THE 65th wife of Mormon cult leader Warren Jeffs claims the convicted pedophile put a hit out on her and had her drugged before she managed to escape his twisted sect after years of abuse.
Briell Decker was just 18 when she was forced to wed 50-year-old Warren Jeffs, the leader and self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (FLDS).
The secret arranged marriage ceremony took place while Jeffs was on the run from the police.
Now 36, Briell told The US Sun in an exclusive interview how she was groomed her "whole life" to one day tie the knot with Jeffs, who, unbeknown to her at the time, had for years been allegedly abusing children as young as five.
"I was actually terrified," Briell said.
"Because I knew the whole church was a pyramid and he was at the top, but in his family, he also had a pyramid too, with his favorite wives near the top.
"But I couldn't say no to him because otherwise I may never have got married to anyone; he was the leader, and what he said or wanted was gospel.
"So for me, it was like standing on the edge of a cliff and saying, 'Which side do you want to jump off?'" Briell added.
"There was no good option either way."
The FLDS is a radical offshoot of the Mormon church founded in the 1930s that believes in plural marriage - or polygamy - insisting the more wives and children a man has, the closer he is to God, therefore, the greater his chances of salvation after death.
Women, meanwhile, are taught to be obedient and subservient.
They must wear heavy pastel-colored dresses buttoned up to the neck and obey their husbands' whims.
Underage girls are also often forced into marriages with much older men, having children before they're even legally considered adults themselves.
Warren Jeffs became the spiritual leader of the FLDS in 2002 after his father, Rulon Jeffs, died at 92.
The spiritual leader of the FLDS church is considered a prophet of God.
He is the only person able to perform marriage and can punish followers by "reassigning" their wives, children, and property to other men.
Growing up, Briell said she was somewhat fearful of Jeffs long before he succeeded his father.
Before assuming the helm of the FLDS, Jeffs was the headmaster of the Alta Academy, where Briell and hundreds of other children were imbued with the church's teachings.
Years later, Jeffs would be accused of raping his five-year-old nephew and a seven-year-old niece inside a bathroom at the school, allegedly telling the children his sick acts were "God's will," court testimony from his 2011 trial revealed.
Although Jeffs was not charged with these alleged rapes, the testimony was used during his three trials.
While insisting that Jeffs never assaulted her, Briell said he would pay her "special attention" in class and out of it, often leaving her uncomfortable.
"It was like reverse psychology," she said.
"He would single me out, but he wouldn't single me out and tell me things.
"Whenever I'd go up to his office after school, which we had to do every week with our teachers … Warren Jeffs would name all the people in my class, and every time it got to me, he'd ask me every single time, 'and what's your name?'
"And at church ... he did the same thing. He would name all of my family members and then stop at me and say, 'and what's your name?' every single time."
It was around this time that Briell, then not yet a teenager, claims her parents and some of her 13 other siblings began teasing her that she would one day marry Jeffs.
Their apparent ribbing edged closer to becoming a reality for Briell when at 13, she watched her 18-year-old sister Colleen marry then-cult leader Rulon Jeffs, who was in his late 80s.
The following year a 14-year-old Briell was invited to spend the week at the Jeffs' household with her sister, where she was told by several members of the Jeffs' family that they knew she would be joining them "soon."
A FORCED MARRIAGE
When Rulon Jeffs died in 2002, Warren Jeffs married all but two of his father's wives - including Colleen - and took in all of his predecessor's 60 children as his own.
Three years later, Briell claims that she was taken away by her dad, without the knowledge of her two mothers or siblings, and forced to become Jeffs' 65th bride out of a believed 87.
By this time, Jeffs was wanted by the police after being accused of arranging the marriage and rape of 14-year-old Elissa Wall, who was allegedly forced to wed her older cousin in Arizona.
(Jeffs' conviction was later overturned, and prosecutors chose not to re-try the case, given more severe charges pending in Texas, but Wall won a $16 million civil suit against Jeffs in 2017.)
Briell, then 18, was allegedly asked by her father to "come for a ride" and was driven to Jeffs' Short Creek mansion on the Utah-Arizona border, where she was told she would be married in secret because Jeffs was in hiding.
After reluctantly wedding Jeffs, following the ceremony, he allegedly commanded Briell to sit on his lap, where she claims he "molested" her under her dress.
Briell, who was a virgin and had never been educated about sex, sat there frozen in fear.
Receiving no response from his young bride, Jeffs then sent Briell home to her father's house and forbade her from telling anyone about their wedding.
According to Briell, Jeffs decided not to consummate their marriage, believing she was "tainted" because of the sexual abuse she had suffered at the hands of a family member when she was a child.
She also says she believes Jeffs never really liked her, despite apparently grooming her for years, because she was "too old for him" when they exchanged their nuptials.
"He's a pedophile," she said.
"Really, I was 18, so I may have been a bit too old for him.
"There are multiple reasons why it could be; it wasn't something we ever discussed; I just knew he hated me.
"I just grew to find out over time he really did hate me.
"I think one of the things now that people have observed is that of all his wives, I was probably the most hated one."
