A 25-year-old woman has escaped from the polygamist community where Warren Jeffs's other wives still live. Her flight shows that even though Jeffs is in jail, the nightmare may not be over for some of his followers.
According to ABC, the unidentified woman fled Jeffs's community in Colorado City, Arizona and is now getting therapy at a women's center. An especially chilling detail: "She was reportedly barefoot when she was found." Says Carolyn Jessop, who also fled the community and later wrote a book about her experiences,
Things have had to be pretty serious for her, to the point where death was better than living the way she was living. She must have reached a point where it just didn't matter anymore and was really to take whatever risks and consequences if she didn't make it.
ABC points out that the woman could be a valuable source of information about Jeffs and his Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints. But her flight already tells us something: that even though Jeffs is in prison for life, the community he left behind remains oppressive enough that its members have to escape it barefoot. In February, Jeffs reasserted control of the FLDS despite his incarceration — says Jessop, "He's been calling the church and talking directly to the congregation from prison, and giving sermons." It's not clear who's handling day-to-day governance now that Jeffs is serving his life sentence, but what is clear is that his community is not yet free of his abusive influence. Nonprofits say they're seeing an increase in people leaving the church in recent months. But until members are able to leave of their own free will whenever they choose to do so, the work of ending Jeffs's oppression won't be over.