Former members of polygamist sect led by Warren Jeffs reveal secrets in FBI documents
April 5, 2016 by CNN
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A decade after the arrest of polygamous prophet Warren Jeffs, insiders say his church has literally become a place of feast or famine, of haves and have-nots.
Prison has done little to loosen Jeffs’ hold on many of his followers, even if he is now a convicted child-sex offender serving a life sentence. They still await his revelations and follow his directives, both difficult and bizarre.
But some members are leaving the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints — and disobeying their prophet’s longstanding orders to avoid law enforcement and “answer them nothing.”
These FLDS outcasts are talking to the FBI.
They include the former cooks and drivers for the Jeffs family, as well as ex-wives and others who hovered close to the church leaders and their power center. Their words fill hundreds of pages of freshly filed federal court documents, bringing outsiders into the cloistered world of the FLDS like never before.
According to these breakaway members, the FLDS of 2016 has a pecking order: There are the elite church leaders and chosen followers, and everyone else....
The prophet — and there is little doubt Warren Jeffs is still the FLDS prophet — chooses who will be included in the United Order. His brothers, Lyle and Seth, serve as “bishops” and carry out the prophet’s wishes at FLDS compounds along the Utah-Arizona border and in the Black Hills of South Dakota.
The cook, Allene Jeffs Steed, told the FBI last year that while she prepared feasts of lobster and shrimp for the bishop, her own children “lived off toast.” She used duct tape to hold her kids’ shoes together. And hers wasn’t the only FLDS family to go without.
“We were literally starving,” Sheryl Barlow told the FBI in February. She lived in a house with 40 people and said they subsisted on noodles, brown rice, tomato juice and, when they were lucky, bread or a few containers of yogurt....
He was sentenced in August 2011 to life in prison in Texas, convicted of sexually assaulting two girls, 12 and 15, who he considered his “spiritual brides.” An audiotape of the prophet having sex with the 12-year-old was among the most damning evidence at his trial.
With establishment of the United Order, the old Phelps elementary school in Hildale, which closed in 2002 after the prophet ordered all FLDS children home-schooled, was rebranded as Jeffs Academy. Here, followers turned in all their wordly goods for “consecration” in the bishop’s storehouse across the street. They attended “trainings” to learn how to be worthy of eternal salvation and emerged rebaptized as members of the United Order.....