Former members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints believe their children have been abducted by the Mormon group.
Four mothers, Lorraine Jessop, Miranda Johnson, Elizabeth Roundy, and Sarah Johnson, believe that their eight missing children did not run away, as court records suggest, but are in fact being concealed by their former church.
The FLDS is a polygamist offshoot of Mormonism best known for its prophet Warren Jeffs, who is currently serving life in prison for sexually assaulting girls as young as 12.
Jeffs remains the church’s leader and is releasing prophecies from behind bars, experts claim.
In one prophecy made last June, and seen by ABC News, Jeffs calls for children of ex-members to come back into the fold.
Lorraine Jessop, whose three youngest children, have been missing since February 2023 told ABC that she believes the ‘church authorities’ have taken her kids
FLDS leader: Warren is currently serving life in prison for sexually assaulting girls as young as 12
Lorraine Jessop, whose three youngest children, Nathan, 16, Summer, 13, and Benjamin, 12, have been missing since February 2023 told ABC that she believes the ‘church authorities’ have taken her kids.
‘I checked on them at midnight,’ Jessop, 42, said of the night her children disappeared, ‘and my daughter was awake. And I thought, “That’s odd.”‘
‘At 5 in the morning, I awoke to a cold house because the front door was wide open and the kids were gone,’ Jessop continued. ‘It was horrifying.’
‘I feel like that either someone took it upon themselves or were told by church authorities to gather up these children,’ Jessop told ABC’s Nightline.
Another mother, Elizabeth Roundy, 49, alleges her children were also taken by the church.
Roundy’s daughter Elintra ran away in January 2023, but Roundy alleges the church told her how to runaway.
‘I am positive that FLDS are hiding Elintra,’ Roundy said.
One ex member’s missing child, a girl aged just 10, was found last year and returned to her parents.
Four mothers, of eight missing children, claim they have been taken by their former church
Ex-member Lorraine Jessop’s youngest children, Nathan, Summer, and Benjamin, have been missing since February 2023
Lorraine Jessop’s son Nathan, 16, has been missing since February 2023
Summer Barlow, 13, is also missing. Her mother believes she has been taken by the church
The polygmaist group views women as second class and demand they are obedient to men
Another mother, Elizabeth Roundy, 49, alleges her children were also taken by the church
Convicted pedophile Jeffs remains the church’s leader and is releasing prophecies from behind bars, experts claim
Jeffs, now 67, remains the group’ leader and is said to be releasing prophecies from prison
Warren Jeffs’ nephew, Heber Jeffs, was charged last December with kidnapping his 10-year-old niece, whose parents had left the FLDS.
Heber followed his uncle’s prophecies and directives, including regarding the return of ex-members children, the charging documents alleged.
When a member leaves the FLDS the community brands them an ‘apostate’.
‘When you leave, you’re considered an apostate, and are treated severely by the people who remain in the church,’ Roger Hoole, an attorney who represents some of these mothers explained.
‘It’s often a very long process before somebody leaves, and then it’s a long process before they emotionally are able to make the real adjustment. It’s not something that’s done overnight.’
The mothers told ABC News that the apostate label frightened their children and encouraged them to runaway.
‘Our concern is, how do they run away by themselves?’ Hoole said.
‘Are they being helped? Are we seeing a pattern here?’
In the church women are deemed as second-class and expected to be subservient to men.
‘Growing up, it was our purpose… to be married,’ said Sarah Johnson, whose son Salome has been missing since March 2021.
‘I decided in the very beginning that I was going to be the most obedient, the most perfect wife I could be.’
She says she was betrothed at 17 to a man 25 years her elder. One of her four sister-wives was her biological sister and, among them, they had more than 30 children.
The FLDS was founded more than 130 years ago after polygamy was outlawed in the Mormon Church.
Its current prophet, Warren Jeffs, is a 67-year-old convicted pedophile who had approximately 80 wives, many of them underage, according to experts.