Inside FLDS cult’s mystery deaths and suicides that Warren Jeffs’ 65th wife believes may have been ‘staged accidents’

A RADICAL Mormon cult led by Warren Jeffs was plagued by mysterious deaths and suicides that may have been “staged accidents”, an ex-wife of the convicted pedophile claims.

Warren Jeffs’ 65th wife, Briell Decker, alleged in an interview with The US Sun that deaths were so frequent within the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) that at times it felt as though she was going to a funeral every week.

Warren Jeffs (pictured in 2006) is the leader of the polygamous cult know as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS)

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Warren Jeffs (pictured in 2006) is the leader of the polygamous cult know as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS)Credit: AP:Associated Press
Jeffs took over the sect in 2002 after the death of his father and amassed a staggering haram of 87 wives

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Jeffs took over the sect in 2002 after the death of his father and amassed a staggering haram of 87 wives
Briell Decker was his 65th wife, who told The US Sun about countless mysterious deaths that happened during her 26 years inside the church

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Briell Decker was his 65th wife, who told The US Sun about countless mysterious deaths that happened during her 26 years inside the churchCredit: Briell Decker

“There were so many deaths in there,” said Briell, 36, who fled the church in 2013 after years of abuse.

“But we were told they were accidents every time, so you don’t know what really was an accident and what wasn’t.”

Briell further claimed that while some of the deaths may have been the result of an accident, it’s her opinion that some of them were also “staged to look like accidents.”

The US Sun has reached out to three separate police departments near two of the main FLDS hubs for comment on the allegations made by Briell.

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Robb Radley, the chief of police for the Colorado City Police Department (CCPD) in Arizona, said he is unaware of any prior or ongoing investigations into suspicious deaths within the FLDS church.

However, he urged Briell, and any other former members harboring similar allegations, to come forward as investigators would “love” to look into such claims.

Chief Radley added he has only been with CCPD for the last three and a half years. He was sworn in as Chief in 2018 after a US Department of Justice investigation found that CCPD had for decades engaged in police misconduct, essentially acting as an “arm” to the FLDS church.

Investigators with the DOJ found that the department allowed the FLDS Church to improperly influence the provision of policing services and police investigations, among other infractions.

Today, the CCPD operates entirely separate from the church and none of its officers are affiliated with FLDS, Radley says.

The Salt Lake City Police Department, where Briell claims to have reported several instances of abuse and what she believed to be strange deaths within the FLDS, has not responded for comment.

The Schleicher County Sheriff’s Department in Eldorado, Texas, has also not yet returned multiple requests seeking clarity.

‘BLOOD ATONEMENT’

The FLDS is a radical offshoot of the Mormon church founded in Colorado City, Arizona, in 1929 that believes in the practice of plural marriage, otherwise known as polygamy.

Warren Jeffs became the spiritual leader of the FLDS in 2002 after his father, Rulon Jeffs, died aged 92. The spiritual leader of the FLDS church is considered a prophet of God.

According to Briell, both Warren and Rulon Jeffs were supporters of an early and controversial Mormon doctrine known as “blood atonement” and expressed interest in practicing it in speeches to FLDS members.

Blood atonement is the belief that the crucifixion of Jesus Christ did not cleanse all sins, and therefore anyone who sins beyond the cleansing power of Christ – by committing crimes such as murder or adultery – must atone for their own sins by having their blood spilled.

In a speech to his followers in 1997, Rulon Jeffs said: “This is loving our neighbor as ourselves; if he needs help, help him; and if he wants salvation and it is necessary to spill his blood on the earth in order that he may be saved, spill it.”

Warren Jeffs made similar speeches after succeeding his father five years later, Briell says.

Another former FLDS member, Robert Richter, who left the cult in 2005, told the Phoenix New Times that same year that Warren Jeffs was endorsing the doctrine of blood atonement to his followers for those who commit adultery.

At the time, Jeffs allegedly told his flock in Arizona that the FLDS could not yet “live” the doctrine because the government would not allow it, but in the future, they would be able to carry it out, Richter claimed.

