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Book excerpt: Rachel Jeffs, daughter of a polygamist and prophet, gets news that scatters her family from Utah to Texas


Editor’s be aware • On Tuesday, HarperCollins Publishers will unlock a memoir from Rachel Jeffs titled “Breaking Free: How I Escaped Polygamy, the FLDS Cult and My Father, Warren Jeffs.”

In the ebook, Rachel Jeffs alleges her father, Warren Jeffs — who nowadays is the president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and is serving a sentence of existence plus 20 years in Texas for crimes similar to sexually assaulting two ladies he married as non secular better halves — molested her as a kid.

At the time of the next excerpt, Rachel Jeffs is the 19-year-old 3rd spouse of the person to whom her father assigned her, Richard Allred. Rachel Jeffs has simply given start to her first kid and the plural family resides within the FLDS group at the Utah-Arizona line, known as Short Creek. Rachel Jeffs modified her sister better halves’ names to offer protection to their privateness.

In April 2003, I went up to Father’s space to to find Rich. All the family contributors I encountered checked out me with unhappy expressions. What’s the large deal? I questioned.

“Rachel, you need to go talk to Father,” one of his better halves mentioned.

I walked down to Father’s room and knocked at the door. “Come in,” he mentioned….

Father sat there for a second prior to he mentioned, “It looks like your mother has breast cancer. A doctor has confirmed it.”

I bolted from Father’s room and ran up to Mother’s room, the place I discovered her mendacity in mattress. Barbie used to be simplest 2 months previous, and I had spent maximum of my time just lately with her, so I hadn’t noticed how sick my mom had change into. I used to be simplest 19, and my mom 38. (She had a 2-year-old child herself.)

The jacket of “Breaking Free: How I Escaped Polygamy, the FLDS Cult and My Father, Warren Jeffs.” Photo courtesy HarperCollins Publishers.

Mother instructed me that she had spotted the lump in her breast two years prior to, however Father instructed her now not to concern about it. After the most cancers had grown significantly, Father in any case let her get it checked out by means of a physician. No one within the family went to the physician with out Father’s permission. The physician hadn’t simply showed her analysis; he’d instructed Mother that her situation used to be already terminal, and gave her six months to reside.

Father instructed her to have the chemotherapy anyway.

In the weeks that adopted, I accompanied Mother to her chemo appointments, but it surely gave the look of the entire medication did used to be make her get sicker and lose her hair. Still, Father insisted she proceed….

In November of that similar yr, Father introduced that the Lord had given him a new revelation. Father used to be to take all of his underage kids to a particular position in Texas that the Lord known as a “land of refuge,” which used to be designated just for the extra worthy of his other people.

I later discovered that Father had discovered a assets in Eldorado, Texas, a state the place the age of consent for marriage used to be simplest 14 on the time….

Warren Jeffs and his then-12-year-old daughter Rachel pose on this photograph circa 1995. In her ebook, “Breaking Free,” the daughter alleges Jeffs molested her for far of her adolescence. Photo courtesy HarperCollins Publishers.

Rachel Jeffs and Richard Allred pose on this undated photograph. The pair married in 2002 when the bride used to be 18 and the groom 25. Jeffs used to be the 3rd of Allred’s 4 better halves. Courtesy HarperCollins Publishers.

That similar month, November 2003, Rich got here house with a wonder — he had a new spouse. None of us women knew he used to be getting married once more, now not even my sister spouse Molly, whose personal sister Susan used to be the brand new bride.

I didn’t understand how to really feel concerning the state of affairs. I have been married to Rich for a yr and 8 months, and I had grown to love him. I went upstairs to my room, took my child lady in my palms, and cried. I vowed that I might now not deal with this new spouse the best way the opposite women had handled me; I might deal with her kindly, even though I didn’t like her. But it used to be bizarre to suppose of Rich dozing with a new lady, one that didn’t even love him.

Father instructed Rich to take Susan with him on his challenge to the land of safe haven in Texas. I felt betrayed that Rich took somebody else, particularly once I had risked Father’s anger by means of soliciting for a blessing so that I would possibly cross with him. As at all times, I did my easiest now not to display it, since appearing emotions like anger and jealousy used to be a sin. But I do know my sister spouse Trish felt the similar means about now not having been selected. (My different sister spouse, Molly, used to be simply satisfied it used to be her sister who went and now not me. In the approaching years, Molly would regularly foyer Rich to prefer her sister over me on every occasion she may.)

And then I came upon I used to be pregnant with my 2nd kid. I inquisitive about staying busy. I attempted to paintings more difficult, be kinder, and love extra to end up myself worthy of dwelling with Rich. I noticed my mom on a daily basis. Molly went to reside with Rich within the land of safe haven a month later, leaving simply Trish and me and our kids in Short Creek….

Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Boys jump a hole in stacks of hay on the Dairy in Hildale, 2005.

Mother persevered to get sicker and sicker. In April 2004, Father allowed her two youngest kids to come again to Short Creek to be with her, however she used to be too susceptible to do anything else with them, let on my own deal with them. By May the most cancers had unfold to her lungs, and she used to be on oxygen to assist her breathe.

“The Lord showed me that you have humbled yourself enough to be worthy to come to Zion,” Father mentioned ultimately. She can be moved to the Texas land of safe haven to sign up for the remainder of her family, however she used to be in a wheelchair, and the remedy had knocked what existence she had left proper out of her….

Two months later, on July eight, Father known as me. “Rachel, your mother is dying, and—” I didn’t listen the phrases he mentioned after that, simplest a voice in my head screaming “No!” Even figuring out how unwell she already used to be the final time I noticed her, I couldn’t settle for it. These types of issues don’t occur to us, I assumed. They occur to people.

I attempted to convey myself again to what Father used to be announcing. “You are not worthy to go on the land where she lives, but you can come see her while she is in the hospital in San Angelo. Isaac will drive you.” I sought after such a lot to communicate to Rich, to cry on his shoulder, however that used to be not possible, as I had no means to achieve him.


I packed a bag for Barbie and me, which used to be harder than it must had been as a result of, at seven months alongside in my being pregnant, I felt large and drained. When Uncle Isaac picked me up, he instructed me I couldn’t convey Barbie….

Mother gave the look of she had elderly 40 years within the few weeks since I’d final noticed her. Lying in her sanatorium mattress, she used to be extraordinarily frail and had a far flung glance in her eyes, like she used to be already partway long gone to the opposite facet. I didn’t need her to see me cry, so I walked over to the window to conceal my face till I were given regulate of my feelings. When I calmed down, I went to her bedside.

“Hi, Mother. This is Rachel.”

My mom persevered to stare forward. “Where’s Barbie?” she whispered.

I began to cry once more. I couldn’t convey myself to inform her that I have been forbidden from bringing her namesake grandchild. I sat with her for an hour, and I may see she used to be failing speedy. Uncle Nephi used to be there with us, and he made preparations to have Mother transported again house, as she had expressed her want to die there.

Father known as whilst we had been nonetheless on the sanatorium. “This is the last time you and your brother will see your mother, because you are still not worthy to be on the land of refuge.” We would now not be allowed to cross to her funeral.

Ammon and I got a motel room that evening, and a experience would come get us day after today. I couldn’t sleep. I used to be devastated to suppose I wouldn’t see my mom once more. I don’t suppose Ammon slept a wink both….

Father known as within the morning with a new revelation. “The Lord showed me that seeing your mother dying has humbled you and Ammon enough that you can be trained and then go to your mother.” It used to be a glimmer of hope, but it surely intended that Uncle Nephi had to force us greater than 500 miles — an eight-hour adventure — to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to meet Father. It wasn’t misplaced on me that at the same time as Mother used to be so shut to loss of life, Father didn’t really feel it used to be essential for him to be with her.

It took Father all day to give us the “special training,” by which he prompt us about strict obedience, laborious paintings, no complaining, emerging no later than five:00 a.m., getting to priesthood trainings on time, no gentilism of any sort, dressed in simple pastel clothes in the home and darkish clothes when outdoor running, and no sneakers inside of. He instructed us the Lord sought after a temple inbuilt Texas. Father had us covenant to do the entire just right issues and to stay the land of safe haven a secret and sacred position. Finally, we had been deemed worthy.

Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Aerial perspectives of the FLDS compound YFZ “Yearning for Zion” Ranch in Eldorado, Texas, on April eight, 2008.

When we arrived in Eldorado, after every other daylong force, I used to be stunned that Father had selected such a barren wasteland to be a sacred land of safe haven for our other people. There used to be cactus and white rock in every single place. I didn’t see anything else gorgeous concerning the position. Even the log cabins the boys had constructed didn’t fit the panorama. The land used to be code-named R17 (Refuge 17), because it used to be 17 hours from Short Creek.

My little and large sisters ran out to meet us. I used to be so satisfied to see them, and they had been glad that I have been proved worthy to come to their new house. They confirmed me up to Mother’s room, however she used to be already in a coma….

We sat with Mother all that evening and into the morning, when the nurse had us step out so she may exchange Mother’s bedclothes. That’s when my mom’s center stopped beating.

Mother had only recently became 39 years previous.


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