Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The False Prophet: Warren Jeffs

Breaking Sweet

Mark Shurtleff
Mark Shurtleff

During an interview with Owens-Liston of Time magazine, private investigator Sam Brower, who worked for several years on polygamy civil cases, suggested that Warren was an "extremely cunning" psychopathic narcissist obsessed with power and control. In support of this assessment, Debbie Palmer, a former member of the FLDS church for 34 years who had managed to break away from the Bountiful, Canada sect, was quoted as saying in a CTV-Canada interview that Warren had "absolutely controlled every part of their (women's) lives including when they can have sex with their husbands, who they can marry," and where they could work, if allowed. Palmer left the sect with her eight children in 1988 because her husband reportedly abused her. She wrote about her experiences in the FLDS church in a book, Keep Sweet: Children of Polygamy, which was published in 2005.

Janet Napolitano
Janet Napolitano

Carolyn Jessop, who in 2003 also escaped an arranged marriage with her eight children in tow, said that members of the FLDS were "culturally adapted to the abuse" they suffered, Owens-Liston reported.  She was further quoted by Bramham as saying that the people who grow up in the FLDS culture "know nothing else" because they "never lived a normal life." During a Larry King Live interview, she said that young girls who were being married off to adults were not aware it was illegal or that they had rights. They were just expected to do what the prophet told them, without objection. Those that do go against the prophet, "pretty much have to renounce their entire heritage," which makes it difficult to get testimony in polygamy cases, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard told Associated Press' Jacques Billeaud.

Debbie Palmer
Debbie Palmer

The polygamy case involving Candi Shapley, 20, of Colorado City, Utah is one such example. FLDS member Randolph Barlow, 33, was charged with sexually assaulting Candi when she was 16, after they were "spiritually married." According to Ben Wilson of the Desert Morning News, Candi claimed early during Barlow's trial, in which he faced charges of sexual misconduct with a minor, that she was "ordered by Warren Jeffs to marry Barlow" in 2002 and "was forced to have sex with him." However, prosecutors said that after Candi learned about Warren's arrest, she refused to co-operate during her testimony before a grand jury because she was probably "influenced by members of her family who were trying to protect Jeffs," it was further reported.

Candi's initial testimony led to an indictment against Warren and was critical in building a case. The judge has since delayed the trial in the hopes that she will break her silence and provide the necessary information to use in the prosecution of Warren. In the interim, prosecutors have had to rely on the testimony of other former sect members who were more willing to share their experiences of the FLDS under Warren's leadership.

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