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Just Who's In Control?
 

Warren Jeffs

"If you can control a man's thinking, you do not have to worry about his actions.  When you determine what a man shall think you do not have to concern yourself about what he will do.  If you make a man feel that he is inferior, you do not have to compel him to accept an inferior status, for he will seek it himself.  If you make a man think that he is justly an outcast, you do not have to order him to the back door.  He will go without being told; and if there is no back door, his very nature will demand one."

    -- George G. Woodson


Things have certainly changed in the FLDS "Kingdom of God" in the past few years!   First, life became more restrictive for the "faithful followers" and common possessions became "contraband".   Then in September 2002, the elderly prophet, Rulon Jeffs, died and much turmoil began.   There was a fierce power struggle for who would control the church, the followers, the communities and the vast amount of money and land.   In November 2002, Rulon's son Warren Jeffs took control of the Utah/Arizona group.   Warren then stripped control of the Canadian "sister-sect" from Winston Blackmore and began ruling both the Utah/Arizona and the British Columbia colonies.

On January 11, 2004, Warren wielded complete control again, by ousting 20 of the most prominent and powerful members of the clan in Colorado City.   Warren claimed that the men were "disobedient" and that they had to leave the enclave and would not be able to take their wives and children with them.   One of the men was the Colorado City Mayor for the past 20 years, and 4 of the men are Warren's own brothers!   Then, long-time Bishop "Uncle" Fred Jessop, who disappeared in December 2003, was reported as "missing" and he later died in a Denver suburb hospital.   DENVER????   Why was "Uncle" Fred taken from his home in Hildale in the middle of the night and whisked off to live (and die) in the Denver area?

In June 2005, Warren Jeffs lost control of the multi-million dollar Church Trust - the UEP - when a court removed him and the other trustees for failing to uphold their fiduciary duties.   And the saga continued when an arrest warrant was issued for Warren Jeffs.   On June 10, 2005 Warren became a WANTED MAN on charges of arranging a marriage between a 28-year-old (already married) man and a 16-year-old girl.   On June 27, 2005 Warren Jeffs became a fugitive wanted by the FBI and $60,000 in reward money was offered for his capture.

On April 6, 2006 Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap charged Warren Jeffs with two counts of rape as an accomplice, a first-degree felony.  Fifth District Court Judge James E. Shumate signed a $500,000 cash-only warrant for Warren's arrest.  He was picked up by a Nevada Highway Patrolman on August 28, 2006 and was sent to Purgatory (the Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane, Utah.)  Warren was still sending out edicts from his jail cell in Purgatory.  He was still calling the shots in the FLDS and told the brethren that there was to be no more church-run schools or home-schooling for the children.   In January 2007 he told his brother, Nephi, that he was "not the prophet and had never been the prophet".

Warren was convicted in Utah on 2 counts of Rape as an Accomplice on September 25, 2007 and was sentenced to 2 consecutive terms of 5 years to life at the Utah State Prison on November 20, 2007.  The conviction was overturned by the Utah Supreme Court on July 27, 2010 because of a technicality involving the jury instructions.  Although Warren Jeffs vehemently fought his extradition to Texas, on November 30, 2010 he was finally extradited from Utah to Texas to stand trial on two sexual assault and bigamy charges.

Although Warren was locked up in a Texas jail, he had almost unlimited access to a pay phone in his cell, which he used to still run the FLDS from jail.  And he started kicking out dozens more men from the FLDS.  Merrill Jessop (Bishop of the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado, Texas) was ousted.  But prior to Merril's being "handled", a Deed of Trust had been signed between the YFZ Land LLC and John C. Wayman.  So, maybe Wayman is now in control of the YFZ ranch.  And Wendell Nielson (who had become the new president of the FLDS Corporation via a filing with the Utah Department of Commerce made on January 9, 2010) was also kicked out by Warren.

Soon it became a back-and-forth battle for control of the FLDS between Warren Jeffs and the former Short Creek Bishop, William T. Jessop, as they fought it out using the Utah Department of Commerce.  However Bruce Wisan is still in charge of the UEP Trust that owns most of the FLDS property, so maybe he is the one running things.  On August 9, 2011 Warren was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in a Texas prison after being found guilty of sexually assaulting two little girls: one was 14 years old and the other child had just turned 12 years old one week before the "wedding".  After Warren's Texas conviction, the two Willies (William T. Jessop and William R. Jessop) started a split-off group of former FLDS members.  Then on November 28, 2012 Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott announced that his office had initiated proceedings to seize ownership of the West Texas Yearning for Zion ranch, alleging that Warren financed the property through money laundering and then used the property to run a polygamist community where children were systematically abused.

So who knows who's running the show?  Read the news articles below about how this sect's upheaval has transpired and see if you can figure out just who's in control of the lives of the FLDS members.  These articles are listed in chronological order.
 
