The Warren and Seth Jeffs Theory of What happened to Serenity

Serenity Dennard (left) went missing from the Black Hills Children’s Home (BHCH), a treatment center for children in 2019. Top right is a picture of Warren Jeffs, president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church), and (bottom right) is Seth Jeffs, Warren Jeffs brother and a high-ranking official in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who is also is the uncle of Brent W. Jeffs, who mentions Seth in his memoir Lost Boy.

Serenity was 9 years old when she disappeared from the Black Hills Children’s Home (BHCH), a treatment center for children with emotional and behavioral problems, in the 24100 block of Rockerville Road outside of Rapid City, South Dakota February 3, 2019. She weighed 96lbs and was 4’7. She was wearing a long-sleeved gray shirt with flowers, blue jeans, and black snow boots. Since her disappearance, the Black Hills Children’s Home has been cited by state and federal regulators for waiting 80 minutes to call 911, for having radios that were on different channels and for lacking planning and training in runaway prevention. (See Where is Serenity?)

How does the Warren Jeffs Theory fit into Serenity’s disappearance?

Warren Jeffs is still to this day leading some of the FDLS members from prison. Many people still believe that he is a prophet. Warren Steed Jeffs is the president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church), a polygamous denomination. In 2011, he was convicted of two felony counts of child sexual assault, for which he is currently serving a life sentence plus twenty years. But many FDLS church members still believe that Warren Jeffs is a prophet and to this day they still follow him through videos from the jail.

His brother Seth is said to have been over the FDLS area not far from where Serenity disappeared in South Dakota. Interestingly enough, about the time of the raid in South Dakota, Seth bought land in Utah, and just a few days before the Lynn Seeks recent video was made about the FDLS compound in SD and how some believe that the FDLS community may have taken Serenity because “they need new blood”, Seth was back in the news again in Utah. That story disappeared from Google search, but there is still a Utah private investigator, Sam Brower, who visited Pike Lake Road to share some insight about a possible new FLDS compound.  Seth Jeffs is a convicted felon and member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that purchased 40 acres of property along Pike Lake Road in Cook County and plans to build a 6,000-square-foot building on the land.

Lynn D., from South Dakota, has been advocating for Serenity since her disappearance and released this video with new information: Lyn Seeks- Warren Jeffs FLDS Compound:

History of Warren Jeffs

Jeffs was captured after being placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List in 2006 after it was discovered that he arranged illegal marriages for his adult male followers with underage girls in Utah. In 2007, Arizona charged him with eight additional counts in two separate cases, including incest and sexual conduct with minors. In September 2007, Jeffs was convicted and sentenced on two counts of rape as an accomplice. Later, in 2010 because of “flawed jury instructions” the Utah Supreme Court overturned the sentence. Jeffs was extradited to Texas where he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison plus twenty years and fined $10,000 for sexual assault of a child (for sex with a 15-year-old he had married) and aggravated sexual assault against a child (for sex with a 12-year-old he had married).

Warren Jeffs was born in Sacramento to Rulon Jeffs, who was the FLDS Church president from 1986 until 2002 when he died. At his death, he was survived by 19 or 20  wives and approximately 60 children. Former FLDS church members say that Warren himself has 87 wives. Warren Jeffs grew up outside of Salt Lake City, Utah and later, in 1976 became principal of Alta Academy, an FLDS private school in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Jeffs also held the position of counselor to the church leader and became Rulon’s successor with the official title in the FLDS Church becoming “President and Prophet, Seer and Revelator” as well as “President of the Priesthood”.

Within a week of his father’s death Warren had married all but two of his father’s wives; one refused to marry Jeffs and was subsequently prohibited from ever marrying again, while the other, Rebecca Wall, fled the FLDS compound. Naomi Jessop, one of the first of Rulon’s former wives to marry Jeffs, subsequently became his favorite wife and confidant. As the sole individual in the FLDS Church with the authority to perform marriages, Jeffs was responsible for assigning wives to husbands. He also had the authority to discipline male church members by “reassigning their wives, children and homes to another man.”

