SAN ANGELO, Texas – Both Peacock and Netflix, two major streaming services, have released a limited series documentary on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), a religious group that occupied small towns around the Utah-Arizona border before relocating to the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas.
Peacock’s show titled ‘Preaching Evil: A Wife on the Run with Warren Jeffs’ features members of the polygamy religion who was married to the leader and FBI’s most wanted Warren Jeffs.
Naomi Jeffs the wife and scribe of Warren Jeffs is featured in the four-episode series. Naomi Jeffs shares her life in the FLDS as she wrote down the leader’s daily life and spiritual directives for the church and traveled with Warren Jeffs while he was on the run.
‘Preaching Evil: A Wife on the Run with Warren Jeffs’ also shows viewers the life of those within the FLDs from Warren Jeffs taking over the church as the prophet to his trial that took place at the Tom Green County Courthouse.
Tom Green County Sheriff Nick Hanna is also featured in the documentary, sharing the discovery, investigation, and prosecution of those at the FLDS.
Netflix also released a docu-series titled ‘Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey’ by Emmy-nominated producer Rachel Dretzin.
Much like the series released by Peacock, ‘Keep Sweet: Prey and Obey’ is also a four-episode long series with each ranging from 46 to 53 minutes in length.
This series by Netflix goes more in-depth with footage of those who were members of the FLDS as it shows viewers the transition in leadership through the trial in San Angelo.
The FLDS branched from the Church of Latter-day Saints as the religion turned against the practice of polygamous relationships, thus forming the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the 1890s. According to a previous article on the Concho Valley Homepage, both the FLDS and the Latter-Day Saints use the Book of Mormon though the Latter-Day Saints follow laws in place on polygamy marriages.
The religious group resided in small towns on the Utah-Arizona border which allowed the church to neighbor other populations and travel across the states’ border without being stopped or raided by state or local law enforcement due to illegal polygamy practices
The FLDS continued their day-to-day lives following their prophet until Warren Jeffs took over the 12,000-member church following his father’s passing in 2002. The new leader took interest in several things that the church prophet does such as “spiritual marriage”, along with rules members had to follow. Warren Jeffs assigned wives, several of which were underage, to their husbands according to an article on Concho Valley Homepage. This gave Warren Jeffs the power to reassign marriages, which also included taking wives, kids and homes away from dozens of men.
Warren Jeffs took his wife and scribe Naomi Jeffs with him to Eldorado, Texas where the construction of the Yearning for Zion Ranch began in 2003 after it was purchased by an FLDS member. Once the prophet was relocated, he began to select who was welcome to the new location-based off who God approved. An FLDS member shared her experience of her children, whose father is Warren Jeffs, being approved to travel to this new ranch before she was allowed to in ‘Preaching Evil: A Wife on the Run with Warren Jeffs’.
After being charged with sexual misconduct with a minor and rape as an accomplice for marrying a 14-year-old girl with her adult cousin, Jeffs went on the run taking Naomi Jeffs with him in 2005. This flee placed him on the FBI’s most-wanted list according to Peacock’s ‘Preaching Evil: A Wife on the Run with Warren Jeffs’.
Following a routine traffic stop in Las Vegas, Nevada Warren Jeffs was arrested and taken to trial in Utah where he was sentenced to 10 years in prison for marrying the 14-year-old girl to her cousin.
In 2008, Texas authorities raided the Yearning for Zion Ranch, where over 400 children were found. Concho Valley Homepage says these children were relocated to the coliseum fairgrounds. Around 139 mothers were also allowed to go with the children.
According to an article from Concho Valley Homepage, Warren Jeffs was then brought to Texas in 2010 on three charges. This included aggravated sexual assault in relation to an underage marriage at the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Schleicher County.
Warren Jeffs has been sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years for aggravated sexual assault against a child for marrying a 12-year-old girl in Texas along with sexual misconduct with a minor and rape as an accomplice for marrying a 14-year-old girl with her adult cousin in Utah.
Along with Warren Jeffs, 12 other FLDS members were charged following the raid at the Yearning for Zion Ranch. This includes Frederick Merril Jessop who was found guilty of conducting an unlawful marriage ceremony of a 12-year-old girl to Warren Jeffs according to Concho Valley Homepage.