 
Fundamentalist leaders taking more conservative stance
By Mark Schaffer
The Arizona Republic
Originally published August 30, 1998

COLORADO CITY - Wayne LeBaron sat on the couch snuggling with his new bride and he shook his head at the strangeness of it all.   LeBaron, who lives at the foot of a strawberry-colored cliff near this remote polygamist town, knew something was stirring within the ranks of the Old World - the fundamentalist Mormons who control the community.   Then the packages started arriving - sent to LeBaron's ranch for safekeeping from the family of his wife, who was raised in Colorado City.   Some contained cassette tapes of popular music.   Others had jewelry.  Still others held containers of makeup, mascara and eyeliner.   But all had one thing in common, he said: They are considered contraband by the fundamentalist Mormon leadership that LeBaron says has recently been reverting to an even more conservative religious stance.     Read more
 
 
Big house evolving into home
By Lee Benson
Deseret News columnist
Deseret Moring News
Originally published Friday, Nov. 3, 2000

SANDY — A couple of years ago, when polygamist leader Rulon Jeffs and family vacated their 5-acre compound at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon for the Utah-Arizona border, they didn't take everything.  Left behind were five buildings, including the midwife's cottage, about 20 bathrooms, a wine cellar, a trout pond, three massive kitchens, a grocery store-size parking lot and 40 bedrooms, give or take.  A perfect starter house . . . if you've got 30 wives.  Or if you're a service organization called Common Thread.  Common Thread is a nonprofit cause made up of, by and for people who live in the world of organ-donor transplants.  Anyone who needs a heart, a kidney, a lung or other living organ to get a new start on life, and all family and friends associated with that need, fall under the watchful eye of Common Thread.  Their main goal is to provide people who are on donor waiting lists a place to stay.  Preferably, a place big enough that family and friends can also stay.  Also preferably, a place in a nice setting that's conducive to physical comfort amid all the physical discomfort.     Read more
 
 
Polygamist Leader Rulon T. Jeffs Dies
The Associated Press
Originally published September 9, 2002

Salt Lake City -- Rulon T. Jeffs, the leader of what may be the nation's largest polygamist sect, has died, a church spokesman said.   Jeffs died Sunday of natural causes at Dixie Medical Center in St. George, said R. Scott Berry, attorney for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Berry said Jeffs was 92 or 93.   Jeffs' church has thousands of members, mostly in the twin border communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  Estimates of the membership have ranged as high as 12,000, but Berry said it probably was 6,000 to 8,000.   Jeffs, an accountant, was rumored to have had 19 to 75 wives and dozens of children, KSL Radio said.  Berry said no information on that would be disclosed.   His son Warren Jeffs was the No. 2 man in the church, but KSL TV said there may be a struggle for the leadership of the church.  Berry said no decision has been made about the succession.     Read more
 
 
Cross-border power struggle hits B.C. colony of polygamists
Son of sect's ailing leader strips Canadian of authority, reassigns his youngest wives
By Robert Matas
The Globe and Mail
Originally published September 9, 2002

VANCOUVER -- A power struggle over the leadership of a polygamist religious group is tearing apart the controversial colony of Bountiful in British Columbia and may force the Canadian leader to leave with more than a dozen of his wives.   Winston Blackmore, 46, has served for almost 20 years as deputy to the Prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Bountiful, an isolated farming community of about 1,000 people 750 kilometres east of Vancouver.   Rulon Jeffs of Colorado City, Ariz., had been the breakaway group's Prophet.   Mr. Jeffs is 94 or 95 years old, and in failing health.  Mr. Blackmore had expected to be recognized as Prophet when Mr. Jeffs dies.   But this summer, in a pre-emptive move, Warren Jeffs, one of Rulon Jeffs's 60 children, assumed the title, in effect undermining Mr. Blackmore's claim to the top position in the religion.     Read more
 
 
Rulon Timpson Jeffs' obituary
President Rulon T. Jeffs
Published in Deseret News on September 10, 2002

HILDALE, UTAH – On September 8, 2002, Rulon Timpson Jeffs, President of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died of illness incident to age at the Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George, Utah.  President Jeffs was born December 6, 1909 in Salt Lake City, Utah, a son of David William Ward and Nettie Lenora Timpson Jeffs.  He was a graduate of the LDS Business College and was an accountant by trade.  He retired from his accounting practice in 1984, and moved to Hildale, Utah in September of 1998 in order to better serve the members of the faith of which he was leader.  The members of the Fundamentalist Church revered President Jeffs as their spiritual leader and prophet.  He first became affiliated with the Fundamentalist Church in the late 1930s, when the religious association was known as the Priesthood Work.  He became a leader of the Priesthood Work in the 1940s, when he was appointed a member of its priesthood council.  In 1942, he was instrumental in the formation of the United Effort Plan, which is the longest running United Order effort in modern history.  President Jeffs served on the priesthood council continuously until November of 1986, when he assumed the leadership of the Church following the death of his predecessor, Leroy S. Johnson.  President Jeffs shunned the publicity that often surrounded him.  His followers knew him as a kind, thoughtful, and prayerful man.  They will miss his humble wisdom and gentle guidance.  President Jeffs is survived by a large and loving family, all of whom will miss his fatherly love and devotion.  President Jeffs' funeral is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, September 12, 2002 at the L.S. Johnson Meetinghouse in Colorado City, Arizona.  Friends may call Wednesday, September 11, 2002 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. and again Thursday from 10:30 a.m. until time for services at the Meetinghouse.  Interment will be at the Isaac Carling Memorial Park in Colorado City.  Arrangements are made under the direction of Spilsbury & Beard Mortuary, St. George, UT, (435) 673-2454.
 
