|Authorities Stop Vans In Search For Warren Jeffs|
The Associated Press|
KUTV Channel 2
ST. GEORGE, Utah A tip to police prompted officers to pull over a pair of passenger vans driving near here Friday to look for fugitive Warren Jeffs, the fugitive leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Jeffs, 49, is wanted by Arizona authorities on two counts of sexual assault on a minor and one count of conspiracy to commit sexual conduct on a minor. He is also charged with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, a federal offense.
He has not been seen publicly in more than a year and has been considered a fugitive by authorities since June. A reward of $10,000 for information leading to Jeffs' arrest is being offered by the attorneys general of Utah and Arizona.
On Friday an anonymous tipster told the Iron County Sheriff's Office Jeffs might be at home in Beryl, Utah, about 65 miles north of St. George.
Officers watched the house until a group of people piled into two-full sized vans with dark-tinted windows. The vans headed south on State Route 18 toward St. George. Authorities then pulled over the vans for a traffic violation, although Washington County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Rob Tersigni said neither van driver was cited.
Jeffs was not inside either van, both of which were packed with young men and boys dressed in dark suits. Officers also found a police scanner in one of the vehicles.
Police did not have probable cause to search the home, Iron County Sheriff Mark Gower added.
"A tip (that a fugitive is there) is not probable cause (to go to the home)," Gower said. "There are some FLDS followers out there, but it's not like it's actually organized."
Salt Lake City FBI public information officer Brent Robbins said Friday's tip was erroneous.
"There was nothing to it," Robbins said. "There was a tip, but we don't know who called it in."
Two weeks ago, Jeffs was reportedly spotted at an outdoor recreation store in Lehi, Utah.
Authorities also tracked information about a vehicle seen in Lehi to Strawberry Reservoir, but Jeffs was not there either and those reportedly seen with him denied knowing his whereabouts.
Jeffs is the leader of the FLDS church, which is based in the border towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz. The church practices plural marriage, which members believe is central to their salvation.
Originally published November 12, 2005
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