Cult leader Warren Jeffs has 78 wives and is estimated to have 60 children. Warren is the son of Rulon Jeffs who became the first sole leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) in 1988. He is a notorious figure who convinced thousands of followers that he was “The Prophet” and imposed strict and unusual regulations on their lives.
Jeffs resided in the Yearning for Zion Ranch near Eldorado, Texas, where a raid in 2008 led to his arrest and the incarceration of numerous members of his congregation for charges related to child sexual assault and bigamy. He has remained in prison since 2011.
The story of the Jeffs family and the FLDS Church has been the focus of documentaries like Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey, which is available on Netflix. When asked about the possibility of the FLDS dissolving, one of Warren’s former wives, Decker, expressed that it was not happening quickly enough. The FLDS is a sect of the Mormon Church that practices polygamy and has been accused of various criminal activities, including child abuse and sexual assault.
How Many Are Warren Jeffs’s Spouses?
Multiple sources have confirmed that Warren Jeffs had a total of 78 wives. Reports also state that 29 of these wives were previously married to his father, Rulon Jeffs. Additionally, 56 of his wives were sisters, including a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl, whom Jeffs claimed were his “spiritual wives.”
Throughout the years, Jeffs had numerous wives, as according to him, a man must have a plurality of wives to become a god. Many of his wives were forced to marry him at a young age. His behavior was known to be controlling and abusive towards his wives and other members of the FLDS church. In a 2011 court case, it was alleged that Jeffs fathered a child with the 15-year-old girl, and photos were presented of him snuggling and kissing the 12-year-old.
Under Warren Jeffs’ leadership, all women in the FLDS Church were required to wear conservative prairie dresses and were assigned to men at Jeffs’s discretion. These girls were instructed to “keep sweet” by smiling at all times, and Jeffs regularly expected his wives to participate in group sexual encounters that he referred to as “heavenly sessions.”
Former US Attorney Special Prosecutor Angela Goodwin testified that “24 of those wives were underage.” During the same trial, evidence was presented that Jeffs was involved in conducting the marriages of 67 underage girls to FLDS men.
The stories of Jeffs’s wives paint a disturbing picture of the FLDS Church and the abusive practices that continued for years under Jeffs’s leadership. Although Jeffs is currently behind bars, the repercussions of his abuse and control still affect many of his former wives and other members of the FLDS Church.
After being found guilty on two felony counts of child sexual assault, Warren Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years, and he is currently serving his sentence in Palestine, Texas at the Louis C Powledge Unit. Despite his imprisonment since 2011, the FLDS Church, of which Jeffs was a notorious leader, still exists with an estimated membership of 10,000 individuals.
Since the FLDS Church is an extremely secretive sect, there is limited information regarding the whereabouts and experiences of Warren Jeffs’s wives. However, a few of his wives have publicly shared their stories, and here is what we know about them.
Warren separated Vicki from her children, Wendell and Sarah, but she eventually reunited with them when she was moved to the Yearning for Zion Ranch. She and her children were eventually cut off from FLDS. After her son Wendell worked for two years to save up enough money, they left the church altogether and rented a home for themselves. Vicki has since moved out of her son’s house and has remarried.
Naomi, who is considered to be Warren Jeffs’ favorite wife, had previously been married to his father, Rulon. According to the Daily Mail, Naomi went into hiding with Warren while he was a fugitive.
Having been Warren Jeffs’ stepmother and a scribe for the FLDS Church, Jessop had access to the organization’s inner workings and was regarded as a trusted confidant. However, her detailed records of Jeffs’s words, travel, and illegal activities also provided a “roadmap for criminal activity” that prosecutors later used to secure his arrest. Jessop’s story is prominently featured in the documentary Preaching Evil, where she shares her experiences growing up and being part of the FLDS Church.
Merianne, who is Naomi’s sister, married Warren Jeffs at the young age of 12. She was last seen in Texas but her current whereabouts are unknown.
Josephine Jessop, Naomi Johnson Jessop, Della Black
After Warren Jeffs’ arrest, significant changes took place within the FLDS Church. In 2015, three sisters, Josephine Jessop, Naomi Johnson Jessop (who is not to be confused with Jeffs’s “favorite wife” Naomi), and Della Black, received an eviction notice. A court found that the police force and town officials were under Jeffs’s control, and FLDS members did not own their homes but were instead assigned them by the Church leaders.