 
Rulon Jeffs
Telegraph.co.uk
Originally published September 10, 2002

Rulon Jeffs, who died on Sunday aged 92, was leader of what is thought to be America's largest polygamous sect; he himself is said to have had anything between 19 and 75 wives.   The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), of which Jeffs was the head, is a breakaway branch of the Mormons, who abandoned polygamy in 1890.   The Fundamentalists, however, would not comply and, in 1929, they founded their own sect; as a result they were excommunicated by the Mormon church.   Jeffs, regarded by his 6,000-strong flock as a prophet, succeeded Leroy Johnson as leader in 1986, and immediately insisted that his rule was absolute.  Some members wanted power invested in a council of seven priests, but Jeffs won this battle and promptly sent eviction notices to dissidents living on land owned by "his" church.   When the FLDS was formally incorporated in 1991, Jeffs was president and sole trustee, and he expected the church's members to submit to his authority: "I want to tell you," he once preached, "that the greatest freedom you can enjoy is in obedience."     Read more
 
 
Polygamists in three-way struggle for control of sect
Death of a 'prophet'
By Fabian Dawson
The Province
Originally published September 10, 2002

Rulon T. Jeffs, the self-styled prophet of thousands of polygamists in B.C. and the U.S., has died, triggering a three-way power struggle for control of hundreds of millions of dollars in church assets.   Jeffs, 93, died Sunday in Utah.   His Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has between 10,000 and 20,000 members, mostly in Utah and Arizona, and about 1,000 in the East Kootenay community of Lister.   Jeffs, who had 75 wives and scores of children, was also the head of the church's financial arm, the United Effort Plan.   It reportedly controls more than $200 million US in assets.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs' funeral draws 5,080
FLDS prophet laid to rest in service Thursday
By Angie Parkinson
The Spectrum
Originally published September 13, 2002

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. -- The streets and yards in the border communities of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, were deserted Thursday afternoon.  Residents left their homes and businesses to mourn Rulon Jeffs, the deceased president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   Jeffs, who was eulogized Thursday at the Leroy S. Johnson Meeting House, became president of the church in 1986 and is regarded not just as a president but as a prophet by followers of the FLDS faith.   The church has been a source of controversy over the years because of its polygamist beliefs and allegations of men marrying underage girls.  Jeffs was believed to have 17 to 75 wives.     Read more
 
 
More than 5,000 mourn FLDS leader
By Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published September 14, 2002

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. — As president and spiritual leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Rulon T. Jeffs often admonished his followers to "keep sweet, no matter what."   On Thursday some 5,080 mourners, several from as far away as Canada, were reminded of that advice during funeral services for Mr. Jeffs, a former accountant, who died Sunday at the age of 92.   "Just keep sweet no matter what.  If you keep sweet, you love one another.   Never let a cross thing pass your lips," Mr. Jeffs said on March 18, 2002, according to the funeral program.  On July 12, 2002, Mr. Jeffs is recorded as saying to his flock, "We must be positive, no excuses.  Love the Lord God.  Smile and keep sweet."     Read more
 
 
Years May Pass Before Fundamentalist LDS Name Successor to Jeffs
By Michael Janofsky
The New York Times
Originally published September 15, 2002

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. -- In their Sunday best, men in black, women in pastels, they came by the thousands on Thursday to honor their leader, a man they considered a prophet.   Outstanding he was, by some measure. President Rulon T. Jeffs, of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who died Sept. 8 after a long illness, was 93.  He is survived by 19 or 20 wives -- no one could say for sure -- about 60 children and hundreds of grandchildren.   At least 33 sons were pallbearers, including two of his namesakes, Rulon F. and Rulon H.   As the eighth prophet of the church, in a line that began with the Mormon pioneer, Joseph Smith, Jeffs led the largest religious group in North America that still practices plural marriage and is ostracized by the mainstream LDS Church for the same reason.  The larger church, based in Salt Lake City, banned polygamy in the 1890s as a condition for Utah gaining statehood.  The fundamentalists consider mainstream Mormons the renegades, for abandoning the original Mormon teachings to solve a political problem.   On Thursday, more than 5,000 fundamentalists packed the Leroy S. Johnson Meeting House for a two-hour service, then slowly walked along a dusty road to the cemetery where Jeffs was buried.     Read more
 
 
US polygamist sect facing the end as leader dies
By Chris Ayres
The London Times
Originally published September 17, 2002

Los Angeles -- American's largest polygamist sect faces an uncertain future following the death of its leader, a child rape case and economic hardship.   Rulon T Jeffs (93), president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, died last week leaving 19 or 20 widows, about 60 children and hundreds of grandchildren.  Five thousand followers attended his funeral and at least 33 of his sons were pallbearers.   The church, which has an estimated 10,000 members, will have to endure a lengthy succession battle.  The two main candidates are Fred Jessop (92), a bishop in the church, and one of Mr Jeffs's sons, Warren (45).  But the complex process of deciding on a new prophet, understood by few, could take months, even years.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs new head of fundamentalist church
The Associated Press
Originally published November 28, 2002

Colorado City, Ariz. -- Warren Jeffs will succeed his late father, Rulon Jeffs, as president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, according to people connected with the polygamous sect.   "Warren will continue his father's work," said Dan Barlow, the mayor of Colorado City, where many of the church members live.   Rulon Jeffs died Sept. 8 after serving as the sect's president since 1986.  His death prompted speculation about a succession fight in the secretive church between the younger Jeffs and 95-year-old Bishop Fred Jessop.     Read more
 
 
Bound by Fear: Polygamy in Arizona
For decades the state has let a feudal colony of fundamentalist Mormons force underage girls into illegal polygamous marriages
By John Dougherty
Phoenix New Times
Originally published March 13, 2003

Sixteen-year-old Ruth Stubbs wanted to marry the boy down the street.   So she revealed her desire to a religious leader, a man held in the highest esteem in her rural, isolated community straddling the Arizona-Utah border.   On a December morning four years ago, Ruth sought the advice of the Prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 88-year-old Rulon Jeffs.   Ruth asked the stroke-ridden Jeffs for permission to marry Carl Cooke, a young man she had been seeing secretly for several months.   Jeffs pondered the question for a moment and then delivered a startling pronouncement.   "Well," Jeffs said, gesturing toward Rodney Holm, a police officer who had escorted Ruth to the meeting, "I feel she belongs to you."   Ruth was stunned, but not surprised. She barely knew Holm, but what she did know was disturbing.     Read more
 
