In 1991, Wallace Jeffs was coerced to become an FLDS polygamist.
In 2011, Wallace rebelled against the sect, and the FBI helped him reclaim his kidnapped children.
Then an “accident” put Wallace into a forty-five-day coma.
Growing up as half-brother to future Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saint prophet Warren Jeffs, Wallace tried to follow FLDS teachings. After he built a successful business, the church required him to marry a second wife. Wallace fathered twenty children, but he never felt comfortable with polygamy or many other FLDS beliefs.
As his prophet-brother increasingly manipulated him, Wallace started hearing about FLDS atrocities. On the day the FBI arrested Warren Jeffs for child rape, the prophet was en route to reclaim Wallace’s second wife for himself. Wallace defied the prophet and soon ended up in a coma. Though Wallace feared FLDS sabotage caused his car crash, he kept fighting the sect.
With today’s movement against male abusers, Wallace’s story reminds us that power and position don’t corrupt all men. In 2018, Wallace found resolution by marrying an LDS woman in the Salt Lake Temple. At the same time, he renews our concern for the thousands who still live under FLDS control, including some of Wallace’s own children.
|Publisher:||Zarahemla Books LLC|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.58(d)|
Read an Excerpt
I never believed my own brother would try to kill me.
Boy, was I wrong.
My half-brother is Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS Church. In 2004, Warren announced a troubling revelation: some FLDS Church members must be separated from their children. Even a remote chance of losing any of my children scared me more than anything. At the time, I had two wives and twenty children. I was prepared to do anything to protect them.
I knew Warren's prophecy to be a convenient, self-serving lie. God doesn't want families torn apart, but few were immune — even infants and toddlers were seized from their mothers' arms. Throughout time, despots and dictators have tried to reduce parental influence on the youth. For Warren, this accomplished two vital objectives. First, it provided a continual pool of FLDS boys as slave labor for construction projects. Second, it allowed him unrestricted reign over young, impressionable girls, so he could use them as chattel in a political game of polygamist marriages to much older men.
Within the FLDS, any utterance from the prophet is deemed the word of God. Most families blindly complied with Warren's edicts. However, I was not like most heads of families. I became the first person to openly challenge this practice and refuse him access to my children.
After my rebellion against the prophet, other families began to question, and some stopped complying as well. Obviously, this didn't sit well with Warren. I had become a threat. As a result, I was kicked out of the church, forced from my home, and stripped of my profession. My children were kidnapped and hidden away throughout the United States under the direction of my half-brother Lyle, Warren's full brother.
Feeling terrified and without recourse, seven years after the revelation I filed a lawsuit, not only against Warren but also against the FLDS Church and its other leaders — they were all in on it. Because Warren's crimes crossed state lines, the sheriff's office and FBI became involved.
Now, because of my actions, FLDS Church secrets were open to public consumption by the hated and feared Gentiles.
It was a balmy Sunday afternoon, October 23, 2011. Though three nail-biting months had passed since I filed the lawsuit, things were starting to go well. I drove the forty miles from my home in Mesquite, Nevada, to St. George, Utah, located on the northwest edge of the Utah-Arizona border, to meet friends for dinner at Olive Garden. This area is known for its breathtaking redrock hills and mesas.
One mile before I reached the St. George Boulevard exit, a major accident occurred in the southbound I-15 lanes. A semitrailer carrying a load of bees overturned, releasing black, pulsating clouds of drones. As I zoomed past, a landscape of bugs splattered across my windshield.
Little did I know, within just a few hours the bees and I would have something in common.
"To the future!"
Nine friends clinked their various glasses of sodas and spirits against my beer bottle. These people had gathered to celebrate the return of my daughters, who I'd recently reclaimed from Lyle Jeffs with the FBI's help. But all I could think about was getting home to them. One of my older sons had stayed behind at my house with the girls. Though the months since our reunion had been rocky, I wanted nothing more than to spend every available minute with them. After a couple of hours, I left the restaurant around 7:30 to travel back to Mesquite.
