'Sister Wives': Inside Janelle and Kody Brown's Split, Family Tension, Tragedy and More

The former couple tragically lost their son, Garrison Brown, in March 2024.

Sister Wives stars and exes Janelle and Kody Brown are experiencing a devastating loss. On March 5, it was announced that the former couple's son, Garrison Brown, had died at the age of 25

Confirming the news on social media, both Janelle and Kody shared a joint statement on Instagram, writing, "Kody and I are deeply saddened to announce the loss of our beautiful boy Robert Garrison Brown. He was a bright spot in the lives of all who knew him. His loss will leave such a big hole in our lives that it takes our breath away. We ask that you please respect our privacy and join us in honoring his memory."

Flagstaff Police Department confirmed in a statement to ET that they were called to Garrison's residence in Arizona to find him dead. According to authorities, Garrison appeared to have suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Foul play is not suspected. Garrison's brother, Gabriel, found him and alerted police. 

The tragic death comes after years of estrangement, tension and splits within the Brown family. Janelle announced her separation from Kody in 2022, ending their 30-year spiritual marriage. 


Janelle and Kody tied the knot in 1993 and in addition to Garrison, share five more biological children -- Logan, 29, Madison, 28, Hunter, 27, Gabriel, 22, and Savannah, 19. 

Janelle was the second of Kody's wives to leave their marriage after Christine Brown exited in 2021. Meri Brown also "permanently terminated" her marriage in early 2023. 

Janelle's decision to leave Kody was the culmination of years of tension and drama within the family, mostly surrounding his strained relationships with his older children, particularly Garrison and Gabriel. 

Despite her fellow sister wife, Christine, moving on from her own split from Kody to marry David Woolley in October 2023, and Meri Brown continuing to date, Janelle previously told ET that she wasn't interested in moving on romantically. 

"My children really are my thing. I'm really wrapped up with them. I'm focused on them. I'm trying now to bring some of the things I've always wanted to fruition," Janelle told ET back in November 2023. "So that's where my passion and my energy is laying right now with my children and some of these other projects I'm trying to bring forward. If I were to meet somebody, it would have to be super organic."

Here's what ultimately led to Janelle and Kody's split:

COVID Protocols

In February 2021, Kody told ET, "Janelle and I, I think, are in a good place. COVID has put a real strain on our time together, but we've survived times like this in the past. There's no trouble in paradise."

Janelle agreed at the time, also telling ET, "Kody and I have definitely had challenges this year because we've had to spend more time apart than we have ever, probably. So that's definitely something I've had to think about and realize I still like him and want him around, so that was kind of nice. We've been married almost 30 years!"

But that changed as the wives started pointing out some of Kody's hypocrisy when it comes to his COVID protocols. This past season of Sister Wives, he officiated an indoor wedding without quarantining afterward despite forcing his wives to quarantine from him if they traveled anywhere. Kody repeatedly told Janelle he didn't feel supported by her when it came to his COVID restrictions, which she took offense to. 

"Kody's acting like I was a COVID denier. I was not a COVID denier. I followed all the CDC rules. I wore a mask, I washed my hands. I was careful," Janelle said. "I'm vaccinated, for crying out loud. I don't have to stand here and defend myself. I don't have to be beaten into submission."

Kody and his wife, Robyn Brown, were not vaccinated, leading much of the family to point to their rules as being over the top. 

Sister Wives

Kody's Estrangement From Their Kids 

Part of the COVID strain involved Kody's older children, primarily the ones he shares with Janelle and Christine, calling him out for his protocols. He and Janelle's sons, Gabriel and Garrison, had not spoken to Kody in months after blaming their father for not giving them or Janelle enough time and attention. They also pointed the blame at Kody's wife, Robyn, for which he initially demanded an apology. On the show, Gabriel also tearfully recounted Kody calling him on his birthday and proceeding to only discuss COVID and forgetting his son's birthday in October 2021. Gabriel said they haven't spoken since. 

"This is going to have to be one of those things where you guys have to work it out with a counselor or something because I can't be in the middle of it anymore because it's wrecking us," Janelle told Kody of his relationship with their kids. 

In one season 18 episode, Garrison declared to his siblings, "You know what, Robyn? Have him. We're all grown adults that don't need a father figure anymore." 

ET spoke with Janelle and Christine Brown in November 2023 about Kody's estrangement from his kids. At the time, Janelle said that Kody wanted to have a better relationship with them.

