Media on My Extended Family,
Friends, and Fundamentalist Mormon Cults
This is a movie done some years ago about my infamous Uncle Ervil LeBaron, my mother’s brother. He is now known as “Evil Ervil,” and “The Mormon Manson.” I knew, respected, and loved him before he went off the deep end with his sociopathy and psychosis.
The film was very well done. I love how brilliantly Brian Dennehy played the part of my Uncle Ervil. But no film can possibly portray the depth of suffering and lunacy that went on in this man’s life that also affected the lives of all his brainwashed, true-believing followers and children.
You will have to get the film from wherever you get movies and find out the rest of the story for yourself; though I will be telling my experiences with my Uncle Ervil later on down the line in my memoir blogging.
*You may also read books written about him. I have listed here, below, some of these books. Wikipedia and other such sites relate a history of him also –– as well as a short history of the rest of the LeBaron family: His parents and siblings.
But hats off to him! Till I recently read his chronicle, I had no idea just how devious and wicked was the cult Uncle Ervil spawned; not to mention the people who followed him hook, line, and sinker/stinker!!
This Memoir, written about thirty years ago, seems merely an immature, biased, apologist’s cold hearted revisionist tale written by the infamous Rena Chynoweth wherein she could brag about the part she played in the sad and dirty story of her husband’s bloody, violent, and psychotic cult. All is not fact-checked nor factual, much is omitted, and she writes more about her girlish romantic escapades and herself than anything.
In other words, it appears to be, largely, an attempt to be in the limelight and cash in on the notoriety of Ervil LeBaron, so as to make money and be a starlet — albeit a notorious one. We were lucky to get two paragraphs about her cold-blooded murder of Dr. Rulon Allred. And the best apology she could come up with, as to the “Lambs of God” atrocities and murders is, “This did not need to happen.”
But you may find her book worth a perusal just to see how a member of Ervil LeBaron’s murderous cult used to think. I say “used to think” because recently I had the opportunity to meet and visit with Gabriela LeBaron, a first cousin, and one of Uncle Ervil’s more than fifty children! She brought me up to date on how Ervil’s ex-cult is doing now — and that includes Rena!
Please see my Menu Bar to read about this important update and Info I have included in my full book review of Rena’s thirty-year-old Memoir “The Blood Covenant.”
If you want to get more of a chronicle of Ervil’s old mafioso cult, and its demise, read “The 4 O’clock Murders” by Scott Anderson, published in 1993. And “Prophet of Blood” by Ben Bradlee and Dale Van Atta, published in 1981.
These two documentaries are not always exactly right, in some of the history of this cult they wrote about, but hats off to them for doing as well as they did with a subject that was often hard to get “the truth” about.
*For much more information on anyone or anything I mention on this site, you may use your search engine to look up these people and topics. Also check YouTube, Wikipedia, and other sites.
Both Doris Hanson and Aunt Rebecca Kimbel are success stories of brilliant and determined women — who are also escapees from Mormon Fundamentalist cults!
They are each now Independent TV Producers who also host their own YouTube sites, among other things. Each of them interviews, among other outstanding leaders and people, escapees from dangerous Mormon cults.
My cousin, Donna LeBaron Goldberg (as seen below with her sister Barbara LeBaron on their website header) is interviewed a number of times by Producer Aunt Rebecca Kimbel on YouTube, for example. I hope you check out these YouTube interviews.
Doris Hansen and Rebecca Kimbel also each interviewed Authors Irene LeBaron Spencer (See: IreneSpencerbooks.com) and Susan Ray Schmidt (see her website). Both are my Aunts. And Aunt Irene is Donna LeBaron Goldberg’s and Barbara LeBaron’s mother, as seen in the photos above.
Aunt Rebecca Kimbel and Doris Hansen also interviewed, on their TV and YouTube sites, other relatives and friends of mine from my days in the cult — people such as my cousin, Carolyn Jessop, a memoirist who wrote the bestselling,”Escape,” and other books.
Also, check out Aunt Rebecca Kimbel’s excellent and adamant speech on YouTube’s TED-X Talks. (In around only 18 minutes, she did a genius presentation on all the main issues to do with Mormon cults, including White slavery.
See also (on Goodreads.com) her novel, “A Savage Wild,” published in 2013. I have yet to get and read it
See the film: “The Childbride of Short Creek.” It was on YouTube, among other places, the last time I checked. (To get Info for their Script, my sisters were interviewed by the writers of this film.)
