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Program note: For the first time, a family of Warren Jeffs' devotees allows us into their home, and into their lives... watch Gary Tuchman's full report tonight on 360° 10p ET.
We have been doing stories about Warren Jeffs FLDS church for about two years now. And now, for the first time, devoted followers of this mysterious sect have allowed us into their home to give us a look at their lives.
Chris and Lydia Wyler are not polygamists; although they are open to the possibility of that in their future. They are still young; 30 and 31 respectively, and have six children...ages 8 months to 12 years.
Frankly, they decided to allow us in their home after I made repeated requests over a period of months. Like every family that is part of the FLDS, they are told not to have contact with outsiders; particularly reporters. They still feel that way. But following the raid in Texas, in which hundreds of children were taken away from their parents, they had a desire to show how they have a normal life with a loving family.
I am a mere journalist, not a social worker, but indeed, their household seemed to be a very happy one with friendly well-adjusted children. The girls, dressed in their pioneer dresses and telltale long braided hair, and the boys in their conservative attire played on a trampoline, on scooters, climbed trees, and served my camera crew and me peach cobbler.
I played a game of one -on- one basketball with Chris, 17 years my junior, so I had a good workout. And then we talked. What they said about the raid, about their prophet Warren Jeffs, and about their isolated and mysterious life was captivating and fascinating. In the midst of our visit, somebody knocked on the door. It was a local policeman. All the police on the force are also members of the church.
They told the Wylers they just wanted to make sure everything was okay because neighbors saw a camera crew go in the house. Last year, I was almost arrested by one of those policemen who didn't like that I was interviewing people outside the post office. The Wylers told the officer everything was fine, and the interview continued. But the Wylers were nervous talking to me. Undoubtedly, many FLDS members now know they invited us in their house, and that could reflect poorly on this young family.
They were increasingly nervous during the rest of our stay. I pledged to them we would tell an honest story of our five hours with them. That of course, is what we aim to do on any story we tell. But when you're in a closed society like the FLDS, you are taught outsiders are often out to get you. I'm still not sure exactly what they think of me.
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