‘Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey’: Where Did Warren Jeffs Live?

Polygamy has been a hot topic in TV shows for years. TLC’s Sister Wives and Seeking Sister Wives delves into the more mainstream side of the practice. Docuseries, like The Netflix original, Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey, are taking a deep dive into the more insular and infamous polygamist sects. Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey focuses on the FLDS, and its now-imprisoned leader, Warren Jeffs. Before being convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to life in prison, Jeffs lived on a compound in Hillsdale, Utah. The compound is notorious, but it’s not the only property the FLDS owned. 

The most infamous compound was located in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona 

The most infamous FLDS compound was located in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, two towns that intersect at the border of Utah and Arizona. The compound was far from the largest the FLDS owned during Rulon and Warren Jeffs’ reigns. The property was composed of just a few acres but was the site of an expansive home where the Jeffs family lived. The city of Hildale was largely composed of FLDS members, too, with thousands of members living in the two cities during the religion’s heyday. 

The outside of Warren Jeffs' FLDS compound in Hillsdale, Utah
FLDS property in Hillsdale, Utah | George Frey/Getty Images

Jeffs, for his part, once lived in Hildale but spent time in several other major FLDS communities spread across multiple states and additional countries. Before his arrest, Jeffs had largely abandoned his Hildale and Colorado City communities. 

Warren Jeffs spent time at additional compounds 

While much of the religious activities occurred in and around Utah under Rulon Jeffs’ leadership, the church owned several other large swaths of land. According to KOTA, an ABC News affiliate, a 140-acre compound in Pringle, South Dakota, belonged to the FLDS. In 2021, the land was auctioned off to cover a previous court judgment. Only a handful of people were still living on the land at the time. It was purchased, at auction, by former FLDS members for $750,000. 

The church also owned YFZ Ranch, a 1,700-acre community near ElDorado, Texas. Warren Jeffs retreated to the property after pulling his support from the Short Creek community. In 2008, the ranch was raided, and hundreds of women and children were removed from the compound. Jeffs became a fugitive. He was finally captured in Nevada.  

A large Alfalfa farm 30-minutes outside Pioche, Nevada was also linked to the FLDS in 2006. According to the Deseret News, the farm’s profits were used to help build YFZ ranch. Additional compounds are believed to have been spread out across the middle of North America, including in Mexico and British Columbia. Many have since been dismantled or seized by the government. 

Some of the property has been gifted to a nonprofit 

Jeffs is far from the Utah town that the FLDS turned into one large compound. Now housed in a minimum-security prison unit in Texas, it is believed he continues to control the FLDS. The community isn’t nearly as large as it once was, and members have spread out. Hildale is largely composed of non-FLDS residents now. A former wife of Jeffs has donated some of the lands that once belonged to Jeffs.  

Former members of the FLDS are seen in 'Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey'
Former members of the FLDS | Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

According to 12 News, Warren Jeffs’ 65th wife, Briell Decker, donated three acres of property to an Arizona nonprofit focusing on preventing human trafficking and meeting the community’s needs. The charity used the property to develop the Short Creek Dream Center, an outreach nonprofit that serves the community. The center offers rehabilitation and recovery services, counseling, housing, and food services.   

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