tv This Is Life With Lisa Ling CNN October 3, 2015 5:00pm-6:01pm PDT
he controls the latter day saints known as the flds but walls and zion are starting to come down. in growing numbers, members of his flock are starting to question and break free. four of warren jeff's children have recently left the flds and are making shocking allegations. tonight, two of them are telling their story on camera for the very first time. revealing the kind of man their father was before he became the the profit. >> i want people to know the truth. >> i wish we would have opened up about it a long time ago. >> when a man like that becomes prophet, what happens? >> he can hide his sins behind the title of prophets. ♪
utah is so majestically beautiful it's often referred to as god's country where mormons finally settled and ultimately divided over their stance on plural marriage where the church rejected the belief, fundamentalist mormons embraced it. the flds believe that only one living man on earth has the power to relay the word of god to the people. and in 2002, all that power was handed to warren jeffs.
as prophet, warren ruled with an iron fist. he used the banner of religion to permit underaged marriages and coverup horrific acts including child wives. in 2011 he was convicted on two counts of sexual assault of a minor and given a life sentence. these are the crimes the world knows about. but there is a new layer to the story that reveals much more about warren jeffs and the religion he ravaged. more and more people are starting to leave the flds and two of them are here in salt lake city and want the world and people back in the community to know something about their father. becky is warren's fourth child. and while most of his immediate family remain devoted to the flds, she left it all behind nine months ago. >> in the flds so many people said you have the neatest father in the world and now i just think if you only knew.
>> to the flds she's a traitor to her faith and father. for most of her life, becky has avoided the outside world but today she's finding a place in it and invited me to her home. are you becky? how are you? >> good. >> good to see you. >> at 31 years old, becky is starting over. >> you've completely walked away from the flds. >> uh-huh. we were always told when people postitized, evil spirit comes over them and they just do bad, bad things but i haven't experienced that yet. >> what's it like, becky, to be the daughter of one of the most notorious people in recent american history? >> wherever i go, if people find out my name, the first thing is how are you related to warren jeffs?
i just say i'm his daughter. to me he's two different people. i don't like that one side one bit. i love the other side. but after all he's done, i don't know if he can ever be that again. >> for years, becky has mourn the loss of father she once knew, the one that sang, danced and made her and her brothers and sisters laugh. >> this is us just eating breakfast together. >> today she keeps those memories close and wants to show me a side of warren that's never been seen. >> this looks like you guys are singing. >> yeah, we're playing a game called here we go around the mulberry bush. >> which one are you? >> the red head, messy head. >> shows the good times we had with him. saved all these birthday cards he gave me. he gave his children a card every birthday. and made us feel special. >> so this is all throughout your life? >> yes, all throughout my life. these are all before he was prophet. i still get a warm feeling when
i look at them. my father loved me. >> no matter what, do as the prophet teaches. you look a lot like your father in this picture. >> yeah, a lot of people have told me that. >> how does it feel to look at all these photos now? >> when i look at pictures with my father, it hurts my heart because he did so much good and yet so much bad. >> it's a pain that has haunted becky since childhood. warren's abuse of the innocent began long before he became the prophet. he found his first victims at home under his own roof. >> when i was really young, probably between the ages of four and six, and it was at night and he came in my room and i kept saying father, do you know what you're doing? are you aware? are you awake? i was thinking there has got to be a reason because he teaches these strict principles of morals and everything but just scared me.
i tried to convince myself it didn't happen but all my life it would come to my mind. i never told anybody. >> why didn't you tell anyone? >> because father knows best. to me, he was so perfect i kept telling myself, this is an accident, something is wrong. it is not a father daughter relationship, sexuality is the not. but i didn't feel like i could speak up, only he could have his say and i had to go with it and carry on. >> this is the first time becky has publicly opened up about what her father did to her when she was just a little girl. it's common for child victims of sexual abuse to suppress traumatic memories, keep quiet and internalize their secret and for decades, becky did just that until she learned she wasn't alone. >> okay. here is picture of me holding roy. >> roy jeffs is becky's younger brother and he, too, knows what
it's like to keep a secret. >> what i've seen of roy is a boy that has tried with all his might to please his father and never could be completely accepted by him. father excluded him from the other boys and i didn't ever know why. >> the reason my life has gone the way it has is because of what he did to me. looks like some folks have had it
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in a suburb of salt lake city, 22-year-old roy jeffs is enjoying a freedom he's never known. >> the first movie i watched was in 2012. i was still in the flds. it was in secret. i scoped out the theater and made sure there was nobody watching me. all right. >> have a great day. >> will do. >> i felt like i was a really bad person but it was kind of fun. [ laughter ] >> in many ways, roy's life is stranger than fiction. he, too, is the son of the prophet, warren jeff's 11th child. before his sister becky, roy was the first of jeff's kids to flee. did you tell anyone that you were leaving? >> no.