The streets were quiet and dark, the temperature dropping — typical for a desert evening. As I drove, my mind kept wandering back and forth between my girls and the friends I'd just left. What a great day! Not even a red light to stop me. I punched up a classic rock station on the radio. Although things couldn't get much better, catching a Journey or Moody Blues song would only boost the awesome needle. I cranked up the volume, reveling in the freedom of something as basic as listening to a great tune — a simple pleasure forbidden to faithful FLDS members.
All thoughts of the previous incident on the freeway had left my mind.
I cruised down the extended, curving I-15 onramp. When I'd fully accelerated to sixty-five, I noticed a landscape of red lights in front of me. I stomped down on my brakes, but the car did not respond, keeping its momentum toward a semi with crimson brake lights.
Motionless cars crowded the left-hand lanes. To the right was a steeply declining embankment with no guardrail. With only seconds left before impact, there was nothing to be done. I realized in horror that the ramp's downward slope caused the Suburban to actually gain momentum. Pumping frantically on the unresponsive brakes, I plowed full on into the back of the semi.
I lost consciousness at the same moment the car burst into flames. Even before the final crunch of steel, the engine sat lodged in my lap. The exhaust manifold and steering wheel propelled through the wall of my stomach, creating a mass of torn internal organs and burned flesh.
The driver of the semi jumped out of his cab with a fire extinguisher. First responders and Life Flight arrived immediately — I can't imagine how they landed a helicopter in that chaos. Intertwined in my intestines, the steering wheel was only two inches away from the front of the driver's seat. Once they began extrication, they estimated I had ninety seconds to live. During the one- minute flight to Dixie Regional Hospital, I bled out twenty units of blood and my stomach swelled up to the size of two basketballs.
Emergency physicians gave me a five percent chance of survival. They operated throughout the night, including three separate surgeries to stop internal bleeding. The hospital had just installed a brand-new blood pump machine, and I became the first patient to use it. This external mechanical heart pumped blood back in as fast as I lost it, keeping me alive during the operation.
Many questions have been asked about my state of mind at the time of the accident. Could it have been my fault? The facts speak the truth. My phone: found in my pocket. Blood alcohol level: zero. Health: impeccable. Car: in perfect working order. Mentally: sound. I was beginning to get my children back, and I had supportive friends. I had absolutely no reason to want to cause myself or anyone else harm.
Because my vehicle had been destroyed by fire, police investigators found little or no physical evidence. They did note that no skid marks or any other sign existed that my car had slowed. Yet, when they pulled me out of the car, my right ankle was broken and pressed down on the brake pedal.
No concrete evidence exists that the Suburban had been meddled with. I am certain, however, that my brother, Warren Jeffs, from a holding cell in Kingman, Arizona, ordered one of Lyle's many God Squad enforcers to disable my car. I've seen such things happen before. On numerous occasions, I've witnessed Warren's impersonal, droning orders of punishment for an FLDS Church member who dared go against his word.
After the accident, a private investigator went to the Olive Garden parking lot. In the spot where my car had been parked, he found a large oil spill, potentially indicating that the car had been tampered with.
If Warren had tried to kill me, he nearly succeeded.
The Time to Tell
I awoke in an incoherent daze. I attempted to sit up, but my body seemed incapable of following the commands screaming through my mind. Get up! GET UP! A middle-aged blond woman hovered over me. She looked like a teacher. Why was this teacher dressed all in white? Her appearance seemed an awful lot like Mother's before a shift at the hospital. As panic flooded my system with adrenaline, I tried to speak, but there was something horrible in my throat that no amount of gagging dislodged. When I tried to raise my hands to investigate, I found they were bound to my sides.
With an authoritative hand on my chest, the woman said, "It's okay. You're in the hospital. You've been in a coma for the past forty-five days."
She offered this information in a matter-of-fact tone, as if this news wouldn't rock my whole world.
"You're intubated, so you need to be calm and go back to sleep."