Shortly afterward, Jeffs built a new gated and self-sustaining FLDS commune in Eldorado, Texas, known as the Yearning For Zion (YFZ) Ranch, where he fled in 2005 to avoid arrest in Utah and Arizona.

Richter, an electrician who says he worked on a number of “secret” projects for the FLDS over the years, said it was at this time he was employed by Jeffs to work on a project at the YFZ Ranch.

‘SHADES OF JONESTOWN’

According to Richter, he was tasked to build a high-temperature thermostat inside the compound’s temple which he has since come to believe was for a crematory.

The upper limit of the thermostat was programmed to reach 2,700 degrees, he claimed, which would be powerful enough to destroy human DNA.

“It was definitely a furnace. And the thing about the furnace,” he said at the time, “it was weird. It was real hush-hush. I was told to keep quiet.”

Additionally, Richter claimed he was tasked to furnish two 500-kilowatt diesel-powered electric generators, which were then made to look broken and were sold at a city utility auction to FLDS members in Eldorado.

He later identified the two generators for the publication from an aerial image, according to the Phoenix New Times.

There were so many deaths in there … it felt like we were going to a new funeral every week.”

Briell Decker

Richter told the outlet he believed Jeffs was building a blood atonement room in the YFZ Ranch’s temple where sinner’s throats would be slit and their bodies burned.

“I’m hoping we can get this thing stopped,” he told the outlet.

“My concern is that Jeffs has said that blood atonement should be used for those who commit adultery. What is scary is that those who have lost priesthood have done a sin worse than adultery. If you can take that to the next step, it’s to be blood atoned.

“I can see him teaching men who have lost their families that they need to be blood atoned. I think this may get to the point where fathers blood atones sons and sons blood atones fathers.”

Richter added that he feared the FLDS under Jeffs’ rule would play out like the Jonestown massacre, with members of the church killing themselves or being killed en masse.

No such outcome ever occurred, and representatives for the FLDS sect denied they were building a crematorium at YFZ.

Instead, they claimed they were using the built by Richter thermostat in a powder coat painting facility on the ranch, and the furnace was being used to bake limestone to make concrete.

‘SO MANY DEATHS’

Regardless of the church’s denial that it was building a crematorium, Briell told The US Sun that it’s her belief that the FLDS may have killed people at the direction of Warren Jeffs during her time in the sect.

Briell had no proof to back up her claims but said it’s her belief the FLDS “does kill people” is based on her own experiences inside the church.

“There were so many deaths in there,” Briell said, before claiming: “There were a lot of deaths back when Warren Jeffs was out of prison. Lots of deaths.

“Suicides are also common for people who get kicked out of the church because they’re told the whole life that it’s better for them to die than it is to leave.”

Typically, Briell claims members of the FLDS were told any sudden deaths were accidents.

While this may have been the case for some of the deaths, Briell alleges – without evidence – that some of the deaths may have been blood atonement killings staged to look like an accident.

Briell married Warren Jeffs in an arranged marriage ceremony when she was 18

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Briell married Warren Jeffs in an arranged marriage ceremony when she was 18Credit: Briell Decker
The FLDS' Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas is seen abovei

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The FLDS’ Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas is seen aboveiCredit: Getty
The FLDS is a radical offshoot of the Mormon church founded in Colorado City, Arizona, in 1929 that believes in the practice of plural marriage

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The FLDS is a radical offshoot of the Mormon church founded in Colorado City, Arizona, in 1929 that believes in the practice of plural marriageCredit: AP:Associated Press
Jeffs (pictured with his daughter Rachel) took over the cult in 2002

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Jeffs (pictured with his daughter Rachel) took over the cult in 2002Credit: Rachel Jeffs

Briell further alleges that a hit was put out on her head shortly after Warren Jeffs was arrested in 2006 after he supposedly blamed her for his capture because of a letter she’d sent him months earlier that was intercepted by police.

In the years since she escaped, Briell claimed numerous ex-FLDS members have told her Jeffs did take a hit out on her, though the allegation has not been corroborated by The US Sun.

During the ordeal, Briell claims Jeffs instructed the “meanest people” and the strictest leaders to be placed around her, who allegedly attempted to provoke her into committing a crime worthy of blood atonement.