if you tell anybody, they will be all over you trying to get you to stay. i didn't want them to change my mind. >> why did you want to leave? >> there was just no more hope anymore. i mean, as hard as i tried to be a good person or to follow their rules, i could never be good enough. >> three months ago, roy and becky reunited in salt lake. the city where they grew up. >> it's taken a bit to get to know each other again. >> i knew him as my little brother that i took care of. >> it's a memory that becky and roy share right here in salt lake. at the base of little cottonwood canyon sits an abandoned house in a suburban neighborhood this is becky and roy's childhood home. >> as a little kid, i can remember early mornings weeding in the garden. >> my favorite memories are the
mountains and the reservoir we swam in. >> you-all lived here before you father became the prophet. what was he like back then? >> pretty normal. he would take us up the canyon hiking and go on picnics every once in awhile. >> at the time, warren had seven wives and 20 children. on the outside, the family appeared happy as roy says, a normal polygamist family, but beneath the surface, some of the children, suffering in silence. >> one of my earliest memories were of him sexually abusing me. i was 4 or 5 years old and this is where my dad did it. i remember him telling me, you should never do this. and then he did it to me. he made me feel like i had done something bad. >> i remember father saying to me, becky, you're acting different toward me, and i remember feeling like, i feel different towards you.
now when i think about it, i relate it to the sexual abuse. >> what was it like for both of you living in this house with him knowing what he had done to you? >> i just thought that was a mistake. i didn't allow myself to dwell on that all the time. >> i always felt like he was perfect. i never held him accountable for it at all. >> when did you-all share what had happened to you when you were kids to each other? >> it was almost immediately. >> i let him know you're not the only one in this. >> and how did you feel when you found out? >> angry inside. i knew it happened to me and then to know it was a brother, too. >> and to also be so two-faced to us and appear to be such a good person. >> yeah, that's the hardest part.
>> before warren became prophet, he was principal of an flds school in st. lake city for 22 years. here he perfected his image as a family man with good morals and religious conviction. in 1998 warren's father, the prophet, closed the school and called upon his flock to commune in short creek and flds compound on the utah arizona border. warren moved his family and four years later, after the death of his father, was named the next prophet. >> he had a sense of power after he became the prophet and automatically started taking control of people's lives. started marrying my grandpa's wives. >> did anybody say anything about it? >> no, no, because we were taught he did right all the time. we were taught to not socialize, to not gossip, to not talk about what was going on. >> and why was that?
>> honestly, now, i think it was to help my dad be able to do what he felt like he wanted to do. >> he realized he had so much power, what should i do with this power? i can do anything i want and so he did and it went clear the wrong way. >> by the time warren was through, he married up to 80 women, 12 under 16 years old. to the fundamental mormons, plural marriage has always been a principle of faith. marrying children is not. when he started bringing in 12, 13-year-old wives, what are you thinking? >> why don't you be a father to these daughters than be a husband to these young girls? >> do you think he used his role as prophet to -- >> oh, yeah. >> -- to justify -- >> he did. i think he did. he did not have other men marry 12-year-olds, only he married 12-year-olds. >> for becky and roy, these
girls were once classmates and friends but now they were supposed to call them mother. >> there was one of them that i went to school with. >> how old was she? >> fourteen then. there was, probably in all, close to ten that were right around my age and younger. >> and what did you think about the fact that he had these wives that were 11, 12 years old? >> then i thought it was cool because they were cute and i was 14 and they were 12 and i -- you know, naturally had a crush on them. >> but these girls now belong to his father and if warren suspected disobedience among his flock, he would send the offender away to repent. there were no exceptions, even for his son. >> i was so honest with my dad that he knew everything about me. i would tell him about temptations i was having towards the mothers.