She must have given me a powerful tranquilizer because, despite my intense desire to flee, I felt my eyes grow heavy. Before I drifted back into the comforting no-man's-land of sleep, my unexpressed thoughts were: Where are my children?
It seemed days, if not weeks, before I woke again, but it was most likely just a few hours. Feeling more aware of my circumstances, I now fully grasped the frightening fact that I was in the hospital. FLDS members are wary of doctors and public health institutions — in fact, FLDS are wary of all Gentiles and their institutions. Although I had visited a few hospitals in my life, I had never been a patient, except for a brief visit to the emergency room when, as a young man, I shot a nail into my foot.
The room echoed with loneliness, except for one nurse, busy at her duties. I attempted to sit up again, but I found my wrists and left ankle were bound. The cast on my right ankle might as well have been an anvil.
Soon, the friends who I had dined with all those days ago rushed into the room. Incapable of communication, I still felt encouraged to see them, even if the looks of worry and pity on their faces were less than comforting.
But where was my family?
Two more weeks passed before I could utter my first words since crashing into the semi: "Where are my children?"
The nurse said, "Two of your sons were here a few weeks ago."
Weeks? Did she really say weeks? I took a deep breath. Okay, so two of my boys came, but where are they now?
Then I asked, "Where is Mother?"
Surely, she was close by.
"No one else from your family has been here," the nurse replied.
Where was everyone?
As difficult as it was for me to mentally grasp what had happened to my body, it was almost more challenging to fathom why not one member of my family was there and why so few had visited. I have a very large family. While I was in the FLDS Church, I had been legally married to one wife and spiritually married to another. With my two wives, I had twenty amazing children. I also had thirty-two half-brothers, thirty half-sisters, one full sister, and my mother.
The sense of lonely abandonment I felt was indescribable, far eclipsing the physical pain from my many life-threatening injuries.
Much later, I found out that Warren and Lyle had ordered the previous visit by my two boys. My sons had come to tell me that because of the prayers of the faithful in the church, my punishment had been meted out through a judgment by God. I had committed the unpardonable sin of speaking out against the prophet. The FLDS people, my people, had prayed for my demise, and it appeared to them that soon the judgment would come to pass.
Warren and Lyle ordered my sons that after saying good-bye to me — even though I was in a coma — they were to go and pick up my daughters, just recently freed from captivity, as well as my possessions, including three of my four cars, and take them all back to Colorado City, Arizona. They seized everything I owned, including a cell phone that contained incriminating information against Warren and Lyle.
My two half-brothers were forcing my family to desert me, a disobedient outcast, to protect their own salvation. Warren just wanted me to go away — he was going to do everything in his power to make that happen.
Not if I had anything to do about it.
As I began my painstakingly slow recovery, my half-brother David started visiting me every day for a few minutes. I would have given anything — everything — to sleep. Though I was on multiple pain medications, I could fall into only a few fitful naps throughout the day. David's visits broke up the monotonous time, and I relished those moments with someone I knew.
After David left each day, I stared at the door, willing it to open and reveal other faces I loved, but my hope was in vain. I've always been an independent individual; some might even call me a loner. But having this much alone time affected me in ways I never thought possible. The ache for my family, even my siblings, felt profound and debilitating.
I've never felt like I actually needed my mother. She was rarely around for me to form a close bond with; after all, since I was two years old, Warren's mother or the communal family had raised me. But through those long, dismal days, how I longed for her comfort and companionship. More than anything, I desired some small words of expert advice from my registered-nurse mother as to my condition. All I had to rely on were the hospital staff, but they didn't have the time to linger on my many questions, and I honestly felt afraid to ask them. I knew I'd lost my spleen and gallbladder, but when nurses came in to change the stomach dressing, they looked at the wound with undisguised horror, as if they didn't know what to do. Their behavior made me nervous and left me with the sense that perhaps I was better off not inquiring too much.
Over time I learned that my stomach was basically a large, unhealing hole. Doctors suggested that they operate to close it together so I wouldn't live my life with a gaping wound in my abdomen. With the tissue cauterization caused by the burning car wreckage, they could not guarantee that my flesh would ever knit together again, but they had to try.
