|Search for Jeffs at home fruitless|
By Ben Winslow|
Deseret Morning News
A Cedar City home searched by police for any sign of fugitive Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs belongs to one of his most loyal followers.
The home belongs to Jeffs' bodyguard Willie Jessop, said Sam Brower, a private investigator who has been looking into Jeffs on behalf of lawyers suing the FLDS Church and its $110 million financial arm, the United Effort Plan Trust.
"He's church security," Brower said Saturday. He assisted police in searching the home on Friday for any sign of Jeffs.
The home in a newly developed subdivision was surrounded by SWAT teams on Friday as police and FBI agents investigated a neighbor's tip that Jeffs was seen going inside. Jeffs was not found and police officers involved in the search told the Deseret Morning News they did not believe Jeffs was ever there.
A man and a woman inside were handcuffed and questioned but later released by FBI agents.
"They were FLDS but weren't hiding anyone," Brower said. "There's no evidence he (Jeffs) was ever there, other than there were pictures of him in the house."
Many FLDS faithful keep photographs of Jeffs — considered a prophet by his followers — in their homes. The FLDS Church is based in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.
Jeffs, 50, remains one of the FBI's top 10 fugitives. He is facing criminal charges in Utah and Arizona, accusing him of forcing teenage girls into polygamous marriages with older men. Federal prosecutors have charged him with unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. A $100,000 reward is being offered for information leading to his arrest.
The FBI said it will respond immediately to any reported sighting of Jeffs, who is on their Ten Most Wanted list next to the likes of terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
"This is notice for those who follow Mr. Jeffs," said FBI Special Agent Patrick Kiernan. "This is going to happen every time."
Originally published Sunday, July 2, 2006
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