these are girls younger than me and i'm 14. he said because you're looking at my wives and being tempted toward them, then i want you to go away from that land. >> roy was torn from his birth mother and sent to live with a cousin 500 miles away. >> i didn't realize how much i loved her and how much she meant to me until after she was gone. >> roy's mother is warren's third wife. he hasn't seen her in four years. all that remains of their relationship are a few photos. >> he didn't allow any phone conversations, so she would send me mail. she had that picture taken and she sent that to me. >> obviously this was really hard for your mom, as well. could she protest? >> she could, but there would be consequences. >> do you think you'll ever see her again? >> i don't know.
i don't know. >> roy and becky have, in many ways, be orphaned by their faith. there is no way to know exactly where their mothers are, but one possibility is short creek, still home to the flds. even today, it's a place that warren tightly controls from prison. and becky wants to show me for herself. what are your thoughts right now as we embark upon this place where you used to live? >> on one hand, i don't want people to think i'm out to get them or do something against them because that's what some people are going to think. i want to get the message across that things aren't how they seem. when you're not confident your company's data is secure, the possibility of a breach can quickly become the only thing you think about.
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they had everything. they are children of the profit, why would they leave? >> it's estimated 5,000 flds members live here, an area that encompasses two towns. at first, short creek feels like any other small town, but it doesn't take long to notice a difference. these are such big walled off compounds. >> when you're in there you feel like you can't live your life freely without being watched all the time. >> i'm noticing all the windows are closed. >> yeah, it seems like they would be on red code lockdown right now. that means everybody shut your blinds, lock the doors, stay quiet, stay secluded, don't be seen. that's a security vehicle coming to check on us. hi. >> do you think all these trucks are monitoring what we're doing? >> i think that people have called each other and security is out watching just to monitor the situation. they don't know what's up.
>> security and secrecy is designed by warren to maintain control over his flock including his own children. when becky turned 18, he married her off to a man 12 years her senior who already had three wives. at first, she protested, but over time, they fell in love and had four boys. becky had envisioned a simple, happy life, but all that changed after warren's arrest. from his prison cell, the prophet dictated harsh new revelations that would affect everyone. he banned marriage, school, even toys. if the faithful didn't obey, they risked punishment. and no one, not even warren's own kin were immune. in 2011, warren declared becky's husband no longer in good standing with the church and told becky to take her kids and leave.
>> i thought, i can't do this because my boys love their father so much. we got to do what the prophet says. so i wiped away my tears and said, okay, i'll start packing up. i didn't even give him a hug good-bye, i shook his hand and said, thank you for all you've done and i left. >> do you know why he was cast out? >> he could hold his own and be somebody, and that is a threat to father. >> becky was ordered to remove any evidence that her husband existed, to cut him out of every photo. today she has no pictures of the two of them together from their past. >> would you say that your father cast out anyone he thought he couldn't control? >> at first i didn't think that. i just thought if that person is cast out because they are wicked until it came so close to me. >> but warren's control over becky's life wouldn't end there. a few months later, warren declared becky a bad mother.
he then took three of her children away and commanded her to retreat with her eldest son to what is called a house of repentance. >> we were given these strict rules when we got there. we weren't supposed to communicate with each other. >> like prison. >> it was like prison. one day i totally lost it and broke down and truly convinced myself i must be a very wicked person. >> becky confessed her brokenness to her father, but he showed in mercy. he took away her eldest son and sent her childless to live in colorado and repent. >> we took puck churs of each other and i thought, i'll smile for this one because it's going to be my funeral picture, because i'm going to kill myself. i am. there is nothing to live for. >> becky's sister revealed something about her father that would change everything. >> one day my sister started
bawling and bawling and i said, what's the matter? my sister told me from the ages of about 8 to 17 he had sexually abused her. we both cried together. i thought, i'm not the only one molested. he's done it to her. it must be something that was in his nature. that's all. where does it end? if he had this in him, how can i trust him? how is he really our prophet? >> how many people do you think your father has hurt? >> every single member in there. literally, every single member has been affected. >> every adult i know of has a personal message of correction from him. >> today in short creek, life is on hold. in 2008 the world watched as federal agents raided warren jeff's texas compound and discovered evidence of his heinous crimes.