"I think that's probably the goal, right?" she told ET. "He will eventually figure out how to have a relationship with his children. I mean, I hope it will over time." 

The RV and Coyote Pass

Janelle was eager to start building her home on the family's joint property, Coyote Pass. But it seemed like she was the only one interested in prioritizing paying off the land and beginning to build. So she decided to take matters into her own hands, purchasing an RV in an effort to live out on the property and oversee the build. She sprang the news on Kody without consulting him first, using her own funds to pay for the vehicle. Kody was clearly upset by the decision, noting that he doesn't want to live in the RV when he has a nice big house with Robyn. And as for the Coyote Pass property, Kody also doesn't seem particularly interested in prioritizing that either. 

"I've been left feeling pretty disrespected. I'm not going to break my back to work for you when you don't respect me. I'm just not. Janelle needs somebody who will break their back to get this project done and that's not me right now," Kody said of building Janelle's home on Coyote Pass. "Men don't feel love from women who don't respect them. I feel like Janelle struggles to respect me or show me respect. That might be an unfair statement. Maybe it's just the way we argue. If you don't respect me, don't bother with the love. It just doesn't work in my world."


Financial Pressures 

With Christine leaving the family, Kody pressured Janelle multiple times to buy his ex's home. She made it clear that she wanted her own house on the Coyote Pass property and even accused Kody of trying to take advantage of her finances. 

"All Kody talked about was how much he was sad that he was losing this house that Christine had. He loved it," Janelle said on the show. "He didn't want to lose it. So it sort of felt like he was using me and my buying power to save this house that he loves."

Changing Dynamics

Janelle and Kody both have commented on his new outlook on marriage in recent years. 

"You always acted like I was a good wife. We were great," she told him. "I was making my own decisions and we would come together and it felt like you were OK with that."

Kody has admitted to struggling in recent years in a way he hasn't before. 

"I don't know why it's been OK for so many years and it's not now, but you actually live like a single woman," he told her. 


Kody's Preference of Robyn

A common through line for tension in Kody's marriages surrounds his apparent preference toward his fourth wife, Robyn. In 2014, Kody legally divorced Meri so that he could marry Robyn in an effort adopt her children from a previous marriage. Christine has cited Kody's relationship with Robyn as a main reason behind their split, noting that Robyn is her ex's "favorite wife." During COVID, Kody spent significantly more time with Robyn and her children, noting that they were willing to follow his protocols but his other wives and children claimed those protocols were put there to give him an excuse to spend more time with Robyn. 

Time and time again, Kody has called out his other wives' treatment of Robyn, saying that they should apologize to her and praising Robyn's loyalty to him. 

"I have somebody in my life who's fundamentally loyal to me, who sees me as the head of the family," Kody told Janelle of Robyn. "I'm saying to you that you and I get that if you're loyal to me." 

"I just can't believe what he's saying," Janelle said on the show at the time. "Here he is blatantly saying what I've suspected. This person is loyal and treats me like the head of the household and if you really want to be a wife to me, this is how you have to be. I'm not going to be this person. I'm not going to become Robyn."

Janelle's Independence

From purchasing the RV to making holiday plans, Janelle has been making her own decisions for a while. Kody has recently argued that these are "single-woman decisions," while Janelle has noted that part of being a plural wife means you have an ingrained sense of independence. 

"I always felt like I had to make my own decisions for me. I thought that's what plural marriage was about, being independent," Janelle said in a recent episode, later adding, "I decided to be my own hero and I rescued myself and I started doing things for myself."

But this doesn't jibe with Kody's declaration that his wives need to "conform to the patriarchy again" in the wake of Christine's exit. Janelle has been vocal from the start that she has no intentions of doing that. 


The two got into a knock-down-drag-out fight in December 2021, which was documented in a 2023 episode of the show. Janelle later told ET that that was the moment she knew things with her and Kody were over. 

"We'd never fought like that before, ever. And when he left, I just said, 'Come get your stuff,' because, I don't know, it was time," Janelle shared. 

Kody's Divorce From Christine

With Christine's 2021 decision to divorce Kody and move away from the rest of the family came further divides between Kody and Janelle. Janelle has long showed her support of Christine and still spends lots of time with her former sister wife and her kids. Janelle comforted Christine during multiple tense family arguments in front of Kody, which he has referred to as a "betrayal." Janelle has also noted that seeing Christine exit the family made her reevaluate her own relationship. 

"I've had to really question myself in this last year," Janelle told Kody. "Do I really want to stay?"

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