“Banking on Heaven“ is a super Documentary my cousin Laurie Allen and her cohort, Dot Reidelbach, created. (It gives a good overview of life as a Mormon fundamentalist in Short Creek, Arizona, and Hilldale, Utah/ Colorado City, Arizona.
I went online a few years ago and ordered an updated 2006/2007 80 Min. copy of their DVD. (It’s far better than their first published DVD by the same name.) You can find it on Amazon.com, YouTube, the Internet. And her following website:
Banking on Heaven
Banking on Heaven – Wikipedia
Some Recommended Books and Films Written Mostly by My Relatives and/or By Fellow Ex-Mormon Fundamentalists
(Many can be found in Public Libraries, on Amazon.com, etc., and on the Authors’ website. A number of them are in audiobook form also):
“Shattered Dreams” and “Cult Insanity” by Best-Selling Author Aunt Irene LeBaron Spencer, at IreneSpencerBooks.com. Her books are also in audiobook form. (Irene is my Aunt, through marriage, as is Rebecca Kimbel, Irene’s half-sister.)
*Note: I took the picture featured on Irene’s book cover,”Cult Insanity. (See it below in its original form :
“Uncle Ervil LeBaronis holding my eight-year-old daughter, Asenath Marie Tucker, the little girl in the yellow dress. I took this photograph before I had any idea that Uncle Ervil was a psychotic sociopath.
One of my favorite books on the subject of my relatives and my past is the following book, written by a very talented writer, Aunt Susan Ray Schmidt. (I took care of her for five days when she was around nine years old (long before she married my Uncle Verlan LeBaron, of course, and thus became my aunt) while her parents were out of town, and we were still living in Colonia LeBaron, Chihuahua, Mexico).
“His Favorite Wife,” by Susan Ray Schmidt (Another Aunt of mine, her book reads like a novel. My family is mentioned in it.)
TWO EXCELLENT BOOKS: “PLYGS” and “PLYGS 2“ by Ed Kociela, available for sale on Amazon.com
*(He calls his book “Fiction,” to protect the innocent and himself, I suspect. It’s not fiction!
~ Also see Rebecca Kimbel’s YouTube interviews with this amazing journalist who spent many years writing news reports on the infamous polygamist town, Short Creek/AKA Colorado City.)
Another must read is Prophet’s Prey, by Sam Brower (also an audiobook).
A film came out September 2016: Prophet’s Prey. It is based on his book and was playing in theaters. I haven’t seen it yet.
Another “must read” is “God’s Brothel,“ by Andrea Moore-Emmett. (Also check out her super interviews with Rebecca Kimbel, and possibly also with Doris Hanson, on YouTube.)
No Man Knows My History, by the late UCLA researcher and professor, Fawn McKay Brodie (niece of David O. McKay, a former President and Prophet of the mainline Mormon church) This book is a well-researched history of the so-called “Prophet Joseph Smith” — a must read!)
My great-great-grandfather, Benjamin F. Johnson, was sealed to Joseph Smith as a son. Beginning at the tender age of eighteen, he became one of Joseph Smith’s Scribes. (I recently read, in a questionable place, that his son, Benjamin F. LeBaron, was also sealed to Joseph Smith as a son! But given the references for this claim, I’d say the jury is still out on this one!)
* This concludes my present most-recommended books and media on the subject to do with my Mormon fundamentalist past. However, there are plenty more books, films, and TV shows published on this subject of Mormon fundamentalism, polygamy, and cults.
Check libraries, bookstores, Youtube, your online search engine, and “Media” in the Menu of my own website for more material on these subjects. I own around one hundred books and also some films and TV productions about Mormonism, its past, and Mormon polygamist cults. Many of the books and scripts are written by former Mormon Fundamentalists who have left/escaped their cult.
I found all one hundred or more of my books worth reading, but have gleaned from them the ones I most recommend to start with. If I think of any other books or media, I will come back and add them later. But I’m sure this is more than enough to start with.
Again, you can always check the public libraries and online Book Stores like Amazon.com, also, if you want even more books and Media presently available on the subject.
I am open to questions or feedback on this material, should you wish to make comments on my site. Till then, happy reading, listening to, and watching films, YouTube interviews, and TV shows on this informative media.
As always, I look forward to hearing from you and to your following my site. Thank you in advance for your most appreciated feedback. It’s what we Authors thrive on.
September 26, 2016:
The following books and films, etc., I also recommend, if you are interested in learning more about my extended family, or/and other things to do with Mormon fundamentalism:
(*By the way, this Romney insert is not a book, but I thought it interesting. Also wanted to say, my mother (born 1921 in Colonia Pacheco, Mexico) grew up with Gov. Romney’s (George Romney, et Al) family, there in the Mormon colonies in Mexico.