warren jeffs is now four years into a life sentence, but those who still follow him seem to be locked into a life sentence of their own. >> as things look now, they are just going to grow old waiting for something to happen. >> why is that? >> because the prophet has said that only he can perform marriages because the lord has only given him the right to do it and so nobody is getting married. nobody has gotten married since the day he was captured and put in prison. >> what happens if your father dies in prison? >> i'm sure that he's already told somebody to take over if that happens, probably be one of his brothers. >> his brothers are running things now? >> yeah. >> lisle jeffs has been in the news lately. he's warren's brother and an enforcer responsible for relaying warren's messages to the people and carrying out his orders.
he even declared his own son, tom, an apostate. becky hasn't seen tom, who is her cousin, in three years, but tonight she's ready to share her story with him. >> hey, tom, how are you? >> good. >> you remember this one. >> i do. >> hey, thomas. >> how are you doing? >> good. >> like becky, tom recently left the flds and is also viewed as a traitor by his father. >> he told the whole family that i was an apostate and i did nothing to him. >> why exactly did you leave? >> i got sick of all the restrictions. and after i left the church, i still believed warren was who he said he was and i had all the respect in the world for him. but i finally got a lawyer and he put all the evidence in front of me. it disgusts me. >> becky, do you want to share anything with tom? >> he molested some of us when we were little and then, you
know, my sister, she dealt with it constantly. so of course we can't support him. >> yeah. i mean, to find out that that's the man we were supporting, how could this have happened all these years and nobody know about it? i mean, it's -- it messes with your head. it does. when i first left, i thought, you know, i made the worst decision in my life. and now i come to find out, it was the best decision i ever made in my life. >> i want people to know that he sexually abused some of his children so that they realize when he accuses them of immorality and sends them away, it doesn't mean they are guilty of it. i imagine that's how he's trying to hide his own sins, by pointing at others. >> how many kids do you think
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it's sunday morning and the streets of colorado city are so quiet, one might think the people are at church. but with their prophet in prison, the flds are worshipping at home. >> hey, how are you doing? >> good. >> good to see you. >> you, too. >> is that the lord's voice? wow. >> tom wants to get out of town but due to financial constraints, still lives in colorado city where he can't escape warren. >> it's coming from next door? >> it's coming from downstairs. >> every day as early as 6:00 a.m., tom's neighbors, nearly to followers of warren's,
listen to hours of his teachings. are most people in colorado city listening to this now? >> they are probably not listening to the very same thing that these guys are, but they're all listening -- >> to him? >> -- to him. when i hear his voice it's a constant reminder how he lied to us and he's not a revelation and not from god. he's a pedophile and needs to be treated as such. >> so ironic when they consider you the enemy and they are listening to a child molester, a pedophile. >> exactly. there is no way i can follow a man that does that. it's disgusting and wrong and i'm glad he is where he is. >> tom isn't the only one living here whose faith has been shattered. increasingly, people are removing the prophet from their lives and tonight a group of
former flds members invited me to a meeting to hear why. in the crowd, there are people who are cast out by warren. others who left on their own accord. given what you know now, do you think warren jeff should have been prophet to begin with? >> no. >> no. >> in the church, he was totally wonderful. we had no clue there was anything that he was harming us with. we don't feel abused there. >> when did the lightbulb go off for you? >> i found out about his confessions. >> just so disappointed and such an emptiness and loss. >> there was a period when warren started assigning men to much younger women. did you know this was happening, and, if so, what did you think? >> i think to this day the majority of the community never pictured 12. we pictured 16, you know. and i understand that in the majority of society, that's really bad, but it wasn't totally crazy in our culture. >> what about the men who were
being assigned to girls 14? >> we didn't know about it. >> there are allegations that warren molested kids when he was a principal. if people had known about what he had done before he became prophet, do you think people could have followed him? >> no. >> no way. >> absolutely not. >> no way. >> i don't believe so. >> we have to have high morals. the principles that we're raised on require that. >> but if they know that warren was a pedophile, how could they continue to stay? why don't they leave? >> if you don't do what he tells you, you're going to be cast out. >> warren was very clever in this concept of if somebody starts to get smart on him, get rid of him. we just followed, didn't have a mind of our own or do anything except what we were told. the price was too high to pay. >> when do you think it will collapse?