 
Religious sect's Prophet wields absolute control
By Al Herron
Prescott Daily Courier
Originally published Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Polygamy is alive and flourishing within the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).   This sect in Colorado City, AZ, and Hildale, Utah, is not affiliated with the mainstream Mormon church.   In the latest column we reviewed their history; today we look at life, marriage, and making babies.   The FLDS members call their leader the Prophet, and he controls the members' lives by allocating wives.  The more wives and children a man has, the greater his stature in the community, and in heaven, so this is a big deal.   The Prophet assigns a wife to a man without regard for her wishes.  He also can remove wives and children from a man who disobeys the Prophet, and reassign them to someone else.   (Spiritual control – you can't get to heaven without the Prophet's help.)   Members believe that the Prophet has direct communication with God, and they treat him like God.  He controls all levels of local government, plus the public school system, and most of the land in town – just like a medieval fiefdom.  He tells members how to vote, and controls property through an FLDS collective called the United Effort Plan.     Read more
 
 
Utah Targets Polyg Prophet
While Arizona authorities languish, the Utah Attorney General's Office focuses on the leader of the fundamentalist Mormon Church
By John Dougherty
Phoenix New Times
Originally published August 21, 2003

"We are under attack," declared fundamentalist Mormon Prophet Warren Jeffs from his pulpit in Colorado City during an August 10 sermon.   "We need the Lord's protection," he warned members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS).   Utah authorities are investigating Jeffs for allegedly having sex with underage girls he "married" in polygamous ceremonies, as well as with performing such marriages for members of his community.   Jeffs used his 70-minute sermon to announce a series of drastic measures.   The most startling were the suspension of church services for the first time in 50 years and the suspension of all future polygamous marriages.  The last time the FLDS canceled religious services was under a court order in the wake of the infamous 1953 police raid on the remote town that straddles the Utah border north of the Grand Canyon.   Jeffs told the congregation that services were canceled until further notice because he had received a "revelation" from the Lord.     Read more
 
 
Where polygamy rules
On a B.C. commune called Bountiful, a Mormon sect keeps the world at bay
By Douglas Todd
Vancouver Sun
Originally published August 26, 2003

CRESTON - As I drove up to the Bountiful commune, three blond boys, about age 11, spotted me.  They stopped -- stunned, panic on their faces.   The day was hot.  The air tasted of smoke from a brush fire south of the B.C.-Idaho border. Despite the heat, the boys were wearing long jeans and dark long-sleeve shirts, because the polygamists who run this Mormon fundamentalist community forbid the exposing of bare arms and legs.   The boys began scrambling up a trail to get away.  They glanced furtively over their shoulders as they ran through the grass.  They finally got to the top of a hill and slid under a rickety fence that surrounds Bountiful's controversial, taxpayer-funded school.   An hour earlier, after trying repeatedly to reach the commune's leaders by phone, I had finally contacted the principal of Bountiful's school.  Merrill Palmer told me his Canadian branch of the polygamist sect had recently developed a strict policy of refusing to speak to media.   It was on the orders of the Arizona-based leader of the sect, which has more than 10,000 adherents in the U.S. and Canada.   "Things are very volatile right now," the principal said.     Read more
 
 
Cruel America-Hating Cult of 6,000, Controls Town in Arizona
The National Enquirer
Originally published September 3, 2003

A cult-run town where the incestuous rape of underage girls is not uncommon flourishes in the Southwest desert-and your tax dollars are helping to pay for it!   The American hating cult of more than 6,000 people completely controls the town of Colorado City, which straddles the Utah-Arizona broader 30 miles north of the Grand Canyon.  And "Prophet" Warren Jeffs completely controls the cult.   "The people in Colorado City are worse than the Taliban," said Bob Curan of Help the Child Brides, A Saint George, Utah, organization dedicated to wiping out the abuses in Colorado City.  "Having forced sex with your own daughter is not that unusual in Colorado City.  This is an absolute nightmare situation and Americans need to know this culture is of violence is funded by their tax dollars."     Read more
 
 
Colorado City polishes its image
By Mark Shaffer
The Arizona Republic
Originally published September 28, 2003

COLORADO CITY - Ever since the infamous 1953 Short Creek raid, town leaders have tried to improve the image of the remote community.   Ben Bistline, a resident and historian of Colorado City and the neighboring community of Hildale, says that for the past 50 years, leaders have tried to portray the area as a pleasant throwback to a simpler time.   Ten years after the raid, Short Creek was renamed as the towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah.   Mayor Dan Barlow and his brother, school Superintendent Alvin Barlow, have become town ambassadors.   The high school's choir has performed at the Arizona Capitol. Students compete successfully at the state spelling bee.   Town leaders also have exerted their bloc vote political power to curry favor in Mohave County, Ariz., and Kane County, Utah.     Read more
 
 
Mayor, others ousted from FLDS church
Prophet kicks out about 20 men for disobedience
By Jane Zhang
The Spectrum
Originally published Sunday, January 11, 2004

In a shocking twist to the power struggle between the prophet and Colorado City's power family, about 20 men -- including the city's mayor of about 20 years -- were ousted Saturday from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, stirring speculations as to an uncertain future at the polygamous alcove on the Utah-Arizona border.   Dan Barlow, who was also a longtime spokesman for the increasingly secretive church, was ripped of his priesthood, his wives and children and the right to live in town, according to a source who attended the 7 a.m. meeting along with about 1,500 people at the Leroy S. Johnson Meeting House.   The prophet Warren Jeffs, who surprised the audience by attending the meeting in person, also ordered Dan; his son Roland Barlow; his brothers Joe, Louis and Nephi Barlow; Louis' son Thomas Barlow; and Jeffs' four brothers: David, Brian, Hyrum and Blain Jeffs; and about 10 others to stand up in the congregation so others could identify them.   "That hit them really, really, really hard," said the source, who, for fear of retaliation, insisted his name not be used for this article.     Read more
 
