One of the wives of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, who is currently serving a life sentence for child sexual assault, has escaped the confines of the isolated Arizona community where his 85 other wives live.
Arizona authorities have said that the 25-year-old woman who fled the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which was led by Jeffs, is now undergoing counseling and psychiatric care at a women's shelter. She was reportedly barefoot when she was found.
The secluded community of the church in Colorado City, Ariz., contains about 5,000 residents and is a world where outsiders are not welcomed. Now a woman that is highly familiar with the isolated community and its controversial former leader has escaped.
Willie Jeesop, a former FLDS spokesman who was kicked out of the religion by Jeffs, said that the unidentified woman was under duress when she sought refuge with Jeffs in Colorado City.
Carolyn Jessop is a former Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints member who also fled polygamy and Colorado City and went on to write the book "Escape," which looks back on the events that led her to break free from the oppressive world of polygamy. She says that the woman's need to flee the Church indicates that she was under great duress.
"Things have had to be pretty serious for her, to the point where death was better than living the way she was living ," Jessop said. "She must have reached a point where it just didn't matter anymore and was really to take whatever risks and consequences if she didn't make it ."
The same desperate journey made by Jessop, this recently escaped woman and many others was shared by Fawn Louise Broadbend and Fawn Holm, two sisters who left 32 brothers and sisters, two mothers and one father behind when they fled their polygamist community.
Now in Phoenix with new friends and new lives, it's as if after a long sleep the girls are awakening to the ordinary pleasures of being a teenager. The two agree that they have both been to a very dark place.
While the newly escaped woman undergoes counseling and therapy, her husband Jeffs, 55, continues his life sentence after being found guilty in August of forcing two teenage girls into "spiritual marriage," and fathering a child with one of them when she was 15.
On August 29 it was reported that Jeffs had fallen into a coma after fasting for three days. Three weeks later it was reported that he was discharged from the hospital and would receive further treatment in a prison infirmary.
- Warren Jeffs
- Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
- Colorado City