>> i don't expect a collapse at all. i think it will continue to be one by one as men come to some resolution in their heart with what they want to do. >> people are left hanging without information. they are stuck in a time warp. they don't progress. how do you break that? that's the big question. ♪ >> but one person in town is trying to expose the flds to the outside world. ruth olson is an advocate for a non-profit called holding out help and today she's showing me the challenges of getting out. why is it important for you to have a presence and be on the ground here? >> the church has broken down people to where they feel like they can't trust anybody. we try to establish ourselves here so they can feel safe. >> do you have any idea how many people you've helped? >> i've served hundreds of people here. >> ruth and i are on our way to a secret location to meet a
17-year-old girl still inside the flds. ruth is bringing her a computer and movies, windows to the outside world. who is this girl we're going to meet? >> she is a minor and she's not able to get out yet on her own. she has a very low education in that she would so like to further that and be part of high school, do sports, things like that, but the problem is is that she can't get out. she's just afraid of, one, she doesn't want to go to hell and that's what their religion teaches if she leaves, and two, is that she may never see her parents again. >> is this a big risk meeting and exchanging money for things she wants like a computer? >> yeah, she's taking a really big risk. warren hardly needs a reason to kick somebody out. >> so this girl sent ruth a text
saying -- telling her the car she's in. so we just saw the car that she said she was in. and then it disappeared. i saw it go that way. there she is. >> okay. i'm going to go talk with her first. >> okay. >> so the girl ruth is meeting is parked right to my right. we don't want to shoot her car because we don't want the vehicle to be identified. but ruth is now asking if i can at least meet her and she might agree to have a little chat on camera. but it's very, very risky, so we'll see. these are the movies that ruth is giving her. "horse camp" and "princess bride". what did she say? >> she's going to pull up by me
and then get out. so she's going to come up. >> hi, how are you? i'm lisa, nice to meet you. i've seen this, this is a great movie. you're going to love it. >> thanks. >> here is the big box. do you want me to open it? >> i have a box. >> you're okay? >> yeah. >> what would happen if this is discovered? >> i really don't know. >> are you having a lot of confusion about things right now? >> yeah. >> well, it's a -- freedom is nice. >> see ya. >> bye. >> do you think she was nervous talking with us just now? >> yeah, i think she was. >> you're exposing her to the outside world. >> exactly. exactly. >> but i feel like it's my obligation to help them see more options out there, and if they want out, then we can get them out. >> the fact the young flds girl still communicates with ruth
indicates that she's curious about the outside world, but that might not be enough to propel her to leave because it's a huge risk. i do wonder if things would be different many she knew the truth about her prophet. join us as we celebrate eddie's retirement, and start planning your own. it takes a lot of work... but i really love it.s. i'm on the move all day long... and sometimes, i just don't eat the way i should. so i drink boost® to get the nutrition that i'm missing. boost complete nutritional drink has 26 essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium and vitamin d to support strong bones and 10 grams of protein to help maintain muscle. all with a great taste. i don't plan on slowing down any time soon. stay strong. stay active with boost®.