“They believe you can’t shed innocent blood; that’s part of the doctrine, so they have to have a reason [to kill someone], a lot of reason,” Briell said.

“So if you date anybody else or if those reasons are blood atonement – but I didn’t do any of that while I was in there, so they didn’t have a just reason.

“They tried a lot of things to get it or find evidence against me,” she claimed, “and I really believe there were miracles while I was there that stopped them from getting what they needed.”

SUICIDE & ‘UNDETERMINED’ DEATHS

Briell claims to have reported the apparent hit to The Salt Lake City Police Department after her escape from the church in 2013, though a spokesperson for the department has not returned multiple requests for comment to confirm if the claims were investigated.

However, over the years there have been numerous reports of ex-members dying from suicide after leaving the FLDS, whether by their own volition or after being excommunicated by Jeffs.

Health department statistics report 31 suicides in the FLDS’ Short Creek community of about 7,700 from 1999 to 2017, The Salt Lake Tribune reported in 2019.

While at first glance the number may appear small, when applied on a per-capita basis, the area’s suicide rate is more than twice the national average.

Those figures do not take into account the more than 20 suicides in the FLDS or ex-FLDS population from the Arizona Strip to British Columbia. 

That specific number is hard to pin-point, as reported by the Tribune, because some of the deaths were ruled accidents or the manner of death was officially listed as “undetermined”, despite the circumstances pointing to suicide.

Warren has been teaching for a long time that those who are guilty of adultery must be blood-atoned.”

Robert Richter2005

In a number of interviews, former sect members have blamed Jeffs for the deaths for the way he has either cast out or driven away once devout followers.

As the prophet of the FLDS, Jeffs holds the power to punish followers by “reassigning” their wives, children, and property to other men and banishing them from the church indefinitely.

Those who are exiled are considered apostates and they are forbidden from speaking to their family members who remain inside the church.

Doyle Dockstader, who was thrown out of the FLDS when he was 12 and later attempted suicide in the Utah State Prison, told the Tribune: “I felt [a]shamed. Like not a human.

“I can’t explain it to you. It’s like taking everything you know 100 percent and then just ripping it away. You literally think that you have no chance of salvation.”

PROPHET’S FAMILY END LIVES

Suicides within the FLDS sect are not limited to just followers of Jeffs – members of the self-proclaimed profit’s own family have also previously claimed their own lives.

Jeffs, who has been behind bars since 2006, is currently serving life in prison after being convicted of sexually abusing two girls he’d married as plural wives.

More than half a dozen of his nieces, nephews, sons, and daughters have also accused him of child sex abuse.

Warren Jeffs' son Roy Jeffs killed himself in 2019 after accusing his father of child sex abuse

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Warren Jeffs’ son Roy Jeffs killed himself in 2019 after accusing his father of child sex abuseCredit: AP
Warren Jeffs' daughter Rachel also accused him of child sex abuse

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Warren Jeffs’ daughter Rachel also accused him of child sex abuse
The spiritual leader of the FLDS church is considered a prophet of God

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The spiritual leader of the FLDS church is considered a prophet of God

One such accuser was Clayne Jeffs, a nephew of Warren Jeffs, who said he was abused by Warren and two other of his uncles when he was five or six.

Clayne recovered the memories of his alleged abuse during a hypnotherapy session in 2002. Six months later he killed himself with a self-inflicted gunshot wound aged 28.

One of Jeffs’ sons, Roy Jeffs, who was among the first to come forward with allegations that the prophet sexually abused his own children, also killed himself in 2019 aged 26.

Roy made sexual abuse allegations against Jeffs in 2014, encouraging numerous other relatives and siblings to come forward with their own tales of abuse.

He said one of the earliest memories he had was of Jeffs sexually abusing him when he was four or five years old.

“I remember him telling me, ‘You should never do this’ … then he did it to me,” Roy claimed.

LIFE AFTER JEFFS

Today, the FLDS is still in operation and is believed to have an estimated 10,000 members, most of whom live in Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah.

The group also has followers near Eldorado, Texas, the site of the since-shuttered YZF Ranch, as well as in South Dakota, Colorado, Nevada, British Columbia, and Mexico.