Jeffs controlled almost all of the land in Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, which was part of a church trust called the United Effort Plan (UEP). The land has been estimated to be worth over $100 million. All UEP assets were put in the custody of the Utah court system pending further litigation. As the result of a November 2012 court decision, much of the UEP land is to be sold to those who live on it.

Jeffs expelled a group of twenty men from the Short Creek Community in January 2004, including the mayor. He reassigned their wives and children to other men in the community. Jeffs, like his predecessors, continued the standard FLDS and Mormon fundamentalist tenet that faithful men must follow what is known as the doctrine of plural marriage in order to attain exaltation in the afterlife. Jeffs specifically taught that a devoted church member is expected to have at least three wives in order to get into heaven, and the more wives a man has, the closer he is to heaven.

Jeffs was near Eldorado, Texas, at the dedication ceremony of the foundation of a large FLDS temple on the YFZ Ranch on January 1, 2005. Texas authorities raided the ranch in 2008 and took legal custody of 416 children. The women and children who were suspected of being minors said that there was were not abused and were returned after Texas courts established that the state had not presented sufficient evidence of abuse to have removed them.

On June 10, 2006, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard told the Deseret News that he had heard from several sources that Jeffs had returned to Arizona, and had performed marriage ceremonies in a mobile home that was being used as a wedding chapel. On March 27, 2007, the Deseret News reported that Jeffs had renounced his role as prophet of the FLDS Church in a conversation with his brother Nephi.

On November 7, the Washington County, Utah, Attorney’s Office released video of jailhouse conversations between Nephi and Jeffs, in which Jeffs renounces his prophethood, claiming that God had told him that if he revealed that he was not the rightful prophet, and was a “wicked man”, he would still gain a place in the celestial kingdom. Jeffs also admits to what he calls “immoral actions with a sister and a daughter” when he was 20 years old. Jeffs formally resigned as President of the FLDS Church effective November 20, 2007. In 2011, Jeffs regained legal control of the denomination.

In July 2004, Jeffs’ nephew, Brent Jeffs, filed a lawsuit alleging that Jeffs had anally raped him in the FLDS Church’s Salt Lake Valley compound in the late 1980s. Together with author Maia Szalavitz, Brent wrote the memoir Lost Boy, which recounts alleged incidents of child sexual abuse inflicted upon him by Jeffs, his brothers, and other family members, committed when Brent was aged 5 or 6. Brent’s brother Clayne committed suicide after accusing Jeffs of sexually assaulting him as a child. Two of Jeffs’ nephews, and two of Jeffs’ own children, have also publicly claimed to have been sexually abused by him.

In June 2005, Mohave County, Arizona charged Warren Jeffs with sexual assault on a minor and with conspiracy to commit sexual misconduct with a minor for allegedly arranging a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old first cousin in April 2001. The girl, Elissa Wall who was then known as “Jane Doe IV”, and the younger sister of Rebecca Wall, testified that she begged Rulon Jeffs to let her wait until she was older or choose another man for her. The elder Jeffs was apparently “sympathetic”, but his son was not, and she was forced to go through with the marriage. Wall alleged that Allen often raped her and that she repeatedly miscarried. She eventually left Allen and the community. The Arizona Attorney General’s office distributed wanted posters offering $10,000 for information leading to Jeffs’ arrest and conviction.

Jeffs’ brother Seth was convicted of harboring a fugitive in 2006 and was sentenced to 3 years probation and a $2,500 fine after being arrested in Pueblo County, Colorado. Police found nearly $142,000 in cash, $7,000 worth of prepaid debit cards and personal records. FBI Agent Andrew Stearns testified that Seth told him that he did not know where his older brother was and that he would not reveal his whereabouts if he did.

Utah issued an arrest warrant for Jeffs on felony charges of accomplice rape of a teenage girl between 14 and 18 years old on April 5, 2006. Shortly after, the FBI placed Jeffs on its Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, offering a $60,000 reward. On June 8, 2006, Jeffs returned to Colorado City to perform more “child-bride marriages.”On May 27, 2008, The Smoking Gun website released images of Jeffs with two underage wives, one of whom was 12 years old, celebrating one-year anniversaries in 2005 and 2006.