The three sisters attempted to flee their homes in two separate vans, but a flash flood swept through the area, tragically claiming the lives of all three women and nine of their children, as reported by NBC News.
Margaret is one of Warren Jeffs’ wives who testified during the 2007 trial. In The Secret Lives of Saints: Child Brides and Lost Boys in a Polygamous Mormon Sect, written by Daphne Bramham, Margaret revealed that she was raised to be obedient.
Alyshia Rae, Nolita Colleen, and Millie Blackmore
Millie, Alyshia, and Nolita are three sisters from the polygamous Blackmore family in Canada who were reportedly married off to Warren Jeffs at ages 12 and 13. Their whereabouts are unknown and all three sisters are believed to still be loyal to Jeffs.
Lynette changed her name to Brielle Decker. At the age of 18, Lynette became Warren Jeffs’ 65th wife, and after eight years of suffering from abuse and mistreatment at the hands of Jeffs and his followers, Briell managed to flee the compound by climbing out of a window and running to safety on barefoot. In Tennessee, she legally changed her name and social security number and was adopted.
Brielle has since acquired the former FLDS estate in Colorado City, Arizona, and transformed it into The Short Creek Dream Center, a sanctuary for women, children, and victims of sex trafficking who have fled from the FLDS. According to a statement on her website, Briell’s mission is to provide a safe haven for those in need who have suffered from the practices of the FLDS Church.
Barbara was Warren Jeffs’ second wife, and although she never spoke out, her daughter Rachel later shared her story. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Barbara passed away in 2004 from cancer. According to Rachel, Warren Jeffs did not allow any opportunity for her to view her mother’s body, and he also prohibited her children from seeing the casket.
The funeral was restricted to only those on the compound, which prevented Barbara’s outside family members from paying their respects. Moreover, Jeffs made her death about himself, as Rachel stated, “He turned it into, ‘Oh, I’m so poor because my wife died.'”
Barbara was laid to rest at the Yearning For Zion ranch in Texas. However, when the state decided to sell the property, her body was exhumed. Rachel covered the expenses to relocate her mother’s body, and now Barbara rests next to her father, Isaac Barlow, in Arizona.
How Many Are Warren Jeffs’s Children?
Warren Jeffs fathered at least 60 children from his numerous wives. Although the exact number is difficult to determine given the large number of wives and children he had, it is estimated that he had about 60 children. Similarly, his father Rulon Jeffs is believed to have fathered 65 children.
Two of Warren Jeffs’ children who left the FLDS were instrumental in exposing his crimes, without which he may have never been brought to justice. While some of Jeffs’s children have gone on to achieve great things, others have experienced tragedy.
Little is known about the many other children of Warren Jeffs who remain in the FLDS church with Warren’s remaining wives, or those who have left. However, it is known that Warren continues to communicate with his followers from prison and has denounced what he sees as government persecution of the “pure Holy Law of Celestial Plural Marriage.”
Where Are Warren Jeffs’s Wives Today?
Some of Jeffs’ wives have distanced themselves from him since his imprisonment, while others have remained loyal to him. For example, Mildred “Millie” Blackmore, who married Jeffs at just 13 years old, is said to remain one of his most loyal wives. Despite Jeffs’s imprisonment, Millie reportedly fled to another polygamist compound in Canada, where she continues to support her husband. Her brother Brandon S. Blackmore claims that Millie remains Warren’s most loyal wife.
On the other hand, Brielle Decker, Jeffs’s 65th wife who was forced to marry him at the age of 18, escaped and established The Dream Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping those in need.
She converted the home she shared with Jeffs in Short Creek into a safe haven for women fleeing the FLDS, according to an exclusive 2018 report by the Guardian.
She was able to purchase the 44-room mansion after the authorities seized and took over Jeff’s assets. Decker asked the state if she could buy the house and use it as a safe haven.
