BREAKING FREE I was held captive by my abusive brother & the FLDS leader Warren Jeffs – my daring escape from the Mormon cult revealed

The Sun, UK/June 19, 2022

By Luke Kenton

A WIFE of Mormon cult leader Warren Jeffs was held captive by her brother after years of abuse inside the FLDS church before she made a daring break for freedom and now works to help others escape.

Briell used a pair of scissors to unscrew the bolts out of a window in her brother's home, where she had been kept in a locked room for several weeks.

She then ran to the nearby house of a Good Samaritan who she'd heard had helped pry others out of the cult's grasp.

In the years preceding her escape, Briell claims to have been drugged by cult members - and even had a hit placed over her head by FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, whom she was forced to marry when she was 18.

She was also sexually abused by an older family member during her childhood and forced by Jeffs to partake in what he called "heavenly sessions," or orgies with groups of his more than 80 wives, some of whom were underage.

"I had to get away," Briell told The US Sun in an exclusive interview.

"I'd tried to escape so many times before, and they always caught me, but I wasn't willing to give up.

"I had to get out for my sanity," she added.

"It was just horrific, and I was worried I'd die in there."


Briell was born into the FLDS and grew up in Colorado City, Arizona, with her father, two mothers, and 13 other siblings.

The FLDS is a radical offshoot of the Mormon church founded in the 1930s that believes in plural marriage, otherwise known as polygamy.

The church believes that 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.

Growing up, Briell said the word "fun" was banned in the Decker household, and when she wasn't helping out with chores around the house, her free time had to be spent praying to God or learning FLDS scripture.

"I'm not really sure what a regular childhood is," Decker admitted with a laugh.

"But I do know that we were taught in my household about persuasion [or persuasive forces luring you away from the FLDS], so that was a really big thing.

"Boundaries weren't really taught, self-care wasn't really taught … those things weren't part of the doctrine.

"It was more like give everything you can give to God, and God will take care of you.

"But in reality, that wasn't really true because when you can't give anymore and you're useless to the church, they would just kick you out."


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 a marriage.

He can punish followers by "reassigning" their wives, children, and property to other men, kicking them out of the sect often without warning and sometimes without reason.

It was Briell's parents' fear of being excommunicated from the FLDS that she said led to them attempting to "cover up" the sexual assault she suffered at the hands of a relative when she was just eight years old.

She said that two of her sisters were also abused by the same family member.

"He would just touch us where he shouldn't," Briell said.

"He didn't show himself to us at all and never took off his clothes at all."

She added: "But he was in a curious phase, and he would fondle us.

"He made us promise not to tell anyone what had happened.

"I don't remember how many hours it lasted, but I do remember my mother calling me downstairs for dinner, and the first thing I did was tell her."

Briell's biological mother, who she says was overrun with responsibilities, is said to have responded, "Okay, I'll talk to father," and called a family meeting later that night.

"When I went in there, the first thing on my mind was, 'Is God gonna be okay with this?' because even though I was only eight at that age, you're viewed as an adult in the FLDS.

"And I remember my mother looking at me and saying, 'you're gonna have to ask him,' and I couldn't believe it; at that time, I didn't even know what had just happened to me.

"She just told me to go pray about it."

Briell claims her father, with whom she shares a close relationship now, never said a word to her about the assault.

Meanwhile, Briell believes her mother, who remains a part of the FLDS today, always blamed her for what happened rather than the culprit.

"My mother - which I feel like now had a lot to do with her guilt - never wanted to take the blame for what happened.

"She had so much responsibility looking after all these kids she tended to not check up on the littlest ones very often.

"If she took the blame, she'd blame for what happened, which was kind of like neglect, she'd lose all of us, and the church would judge her harshly.

"So she didn't take the blame, she blamed it on me, and she and some of my siblings maligned me for it ... I was painted as the devil."


Briell said; that eventually, someone informed the church of what happened to her, and though she's unsure how and by whom, her parents ultimately escaped any punishment.

She would later be forced to marry Warren Jeffs by her father when she was 18 while Jeffs was on the run from the police.

Briell said she was "terrified" at the prospect of marrying the prophet, who unbeknown to her at the time had allegedly been abusing children as young as five, including members of his own family.

However, despite her reservations, she said she felt she'd been "groomed" for the role since she was a child.

After being given "special attention" by Jeffs at school and church, when she was 13, she watched as her older sister Colleen, then 18, married the church's then-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 several members told her of the Jeffs' family that they knew she would be joining them "soon."


When Rulon Jeffs died in 2002, Warren Jeffs married all but two of his father's wives - including Colleen - and took in all his predecessor's 60 children as his own.

Three years later, Briell claims that she was taken away by her dad, without knowing her two mothers or siblings, and forced to become Jeffs' 65th bride out of a believed 87.

The swift ceremony occurred at Jeffs' Short Creek mansion on the Utah-Arizona border.

She didn't wear a white dress and none of her family, other than her father, were present.

After reluctantly wedding Jeffs, he allegedly commanded Briell to sit on his lap, where she claims he "molested" her under her dress.

She also says she believes Jeffs never really liked her; despite apparently grooming her for years, 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 think one of the things now that people have observed is that of all his wives, I was probably the most hated one."


For women inside the FLDS, marrying the prophet is considered the highest honor, but Briell never bought into that fantasy.

Almost from the very start of her unwanted union with Jeffs, she said she noticed countless "red flags" in her behavior that left her wanting to be nowhere near him.

Chief among her concerns about Jeffs was that the reality of the man behind his prophetic facade was far 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.

"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.

"He liked wearing people down really slowly and antagonizing them.

"And it wasn't just with me; it was with all his ladies."

She continued: "I've seen so many people suffer - it was just so heartbreaking because there was no reason for it."


In the months and years that followed, Briell said she became more rebellious towards Jeffs, using his own words against him to point out his hypocrisies and refusing to participate in his "heavenly sessions."

And although she didn't recognize what Jeffs was doing to be a crime at that time, she said she was shocked and repulsed by the increasingly younger girls he was marrying - two of whom she met were just 14 and 16.

Shortly after meeting Jeffs' child brides, Briell said she was summoned to what she calls an "introduction," where she and a handful of his other wives were educated on how to gratify him sexually.

During these sessions, the wives would be instructed under 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 and ran out of the room shortly after it began.

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."


Warren Jeffs was eventually arrested in 2006 on two charges of rape as an accomplice that authorities would later drop in lieu of more serious charges of the sexual assault of two girls aged 12 and 14, who he had "spiritually" married.

Briell claims that Jeffs blamed her for his arrest, believing a letter she had sent him months earlier tipped police off to his sex crimes against children.

The "prophet" 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."


Still, she says she was subjected to frequent emotional and physical abuse over the next few years and 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 would 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 was taken to a safe house hundreds of miles away.

She eventually relocated to Tennessee, changed her name, and was legally adopted by another woman.


Briell's experiences with the FLDS 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."

She added: "I don't need to give him any more of my energy."

Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison in 2011 after being convicted of sexually assaulting two of his child brides.

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.

Warren Jeffs, who remains the FLDS' prophet, will be eligible for parole on July 22, 2038.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.

Educational DVDs and Videos