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the first step to reaching your retirement goals is to visualize them. then, let the principal help you get there. join us as we celebrate eddie's retirement, and start planning your own. back in salt lake city, roy has a job but not much of an education. he's been playing catchup ever since his father banned school and ordered him to work starting
at age 15. >> to be a perfect person, i had to work all the time. my father felt more like a dictator than father. he was always giving out commands and rules. there wasn't a father-son connection. >> rejected by his father and sheltered from the outside world, roy got used to being alone. it's a feeling today he still remains comfortable with. >> i almost like the feeling of being alone where i'm not judged. i just push people away. i don't like letting people in my life that much. >> in many ways, ex flds are like refugees from another country. everything outside of their former world is brand-new. >> i had my first glass of wine
last week. learned how to swim yesterday. >> wow. and would you just not have been able to swim. >> we were taught not to. >> why? >> we were taught that the devil has control of the waters. any waters. >> what did you think of the outside world and the world everybody else lived in? >> i thought everybody was corrupt. that was the picture he painted. i have been amazed at how much good there is. just having a few people who care about me is what's keeping me going. >> now when roy is down, he has a place where he's welcome. this is the home of a woman who is operating an underground railroad of sorts. >> hey, i have an update on a possible home so i want to go through your intake briefly. >> tanya toole is the founding director of holding out help. she's ruth's counterpart in salt
lake and ex-fdls members call her when they're looking for a place to land outside of short creek. tanya and her team have helped thousands of ex-flds transition into the real world. >> how did you get involved with all of this? >> we learned we couldn't turn a blind eye to this. the crazier that warren jeffs was getting, we quickly realized we were going to have an onslaught of people and that's what happened in the last three years. >> to roy and other exiles, tanya has become like a surrogate mother. >> tanya, she's everything to me. she's been there for me ever since i've left. she's helped me through a lot. >> the one gift i've always wanted to able to give to roy is to be reunited with his mother. but the further i get into this, i realize it may never happen. he comes to me with pretty dark stuff. and it's so important for me to say, let's work through that together. >> all right, gang, it's burger time. >> whoo-hoo!
>> tanya and her family have embraced roy and others like him. tonight, four young men that have left the church have joined tanya's family for dinner. >> is there anything you guys miss about being there? >> i miss my family. >> do you think you'll ever see your family again? >> i'd be real surprised. i don't know. i guess we'll see how it turns out. >> it's been nearly a year since becky gathered her four boys and fled the flds. two months ago she reunited with her husband in a suburb of salt lake city and today becky and her boys are rarely apart. they're a team of survivors who not only have their whole future in front of them but finally have each other.
what's it like to be out here experiencing freedom with your boys? >> i don't ever have to worry that they're going to be taken away from me again. there was always a worry. >> the boys seems like they're having fun all the time and climbing trees. >> yeah. >> like could they even do this? >> they weren't supposed to. >> what were some of the things that you guys couldn't do? >> we couldn't run around, nor could we laugh. they would say that was light minded. they didn't let you even watch videos and they wouldn't let us even look at a picture of father. >> is there anything you miss about living there? >> no. if they gave you toys, they would take them out and burn them or something. >> you couldn't have like sponge bob or teen-age mutant ninja turtles? >> he doesn't know what that is. >> you don't know them? >> no.
>> is life here a whole lot more fun? >> yeah, it's better than that place. >> i'm happy you're free. >> we would have never unless mama came home and was like, okay, let's just go. >> what happened to becky and roy was so devastating. for them to want to share the details with the outside world just shows to me an extraordinary amount of courage.
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becky and roy's lives have long been dictated by the religion demands of their father. but now that they're in control of their own futures, they're making their own decisions about what to believe and where to go on sunday mornings. >> it's not the church you're part of, it's not the family you're part of, it's who you are, it's what you do. i feel like i'm not accountable to anybody but god and that is so much simpler. >> if you could say anything, say something to your father,
what would it be? >> father, will you please back down and let the people know that you are not the prophet. stop trying to be the leader and just be our father. even if you're just our father in prison, i'll respect you if you'll just do this. i wish i could say that to him. each of us children, we know what you've done. you can't fool us and tell us everybody's guilty of things when you're guilty of these things yourself. for him to go all those years and he probably thought, oh, good, nobody ever found out. i want to tell him we know now, father. we know. please step down and let the people be. >> please stop hurting families, ripping children from their parents. i'd just say i love you and please tell people the truth.
on this episode of death row stories, a triple murder, execution style. >> they shot them like they were nothing. >> and the crime is caught on tape. >> most significant piece of evidence i've ever seen in a case. >> the clear images of guilt. >> the evidence establishes that he committed the crime. >> there's your guy. it's a slam dunk for the prosecution. >> only deepen the mystery. >> you're going to kill somebody. it's not even a sure conviction rnls what they didn't have is any evidence. >> there's no doubt in my mind that he's innocent. >> there's a body on the water. >> he was butchered and murdered. >> many people proclaim their innocence. >> in this case, there are a number of things that stink. >> this man is remorseless. >> he needs to