Briell Decker was born into the FLDS but escaped the sect when she was 26 following years of abuse.

At age 18, she was forced to marry Warren Jeffs in a secret arranged marriage ceremony while he was on the run from the law. She became his 65th wife out of a believed 87.

Now 36, Briell said she was “terrified” by the prospect of marrying the prophet, but it was a role she’d been “groomed” for the majority of her life.

Almost immediately after their marriage, Briell said she did all she could to keep her distance from Jeffs, noticing a series of “red flags” in his behavior that contradicted his reputation as a loving, caring leader.

Briell says she was drugged and abused at the direction of Jeffs for several years

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Briell says she was drugged and abused at the direction of Jeffs for several yearsCredit: Supplied
The house where Briell married Jeffs is now a refuge for women leaving the FLDS

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The house where Briell married Jeffs is now a refuge for women leaving the FLDSCredit: AP:Associated Press
Warren Jeffs is serving life behind bars the for sexual assault of two of his child brides

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Warren Jeffs is serving life behind bars the for sexual assault of two of his child bridesCredit: Getty
Today, the FLDS is still in operation and is believed to have an estimated 10,000 members

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Today, the FLDS is still in operation and is believed to have an estimated 10,000 membersCredit: AP:Associated Press

In the years that followed she says she grew more rebellious to Jeffs’ rule, using his own teachings against him to point out contradictions in his behavior and refusing to take part in orgies with his other wives.

Briell said her disruptive antics left her with the unfavorable designation of being Jeffs “most hated wife”, though today she wears that title as a badge of honor.

Their relations reportedly reached an all-time low following Jeffs’ eventual arrest in 2006 after he blamed Briell and a letter she’d written for tipping the police off to his sex crimes against children.

After allegedly putting a hit out on her head, Briell alleges Jeffs instructed cult doctors to drug her with schizophrenia medication and subject her to other kinds of physical and emotional abuse.

“I was 23 when he started drugging me,” she alleged of Jeffs. “He sent cult doctors to drug me.

“I didn’t have an interview with a [real] doctor, just some nurse that showed up and gave me the medicine and told me to take it – and that they were going to watch me take it and that I didn’t really have a choice.”

The dose she was given initially was not that strong, but she claims over time that FLDS doctors would keep upping her dose, leaving her wondering some days whether or not she was going to wake up.

Briell attempted to run away from the church multiple times, but each failed.

In 2013, she was eventually ordered to live with one of her older brothers, who allegedly kept her in a locked bedroom.

After two weeks, Briell managed to hide some scissors in her room and unscrew the window to climb out before running away on foot.

She eventually reached the garden of a woman who offered to help her and rang an organization that allows members of the FLDS community to escape.

Briell arrived at a safe house hundreds of miles away.

She eventually relocated to Tennessee, changed her name, and was legally adopted by another woman.

A NEW CHAPTER

Today, Briell runs a shelter for runaway FLDS members in a property once owned by Warren Jeffs known as the dream center.

Jeffs is still recognized as the sect’s leader today, though his control over the church has seemingly waned in recent years having now spent 16 years behind bars, with no likelihood of ever being released.

According to Briell, who still lives in Colorado City, many of the remaining FLDS members believe Jeffs is innocent and was framed by local authorities.

“They don’t believe any of the court stuff was done right. They believe all the paperwork and the evidence they used was falsified,” she said.

“I think a lot of them have since had conversations with people and stuff and figured out why he’s in prison. But they don’t believe it’s true. They don’t believe that he really did that.”

Reflecting on her dealings with Jeffs, Briell said she remembers him as an “evil,” narcissistic sociopath.

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“He should never get out of prison; he’s already done too much damage on this earth,” Briell said. “He’s a sociopath … a narcissistic sociopath.

“He could have done so much good, but he didn’t. He chose to do evil, and there’s no excuse for that.”

https://www.the-sun.com/news/5517013/flds-mormon-cult-warren-jeffs-murder-suicide-absue/ Inside FLDS cult’s mystery deaths and suicides that Warren Jeffs’ 65th wife believes may have been ‘staged accidents’

DevanCole

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