Through Peacock’s four-part docuseries titled ‘Preaching Evil: A Wife on the Run With Warren Jeffs,’ the viewers learn of the shocking incidents that took place behind closed doors in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This religious sect had Warren Jeffs as its president. He took on many wives (many being underage) and fathered several children with them. Wendell and Sarah Jeffs were two of Warren’s children and were born to Vicki Thompson. So, if you’re curious to learn more about their experience growing up as part of the FLDS, here’s what we know.
Who Are Wendell Jeffs and Sarah Jeffs?
Wendell was the older sibling, and one of the first memories he had was of him being separated from his mother and being moved to the ranch in Texas. He said, “I wondered why I was being separated from my mom and why she was crying. I was very young. I didn’t understand really anything that was going on.” Wendell grew up on the ranch in Texas and remembered working even as a child. They would help with the housework and pick out weeds in the garden.
Regarding his father, Wendell said that the relationship was good when he was younger but not after Warren had become the head of FLDS. But he later remembered his father’s controlling and manipulative behavior, adding, “Warren Jeffs controlled everything from the things you eat to the things you wear and — if he could — even the things you think.” Later on, in 2008, a tip regarding underage marriage and sexual abuse (which later turned out to be fake) on the Texas ranch led the authorities on a multi-day search.
This led to close to 500 children being removed from the ranch and temporarily placed in state custody. The whole ordeal was a scary one for Wendell and his sister. Sarah was only five years old when the police entered the property, and she remembered being scared. On the show, she talked about being asked who her father was, but the children were taught to stay quiet or ask for an attorney, so that was what she did. After about six weeks, the children were returned to Vicki, but Sarah remembered living in constant fear of being taken away.
Wendell also talked about what the FLDS taught about others on the outside. He said, “We were taught very strongly that Black people were very evil. I remember, at a young age, I had to go off the compound and go to the hospital, which most people didn’t have an opportunity to do. And we were treated extremely well by different people, including some Black people. I began to wonder at that point, ‘Why were they so bad?’ I also wondered why I couldn’t have short sleeves, why there were certain foods I couldn’t eat, like candy. And toys – I wanted toys like any kid.”
Where Are Wendell Jeffs and Sarah Jeffs Now?
On the show, Wendell talked about being sent away to Hildale, Utah, when he was 14 years old. Eventually, he lost all contact with his family and worked in construction. Fortunately, there was a happy reunion when Vicki decided to leave FLDS and start anew. Wendell also talked about the mental anguish one faced as a member, saying, “We were told that if you leave the FLDS, you’re going to be damned — like, you’re going to burn in hell. We didn’t have any guns and knives. It was emotional, and it was very manipulative. So that’s where the fight really was.”
Today, both siblings seem to be doing much better. Wendell, now 21, went on to get his GED and began a career in insurance. On the show, he contemplated going into cybersecurity as well. As for Sarah, she will be graduating high school in Hurricane, Utah, this year. While Wendell is also based out of New Harmony, Utah, he now lives in Guatemala. Furthermore, he recently got engaged to Yolanda, a singer-songwriter; they met on a dating app. Later on, Wendell decided to change his last name to Jeffson to mark a new phase in his life.
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