“The LeBaron Story” is truly a “Vanity Book” — not only because my uncle Verlan LeBaron paid a publishing company in 1981 (back when self-publishing was far from the norm) to publish the book — but also because it is a revisionistic, apologetic, and biased history of some of my grandparents Maud and Dayer LeBaron’s rather grandiose offspring.
What’s more, my Aunt Charlotte and Uncle Verlan are largely NOT the authors of this book though they have taken all the credit for it. Truth is, Uncle Verlan was FAR too busy to write a book — even if he knew how — too busy working, traveling around from country to country visiting his ten wives and fifty-plus kids — and running from his brother Ervil who was out to kill him! And Aunt Charlotte was about this busy too!
Fact is, my mother/Verlan’s sister Esther LeBaron-McDonald de Spencer (with a BA in journalism) is the one whose idea it was to write “The LeBaron Story.” She wrote a large part of this book, then turned her manuscript over to Verlan, along with her journals and notes, telling him he could finish and publish her work — could even have all the proceeds from it!
It was Mother’s effort to help her brother Verlan “build up the kingdom of God” — her way of paying tithing and defending “God’s work” because Verlan had taken over for her brother Joel LeBaron, “The One Mighty and Strong,” after Joel was murdered by his brother Ervil!
The work of finishing and compiling Mother’s book was largely done by my Uncle Verlan’s first wife Charlotte who relied on Info from my mother’s journals and notes to help her.
About 2/3 of “The LeBaron Story,” therefore, came directly from my dear Mom’s manuscript as well as her journal entries. I remember when she was writing this history. She talked about it a lot at the time. I recognize her writing and input. It’s mixed throughout the text — makes up a large part of it.
You may want to note the two different writer’s voices used in the book! Anything with the more beautifully written structured writing, defined paragraphs, quotes, and sources listed at the back of the book, etc., is my mother Esther LeBaron Spencer’s writing voice — her contribution. Whereas Aunt Charlotte, Uncle Verlan, et Al’s writing voices are in the chapters where everything is run together and there aren’t structured paragraphs, footnotes, etc.
Although Uncle Verlan and Aunt Charlotte used large parts of what my Mother wrote, word for word — used her material exactly as she had written it — no editing at all — they gave Mother not one BIT of credit — not one speck of acknowledgment, let alone so much as a howdy-do-dee or thank-you. It’s tantamount to plagiarism — shameful how Charlotte and Verlan took all the credit for this book!
But getting to the body of the work, if you were to take the authors’ word for everything, for sure the Mexico LeBarons are/were “a saintly people with a Godly mission.” But I beg to differ: Wishing doesn’t make it so. In other words, wishful thinking, such as self-proclaiming oneself as “The One Mighty and Strong,” and claiming one comes from “A Godly people with a Messianic mission” doesn’t make it true.
Much of the book’s lore takes place in Chihuahua, Mexico. Unfortunately, the authors tell the story in the words of true-believing, fundamentalist-Mormon-LeBaron cult members. In other words, it’s a highly biased history with a Messianic purpose.
True to their fanatic religiosity, as I said above, the book was mainly written to proselytize and promote Uncle Joel LeBaron’s cult, “The Church of the First Born of the Fullness of Times.” This presupposes a revised and rewritten history, then — and a white-washing of the LeBarons … It’s myth in the making, to be sure.
Nonetheless, I was able to glean a bit of useful information from it. I’m glad the book was written, despite the biased viewpoint, because nobody else in the immediate Mexico LeBaron family has written any first-hand history about themselves.
But suffice it to say, the book could use a good Editor’s service, if nothing else — although, even as it is, it was a big endeavor and accomplishment for my aunts and uncle to pull off. For they were very busy people who had done little reading in comparison to Scholars and those Majoring in Journalism or such. Plus they were laboring under great pressures and disadvantages like raising huge families of small children while living in backward, primitive conditions. But book-buyer beware … be wary! That’s all I can say!
I was given a copy of this book many years ago when it first came out in 1981, fourteen years after I escaped the LeBaron cult in 1967. After reading the book, the preaching, plus the white-washing and grandiose fabrications throughout the chronicle of the LeBaron family got my gut so badly I was about to toss the book in the dumpster when two of my Uncle Verlan’s daughters dropped in. They still believed their father was a prophet, back then, so were very happy to be gifted with my book, “The LeBaron Story.” And I was very happy to get rid of it.