As I went under the general anesthesia, I thought about Warren's desire for me to go away, how easy it would be to just let go.
But I knew I could not give up.
My stomach healed well; however, my foreboding about the safety of my family increased. What were Lyle and Warren doing to them? A friend had come to visit, and I told him I needed to get out of the hospital now, and he had to help me get released immediately. A nurse informed us that they had no right to keep me, but if I left, I would die. I didn't care. I felt so agitated and afraid that Warren had my children that I demanded to be released. They put me in a wheelchair, but I passed out before I reached the hospital doors and ended up waking in ICU.
As the winter holidays inched past, my muscles atrophied due to lack of use. Occupational therapists worked with me, but I could not move even my pinkie finger. The idea of feeding myself again seemed an impossible task. Discouragement threatened to take over. If I couldn't manage to move my fingers, how could I possibly ever walk again?
A few days later, an orthopedic doctor from Salt Lake City came to the unit and said that a bone in my leg had not healed correctly. If I had surgery on it, the procedure would most likely help me become more mobile.
He said, "I am qualified to perform the surgery. However, I won't operate until you answer some questions."
"You're Warren Jeffs's brother, right?"
"Yes," I answered, dumbfounded. I expected the standard questions about my health and past operations. What did Warren have to do with my leg?
"Well, have you ever raped little girls or had sex with a young girl?"
I can only imagine the expression on my face.
"I'm not going to operate on you if you have. I need to know that you are not like Warren and that you don't support him."
That's when I realized the damage Warren had done to me, just by my connection to him. With the doctor looming over my bed, I explained that I had previously been a member of the FLDS Church, but I had never participated in, nor had I condoned, any such behavior.
He replied, "Because you said that, I'll have to take your word for it, but I don't believe you."
This sneering man was someone I had to trust to cut open my leg and fix it?
Weeks later, one of my half-brothers arrived unexpectedly at the hospital. I was excited to see him, as he was the brother I felt closest to while growing up. However, interpreting the expression on his face, I knew something was wrong. My sense of elation plummeted.
With no emotion in his voice, my brother stated that he had come to deliver a message. The accident happened because I had turned traitor and this was my punishment. I needed to repent, accept Warren as the prophet, do his will, and return to the FLDS fold. This I must accomplish soon because Warren foretold that, after suffering enough agony, I would die. Even if I somehow miraculously lived, I would be disowned.
My heart sank as my brother turned and left without another word.
Strangely, after he had gone, an incredible sense of peace overcame me. I fell into a blessed, sound sleep and immediately stopped breathing.
Excerpted from "Destroying Their God"
Copyright © 2018 Wallace Jeffs, Shauna Packer, and Sherry Taylor.
Excerpted by permission of Zarahemla Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
1 — Deadly Retribution,
2 — The Time to Tell,
3 — Creating Their God,
4 — Plyg Kid,
5 — A Living Hell on Earth,
6 — "I Will Not Tolerate Rebellion",
7 — Tomorrow Is the End of the Earth,
8 — Brotherly Love,
9 — Father-Prophet,
10 — Blood Atonement,
11 — Marriage Middleman,
12 — Lifted Up,
13 — Exodus to Short Creek,
14 — Eliminating an Obstacle,
15 — He's Just in the Other Room,
16 — Marrying My Mothers,
17 — Yearning for Zion,
18 — Mission,
19 — Sadist's Game,
20 — Heavenly Sessions,
21 — On the Lam,
22 — The Fullness of the Law of Sarah,
23 — Ripping Away Innocence,
24 — Returned to the Fold,
25 — YFZ Raid,
26 — Forever Banished,
27 — False Prophet,
28 — "I Am Smiling. Are You?",
29 — Moving Against Evil,
30 — Betrayal,
31 — My Children Begin to Escape,
32 — True Love,
33 — It's Not Over Yet,
About the Authors,