Ex-wife of Warren Jeffs to open doors to secretive home

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Inside the compound of polygamous leader Warren Jeffs
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Inside the compound of polygamous leader Warren Jeffs
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, walks through a large dining room at his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S. May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, looks into an office at his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Red rock cliffs rise above Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah, where the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) prophet leader Warren Jeffs lived and ran the church for many years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S. May 3, 2017. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
A key hangs out of a lock on one of the 41 bedrooms at jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) prophet leader Warren Jeffs' compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) prophet leader Warren Jeffs, stands on a back porch at his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S. May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, looks out the window of one of the 41 bedrooms at his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, walks between the 11th and 12th bedroom at his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S. May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, looks over a patio area at his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) prophet leader Warren Jeffs, walks through one of two large kitchens at his compound in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, walks past an outdoor chimney marked with "Pray and Obey" at the compound where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, walks past an outdoor chimney marked with "Pray and Obey" at his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, looks out the window of the prayer room where she prayed every hour on the hour with other wives of his, at his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, enters his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., on May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, shows how she prayed every hour on the hour with other wives of his in the prayer room at his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, opens a backdoor with an eviction notice on the window of his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Briell Decker, the 65th wife of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs, looks inside his bedroom at his compound, where he lived for several years, in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. She is in the process of purchasing the compound. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Tumbleweeds and a no trespassing sign are seen outside the northwest entrance of FLDS Church's Prophet leaders Warren Jeff's compound where he lived for several years in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Two old couches sit outside the northwest entrance of jailed Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) polygamist prophet leader Warren Jeffs' compound where he lived for several years in Hildale, Utah, U.S., May 3, 2017. Picture taken May 3, 2017. REUTERS/George Frey
Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, who heads a breakaway Mormon sect, is pictured in this Texas Department of Criminal Justice prison mug shot, released to Reuters August 10,2011. Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison August 9 for sexually assaulting two underage girls he claimed as "spiritual" brides. The Texas jury of 10 women and two men deliberated for less than an hour before giving him a 99-year, or life, sentence for one charge and 20 years for a second -- the maximum for both. REUTERS/Texas Department of Criminal Justice/Handout (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW HEADSHOT IMAGES OF THE DAY) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS
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HILDALE, Utah (Reuters) - The Utah mansion where convicted pedophile and polygamous religious sect leader Warren Jeffs once lived is being purchased by one of his former wives, who hopes to make it a tourist attraction and home for people who have left the church.

The house and adjacent buildings are part of a walled compound that straddles two blocks in the town of Hildale, a twin border community with Colorado City, Arizona, where many members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints lived.

Jeffs, 61, was the spiritual head of the breakaway sect, which the mainstream Mormon Church has condemned for promoting marriage between young girls and older men. He is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for sexually assaulting two underage girls he had married.

Photos of the sprawling mansion, whose estimated value is $1.2 million, reveal its 41 bedrooms, meeting and prayer rooms, dining rooms and two commercial-size kitchens.

Brielle Decker, who said she was forced to be the 65th of Jeffs' 79 wives when she was 18 years old, is hoping to buy the mansion for a reduced price.

"Everything would flourish more if this thing was turned into something good," said Decker, who escaped from the FLDS five years ago. "That's my main goal."

Decker, 31, has occupancy of the property while she raises funds to purchase it. The mansion is big enough for public events and to house ex-FLDS members transitioning to the outside world, she said.

With its secretive history and proximity to Grand Canyon and Zion national parks, the house should attract inquisitive tourists, Decker said.

"We could do tours upstairs," she said, "and the middle floor, where the kitchens and the conference rooms are, could be used for events, a restaurant and a gift shop."

Decker spent several months at the mansion while Jeffs, who was once on the FBI's most wanted list, eluded police. Their marriage was not considered legal, and she is planning to wed her fiance next month.

Properties belonging to the sect were held in a trust that was established in the 1940s so that members could benefit from its shared assets in line with their religious beliefs. The state of Utah seized the trust in 2005 and is selling back its assets to FLDS members and ex-members.

The compound is one of several FLDS sites sprinkled throughout Texas, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and South Dakota.

(Writing by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)

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