She received a $800,000 discount on the property and paid $400,000 for it. Brielle now devotes her time to helping those in need, a far cry from the life of servitude she endured as Jeffs’s wife. She even changed her name from Lynette to distance herself from her past.
Vicki Thompson married Aaron Thompson, a police officer who had prior knowledge of her difficult circumstances from working as Jeffs’s personal prison guard and as a lead investigator in several FLDS cases. They recently had their first child, Jayden.
Sheena who had breast cancer, was sent to a small house to die and was not allowed to leave. She died in early 2017 and was laid to rest in an unmarked grave.
Other former brides have continued to live at the FLDS compound, including two who were captured attempting to carry contraband to Jeffs when visiting him in prison in 2016. Also, in a bizarre turn of events, one of Jeffs’ wives was denied entrance to the prison after a metal detector picked up on something hidden in her hair.
The loyalty of some of Jeffs’ wives is a testament to the power of cults and the hold they can have over their followers. While some, like Brielle Decker, have managed to break free and create new lives for themselves, others remain trapped in a cycle of abuse and control.
Where Are Warren Jeffs’s Children Now?
Despite leading quiet lives, some of Jeffs’s children have bravely spoken out about the abuse and isolation they experienced while growing up in the FLDS church.
Roy Jeffs, one of Warren Jeffs’ sons, left the church and sat down with CNN in 2016 to explain why he left. In his interview, he described how his father isolated him from others, saying, “In there, I wanted to be able to have a life and to talk to family, and that just would never happen. The harder I tried, the further away they pushed me from contact with anybody,” he revealed.
Roy was the first of Warren’s children to leave the FLDS. Roy died by suicide in 2019 and his death was reported in a Facebook post by his sister, Rachel. She wrote; “My heart is heavy, and I’m sad to say that my fun-loving brother Leroy Jeffs, 26 years old, died Wednesday, May 29, 2019.”
Becky, Roy’s older half-sister who has left the church, also alleges that her father sexually molested her.
Raymond Jeffs, one of Warren Jeffs’s children who left the FLDS, says he does not regret his decision. In a 2018 interview with USA Today, he described it as “…going into a whole new world.” He and his brother Isaac left after one of the numerous raids carried out in the FLDS compound.
Rachel Jeffs, another of Jeffs’ children, authored a book and started a blog about life in the FLDS. In an interview with Megyn Kelly, Rachel revealed that she was sexually assaulted by her father starting at around age eight. She also wrote of Sheena, one of her “mothers,” who was denied medical care despite having cancer symptoms. Eventually, Warren allowed Sheena to see a doctor, where she was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.
Naomie Jeffs, another of his children, hasn’t spoken to her father since she was 11 years old and has no desire to do so. Her endeavor to disassociate herself from her previous FLDS life involves a name change. The 21-year-old, now known as Jaska, is a Dixie State University student seeking a physical therapy career and wishes to travel with her siblings who have left the FLDS.
Wendell, another of Jeffs’s sons, changed his last name to Jeffson and left the church along with his sister Sarah and mother Vicki. Sarah and Wendell spoke out in a documentary called Preaching Evil, which was featured in Salt Lake Magazine.
Their mother, Vicki Thompson, who was also one of Jeffs’s wives, participated in the documentary as well. In the documentary, Wendell and Sarah recounted their experiences growing up in the FLDS church and the abuse they suffered at the hands of their father.
Jeffson went on to acquire his GED before beginning a career in insurance. He met singer-songwriter Yolanda Nosakhare on Bumble and proposed to her in October 2021. Meanwhile, Jeffson’s sister Sarah graduated from high school in 2022.
Despite being in prison, Jeffs continues to maintain contact with some of his children who remain in the church. In the trailer for the Netflix documentary “Keep Sweet”, the leader can be seen expressing his affection for a gathering of parishioners, including children, as he encourages the congregants to sing along.
The revelations from Jeffs’ children have shed light on the dark and abusive practices of the FLDS church, which has long been the subject of scrutiny and investigation. The FLDS church has been accused of numerous criminal activities, including child abuse, forced marriages, and other forms of exploitation. While some of Jeffs’ children have managed to escape the church and speak out against the abuse they suffered, many others remain trapped within its walls, unable to escape the cycle of abuse and control.