- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Last week Netflix released its newest docuseries, Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey, a four-part true crime documentary that follows how leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) controlled the lives of members, with Warren Jeffs, the leader of the church, at the center of it all.
The FLDS, which is located at the Arizona-Utah border called “The Creek,” is a radical polygamist sect that broke off from the Mormon Church more than a century ago.
Under Jeffs’ reign, church leaders pushed underage marriage in the community, claiming that it was all in the name of God, according to the Chicago Sun Times. While Jeff was the FLDS leader, he was arrested in 2011, having racked up at least two felony charges of sexual conduct with minors, as well as being convicted of two counts of being an accomplice to rape back in 2007. However the Utah Supreme Court overturned the 2007 conviction in 2010, per The Independent.
In 2011, he was sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years for sexually assaulting two girls.
Currently, he’s being held in the Louis C. Powledge Unit in Palestine, Texas. And he’s not eligible for parole until at least July 22, 2038. Want more details on how it all went down? Here’s everything WH knows about exactly how Jeffs got to his current position.
Who is Warren Jeffs?
Warren Jeffs is the "president and prophet" of the FLDS—even from behind bars. Inheriting the position after his father, Rulon Jeffs, who passed away in 2002, he assumed the leadership role and had numerous wives (but more on that later). He took control of members’ finances and cut them off from the outside world, per Entertainment Weekly.
Who was his father, Rulon Jeffs?
Warren's dad, Rulon T. Jeffs, was the President of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Rulon was the eighth prophet of the Mormon Church, the first of which was Joseph Smith in the 1820s, per the New York Times.
Rulon Jeffs led the largest religious group in North America that still practices plural marriage—a practice that is criticized is by the mainstream Mormon Church, according to the NYT. (The Mormon Church, based in Salt Lake City, banned polygamy in the 1890's.)
Rulon Jeffs was 92 years old at the time of his death and was survived by about 20 wives with around 60 children and hundreds of grandchildren, per the New York Times. He encouraged his male followers to take multiple wives, inspiring his son’s tactics of “gifting” girls as wives.
How old is Warren Jeffs?
Today, Warren Jeffs is 66 years old.
How many wives did Warren have?
By the time he rose to power as the president of the FLDS, it was believed that he had around 20 wives. However, by the time he was arrested, he had 78—twenty-four of which were under the age of 17—in addition to his one legal spouse, according to the Washington Post.
In the docuseries, a former US Attorney Special Prosecutor says that Jeffs was “involved in conducting the marriages of 67 underage girls to FLDS men," per The Independent.
How did he make his money?
Jeffs made his money mostly through real estate and construction, according to Distractify. He owned $100 million worth of property by 2006. Along with the FLDS, Warren had property in several states and major towns of Arizona and Utah.
He also got free or low-cost labor from his followers, including the men and boys who carried out his construction projects, per Distractify.
In addition, FLDS members paid monthly fees to the church, usually between $500 and $1,000—although it's unclear if Warren pocketed that money directly. If members didn't please Jeffs, they were under the threat of losing their job, home, and community.
Additionally, Jeffs defrauded the government by using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) funds, which help those in need to buy food through government-provided debit cards, according to a 2016 indictment by Utah's attorney general. The indictment alleged that non-authorized people were directed to buy food using SNAP funds. Then the food items were placed into a shared storehouse run by the FLDS, before being distributed by FLDS-run businesses. Members were forced to purchase food items only at these businesses, so the FLDS essentially made profits from free food through money laundering.
What happened to Warren Jeffs?
In 2005, he was indicted by Arizona authorities on felony charges of sexual conduct with a minor, as well as conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor, per A&E. He was then charged with two counts of rape and was an accomplice in Utah for planning a marriage between a 14-year-old and her 19-year-old cousin. But he hadn't been seen in public since 2004, according to the FBI.
By May 2006, he was placed on FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, per A&E. Finally, he was arrested in Las Vegas in August 2006 with several cell phones, wigs and disguises, carrying $55,000 in cash, per A&E.
But it wasn't until 2011 that his trial actually occurred—where he represented himself—in San Angelo, Texas, according to ABC News.
He was convicted on two counts of sexual assault of a child on August 9, 2011, and was sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years, per CNN.
Is he still in a coma?
While in prison, attempted to commit suicide in January 2007 by hanging himself. And then fell ill while fasting in 2009, requiring medical attention, per A&E.
On August 29, 2011, Jeffs was placed in a temporary medically induced coma by Texas prison doctors. At the time, he had become extremely weak from fasting for the previous three days, according to ABC News.
No one really knows why he went on the fast, but he did inform the staff that he "was not on a hunger strike but fasting," per the New York Post. While in the coma, he was also treated for other medical conditions, one of which was ulcers on his knees from praying in his cell, according to the Salt Lake City Tribune.
Doctors were not specific about why they put Jeffs into a coma in the first place. And though they weren't sure if he would survive, the move ended up saving his life .
Who runs FLDS now?
Jeffs is still in full control of the FLDS from prison, according by one of his daughters, Rachel Jeffs, according to the 2018 A&E docuseries Warren Jeffs: Prophet of Evil. He's allowed visits from family members and is permitted to send letters to approved contacts. However, authorities believe that he might be sending out coded messages to his followers, per Grunge. They also think he could be using visits with his many brothers to help direct them on how to continue running the organization.
He also wrote a book from prison, called Jesus Christ, Message to All Nations, which is full of prophecies allegedly delivered to Jeffs while in jail between 2010 and 2012.
Members pray for Jeffs every hour of the day.
Yes, you read that right. According to two former members of the group, those who live within the community must take a moment to pray that Jeffs breaks out of prison.
“That’s a big test for them,” former member Joe Broadbent told ABC News. “He’s like, ‘the only way that I’m not out is because you’re not faithful enough’… he puts so much pressure on the people. They’re fasting… they don’t eat for three days at a time, [and] they pray, and pray and pray.”
Will Jeffs ever get out of prison?
Jeffs won’t be considered for parole until July 22, 2038, at which point, he’ll be 82 years old. He is currently serving his time in a prison in Palenstine, Texas, per The Independent.
You Might Also Like