 
Mayor of Polygamist Community Resigns
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally published January 11, 2004

The mayor of the region's best-known polygamist community has been forced out... by the religious leader who controls his town.   According to some observers, it's the latest development in an intense power struggle within the secretive border community of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona.   The new twist was first reported in a copyrighted story in The Spectrum newspaper.   Fundamentalist prophet Warren Jeffs reportedly ousted 20 adult men from his church.   Among them was long-time Colorado City mayor Dan Barlow.   He was reportedly stripped of his priesthood... his wives and children... and his right to live in a church-owned house.     Read more
 
 
The Mysterious Letter
Originally written January 11, 2004

I am a young man. I am simple and do not know the proper way to address you. But I have been commanded of God to stand upon the wall as Samuel and to tell you of a dream I had.  For this reason I have chosen to send you letters describing this dream. I do this in humility and trust in God.   I beheld this valley before it became Short Creek - before it became Colorado City.  I saw a stream that had cut its way into this sandy valley and I saw children playing on the banks of this sandy creek.  And while they were children, I recognized them as the town fathers I have come to trust and love.  I beheld the children of John Y. Barlow. And a voice that filled my soul and my heart spoke to me in the dream and it said, "Behold, these children are pure in blood and hold the birthright to this sacred valley.  They were chosen by God to carve out of the very wilderness you see a community where the people can raise themselves up unto God's glorious work."   And, I beheld this happen.  I watched as our beloved prophet, Leroy S. Johnson, clung to John Y Barlow's words.     Read more
 
 
Colorado City mayor quits after FLDS action
Polygamist church strips him, others of their priesthood
By Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Monday, January 12, 2004

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. — Little more than 24 hours after he was stripped of his priesthood as a member of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Colorado City Mayor Dan Barlow turned in his resignation to the City Council.   Barlow, 71, attended a Saturday morning church meeting where he and more than a dozen other men were notified by FLDS leader Warren Jeffs that they were no longer considered members in good standing.   Barlow could not be reached by phone on Sunday.  Several other sources declined to be interviewed on the record for this story, but all said they were surprised and saddened by Jeffs' decision.   "I can confirm that adjustments were made within the church," said FLDS attorney Rod Parker, who said he spoke with FLDS leaders on Sunday.  "As far as I know, the people who were involved have accepted what has happened.   Any claims about a struggle for control within the church are untrue.  There isn't any reason for concern."     Read more
 
 
Mayor resigns in Colorado City
After ouster of about 20 men from polygamous church, city power changes
By Jane Zhang
The Spectrum
Originally published Tuesday, January 13, 2004

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. -- Entrenched in the starlit canyons, motel-like houses stood silently along unpaved roads.   Dim light penetrated through curtained windows, but the town was largely shrouded in darkness.  No noises.  No pedestrians.  No moving vehicles.   And, no mayor.   Dan Barlow, the town's first and only mayor in its 19-year history, turned in his single-sentence resignation letter Monday morning, which, around 7:40 p.m., was read dryly by a councilman to enter the official Town Council record.   "This is to inform, as of Jan. 10, 2004, I (Dan Barlow) resign from the city and city council," read Terrill Johnson, who, like the majority of the six-member council, has occupied the office since the town's incorporation in 1985.   No one stirred -- not one person among the 15 men and one women sitting in the town office's downstairs council chamber.     Read more
 
 
Colorado City called 'tense'
Today's News-Herald - Lake Havasu
Originally published January 13, 2004

A Mohave County Supervisor said the recent expulsion of at least a dozen Colorado City elders, including the town's mayor, from the Arizona Strip town could make for a volatile situation.   "It appears the church is imploding by itself," said Supervisor Buster Johnson.  "I don't know what the final outcome will be.  But it is very tense up there right now.   The sheriff's departments on both sides of the border are monitoring the situation."   Supervisor Pete Byers said he was concerned about the constitutional separation of church and state in Colorado City.   "We need to keep our eye on it because it looks like a big explosion," said Byers.  "That's a very serious thing."   On Monday, Paul Murphy, a spokesman for the Utah attorney general, said at least 12 men living in the polygamous towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., had been ordered to leave the community without their wives and children.  Colorado City mayor Dan Barlow was one of the men ordered to leave during a meeting that took place Saturday morning.   A spokesperson at the Colorado City Town Hall confirmed Monday that Barlow, 71, resigned as mayor.   Murphy said several community members informed his office of Saturday's purge, but acknowledged that "we're not sure exactly what's happened."     Read more
 
 
Men Ordered to Leave Polygamist Community Without Families
The Associated Press
KUTV Channel 2
Originally published January 13, 2004

A mayor of the one of the twin polygamist communities straddling the Utah-Arizona border has resigned in an apparent power struggle with church hierarchy.   Dan Barlow, the first and only mayor in the 19-year history of Colorado City, Ariz., turned in a single-sentence resignation letter Monday.   Kevin Barlow, the town clerk, said a new mayor will be selected by the council.  Until then, he told The Spectrum of St. George, the town is in the hands of "Vice Mayor" Edson Jessop, who's also a councilman.   At an early Saturday meeting at the Leroy S. Johnson Meeting House, he and about 20 men were ousted from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Spectrum reported.   Reading from what he said was a revelation from God, the prophet, Warren Jeffs, stripped the men -- including six Barlows and four Jeffs -- of their priesthood, their wives and children and their right to live in town, an unidentified source told the newspaper.     Read more
 