THE MOST-HATED WIFE
For women inside the FLDS, marrying the prophet is considered the highest honor of all.
But Briell never bought into that fantasy.
From the beginning of her unwanted union with Jeffs, after noticing a series of "red flags" in his behavior, Briell did everything she could to stay out of his sight and off his mind for as long as she could.
Chief among her concerns about Jeffs was that the reality of the man behind his prophetic facade was a far cry from the all-loving, caring, and friendly leader she'd been taught about for so many years.
In reality, she insists, he was just "really mean" and manipulative.
"The first thing I noticed was that he wasn't persuading me through love like I had been taught; I was told all my life he's supposed to be so nice, so loving, and so perfect, but he wasn't at all," Briell said.
I was told all my life he's supposed to be so nice, so loving, and so perfect, but he wasn't at all.
"He was really mean every time you talked to him. As soon as you opened your mouth, he would give you a correction right away.
"Jeffs was very mean," she reiterated, choosing her words carefully.
"He liked wearing people down really slowly and antagonizing them.
"And it wasn't just with me; it was with all his ladies. I've seen so many people suffer - it was just so heartbreaking because there was no reason for it.
"He just really enjoyed it."
One of the ways in which Jeffs would apparently antagonize his wives was by repeatedly asking them, "Do you even love me?" after they had spent hours fawning over him, praying to him, and doing everything he asked them to do.
"He would just play with them but out of seriousness.
"He was trying to get them to worship him more; it was just never enough," Briell said.
"[But still] most worshipped him and would do anything for him and tried to get him to be nice, but you can't really get an abuser to be nice.
"So they just kept thinking it was their fault that he wasn't because he'd tell them it was."
On the run from the police, Jeffs absconded from the FLDS base in Short Creek and moved to a new commune in Eldorado, Texas, known as the Yearning For Zion (YFZ) Ranch, where abuse of children would allegedly become commonplace.
The YFZ Ranch was supposed to function as a here-on-Earth version of the afterlife kingdom.
But in reality, the self-sufficient compound was a playground for Jeffs to play God and do exactly as he pleased, away from the prying eyes of law enforcement.
Handpicked by Jeffs, 700 of the so-called elite among the congregation were chosen to move from Arizona to West Texas to live with him at YFZ.
Several Jeffs' wives were selected among the group, as were swaths of children who had been separated from their biological parents at the prophet's instructions.
Jeffs didn't initially bring Briell along but summoned her a few weeks later.
Briell, growing increasingly rebellious against Jeffs, was initially reluctant to go but felt compelled to for the children's sake, in addition to being curious about what was happening behind the gates of YFZ.
When she arrived, Briell was left shocked.
Not only was YFZ not the heaven-on-earth Jeffs had promised (instead, at this time, it was a series of trailers on a muddy patch of gated land), but he also had two new wives, who were just 14 and 16.
"I was shocked meeting them," Briell remembered.
"I didn't have the education [to know what he was doing was wrong], but it's amazing to me to look back and know that I was shocked anyway.
"It's like something internally inside of me even without all the education … and with all the brainwashing and grooming, I still felt a shudder inside about it."
'HIGHER ELITE TRAINING'
Shortly after meeting Jeffs' child brides, Briell said she was introduced to something the cult leader called "higher elite training" or "heavenly sessions."
During these sessions, Jeffs' would teach his wives how to gratify him sexually.
They would also be instructed - under something called the "Law of Sarah" - to engage in sexual activity with one another while he watched on fully clothed.
"He was pretty sick-minded," Briell said.
"[The Law of Sarah] was about getting along with your sister wives, that was the first original interpretation of the law … but he took everything to a major extreme."
Declining to go into detail, Briell only attended one of the sessions - or what she calls "the introduction" - and ran out of the room shortly after it began.
Horrified by Jeffs' instructions and concerned about the ages of some of the wives present in the room, she ran and hid in a cupboard and refused to participate in any more moving forward.
"And that's a blessing on my part because I'm not worried about people finding records on more of my stuff," she said.
"I'm not worried about the law catching up with anything because if you're introduced to something, and you leave, out here in the world, that's seen as better than just going back.
Briell added: "In that introduction, I figured out a higher level of what his intentions were.
"When I married him, I knew there was polygamy, but I didn't know he wanted to make me an accomplice to underage brides and stuff like that.
"That was something he had on his mind.
"So when I figured out he had those intentions for me, I read and worked to get my way out of there because that wasn't what I signed up for."
In the weeks and months that followed, Jeffs grew increasingly paranoid that the law was closing in on him.
By May 6, 2006, he had been placed on the FBI's top-10 most wanted list alongside Osama Bin Laden.
Briell was still trying to distance herself from her husband increasingly.
Her resistance to his rule appeared to work, with Jeffs no longer considering her "elite" enough to stay at YFZ.
Instead, she was shipped off to another FLDS campus in Utah known as the Dream Center, where she met 30 other wives who he had forcibly separated from their children and were now living with him in Texas.
"Jeffs said God had revealed none of the mothers were worthy of their children, which was a shock to me," she says.
"It was deliberate cruelty."
