Oxygen Insider Exclusive!

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, breaking news, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up for Free to View
Crime News Deadly Power

Who Is Warren Jeffs? 5 Disturbing Facts About The Polygamist Cult Leader

Oxygen's "Deadly Power" looks back on Warren Jeffs and his thousands of followers.

By Sowmya Krishnamurthy

Warren Jeffs is the prophet of one of the largest polygamist communities in America. As the president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church), he oversees a congregation estimated at thousands that was once localized in the Short Creek Community (comprised of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah). Bound by arcane rules and customs, it's a closed-society of women in long dresses, sister-wives and polygamy.

But in 2006, the whole world came to know the name Warren Jeffs. After being on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list, the 62-year-old was convicted of the sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl and the aggravated sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl. He is currently serving a sentence of life plus 20 years. 

Oxygen goes behind the headlines and delves into the life of Jeffs, his family and legion of followers on "Deadly Power." 

Before watching "Fighting the Faith," here are five disturbing facts you should know about the polygamist cult leader:

1. Many Wives and Many Followers

[Photo: Getty Images]

Jeffs' religious sect separated from the Mormon Church 72 years ago. He grew up in the FLDS, and his father had an estimated 75 wives and 65 children, according to NPR. He took over the church leadership from his father after his death in 2002, and it was reported that he had more than 10,000 followers in 2011, according to ABC News.

Jeffs’ followers saw him as a prophet and believed in polygamy as a necessary religious act. He is believed to have paired women and girls with men in so-called "spiritual marriages," and in order to reach heaven, men were expected to have at least three wives, explained NPR. Jeffs is believed to have had approximately 78 wives and at least 60 children, according to CNN

2. Spirit of God

[Photo: Getty Images]

Jeffs used his religion to explain his sexual behavior. He recorded audio of himself having sex with one of this victims, who was 12 at the time. He told her to feel “the spirit of God” and referred to her as his “heavenly comfort wife.” Jurors heard the disturbing audio during his sex abuse trial, reported ABC News.

The tape was one of several confiscated by authorities when police descended upon Jeffs' compound at the YFZ Ranch (or Yearning for Zion Ranch) in April 2008.

3. Sex Tapes

[Photo: Getty Images]

Jeffs also recorded himself lecturing women and girls about sex. The jury heard recordings that Jeffs made in which he instructed his female followers on how (and why) to have sex. He maintained that they should be loyal to him.

“You have been trained to keep you body covered from others when I am not present. You need to be as comfortable undressed as dressed when you are around each other,” he reportedly said on the tapes.

4. Obedient Women

[Photo: Getty Images]

Women are expected to be obedient within the religious sect. Devotees believe that God speaks directly through Jeffs and only he can assign (or reassign) wives. Wives are believed to "belong" to their husbands forever, shared NPR. Those kicked out of the FLDS (or those who left on their own) are called “apostates” and are shunned, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.

5. Most Wanted

[Photo: Getty Images]

Jeffs made the FBI’s "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" list in May 2006. He was wanted for alleged sexual assaults in 2002 and captured in Las Vegas in August 2006 after two years on the run. A 2007 conviction for accessory to rape was overturned, but he was back in hot water when the YFZ Ranch was raided and authorities found “widespread practice” of abuse, according to Deseret News.

Jeffs was convicted of aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault of a child and sentenced to life plus 20 years in August 2011, reported CNN

To learn more about Warren Jeffs and the FLDS, watch "Deadly Power" on Oxygen.

[Photo: Getty Images]

Read more about: