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Who Is Naomie Jeffs, Warren Jeffs' Wife And 'Official Scribe' For The FLDS 'Prophet'?

Naomie Jeffs, who was ultimately exiled from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) community, says she has “no hard feelings” toward her ex-husband and polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.

By Jill Sederstrom
Preaching Evil a new Peacock documentary.

It’s believed that Warren Jeffs had more than 70 wives—but one held a special place in his heart.

Naomie Jeffs has been described as Warren’s “favorite” wife.

She was his scribe, tasked with writing down his daily activities and spiritual directives to document The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) leader’s life. The FLDS is not affiliated with the Mormon church, The Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints. She stayed close to the polygamist leader, known to his followers as “the prophet,” even joining him on the run from law enforcement after Jeffs was accused of arranging the marriages of underage girls.

She was faithful and devoted to the prophet but Jessop wouldn’t always remain in Jeffs’ favor. He’d eventually be the one to exile her from the community, casting her out into the world as a “forever no member” of the FLDS church.

Naomie spoke out for the first time about the years she spent as Jeffs’ wife and what she thinks of the FLDS leader today in Peacock’s new docuseries: “Preaching Evil: A Wife on The Run with Warren Jeffs,” available to stream now.

Naomie described herself has having a “happy childhood” growing up in Short Creek—an FLDS community made up of the towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona—where she the 14th daughter of her father Fredrick Merril Jessop, who had six different wives.

“When I was really little, I just thought that’s how life was,” Naomie recalled in the docuseries.

Naomie had dreamed of one day becoming a nurse after her mother was in a car accident and spent time in the hospital, when Naomie was just 14 years old.

As her high school graduation approached, Naomie asked her father for permission to go to college to get her nursing degree, but she was told that “the prophet”—Warren Jeffs’ father Rulon Jeffs—planned to make her his bride instead.

She was just 18 when she became the 17th wife of the 83-year-old Rulon.

“It was a surprise because I didn’t think that I would marry the prophet, but I had been taught my whole life that was such an honorable thing to do and I tried to look at it that way,” she said in the docuseries.

The octogenarian had prostate trouble and was no longer able to have children. Naomie admitted she was somewhat disappointed in the pairing because she had always wanted to be a mother herself, but tried to tried to make the most of the marriage.

“I am so grateful to be the wife of our holy prophet, and he has blessed my life so abundantly,” Naomie said at age 19 in a haunting recording featured in “Preaching Evil.”

Naomie said she had “loved” Rulon but described the relationship as more like a “father-daughter relationship,” adding that most of the romantic part of their relationship was done through words rather than physical acts.

When Rulon died at the age of 92 in September of 2002, Warren Jeffs decided he wanted to acquire his father’s wives and secretly married seven of them—including Naomie—in early October of that year.

“I think it was a secret because we were his father’s wives,” she remembered. “I think Warren felt like it was such a big step that the people would kind of revolt against it.”

Warren Jeffs G 1

Warren Jeffs also became the next prophet, after Naomie shared a vision she had with the church suggesting he was the rightful heir.

She said she was “very happy” being married to Jeffs, although the second marriage also didn't result in children. 

“Warren did love me. I felt his love. He was very good to me,” she said.

Within a few months of the marriage, Jeffs asked Naomie to become his scribe, a request she described as being “an honor.”

“He said, ‘The reason I’m having you be my scribe, is because the Lord told me to and he did give me a blessing,” she said of being asked to document his daily activities, sermons and teachings.

Under his rule, Jeffs kicked out many of the high-ranking men in the FLDS community, telling the men he’d reassign their wives and take over their properties. The move placed him at the center of a series of lawsuits brought on by former members and Jeffs went on the run for the first time, with Naomie by his side, to find a new refuge for the community.

They settled near Eldorado, Texas, where only a select group of chosen FDLS members would be allowed to live on the property, known as the Yearning for Zion Ranch.

But while Warren proclaimed himself to be the holy leader of the FLDS, former members describe in "Preaching Evil" his predilection for disturbing sex acts—including forcing his wives to perform group sex acts and marrying very young underage girls. 

“He would tell us the only way to bring him out of that was for us to participate in sexual activities to save him from dying,” former wife Vicki Thompson told “Preaching Evil.”

Naomie had been in the room, according to Thompson, and was also present when Jeffs married her 12-year-old sister, Merrianne Jessop in 2006. According to “Preaching Evil,” Naomie helped instruct her sister on how to be a “heavenly wife” to Warren.

Naomie said she had been conflicted about the marriage but she knew you “just didn’t question the prophet.”

“She wanted to marry Warren. Before she got married, would write ‘Merrianne Jeffs’ all over her papers,” she said. “She wanted it. Now, whether a 12-year-old can decide that or not, I can’t say. I really don’t know.”

That same year, Jeffs was placed on the “FBI’s Most Wanted” list after 19-year-old Elissa Wall—who had been married by Jeffs to her husband Allen Steed five years earlier—went to police and accused her husband of raping her with Jeff's consent, according to the St. Louis Tribune. Jeffs was charged in Utah with rape as an accomplice and fled with Naomie. 

“In my mind, I just thought at the time, you know, if Warren was taken he would have no justice, so I didn’t look at it as a bad thing,” Naomie told “Preaching Evil” of her decision to go on the run with the prophet, calling it a “privilege” to accompany him.

Naomie and Jeffs shed their conservative clothing to blend in with the public and crisscrossed the country visiting tourist sites like the Grand Canyon and St. Louis Arch.

According to Naomie, she began to “question” Jeffs and his motivations during the trip, particularly after he showed her a pornography video of a woman and two men and asked if she’d ever be willing to do anything like that for him.

“I was like ‘Why would you even want that to happen?’” she said, describing the incident as “confusing.”

The joy ride came to an end on Aug. 28, 2008, when they were taken into custody near Las Vegas, Nevada.

“I didn’t want to be taken,” Naomie said. “I had been with him for four years. My life really changed at that point.”

Jeffs was convicted in Utah of rape as an accessory, although the conviction would later be overturned by an appellate court. However, he’d be sent away for life in Texas after his marriage to 12-year-old Merrianne Jessop and another 14-year-old girl came to light and he was charged with sexual assault of a child and aggravated sexual assault of a child.

“Texas says don’t mess with Texas, but somehow Texas messed up,” Naomie said in “Preaching Evil” of the conviction. “I mean Texas is a wonderful place but the judicial system there it, it kinda sucks.” “

She continued to insist in “Preaching Evil” that Jeffs was “totally innocent” of sexually assaulting Merrianne and although he had gotten his 14-year-old bride Veda pregnant, she questioned whether the law against the sexual contact was “just.”

“(Veda) didn’t want him to go to prison for that and it was her child that needed a father,” Naomie said. “She was very, very mature for her age and she wanted that baby. She wanted a baby very much.”

Although he was behind bars, Jeffs continued to lead the group from his prison cell.

The relationship between the pair deteriorated after Naomie said she refused one of Jeff's requests.

While Naomie wouldn’t get into details in the "Preaching Evil" about Jeffs asked her to do, she said her husband got very angry when she refused to tell him she was “feeling the heavenly fire” and agree on the telephone to do what he wanted.

Jeffs sent her away to “lone living,” a punishment that forced members to live on their own with no contact with anyone else, for two years. She was later called back to his family but she said others continued to distance themselves from her and in 2017, Jeffs ousted her from the community for good.

“At the time that I drove away I was sad,” she said. “I mean I just thought this is the end and I’m leaving my family. It was a melancholy feeling. It was hard.”

Now, as a member of the Mormon church, Naomie is studying to achieve her lifelong dream of becoming a nurse and said she has “no hard feelings” toward he now ex-husband Jeffs.

“He taught me some very good things. He made mistakes like every other person and you know, I can say I was in denial for a while and finally I had to just realize you know even though if you hope something didn’t happen, that didn’t mean that it didn’t,” she said. “I will be the first to admit that. I needed to believe what was true and not just what I hoped was true.”

Some have questioned whether Naomie should have been charged for her role in helping Warren throughout the years.

Others however, have argued that Naomie, like other church members, was a victim who was just doing what Jeffs instructed her to do. Naomie was never charged in connection to his activities and said in the docuseries she hoped people “give her the benefit of the doubt.”

“I love to help people,” she said. “I love children and I hope they would understand that I would never, ever want to hurt a child in any way, shape or form.”

“Preaching Evil: A Wife on The Run with Warren Jeffs,” is available to stream now on Peacock.

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