Prophet’s Prey: My Seven Year Investigation into Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints-Sam Brower

FLDS When Warren Steed Jeffs was arrested on a deserted strip of Interstate 15 in Clark County, Nevada on August 28, 2006, authorities, former members of the FLDS and victims of Jeffs’ reign of terror breathed a sign of relief.  The self-proclaimed prophet ruled the FLDS with an iron fist following the death of his father and former prophet Rulon Jeffs.  Known to be merciless and far more cunning than any of his predecessors, Jeffs went on a marriage spree, marrying girls as young as 13 and even taking several of his father’s former wives as his own.  While in prison, Jeffs admitted on a recording that he was not the prophet. However, many of his followers have refused to give up believing in him and even from a prison cell, he still wields considerable power over.

For many years, the FLDS and its inner workings were unknown to the majority of Americans.  But with the release of several important books by Rebecca Musser, Carolyn Jessup, and Elissa Wall, the veil of secrecy has gradually been lifted.  And what has been revealed has proven to be eye-opening, shocking and in same cases enraging.  The effort to bring Jeffs to justice is an interesting story but one that has been largely forgotten now that he’s behind bars.  The investigation was a concerted effort among law enforcement and child protection agencies across several states supplemented by the testimony of young women who suffered at the hands of the leaders of the FLDS and its system of child exploitation.  Saw Brower, a private investigator who played a key role in the investigation and downfall of Jeffs, recounts his own actions and the events that transpired.  His story is engaging from start to finish and shows the difficulty involved in cracking the outer foundation of the FLDS in order to bring Jeffs and the other leaders to justice.   But without the help of many courageous young women, Jeffs would still be free today.  The few that have spoken out, have given a voice to the hundreds that continue to remain secluded and oppressed.

ISBN-10: 1608193241
ISBN-13: 978-1608193240


Escape-Carolyn Jessop and Laura Palmer

51v-zflygul-_sy344_bo1204203200_The fallout from the arrest and subsequent conviction of Warren Jeffs shocked the Fundamental Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and its contingent of believers. The man who proclaimed himself to be the prophet has been revealed to be nothing more than a pedophile with a talent for extreme rhetoric.  He and many other powerful men, kept the members of the FLDS in an iron grip was they exploited them for their own personal gain.  Child labor, sexual abuse and underage marriage have resulted in infamy and the interest of State and Federal authorities.  Defectors from the church have become testifying witnesses and told their stories on television and in books. Among these heroic individuals if Carolyn Jessop, whose own story of escape and survival is just as moving and shocking as many others.  In confluence with ‘Stolen Innocence‘ and ‘The Witness Wore Red‘, she also takes the reader deep inside the FLDS to witness the reality faced by her and dozens of young women who are married off to far older men who sometimes are even related to them by blood.  At the age of eighteen, Carolyn is married to Merrill Jessop, a leading figure in the FLDS.  Over fifteen years, she gave birth to eight children, including one with a sever physical disability.   Miraculously, she escapes the church and starts a new life but her old life remains with her as a reminder of the fate faced by other young girls who are unable to make their own escape.

Laura Palmer who is an author of several books including another with Jessop titled Triumph, puts Carolyns words into writing as she tells her incredible life story that is sure to leave the reader in a state of shock and confusion.  To some it may seem unreal that her story is being told in 2007. But the reality is that in some parts of this country, things are done in a completely different way.   But the question is when does that way become both a crime and tragedy?  Jessop in some ways was lucky, she gained freedom for herself and all of her eight children.   Others who have left have not been as fortunate and have had to get authorities involved to reclaim their families.  And some have even faced continued harassment from the community they once called home.  As to be expected, the book’s antagonist is her former husband Merrill, a man much older and of a sometimes vindictive nature. His actions in the book are beyond reprehensible but critical in understanding the methods of control both physically and mentally that are employed by the powerful male members of the FLDS.

There are times where the book is a tough read and some parts are infuriating. But if you can make it through, you will find yourself in her corner rooting for her and her children to finally gain their freedom.  And in this case, she truly does save the best for last.  Leaving the only culture you have ever known is never easy and for those that do, they leave behind people that they despise but also people that they love deeply.  The human mind is an invention that continues to mystify even those that understand it the best.  Carolyn’s story reminds us that not all prisons are physical.  The power of the mind is often underestimated and taken for granted.  If I had been born into a FLDS family, perhaps my way of thinking would be different from the way it is now.  I use the term free thinking in the title of the blog because I believe that everyone should have the ability to engage in free thought and form their own opinions. After finishing Jessop’s story, I am even more grateful for the many freedoms I do have and I make it a point to never take any of them for granted.  For a good story about the real FLDS, this is a good place to start.

ISBN-10: 0767927575
ISBN-13: 978-0767927574



The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice- Rebecca Musser with M. Bridget Cook

Rebecca muserDefiance is one of the most powerful actions that can be taken by a person.  The ability to stand up in the face of adversity tests our courage and in some cases our morale fiber.  Rebecca Musser exemplified both as she faced former tormentor and leader of the Fundamental Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), Warren Jeffs.   Musser is the former wife of Jeffs’ father Rulon and a major defector from the FLDS church.  As she testified, she say stoically in a stunning red dress that surely drew the ire of the once powerful Jeffs.  Today Jeffs continues to serve a life sentence at the Louis C. Powledge Unit in Anderson county, Texas.  The FLDS continues to operate under the watchful eye of State and Federal authorities in Utah and Texas.  Their investigations have shed light on the behind the scenes movements of the secretive and secluded religious faction.  Assisted by defectors from the FLDS, authorities pieced together a disturbing pattern of sexual abuse of both children and adults and forced child labor.  Their efforts culminated in the conviction of Jeffs.

