One of the first things Warren did as sect leader was to "spiritually marry" approximately twenty-five of his father's widows, whom he deemed worthy, in a series of secret ceremonies, Shaffer said. One of them was Naomi Jeffs, then 17, who was with Warren when he was arrested four years later. Over the first few years in power, Warren amassed some seventy wives and around one-hundred children.

Not only did Warren's wives increase by ten-fold but so did those of the men in his flock. In fact, Warren personally took charge of arranging marriages between the men and women in his community, as well as performing the marriage ceremonies. Shockingly, hundreds of the marriages he arranged involved girls as young as 13-years-old, often to men old enough to be their grandfathers. Even though the sect had "long practiced the custom of arranged marriages, young girls were rarely married off until Warren Jeffs came to power," church dissidents claimed in Foy's report. It was something that tore at the moral fabric of the community and made some question Warren's leadership ability.

Rulon Jeffs' funeral
Rulon Jeffs' funeral

To the astonishment of many church members, Warren also began breaking-up families by expelling men from the community for allegedly failing to be righteous. The men's heartbroken wives and children were then reassigned to new husbands or fathers within their own community or other FLDS communities across state and country borders. Many teenage boys were also "booted out for committing some 'unnamed sin,'" when in actuality they were expelled with the intention of eliminating competition for brides, Ben Winslow reported for the Desert Morning News.

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