People love watching “Escaping Polygamy” to see individuals muster the courage to run from the polygamous group they grew up in, or were forced to join. The show’s three hosts, Jessica and Andrea Christensen and their cousin Shanell DeRieux, are at the forefront and provide mental, physical and financial support to women escaping the life they thought was inevitable. However, another crucial component is the show’s insider, someone who knows many of the group’s darkest secrets and dares to speak out, even anonymously. We put together all the information about the insider in “Escaping Polygamy.”
The insider must be close to the leaders
“Escaping Polygamy” would be more difficult to produce without insiders help. They have abundant knowledge about the events behind the scenes, including information valuable to the cast members and the show’s production team. Besides being well-connected, they are resourceful, showing the ability to supply many necessary forms of data, from covert recordings to documents such as birth and marriage certificates. Therefore, the insiders identities must remain a closely-guarded secret, mainly for their safety and better planning of the show’s rescue operations. We also provilean an example of a known whistleblower who many viewers thought was or is close to the insider to help describe their predicament.
Why the show needed an insider
Many people wonder why someone would risk their life or potential banishment from the group, i.e., leaving everything they know and everyone they love for an uncredited appearance in the show. Their confusion is warranted; the sisters who host the show know much about life in The Order or the Kingston Clan since they escaped in their teens or early 20s.
While their experience may not be up-to-date, they can also gain insights from people they help run away. Additionally, the way The Order operates has stayed the same for decades, thus, the sisters’ knowledge combined with the interviews of runaway members is enough for the show’s narration and explanation of what goes on behind closed doors.
The insider’s role goes beyond reporting, because living within the Kingston Clan provides a significant advantage. They can leak information on daily operations as they change, for example, when the group’s leaders or the head of the family will be away. That helps producers plan a time and place for a rescue operation, and significantly increases the safety of escaping members. Moreover, the show never pushes anyone into escaping before they’re ready. Therefore, the production team’s ability to orchestrate and execute a precise getaway plan often puts wind in their sails.
Viewers are sure the insider is a woman
Although the insider’s voice is modulated to make it unrecognizable to the audience and any group member, viewers have concluded that the insider is a woman. Based on the pitch, tone, and manner of speaking, the insider’s voice seems feminine, which is also a logical conclusion because women make up the majority of people who leave the group, due to their unfavorable position in polygamy. Men rarely, if ever, have reasons to flee since most are high up in the hierarchy. If they aren’t leaders, they are usually the leader’s sibling, cousin or child and still hold an advantageous position.
Moreover, it makes sense that the insider is a woman based on how they present information, as a mix of first-hand and second-hand knowledge. In other words, the insider either experienced what the cast members inquired about, heard another woman’s confession, or sent another woman to gather the knowledge the hosts requested. They must also have links in the government or the local community, as they could tip off the three sisters about upcoming police enforcement raids, such as the one scheduled to hit The Order in 2016. That helped them protect the innocent people in the religious group, and made an opening for a potential escape through the crowd.
There were many subtle signs, but the giveaway was the fear that the clan might know or learn their identity based on leaked information. Insider explained the danger and indirectly indicated their position was that of a wife or a daughter, not one of the higher-ups in the clan.
— Escaping Polygamy (@EscapePolygamy) September 17, 2016
Could Mary Nelson be the insider?
Ever since the insider appeared or was heard in the show, people suspected it was Mary Nelson who fed the information to the show’s production team. Even her lawyer, Mark Pugsley, stated ‘She has knowledge nobody else has. As far as we know, the government didn’t know this was going on.’ However, this is unlikely because Mary left the clan in 2013 when she was 23, alongside her husband, Bryan Nelson. They exposed the clan’s financial scam that cost the government $511 million through fraudulent tax credits for a biofuel company, which rose to approximately $1 billion after more investigations. When she blew the whistle, she called The Order ‘an organized crime family rather than a sect’, and spoke more about the shady operations.
Mary’s statement helped “Escaping Polygamy” provide narration, and plan some escapes, but only inadvertently. It’s also unclear what happened to the siblings she left behind, and whether the Kingstons punished anyone for her breakout. Mary stated that she was unaware of how many there were, but that her mom, the fifth of his father’s 18 wives at the time of her escape, had 15 siblings and could have had more in the meantime.
Because her knowledge was the cornerstone for one of the biggest criminal trials in Utah history, the couple received death threats and were targeted by vandalism; someone threw a brick through their window, for instance. Additionally, in text messages, one of the leaders, Jacob Kingston, mentions hiring an enforcer and asking for a ‘bulk discount or a two-for-one deal,’ insinuating a violent act against Mary and Bryan, likely at once.
Insider has a lot of outside knowledge
Mary Nelson emphasized that the individuals within The Order are oblivious to the brainwashing and manipulation they undergo. They are frequently born into the life, and fear of God, education, and the hopelessness of their situation keeps them compliant. She explains that women are taught to fit in with their fathers, then husbands, and do as they say. Even worse, questioning or doing the opposite is considered ‘going against the Lord’s work.’
Moreover, cult members believe that the leaders hold the keys to heaven, and that their community is heaven on Earth, making them falsely feel their life couldn’t be better. Therefore, the outsider’s awareness of life in and outside the community, suggests that they have left the community, then returned, or know and are likely related to someone who escaped. Some assume the insider is a sibling or cousin to the show’s hosts.
The insider did not leave the community
In February 2017, “Escaping Polygamy” aired the season 2 finale on A&E, showing the insider’s willingness to leave The Order. Unfortunately, although they claimed that they were ready and the producers planned the getaway, it all fell through. They allegedly got to ‘about ten feet from the car’ with the three sisters and two security guards before they backed out. Therefore, the insider neither escaped nor revealed their identity, and the show left it at that. We can assume they still live among the clan members and feed information inconspicuously, or have escaped in private.
Some viewers believe the entire event was scripted, or that the insider was secretly one of the rescued women the show featured. If the latter, the team wisely kept this unknown, because of the high stakes in the second season. After all, even if the show never mentioned the insider’s identity, the leaders would have known who it was by rounding up the information on all missing members in early 2017.