Warren Jeffs is the focus of Netflix’s shocking documentary Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey. Jeffs took over leadership of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after his father, Rulon Jeffs, passed away in 2022. Warren introduced authoritarian rule, dissolving the council and beginning a reign of terror involving sexual, physical, and psychological abuse.
Jeffs kept his followers in check by controlling their finances and warning them of dire consequences if they left. He rewarded loyal male followers by gifting them young girls to marry. Warren married 18 of his father’s 20 wives and acquired more for himself, marrying 80 women by the time of his arrest.
Warren has tried to commit suicide during his stint in prison
Warren’s world started unraveling in 2004 when his nephew Brent Jeffs filed a lawsuit accusing Warren of anally raping him when he was a child. In 2005, Warren was formally charged with conspiring to commit sexual misconduct with a minor.
He fled the state, earning inclusion on the FBI’s most-wanted list. Authorities arrested him in August 2006 near Las Vegas.
In 2007, Warren was convicted of two counts of being an accessory to rape. In 2010, the Utah Supreme Court overturned his conviction, citing irregularities with the jury instructions.
Warren was found guilty in the new trial, receiving a life sentence plus 20 years for sexually assaulting two minors. Jeffs will be available for parole in July 2038 – he’ll be 82 at the time.
In 2007, Jeffs attempted to commit suicide by hanging. A couple of years later, he required medical attention after falling ill while fasting. In August 2011, doctors placed Warren in a medically induced coma after he became weak due to fasting.
Jeffs told staff that he was fasting and not on hunger strike. Doctors also treated Warren for ulcers on his knees formed due to his insistent praying.
Jeffs still runs FLDS with members required to pray for his breakout from prison
Warren Jeffs still runs FLDS from prison. It’s believed that he hands out instructions to his many brothers when they visit him in prison. Authorities monitor Jeff’s letters, but they suspect he sends coded messages to his followers.
Jeffs also wrote a book titled Jesus Christ, Message to All Nations, containing prophecies he received while in prison.
FLDS members are required to pray insistently for Jeffs’ breakout from prison. Joe Broadbent, a former member, told ABC News:
“That’s a big test for them. He’s like, ‘the only way that I’m not out is because you’re not faithful enough’… he puts so much pressure on the people. They’re fasting… they don’t eat for three days at a time, [and] they pray, and pray and pray.”
Some FLDS members believe he will return to rule the church once more. “He was the prophet before he went into prison and he’ll be the prophet when he comes out,” a FLDS member told The Guardian.