 
Letter: Barlow has right to lead
By Jane Zhang
The Spectrum
Originally published Wednesday, January 14, 2004

ST. GEORGE -- An anonymous letter believed to be from the excommunicated Barlows appeared in the Colorado City area on Tuesday, saying the eldest Barlow brother has "received the mantle of the prophet."   "Behold, these children are pure in blood and hold the birthright to this sacred valley," reads a copy of the letter obtained by The Spectrum.  Louis Barlow, it says, has been commanded to "forsake his birthright no more, that his time remaining quiet has passed."   Louis Barlow, along with his brothers Joe, Dan and Nephi, was one of about 20 men ousted Saturday from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   Reading from what he said was a revelation from God, Warren Jeffs, the prophet since Sept. 2002, stripped the men of their priesthood, their wives and children and their right to live in town, according to a source who attended the meeting at the Leroy S. Johnson Meeting House.   While the evictions were widely seen as a power struggle between Colorado City's most powerful family and the prophet, the Barlow brothers have remained out of the public eye.     Read more
 
 
It's time to stop crimes in secretive towns
IN OUR VIEW
The Spectrum
Originally published Wednesday, January 14, 2004

The apparent shake-up in leadership in Colorado City should provide authorities with yet another opportunity to make inroads into their investigations of potential crimes in the polygamist colony along the Arizona-Utah border.   Regardless of what leaders in the secretive towns of Colorado City and Hildale might say, there appears to be a struggle for power in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  The church, which still holds polygamy among its basic tenets of faith, last weekend expelled longtime Colorado City Mayor Dan Barlow and about 20 other men because of their "sins."   Barlow, besides serving as mayor, also was the official voice of the church, serving as its spokesman to the outside world.   The men were told that they would have to give up their wives and children, but they would be allowed to regain them and resume a relationship with the church if they repented.   In the aftermath, Barlow resigned.  Warren Jeffs, the man serving as the prophet for the FLDS church, has remained silent, possibly because authorities in Utah and Arizona are seeking him for questioning in connection with the spiritual "marriages" of underage girls.     Read more
 
 
Council in no rush for new mayor
May be weeks before Colorado City takes action
By Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Wednesday, January 14, 2004

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. — It could take weeks before a new mayor is appointed to lead this town of more than 7,000 polygamists on the Utah-Arizona border.   A brief, one-sentence letter of resignation from former Colorado City Mayor Dan Barlow was read into the town record Monday night.   "Well, we're without our mayor tonight," said Councilman Terrill Johnson to the three other members sitting at the table, who all nodded their heads.  "I guess we'll have to elect a new mayor."   No one on the council or anyone in the audience commented on the letter or the reason for Barlow's absence.     Read more
 
 
Anonymous letter decries FLDS leader
By Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Thursday, January 15, 2004

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. — The writer of an anonymous letter, sent to 460 households in the twin cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, says he was told in a dream by God that a false prophet is leading the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   The single-spaced, typed letter, folded in thirds and addressed by hand to selected post office boxes, was mailed Tuesday.   The Deseret Morning News obtained one of the letters from a Colorado City resident Wednesday afternoon.   The person who sent the letter has a Colorado City postal permit number and paid 16.2 cents per letter, or $74.52, in postage, said the local postmaster.   Kevin Crawford, who has been postmaster for 17 years at the Hildale/Colorado City post office, would not reveal the name of the person who holds the postal permit or who paid for the postage, saying he did not think he could legally release the information.  A few of the taped-closed letters were seen tossed in the trash, but the majority of them were apparently taken home with the rest of the mail.  One woman, who didn't want her name used, said she tore up her copy of the letter and thinks the author just wants to stir up trouble.     Read more
 
 
POWER STRUGGLE: Trouble brewing in towns
Polygamist community uneasy after church leader ousts mayor, others
By Brian Haynes, Dave Berns and Dave Hawkins
Las Vegas Review Journal
Originally published Thursday, January 15, 2004

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. -- Some residents fear trouble is brewing in this community that is home to one of the largest groups of avowed polygamists in the country.   For years, the religious community of about 6,000 has fought accusations of child abuse and molestation because of its practice of marrying girls as young as 12 years old.   Now the community and the church intertwined with it face a possible internal power struggle after the church's leader excommunicated some of the town's most influential members.   "I think there's big trouble coming," said Pamela Black, a former church member who lives on the outskirts of nearby Hildale, Utah.   At the center of the conflict is Warren Jeffs, known as the Prophet by his followers in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a Mormon sect that believes the only way into the upper reaches of heaven is to have at least three wives.   The 47-year-old Jeffs on Saturday excommunicated about 20 men who held influential positions in Colorado City's government and history.  One of the men was Mayor Dan Barlow, whose father founded the community in the early 20th century.   Barlow resigned the post he had held for 19 years and joined the other men in exile, leaving their homes and families behind.     Read more
 
 
States brace for trouble as infighting embroils polygamist haven
By Mark Thiessen
The Associated Press
Originally published Sunday January 18, 2004

HILDALE, Utah (AP) Bishop Fred Jessop is missing.   The Barlow boys are in hiding.   And Warren Jeffs, the town prophet, is dispatching rivals left and right while holed up in his fort-like compound, protected by a cadre of armed guards nicknamed "The God Squad" by Utah's attorney general.   While it may sound like the plot to an old Western, these are the actual and leading characters in a drama playing out in the twin border communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., the epicenter of the polygamist movement in America.   The stakes are high if it turns out this is a power struggle for control of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the polygamist breakaway sect of the larger Mormon church.   The man who leads the church also controls its million-dollar plus bank account.   Some fear blood could be spilled by the split between prophet Warren Jeffs and the Barlows, the sons of the towns' founder.     Read more
 
