The Witness Wore Red: The 19th Wife Who Brought Polygamous Cult Leaders to Justice
Rebecca Musser, M. Bridget Cook
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Rebecca Musser grew up in fear, concealing her family's polygamous lifestyle from the "dangerous" outside world. Covered head-to-toe in strict, modest clothing, she received a rigorous education at Alta Academy, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' school headed by Warren Jeffs. Always seeking to be an obedient Priesthood girl, in her teens she became the nineteenth wife of her people's prophet: 85-year-old Rulon Jeffs, Warren's father. Finally sickened by the abuse she suffered and saw around her, she pulled off a daring escape and sought to build a new life and family.
The church, however, had a way of pulling her back in-and by 2007, Rebecca had no choice but to take the witness stand against the new prophet of the FLDS in order to protect her little sisters and other young girls from being forced to marry at shockingly young ages. The following year, Rebecca and the rest of the world watched as a team of Texas Rangers raided the Yearning for Zion Ranch, a stronghold of the FLDS. Rebecca's subsequent testimony would reveal the horrific secrets taking place behind closed doors of the temple, sending their leaders to prison for years, and Warren Jeffs for life.
THE WITNESS WORE RED is a gripping account of one woman's struggle to escape the perverse embrace of religious fanaticism and sexual slavery, and a courageous story of hope and transformation.
flashed on news screens throughout the world and caused a huge public uproar. Despite this, the District Court ordered the return of all the children to their parents on June 2, having determined that CPS had not met the burden of proof required for their removal. Two days later, every child was back on the ranch, except two kept in foster care due to strong evidence of abuse in their home. As soon as the families regained custody, half of them absconded from the YFZ and relocated to other FLDS
but she had difficulty breathing, suffered from headaches and intense pain in her chest, and couldn’t seem to rest. We didn’t dare take her to a doctor, so she became the subject of many experimental treatments. Our mother, aunts, and concerned friends tried multiple homegrown and home-tested remedies—everything from fasting to colon cleanses to ice baths. She chopped raw onions and pressed them onto a paper towel, which she laid upon her chest and abdomen every night for a year. Sometimes when
of each young person under his roof with cold disregard for their wishes or needs. After my brothers were banished or escaped, Fred decided my little sister Elissa, only thirteen, was ready for marriage. When it was announced it would be to Allen Steed, I was even more appalled. Allen was not only our first cousin; he had been exceptionally cruel to Elissa the winter she was young, sick, and vulnerable on the Steed ranch. I couldn’t see that he had matured much since then. Elissa spoke with
toll on my health, and I felt sapped of all strength, though it was the emotional strain that was the hardest now. I felt the familiar itch to claim some semblance of freedom, if only for a few hours. I thought of visiting Mom, but each of the two times I had slipped out to see her, Uncle Fred’s wives and daughters harangued me for the latest news. “Who got married today? Who do you think will be gone tomorrow?” I knew I had to go someplace where I could be alone with my thoughts. El Capitan,
older. Surely a marriage to “Grandmother Becky” didn’t sound appealing to him in any way. Several months previous, I had been shopping with my sisters in St. George when I saw a cool snowboard bag on clearance. It was red and black, and as a seamstress with an eye for fit, I knew instinctively that it would fit Ben’s snowboard perfectly. I had put it away for a while during the warm weather and planned to give it to him at Mom’s as a thank-you gift before the snow fell. However, now I was