Leroy 'Roy' Jeffs, 26, son of convicted polygamist and cult leader Warren Jeffs, commits suicide
The son of polygamist Warren Jeffs, who had publicly accused him of sexual abuse and also spoke about his cult - the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - has died. It was reported that 26-year-old Leroy "Roy" Jeffs was found dead on Friday, May 31, in Salt Lake City, Utah. He would have celebrated his 27th birthday on June 5. Roy's half-sister Rachel confirmed his death was by suicide.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Rachel is blaming her half-brother's death on their polygamist father. Warren Jeffs is the self-proclaimed prophet and leader of the FLDS, which is an offshoot that was banned by the Mormons, which requires men to have three wives in order to be admitted into Heaven. 63-year-old Jeffs was sentenced to life behind bars after being convicted of two counts of child sexual abuse in 2011.
Rachel told the publication: "Father didn’t love him. [Roy] knew it. All of us knew it. We all got told Roy was a bad boy." She had also spoken about Roy's death in an interview with ABC 4. She said: "He did not allow Roy to grow up with his siblings, and he kept him hidden in houses of hiding most of his growing up life, telling the family that Roy was a bad boy and tried to turn us against him."
The devastated half-sister continued: "I’m proud of Roy for the courage he’s shown in being the first of my siblings to leave the FLDS cult and trying to figure out life the best he could." Rachel and her sister Becky have also spoken out about the abuse at the hands of their father. In 2014, Roy left FLDS and accused his father of molesting him as a child the next year.
Roy told CNN at the time: "One of my earliest memories is of him sexually abusing me. I was about 4 or 5 years old, and this is where my dad did it. I remember him telling me, 'You should never do this' … then he did it to me."
Jeffs had already started serving his sentence at the time of his son's interview. He was convicted in Texas of sexually assaulting two teenage girls he married, telling everyone that they were his "spiritual wives".
Jeffs is the father of over 50 children and has been accused of illegally arranging marriages between his male followers and many underage girls in Utah. Roy told ABC 4 in February last year that his "experience with polygamy was very bad". He added: "I grew up with so many kids in the house that my dad didn’t have time for me."
Roy also admitted: "There were times he went out of his way to shun me. Just seeing how my mom was treated — she was treated horribly by my dad. Just a lot of psychological abuse." He told the outlet that polygamy was not the only illegal activity that happens in the FLDS community. Roy said that "human trafficking", aside from sexual abuse, was also encouraged. He then explained that he was a victim of labor trafficking.
The man explained: "I was sent from a house in hiding, to a land of refuge, which were the compounds, and that’s where it was just a lot of hard labor, and you were supposed to start as young as 12 years old." Roy was separated from his mother at 14-years-old after he confessed to Jeffs that he was sexually attracted to some of his stepmothers who were close to his age. He and other boys were ostracized to a ranch in Wyoming before they were assigned to FLDS-connected construction companies.
Rachel shared her story in a 2017 interview with Megyn Kelly for NBC News that she told her mother about how Jeffs abused her when she was just 10-years-old. She said: "It was getting so bad I felt like I couldn’t handle it anymore. And I remember thinking, if my father is doing this and the world is wickeder, are the world’s fathers even worse than this? I remember thinking that I should be grateful that it is only this bad."
After she was forced into an arranged polygamist marriage, Rachel made the decision to leave the church in 2015 and she detailed in her memoir, "Breaking Free: How I Escaped Polygamy, the FLDS Cult and My Father, Warren Jeffs".
She said in the interview: "I was very angry, very angry at father and I was angry that he would do that to my kids. And I felt that he was punishing me for what he did to me. Like he was trying to break me and make me feel like I was worse than him. And I wouldn’t let myself go there. I knew he had done wrong and I didn’t want to let him break me."
If you or people you know are at risk of self-harm, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24-hour support at 1-800-273-8255.
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