 
States brace for trouble in polygamist communities
The Arizona Daily Sun
Originally published January 19, 2004

HILDALE, Utah (AP) -- A beloved church elder is missing, a former mayor is in hiding with three of his brothers and the town prophet is being protected by a "God Squad" while dispatching his rivals.   It might make a good movie plot if it wasn't already being played out in the twin border communities of Hildale and Colorado City, Ariz., the epicenter of the polygamist movement in America.   The stakes are high if it turns out this is a power struggle for control of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a polygamist-practicing breakaway faction of the larger Mormon church.   The man who leads the church also controls its million-dollar plus bank account.   Some fear blood could be spilled by the split between prophet Warren Jeffs and the Barlows, the sons of the towns' founder.   Utah's attorney general fears Jeffs is turning into a maniacal ruler over the estimated 10,000 members.     Read more
 
 
Polygamist power struggle intensifies investigation
The Associated Press
The Post and Courier - Charleston, South Carolina
Originally published January 24, 2004

COLORADO CITY, ARIZ.--A power struggle has emerged in a small, tight-lipped community known for polygamy, with a number of men getting kicked out of the church-owned town and their wives and children being "reassigned" against their will to other men.   Now authorities in Arizona and Utah are stepping up their years-long investigation into the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, with the family "reassignments" sparking concerns of forced marriage of underage girls.   In a rare show of defiance in the typically secretive community, one man who was ordered to leave is refusing to do so and is sharing information with authorities about church leader Warren Jeffs.   Ross Chatwin, 35, held a news conference Friday at his home in Colorado City.  He said he is one of tens of men recently excommunicated from the church, capping a nine-month power struggle with Jeffs.   In an apparent move to solidify his control, Jeffs on Jan. 14 ordered 20 men to leave the area but without their wives, children and personal property.  Jeffs said a vision from God told him to force the men out.  He later purged more men from the community, including Chatwin.   Chatwin said Jeffs "has to be stopped."     Read more
 
 
Man ousted from polygamy sect snubs order
By Mark Thiessen
The Associated Press
Originally published January 25, 2004

COLORADO CITY - A man who openly challenged an order from the fundamentalist church leader to leave this border town has paved the way for other dissidents to come forward, an anti-polygamy advocate says.   There are "five or six" people who have been ousted by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who now want to follow Ross Chatwin in telling their stories, Jay Beswick said Saturday.   "They want to bring it down," said Beswick, of the group Help the Child Brides.   Discord within the church has grown since early January after Warren Jeffs, church president and self-proclaimed prophet, excommunicated about 20 men, many considered to be his rivals.   The untold number of excommunications have continued with other men like Chatwin being ordered to leave town.   Jeffs, 47, assumed leadership of the church 16 months ago at the death of his father, Rulon.  Many at the time thought one of two church elders, Louis Barlow or Fred Jessop, would have been named president.   Both have now been excommunicated, and Jessop's family has not seen him in a month.     Read more
 
 
Scathing Split
Feud in Polygamist Town Has Authorities Worried About Violence
Good Morning America
ABCNEWS.com
Original broadcast January 27, 2004

COLORADO CITY, Ariz., A former member of the nation's largest polygamist church is calling for the ouster of its cult-like leader, as authorities worry a violent standoff may be brewing.   Ross Chatwin, who says he was told to leave the polygamist sect, held a news conference Friday to discuss his feud with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  The secretive sect of Mormon outcasts is based in Colorado City, a town that straddles the Utah-Arizona line.  Members believe in plural marriages, a practice that the original Mormon church outlawed in 1890.   Chatwin, who compared Warren Jeffs, the sect leader, to Adolf Hilter in a news conference last week, says he believes Jeffs fears he is losing control over his flock.   "Ultimately, I feel like he thought I was a threat to his power, regardless of what any kind of excuse he uses," Chatwin, 35, said.     Read more
 
 
Leader of Polygamous Sect Faces Rebellion
By Nick Madigan
The New York Times
Originally published January 27, 2004

Colorado City, Ariz. -- A power struggle between members of a fundamentalist Mormon sect has exposed deep fissures in the largest polygamous community in North America, a town in which most men have several wives and sometimes dozens of children.   A handful of congregants normally subservient to the dictates of Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet and leader of the sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have begun to rebel against his rule.  The rebellion was put in motion this month when Mr. Jeffs expelled more than 20 men from the church, stripping them of their wives and children and forcing them from their houses, over which the church claims ownership through a land trust controlled by Mr. Jeffs.   Invariably, in such purges, an excommunicated man's wives and children are put under the control of another man, who may then marry whomever he chooses, including female children, church members say.     Read more
 
 
Ex-Colorado City mayor on ballot
He resigned after his ouster from FLDS church
By Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Tuesday, January 27, 2004

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. — Dan Barlow, Colorado City's one and only mayor for nearly 19 years before he suddenly resigned from office two weeks ago, is on the ballot for re-election.   Barlow, along with 19 other men, was stripped of his priesthood, wives and children during a Jan. 10 church meeting conducted by Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   Within hours of being expelled from the FLDS Church, Barlow submitted his resignation to the City Council and moved out of town.   Colorado City town clerk Kevin Barlow said Dan Barlow, Kevin's uncle, must submit a letter of withdrawal if he wants to get his name removed from the ballot.   "If he submits a letter of withdrawal before the ballots are printed, then his name will be removed," Kevin Barlow said Monday.   If a "letter comes after the ballots are printed, then I suppose it could cause a little confusion.  But I don't think so."     Read more
 