"Now I know that pedophiles don't want children to feel safe or trust anyone enough to tell them of abuse, so he took them away from their mothers."
Every time she was away from Jeffs, Briell was required to write him confessional letters, self-diagnosing her apparent shortcomings as an FLDS follower and as a wife while professing her undying affection for her devout holy leader-husband.
Briell said it's her understanding that one of the letters she sent to Jeffs was intercepted by police and contained damning information about his "heavenly sessions."
After his eventual arrest in Las Vegas in August 2006, Jeffs reportedly blamed Briell and her letter for tipping the police off to his sex crimes against children.
"I wrote something about needing more [higher elite] education but not in a group setting," she explained.
"I don't know exactly, but that's what he said anyway, is that I flagged to the authorities that they needed to pursue something."
'AN ORDERED HIT'
On August 28, 2006, Warren Jeffs was pulled over in Las Vegas, Nevada, for a routine traffic stop with one of his wives and his brother Isaac.
The trio was found to be in possession of four computers, 16 cell phones, and many disguises.
One of the officers recognized Jeffs sitting in the back seat.
The prophet, who had been sitting nervously chewing away at a caesar salad, was quickly taken into custody on two charges of rape as an accomplice.
Jeffs maintained an iron grip rule over the FLDS from behind bars and allegedly sought to enact revenge on Briell for her perceived wrongdoing.
She claims Jeffs instructed the "meanest people" and the strictest leaders to be placed around her.
She also alleges that former ex-FLDS members have since come forward to tell her that Jeffs had put a "hit" out on her.
"They believe you can't shed innocent blood; that's part of the doctrine, so they have to have a reason [to kill someone], a lot of reason," Briell said.
"So if you date anybody else or if those reasons are blood atonement - but I didn't do any of that while I was in there, so they didn't have a just reason.
"They tried a lot of things to get it or find evidence against me - and I really believe there were miracles while I was there that stopped them from getting what they needed."
'DRUGGED AND ABUSED'
Still, she says she was subjected to frequent emotional and physical abuse over the next few years and even drugged by FLDS doctors.
"I was 23 when he started drugging me," she alleged of Jeffs.
"He sent cult doctors to drug me.
"I didn't have an interview with a [real] doctor, just some nurse that showed up and gave me the medicine and told me to take it - and that they were going to watch me take it and that I didn't really have a choice."
The drug she was given, Briell would later discover, was Seroquel - a prescription medication used to treat schizophrenia - which she was told would help her sleep.
The dose she was given initially was not that strong, but she claims over time that FLDS doctors would keep upping her dose, leaving her wondering some days whether or not she was going to wake up.
Briell attempted to run away from the church multiple times, but each failed.
In 2013, she was eventually ordered to live with one of her older brothers, who allegedly kept her in a locked bedroom.
After two weeks, Briell managed to hide some scissors in her room and unscrew the window to climb out before running away on foot.
She eventually reached the garden of a woman who offered to help her and rang an organization that allows members of the FLDS community to escape.
Briell arrived at a safe house hundreds of miles away.
She eventually relocated to Tennessee, changed her name, and was legally adopted by another woman.
'A NARCISSISTIC SOCIOPATH'
Jeffs, meanwhile, was sentenced to life in prison in 2011 after being convicted of sexually assaulting two girls aged 12 and 14, with whom he had been "spiritually" married.
The youngest of the two victims had been tied down and raped by Jeffs in the temple of YSF Ranch as a group of his other wives watched on.
Several others have come forward in the years since to accuse Jeffs of child sex abuse, including his children.
One of his daughters came forward in 2018 to say he sexually assaulted her from age eight and forced her to watch pornography with him.
Another daughter said her earliest memory was being sexually abused by her father and her half-brother Roy Jeffs, who took his own life in June 2019 and claimed he was abused.
Reflecting on her dealings with Jeffs, Briell said she remembers him as an "evil," narcissistic sociopath.
"He should never get out of prison; he's already done too much damage on this earth," Briell said.
"He's a sociopath ... a narcissistic sociopath.
"He could have done so much good, but he didn't. He chose to do evil, and there's no excuse for that."
A HELPING HAND
Briell's experiences have left her with post-traumatic stress disorder and physical damage from years of being drugged.
But amazingly, in 2017, Briell returned to the Dream Center where she had once lived with Jeffs - seized by the authorities after his 2006 arrest - and turned it into a refuge for other women fleeing the church.
She has also found love with her new husband, Steven, who she says "had been amazing for my life."
These days, as she helps other fleeing members start their lives after fleeing the FLDS, Briell tries to keep Jeffs out of her mind.
The 36-year-old, who works at the Dream Center full time, said she has learned to forgive herself for her time spent inside the church and has let go of the anger caused by the years of abuse.
"I need to forgive myself. I need to forgive in a way that doesn't bring me back to the same situation but allows me to go forward," Briell said.
"I don't need to give him any more power. I don't need to give him any more of my energy.
"But I do think it's important to educate people because history is not going away.
"That's what the Dream Center is; my whole goal is to make sure something positive comes out of it all."
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