Dateline   |  September 13, 2013

Unbreakable, Part 4

The prophet Rulon Jeffs suffers a devastating stroke and his son Warren starts assuming power.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> rebecca musser, wife number 19 to her prophet rulon jeffs , was not destroyed in the flesh. no, despite the threatening noises from rulon 's son warren, rebecca found other ways to keep her aging husband content, and anyway, there was lots of help in that department. as rulon 's predicted end times approached, he married more and more young women to ensure their salvation, he would tell them. by the time he was 90 he had something like 60 wives, and more than 60 children, and then, then basic biology stepped in. three years into rebecca 's marriage, the man they all believed was immortal, would live to see the second coming of christ, suffered a very human fate.

>> i was in the room when it happened. he was sitting, talking, and then all of the sudden he was slumped over, and he didn't wake up.

>> they rushed uncle rulon to the nearest hospital. a stroke, big one. he survived but only barely. frail, confused. couldn't remember his wives' names, called them all sweety. then warren jeffs said the severity of the prophet must be kept secret. especially from the people of the flds.

>> what he was telling the people was just that the prophet was doing fine, only that he needed to have some rest.

>> >> as if to prove it the marriages continued. rulon was eventually married to 65 women. most of them young. the sign for the faithful of a healthy prophet . but an outsider was watching all this with very different eyes. a private investigator who made it his mission to write about the flds and its leaders. what concerned bower was not so much the sick old prophet and his wives as much as the old man pulling the strings.

>> when he saw his father starting to deteriorate, he was able to kind of worm himself into a position of authority. then when his father started having strokes, warren just proclaimed himself his father's mouthpiece.

>> first came an order, supposedly from the prophet passed on by his son warren. the prophet had a revelation. salt lake city was the most wicked city on earth, the city marked for destruction in the second coming of christ. but in the meantime the faithful were told to gather here, here in short creek to await the end of times. most of them came.

>> soon warren jeffs ' tactics, extremely effective, said rebecca , became apparent to her. he was gathering the church in a place he could more easily control it. and he was handing out political gifts to his male pillars.

>> went from having maybe two or three marriages a weekend to having five, six, seven, even sometimes eight marriages in a day.

>> because they were getting younger and younger and younger.

>> because they were running out of girls. warren was appeasing the questions with, you've been so faithful. here's a beautiful young bride for you. here's your blessing.

>> here's a 16-year-old.

>> and then all of the 16-year-olds get married, and then there's 15-year-olds.

>> one of the girls being pressured into marriage was a happy little blond named elisa, rebecca 's little sister , who was just 14.

>> when i found out that i was marrying allen , who was my first cousin, i was already resistant to the marriage, and i had on multiple occasions expressed my desire to not get married.

>> allen was allen steed. she despised him, knew him all her life. she knew nothing of marriage, let alone sex or having babies.

>> i had never been taught about anatomy. i had never been taught about sex. it wasn't a term used in the flds.

>> and so rebecca intervened, tried to stop the marriage. but --

>> warren told me it's happening. there was no choice for her except to do what she was told.

>> and so in a seedy motel owned by the flds, in a little town in caliente, nevada, a secret marriage took place, warren jeffs presiding.

>> i knew this wasn't right. and i took those last moments to be defiance. i refused to take my vows.

>> what did he do?

>> he asked my mother to stand up next to me. she stood there and squeezed my hand and i finally just said okay. with tears streaming down my face.

>> elisa and her husband moved into a house in the creek. rebecca lived nearby in uncle rulon 's house and was aware of what was happening to her little sister .

>> allen was very sexually abusive to me. from day one i was incredibly vocal about how much i did not want him to touch me.

>> yeah.

>> that i didn't want to have a family with him. so to have the sexual relationship with him was so devastating. it was absolutely being raped.

>> so did you go to rulon or warren and complain?

>> i went to warren jeffs multiple times throughout my marriage with allen begging him for a way out. explaining to him what was going on. he would ultimately reprimand me and tell me to go home and give myself mind, body and soul .

>> it was your fault.

>> it was. it was always my fault.

>> meanwhile the millennium came and went. the world did not end, but something very unexpected did happen. in 2002 , rulon jeffs , the seemingly immortal prophet , the man who said he would be alive for the return of jesus died. he was 92.

>> and then as it started to sink in, i was scared.

>> because guess who was in charge now?