kids

At 15, Shirley married Tom Green. He then married her mum.

In 1996, Tom Green developed a rather peculiar reputation for himself. 

Raised as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he became infatuated with plural marriage — a marriage where there is more than one wife. It was then he transitioned into a Mormon fundamentalism that not only supported polygamy but encouraged it.

Over time, Tom became known internationally as a fierce defender of polygamy and his marriage(s) to (at the time) five women — some of whom were just children when he married them under the pretence of them being "spiritual wives".

He even defended his beliefs on live TV, appearing on tabloid talk shows like The Jerry Springer Show and Sally Jessy Raphael. But it was during an appearance on Dateline NBC where Tom claimed he was "legally" married to more than one woman that prompted an investigation from Juab County attorney David O. Leavitt.

Watch this clip: Modern polygamy: One husband, chosen by multiple wives. Post continues after video. 


Video via ABC.

Tom didn't start with polygamy in his first marriage to Lynda Penman, who was just two years younger than him when they met in 1970. 

By the time he revealed his desire to have a plural marriage, they split in 1980. It was then he met Beth Cook and her daughter Linda Kunz in 1986.

ADVERTISEMENT

Linda and Tom. Image: Absolute Documentaries. 

Beth, who was then single, had experience with polygamy relationships. By the year's end, Tom had "spiritually" married both mother and daughter. 

"I had my parents' permission because they thought Tom was a very good man and they could see his heart," Linda said in the 1999 documentary One Man, Six Wives And 29 Children

ADVERTISEMENT

"That he was not just out to take advantage of a young girl. He wanted to build a family and we really did sincerely truly love each other."

The "spiritual" marriages spurred his legal wife, Lynda, with whom Tom had three children, to file for divorce.

Linda and Tom. Image: Absolute Documentaries.

Next was Shirley Beagley, who met and married Tom at 15 years old. 

ADVERTISEMENT

"I spent a month in his home working for his wife and I got to know his family and I became very close with Linda," she explained. 

He then married Shirley's mother, June Johnson, whom he later separated from (keep in mind though, they were never legally married).

"My oldest sister was married to Tom and I lived in Southern Utah and she brought him down to meet us," the polygamist's former wife shared. "And things just went from there."

Most people think it's wrong, but neither Shirley nor June found their romance with the same man weird.

"It may sound very strange to think my mother was with my husband but you have to realise that this is the way I believe life ought to be lived and this is a very deeply held religion for me and my family," Shirley explained.

"Growing up, I was taught values and the reasons and the hows and the whys and for me, it was natural."

Shirley and her mother June. Image: Absolute Documentaries.

ADVERTISEMENT

The mother-daughter duo even gave birth to Tom's children on the same day. 

"She had hers the same spot I had mine," June said, with Shirley adding, "[Our sons] were brothers to themselves. They were sons to us and they were also my brother and her grandson. I think there was about every relationship you could have."

June's son was born with Down Syndrome and Gerald, Shirley's son, died in a fire at the Green's family home at three years old.

June's son and Shirley's son were born on the same day. Image: Absolute Documentaries.

ADVERTISEMENT

The night of the fire, Shirley was pregnant with twins and unsure if they were coming early. So she travelled to a town over with Tom, leaving her toddler with his 25 other brothers and sisters.

"I had made a point not to say goodbye to my son because he gets so sad when I do," she reflected.

Then they got the call. 

"It was Linda. She was at a neighbour's house. She said, 'Tom, the house burnt down and we got everybody out.' His chest just gave a sigh of relief. [Then she says], 'Except for Gerry,'" she continued. 

"He was my son. My fourth child."

On the night of the fire, Shirley's younger sister, Leeann Beagley, was there too. 

She had met and married Tom at 13 years old. 

"I didn't see him as a father figure for very long," she said in the documentary. "I think I fell in love with him right away and I have been married to him for nine years now."

ADVERTISEMENT

Leeann, Tom's wife. Image: Absolute Documentaries.

There was also Cari Green, who described the moment she knew she wanted to marry Tom. 

"He let me know he was serious and if I was serious then I needed to let him know," she recalled. "So I told him, 'Yes. I want to marry you. I want to be your wife.'"

The pair met and married within two days; then Cari set her sister Hannah up with her husband too. All within a two-week window of knowing Tom. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Cari and Hannah, who were sisters and wives of Tom. Image: Absolute Documentaries.

With his six wives, Tom had 29 children in total.

In the documentary, One Man, Six Wives And 29 Children, he said he had six children with his plural wife Linda, seven with Shirley, four with Leeann, three with Cari and two with Hannah. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Three more were from a prior marriage with Tom's first wife and the other four were born from June or Beth.

In defence of their lifestyle, Cari said most people see plural marriage as "this horny old man that wants to have sex with young women."

"That's not Tom," she explained. "It's a woman's choice. It's a woman's issue. It's more about our rights and our freedom than it is about his. We get to decide when we're gonna have sex with him and he doesn't ask. 

"It's not his place. It's a girl's place to choose her husband and we chose Tom."

If he had remained quiet about his lifestyle, it's likely the Juab County attorney would have never pursued charges against Tom. 

But in April 2000, at 52 years old, he was charged with bigamy, criminal nonsupport and child rape of Linda (of which he denied). 

Tom Green is an infamous Utah-based polygamist. Image: Absolute Documentaries.

ADVERTISEMENT

In May 2001, Tom was found guilty of bigamy and criminal nonsupport. In August of that same year, he was sentenced to five years in prison and USD$78,000 in restitution for welfare provided to his five wives and two dozen children.

After it was ruled that the statute of limitations had not expired for the rape of a then-13-year-old Linda in June 2002, he was found guilty and sentenced to another five years in prison.

In total, he served six years in prison and was released in 2007. At age 72 in 2021, Tom died from COVID-19 pneumonia.

An obituary published by Green’s family paid tribute to three of his wives, Linda, Shirley and Cari. It's not known what became of Leeann or Hannah. 

All in all, he had 10 wives overall since his first marriage in 1970. 

He is survived by three wives, one brother, 34 children, 54 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Feature Image: Absolute Documentaries.

Do you have kids aged under 13 years? Take our survey now to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher.