FLDS family funeral feud; exiled brothers blocked from seeing mother before burial

St. George News, Utah/June 20, 2014

By T.S. Romney

St. George -- Members of the “exiled brothers” community, or those who have been exiled from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, were denied access to seeing their mother’s body after she passed away Tuesday evening. FLDS members had the body transported in the middle of the night for burial to allegedly keep the banished children from seeing her.

On Tuesday, Loana Silvester Harker Barlow Broadbent, 81, passed away at Dixie Regional Medical Center from complications resulting from a heart attack.

Dixie Regional Medical Center reportedly called Spilsbury Mortuary to claim the body that evening. However, two of Broadbent’s daughters still in good standing with the FLDS Church requested the body be taken to Heideman Hughes Mortuary, which ultimately claimed the body that same evening.

Jeremiah Barlow and his five siblings learned of the death of their mother the following morning.

Barlow, a son of Louis Barlow, reportedly the second in the hierarchy of the FLDS priesthood before Warren Jeffs assumed leadership, was ejected from the FLDS community in 2008, along with his father and five siblings, due to the threat his father posed to Jeffs’ control.

Jeremiah Barlow and his siblings went to Heideman Hughes Mortuary Wednesday wanting to see their mother.

“We spoke to Brian Heideman, who was respectful and tried to understand the situation,” Barlow said. “However, my sister, who is still very faithful to the FLDS community, felt they had full claim and produced a will that we disputed.”

Barlow said he spent the day seeking to communicate and work with his FLDS sisters and brother-in-law, but each time they refused to give him any access to his mother at all.

“We just wanted to see our mother,” Barlow said.

“We always try to accommodate all family members,” Brian Heideman, of Heideman Hughes Mortuary, said. “I met with them eight to 10 times trying to work it out between the executor of the estate and Jeremiah and his siblings.”

Heideman said they will normally look for a spouse; however, in this case their was none, so they then look to children of the deceased who are over 18. However, with a will being presented the mortuary legally had no choice, he said.

“We would have loved to meet their request,” Heideman said. “They were not asking much. All they wanted to do was see their mom, and I would have loved to have let them. We did everything we could to convince the executor to allow it; they said no. Legally, that is who I have to defer to.”

Members of the FLDS community began arriving on Thursday night to dress the body prior to the viewing and burial, as is the custom in that faith, Barlow said. While they did this, one of the female members stood outside the room as a guard, he said.

“When one of my brothers tried to step into the room, the female member shoved him and began yelling at him,” Barlow said.

Barlow said the FLDS members demanded that he and his brothers leave the mortuary, even calling the St. George Police Department.

“We responded to a report of a family dispute,” St. George Police Sgt. Sam Despain said. “They had a loved one who was at the mortuary. It was very peacefully, quickly resolved and they were allowed to leave and head out towards the Colorado City area. There were no law violations. The St. George City Police Department did not take very much action at all.”

FLDS members then demanded that Heideman Hughes Mortuary deliver the body to Hildale.

“Again, I had no choice,” Heideman said. “We left with the body and proceeded to Hildale around midnight. The FLDS family members had called in the Washington County Sheriff’s Office to provide a keep-the-peace escort as we transported the body.”

Heideman said the mortuary delivered the body to the family in Hildale and then left the area.

“We, the sons, had a claim to see our mother,” Barlow said. “The Sheriff’s Department had five vehicles follow the morticians to the home of Boyd Knudson in Hildale. After the body was left and the mortuary cleared, the Sheriff’s Department also left, saying this was a civil issue that they could not get involved with.”

Barlow said he remained on the sidewalk of the property all night. Around 2 a.m., he said he observed cars beginning to show up at the residence with mostly women and children. Cars continued to come and go until 4:30 a.m.

“We were respectful of the law and stayed off the property,” he said.

Around 5 a.m., a lot of people came out at of the home at once, Barlow said. The members of the community slipped the casket out the back door and into a minivan and headed to the cemetery.

“I followed the procession to the cemetery,” Barlow said. “I watched as they unloaded my mother from the van and put her into the vault and lowered it into the grave as fast as they could. Boyd Knudson then addressed the crowd and told them to all come back once the grave had been filled.”

Barlow then said the undertakers had the vault sealed and buried before the sun came up.

Barlow said his brother, his mother’s sister from Salt Lake, and friends and family from all over the world had traveled to attend the funeral and weren’t able to attend it or even see his mother.
“My mother was a school teacher for 40 years at the grade school and touched a lot of lives,” he said. “We would have liked to have closure, a time to say goodbye.”

ED. Note: Calls were made to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office for requests for comment; however, at the time of publication our calls had not been returned.

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