Family of false prophet Warren Jeffs starved followers while they lived in luxury, former cook reveals

Warren Jeffs looks toward the jury in his trial in St. George, Utah, on Sept. 25, 2007. Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for sexually abusing underage girls he took as 'wives.'Reuters

More and more testimonies are emerging about how false prophet and convicted child-sex offender Warren Jeffs abused his followers in the group he formed called the "Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints," a Mormon denomination based in Hildale, Utah.

Federal court documents accessed by CNN revealed how Jeffs' former cook, Allene Jeffs Steed, narrated a caste system within his group, favouring his family members while depriving other followers.

According to the breakaway member, Jeffs' group followed a pecking order formed by the false prophet himself after a supposed revelation in 2011. In this system, Jeffs' relatives, elite church leaders, and chosen followers got so much special treatment.

"There was so much class distinction and shunning of people," said the former cook of Jeff's family, as quoted by CNN.

Steed also told the Federal Bureau of Investigation how she saw members of the group, including women and children, starve while Jeffs' relatives and friends lived in luxury.

She recalled preparing feasts of shrimps and lobsters for the fake prophet, while her own child "lived off toast." She also shared how she had to use duct tape to keep her kids' old shoes together, while the FLDS top hierarchy enjoyed a lavish lifestyle.

Another former FLDS follower named Sheryl Barlow also told federal authorities how she lived in a very crowded house of 40 people while she was still part of Jeffs' group. She also recalled how she had to survive on noodles, little rice and tomato juice while the highest officials of the group feasted.

"We were literally starving," Barlow was quoted by CNN as saying, adding that pieces of bread and yoghurt were already considered rare and special food intake by some of the group's members.

Federal prosecutors also found out that the families of church leaders shopped in stores like Costco, while other members had to make do of little resources stored in a warehouse called "the bishop's storehouse."

"We had little children that were starving, big people that were starving. It wasn't enough to sustain," Barlow said.