In August 2006 Jeffs was pulled over in Clark County, Nevada because the temporary license plates on his red 2007 Cadillac Escalade were not visible. One of Jeffs’ wives, Naomi Jessop, and his brother, Isaac, were with him. Jeffs possessed four computers, sixteen cell phones, disguises, and more than $55,000 in cash. Jeffs’ wife and brother were questioned and released. Jeffs waived extradition and agreed to return to Utah to face two first-degree felony charges of accomplice rape. Arizona prosecutors were next in line. He was held in the Washington County jail pending trial on two counts of rape, as an accomplice for his role in arranging the marriage between Elissa Wall and her first cousin.

Even then Jeffs was believed to be leading his group from jail, and the Utah state board expressed dissatisfaction in dealing with Hildale police, believing that many members of the force had ties to Jeffs, so therefore did not cooperate. In May and July 2007, Jeffs was indicted in Arizona on eight counts, including sexual conduct with a minor and incest.

In Utah in 2007, Jeffs was found guilty of two counts of being an accomplice to rape and was sentenced to ten years to life in prison. In 2010, the Utah Supreme Court reversed the convictions citing deficient jury instructions and ordered a new trial. Elissa subsequently wrote an autobiography on her experiences in the FLDS Church and with Jeffs entitled Stolen Innocence. The book was co-authored with former New York Times journalist Lisa Pulitzer.

In 2008, in Arizona, Mohave County prosecutor Matt Smith, dismissed all charges with prejudice. Jeffs had been charged with arranging the marriages of three teenage girls. Smith said that the Arizona victims no longer wanted to testify and that Jeffs had spent almost two years in jail awaiting trial.

In 2011 Jeffs was convicted in Texas and will be eligible for parole in 2038. In December 2012, Jeffs predicted that the world would end before 2013 and called for his followers to prepare for the end. The United Effort Plan (UEP) trust that formerly belonged to the FLDS was taken over by Utah in 2005 and controlled by the court for over a decade, before a judge handed it over to a community board mostly composed of former sect members. In 2017, both the trust and Jeffs were sued by a woman alleging she was sexually abused by Jeffs when she was a child. Jeffs allegedly suffered a mental breakdown in the summer of 2019, leaving him unfit to give a deposition in the sex abuse case against him. Forcing him to testify would be “futile,” alleged attorneys representing the UEP community trust. The plaintiff’s attorney said there is a lack of evidence to support a claim of Jeff’s incompetency, accusing the trust of being “understandably very fearful” about Jeffs’ testimony since it is liable for his actions as the past president of the FLDS. Current FLDS members continue to consider Jeffs to be their leader and prophet who speaks to God, and has been wrongly convicted. While incarcerated at the Powledge Unit, Jeffs released a book entitled Jesus Christ Message to All Nations which included several directives to set Jeffs free.

Serenity Dennard. Missing since 2019 from South Dakota children’s home.

Several searches of the area have turned up no signs of Serenity. The likelihood may be that she was picked up by a passing motorist. She was last seen walking northbound on S. Rockerville Road. Call 605.394.6115 with any info! and visit Lynn Seeks. #FindSerenity#BringSerenityHome#BlackHills

Unfortunately, I am collecting several stories that link the failures, of churches, police, and the Department of Human Services Children and Families Division, and others to missing children cases. I hope these somehow help:

Church leaders protected the church for decades, not the children. Nebraska AG now releasing a report.

Department of Human Services discovers that the Mennonite Church trafficks children for the use of forced labor.

Laurent Martinez on sex abuse inside the church

Pastor, board member of a foster parent association, a father of adopted children himself, Sentenced to 30 for producing and transporting child pornography

How did church leaders go unnoticed for so long? “Their word was golden”.

88% of children rescued in sex trafficking operations were trafficked from state custody

Child Sex Trafficking and the Child Welfare System

How Foster Care Youth Become Trafficking Victims

Minding Hearts is building advocacy and peer support groups in each state.  The groups are created to raise awareness, educate, and advocate for those that might not otherwise be heard. We are here for encouragement, education, and support. We cannot give legal advice, but we can try and direct you in the right direction with your case. Links to legal services are listed with their states. Please share and let’s grow our groups. We are here to support families and develop resources that maintain family integrity. We look forward to your support. If you would rather become active by donating, then visit the donation page.

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