But thirty-six years later, for purposes of my own writing, understanding, and research, I had to re-buy the book on Kindle! Argh! It’s going for around $45.00 or so in hardback, no less, on Amazon.com. Wonders never cease to amaze me … so I wonder! Well, to each his own. Read on!
Elissa Wall was raised in the FLDS cult, the same cult that I was raised in for around eight years, as a child, before my parents left this fundamentalist group and joined another, the LeBaron group.
Anna LeBaron is my cousin, one of Uncle Ervil’s daughters.
Her above book, The Polygamist’s Daughter, is presently available in bookstores as of March 21, 2017. (See her website, AnnaLeBaron.com.)
The is a wonderfully and intelligently written memoir by Flora Jessop (and Paul T. Brown), who was born and raised in the FLDS cult — there in Short Creek, Arizona (now called “Colorado City,” on the map) and Hilldale, Utah, where I lived for some time, as a child.
My sister, Leonora/Lenora Spencer (mentioned in the credits of this book) gave Jon Krakauer a lot of the good information included in his book about Short Creek/Colorado City, Hilldale, and Centennial Park, Utah.
In turn, he helped her a lot — with advice, etc., that aided her escape from the bonds of White slavery, polygamy, and Mormon fundamentalism.
My niece Vicky Rogers LeBaron filled Krakauer in on some of the details, also, that have made up part of the research that went into writing this documentary.
Memoirist and Author Ruth Wariner Ruth (LeBaron) Wariner Centofante, a daughter of my mother’s brother Uncle Joel LeBaron, published her memoirs Feb. 2016.
A best-seller, it’s in public libraries. Audiobook also available.
The book largely consists of a collection of some of my grandmother’s letters — and some vignettes Grandma wrote that are run together in often hard-to-decipher paragraphs.
More to be said on this later. I’ll say, for now, she’s done a revised version—a rewriting of the history of the “Joel LeBaron: Prophet” saga, turning it upside down and him into a martyred prophet. (She shows, though not intentionally, how religious myths are made.)
*Note: It’s now 2019: See my blog post by the same name for my updatd “Review of Aunt Charlotte’s Maud’s Story,” posted below:
Maud Lucinda LeBaron is my maternal grandmother, of whom I am “the spittin’ image,” I was always told growing up. In fact, the above photo of her looks so much like me at that age, I look at it and think it’s me. I can’t tell the difference!
Still, I resent she used my grandmother Matriarch Maud Lucinda LeBaron’s story to draw in her progeny and relatives, as well as others, so as to promote her’s and Uncle Joel’s Church of the Firstborn doctrine — a la Charlotte LeBaron’s lore. So “Maud’s Story” really should be renamed: “Charlotte’s Story.”
But to give Aunt Charlotte a little credit (though I’m disappointed “Maud’s Story” wasn’t imbued with more of Grandmother’s colorful history—her growing up with Spencer W. Kimball as a pioneer in poverty and primitive conditions in Thatcher, Arizona, for example! (See: “The Story of Spencer W. Kimball : A Short Man, a Long Stride“) she includes in her booklet numerous short vignettes that are, she claims, direct “Quotes from Grandma’s Notes.
“Perhaps, to get a little more of Grandmother’s history, Charlotte expects us to read “The LeBaron Story,” which she also claims authorship for along with her husband, my Uncle Verlan LeBaron—though it was my mother who wrote a great deal of “The LeBaron Story.” See my review all of this book, another apologists’ chronicle largely written to preach the Church of the Firstborn religious doctrine.
I find its covert preaching of the Church of the First Born dogma distasteful— especially the revising of its doctrine and history to make it more palatable than it was when my Uncles Ervil and Joel LeBaron first spawned this sect/cult in 1953—an offshoot from their brothers Ben and Ross Wesley LeBaron’s cults!
This is an excellent memoir written by a nephew of Warren Jeffs, Brent Jeffs. It is a very informative and bravely written memoir of one of the unfortunate and abused (sexually, physically, emotionally, and mentally) boys raised in the FLDS/Mormon fundamentalist cult. He has been interviewed on TV a number of times.
You go, Brent! More people need to follow your example and bring to light what is really going on in Mormon fundamentalist cults in the name of religion.
This film is/was about my Uncle Ervil LeBaron. Did a Google search and found it was scheduled to be released in 2014, but was canceled for lack of funding. But am told a new film on Uncle Ervil is due to be released in 2017 or 2018.
Joanne Hanks Memoir is one of the best books written on what life in polygamy is like, and why she eventually fled it. See my book review on her memoir. It’s posted on my Website.