When Rulon Jeffs died, his son Warren seized power and began to enforce an even more draconian system of arranged marriages for himself and others. In the process he married several of his father’s widows.  And some of the brides were as young as fourteen years of age.  As Jeffs made his descent into insanity, his rhetoric became even more radical and his decrees even more bizarre and restrictive.  Without his father there to control his radical beliefs and actions, Jeffs became a dictator drunk on power. His greed and paranoia would lead to his downfall and the exposure of the secretive community.  Musser was a witness to this but the basis of her story is the relationship with his father Rulon as his nineteenth wife.  The true number of wives and children held by Rulon Jeffs will probably never be fully known.  But what is known is that many teenage brides were forced to marry him even though he was long past his eightieth birthday.  To some reading this now, it seems beyond comprehension that a nineteen year old woman was forced to marry a many several decades her senior. This is no practical joke nor is it a fairy tale. It really did happen and this story tells us what it was like on a daily basis. Teaming up with author, speaker and activist M. Bridget Cook, Rebecca takes us back in time to an era where she was a normal child like the others she called her friends. Her nightmare begins as she assigned to marry the elderly leader of the church.  The misogynistic atmosphere and behavior of the senior Jeffs is not only disturbing but in some cases dumbfounding.   Her resistance is formed early in her plight and throughout it all she and Jeffs remained bitter enemies.  Unable to get her to bend to his will, Musser became public enemy number one in the eyes of the next prophet.  Their battle culminated in the courtroom where the woman in red helped seal his fate.

Musser’s sister is Elissa Wall, the author of Stolen Innocence, which tells the story of her marriage to her own cousin and defection from the church. The sisters have become leading voices in exposing the dangers faced by children in the FLDS and their stories are incredible in their own ways.  They both received satisfaction in knowing that Jeffs will never again walk the streets a free man.  And although the FLDS still operates, it is no longer a secret kept in place through intimidation or complicity.  The days of her marriage to Rulon Jeffs and his indiscretions are long gone.  But the memories of that time and the system of dysfunction and exploitation remain as reminders of her former life.  She is now a best selling author and continues to make her voice heard with regards to child exploitation and the practice of underage marriage. If you want to know more about this phenomenal woman and the ordeal she endured on her path to freedom, this is the place to start.



Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs- Elissa Wall with Lisa Pulitzer

innocenceWarren Jeffs sits today behind bars for the rest of his life after being convicted in several states of several charges including rape and sexual assault.  He will never again walk the streets a free man and has even announced to his followers that he is not the prophet he portrayed himself during his reign as the leader of the FLDS church following the death of his father Rulon.  His victims however, still carry those scars and will live them for the rest of their lives.  Over the years there have been a number of individuals who have defected from the church having become disillusioned with the teachings within the congregation.  They have told their stories to news anchors and written books about their ordeals. This is the story of Elissa Wall and what it was like to grow up in a polygamous sect and become a teenage bride.   Her story is similar to hundreds of other young men, some of whom are struggling to find their own path to freedom from the clutches of the FLDS, the most extreme faction of the Mormon faith.  Its notoriety has earned it a place on the United States Government’s list of hate organizations and has been under investigation by the Utah Attorney General’s office.

This New York Times Bestseller was compiled with the help of journalist Lisa Pulitzer, formerly of the New York Times.  The cover alone is enough to shock the reader at first glance.  But what is in the book is even more shocking and will leave the reader both angry and bewildered that such an organization continues to exist even today in 2016.   For Elissa, life begins as a normal young woman growing up in a Mormon household.  She has two parents and loving siblings.  But everything changes when she is ordered to marry her cousin under orders.   It is at this point that her order begins and her life takes her down a path that finally ended with her freedom.   Her liberation however, did not come without costs and the price she has paid for her freedom is as significant as her new life with a husband and children.

Her marriage though short lived, took on the classic nature of an abusive relationship.  Considering that she was under 16 years of age, it is mind boggling that the marriage had even taken place.  The sadistic Jeffs did not see age as a barrier and had been accused of assaulting girls even younger than Elissa. Forced marriages are commonplace in the church and the members have constructed a wall of silence to insulate their lives from the prying eyes of law enforcement and social welfare officials.  Through Elissa, we go deep inside the FLDS and see how other young women are mistreated and their lives controlled in every aspect.  Her path to freedom did not happen overnight and through several people who take on the form of guardian angels, she is able to finally break free of Jeffs and the FLDS.  In 2007 she and her older sisters gave testimony in a criminal proceeding resulting in the conviction of Jeffs on several counts of rape.  Her sister Rebecca Musser is famously known as the lady in red and wrote her own book about her life that was published with the same title.   The title is significant for red is a color that was never allowed by the FLDS.

The story in this book forces us to ask ourselves many questions particularly how adults can do such things to children.   Stolen innocence is the appropriate title for the book for that very thing is taken from children in the act of exploitation.  It also deprives them of a childhood which they can never get back at any point in their lives.  Many of them like Elissa, will struggle to put their lives back together and forget the horrors they once endured.   Their voices give inspiration to others who are seeking to escape the encompassing religious environment in which they live.   And as they tell their own stories like Elissa we will learn more about the FLDS and what courage and perseverance really mean.

ISBN-10: 0061734969
ISBN-13: 978-0061734960