February 1, 1937
Salt Lake City, Utah
|Occupation||Author, Mother, Grandmother|
|Spouse(s)||Verlan LeBaron (July 3, 1953 until his death in 1981), Hector J. Spencer|
||The topic of this article may not meet Wikipedia's notability guideline for biographies. (March 2009)|
Born Irene Kunz in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1937. She secretly wed Verlan LeBaron on July 3, 1953, becoming his second wife. His first wife had been her older half-sister Charlotte. Irene would eventually bear thirteen of Verlan's 58 children.
Following her marriage to Verlan, she moved to a farm called "Colonia LeBaron" in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada in Northern Mexico. Colonia LeBaron had been settled by Verlan's father Alma Dayer LeBaron after the Manifesto of 1890 when the mainstream LDS Church abandoned polygamy. When Alma died in 1951, he passed leadership of the polygamist community down to his son Joel, who formally organized the Church of the Firstborn in the Fulness of Times in Salt Lake City, Utah.
A power struggle ensued between the sons of Alma Dayer LeBaron. A younger son, Ervil, founded his own church, the Church of the Lamb of God, in 1972 in San Diego, California. The same year, Ervil ordered the murder of his brother Joel, claiming justification based on the doctrine of blood atonement. Ervil's hitlist would eventually reach the hundreds and include John F. Kennedy and the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He would succeed in murdering, among others, his brother Joel, his daughter Rebecca and Rulon C. Allred, the President of the Apostolic United Brethren, another key polygamist group. Rulon Allred was the Uncle of Irene (her mothers brother) and one of the reasons why Ervil had him killed was to kill Verlan at Rulon's funeral.
Following Joel's death, Irene's husband Verlan was tapped for leadership of the Church of the Firstborn. This necessitated Irene's family's addition to Ervil's hit list. In order to escape the death threats, Irene and her children were forced to move to Nicaragua where they lived in huts, were infected by intestinal worms and battled tics and jungle insects without electricity or indoor plumbing.
The conditions of life in Nicaragua nearly broke Irene, but she finally left Verlan in 1978 when, despite the abject poverty the family was living in, he married a tenth wife, Priscilla. After seeking spiritual advice outside of the polygamist community, she was convinced to return to Verlan in 1979. One year later, Verlan died in an automobile accident. His brother, Ervil, had died two days prior in the Utah State Penitiary where he was serving a life sentence for the murder of Rulon Allred.
After Verlan's death
Irene Spencer now lives in Anchorage, Alaska with her monogamous husband of nineteen years, Hector Spencer. She became a Born again Christian at the urging of one of her sons and is now an outspoken critic of polygamy. She has published the book Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist's Wife and Cult Insanity: A Memoir of Polygamy, Prophets, and Blood Atonement to shed light on the realities of polygamy in modern America.
- Shattered Dreams: My Life as a Polygamist's Wife by Irene Spencer
- Predators, Prey and Other Kinfolk by Dorothy Allred Solomon