 
The Eyes of Outsiders Are Cast on a Polygamous Community
After the group's leader expels 21 members, authorities fearing violence step up patrols
By David Kelly
The Los Angeles Times
Originally published January 27, 2004

Colorado City, Ariz. -- Nestled beneath red rock cliffs and soaring mountains, this remote desert community is a land of secrets, a fiercely closed society where outsiders are shunned and the local faith calls for multiple wives and total obedience to the will of the "prophet."   Along the dusty streets, drivers grind to a halt to gawk at strangers.  Women dressed in long skirts and smocks buttoned to their chins and children scatter when approached.   The residents don't like the outside world knowing their business, but a peculiar turn of events has made that impossible now.  Two weeks ago, the local religious leader, the prophet Warren Jeffs, claimed God had ordered him to expel the mayor and 20 others.  He then gave their wives and children to other men.   Jeffs canceled all church services, sacraments and new marriages and retreated behind the 8-foot-walls surrounding his compound.   Those expelled have left the polygamous community, which straddles Arizona and Utah.  But law enforcement officials fear they may return, looking for vengeance.  Sheriff's deputies traditionally let the local police handle crime in the area.   Now, they are patrolling the community.   "We don't like to come out here, and we are not wanted here," said Sheriff's Deputy Laura Stokes of Washington County, Utah.  "But we're here in case things get out of control."     Read more
 
 
Border towns in search of new leadership
By Jane Zhang
The Spectrum
Originally published Wednesday, January 28, 2004

ST. GEORGE -- The man in a light blue shirt stood upright next to a half-open door, looking guardedly at two unexpected visitors.   Behind him in the living room, a bowl of green apples sat on a brown, wooden coffee table. Above a couch hung three portraits, including one of Rulon Jeffs, a former prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   No, Joseph Barlow Sr. said, his brother Dan Barlow wasn't in.  And he was sure the former mayor of Colorado City for 19 years didn't want to talk to the media.  "But how are you?" a reporter asked Hildale's councilman of 41 years until two weeks ago.  "No comment," he said.   The St. George house covered with white siding has become home for two of Colorado City / Hildale's most prominent politicians since Jan. 10, when they were ousted from the FLDS church by the prophet, Warren Jeffs.   Along with two of their brothers and 17 other men, Dan and Joseph Barlow were stripped of their priesthood, their wives and children and their right to live in the polygamist enclave on the Utah-Arizona border.     Read more
 
 
In Arizona town, polygamous Mormon sect tightens its borders
By David Kelly
The Los Angeles Times
Originally published February 1, 2004

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. -- Beneath red rock cliffs and soaring mountains, this remote desert community is a land of secrets, a closed society where outsiders are shunned and where the faith calls for multiple wives and total obedience to the will of the "prophet."   Along the dusty streets, drivers grind to a halt to gawk at strangers.  Women, in long skirts and smocks buttoned to their chins, and children, scatter when approached.   The residents don't like the outside world knowing their business, but a peculiar turn of events has made that impossible now.  Last month, the "prophet," Warren Jeffs, said God had ordered him to expel the mayor and 20 others.  He then gave their wives and children to other men.   Jeffs canceled all church services, sacraments, and new marriages, and retreated behind the walls surrounding his compound.     Read more
 
 
Tempest looms for polygamous community
In a place forgotten by time, a plural-marriage sect is facing the wrath of ousted members, allegations of child abuse and welfare fraud, and the legal sword of Utah's attorney general
By Eric Gorski
Denver Post
Originally published February 8, 2004

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. - The prophet's grave lies in a private cemetery on the edge of town.   The man interred below a mound of dirt and an ordinary gray tombstone is a former tax accountant named Rulon Jeffs, or "Uncle Rulon" to 8,000 people who regarded him as God's messenger.   He was survived by an estimated 20 to 75 wives.   Uncle Rulon was supposed to live forever.  But his death in September 2002 at age 92 did nothing to shake the faith of the nation's largest polygamist community, clustered here below red sandstone cliffs on a remote, barren stretch of land called the Arizona Strip.   The passing of Jeffs was a turning point for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a 69-year-old sect that believes polygamy is the key to the highest reaches of heaven.   Under the hard-line leadership of the new prophet, Rulon Jeffs' 48-year-old son, Warren, the church has become locked in a convoluted power struggle and is facing unprecedented scrutiny from the government.   The outside world appears to have caught up with the sect at the same time it is disintegrating from within.     Read more
 
 
More FLDS members ousted by Warren Jeffs
Border towns set on edge by latest move
By Jane Zhang
The Spectrum
Originally published Tuesday, February 10, 2004

ST. GEORGE -- In a fashion that surprised his critics and followers alike, Warren Jeffs, self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, continued to expel members from the polygamist enclave on the Utah-Arizona border.   In the past two weeks, at least five men -- including Dale White, William Knudson, Marce Jessop, Garth Jessop and Jerry Jessop Jr. -- were told to leave the church and their homes, often without all of their family members, The Spectrum learned from interviews with half a dozen sources.   The house cleaning, coming after Jeffs publicly purged 21 prominent men -- including Colorado City's mayor of 19 years, Dan Barlow -- from the FLDS church on Jan.10, was done by individual house visits by Jeffs' delegates to avoid another media circus, said the sources, who insist their names not be used for fear of retaliation.   The excommunication, though subtle, has set the tight-knit community on edge.  Most of the 10,000 residents in Hildale and Colorado City belong to the FLDS church, and families frequently intermarry.     Read more
 
 
'We fear another Waco'
With the authorities in hot pursuit, a Mormon 'Prophet', Warren Jeffs, has gone to ground with his 70 wives - and enough ammo for Armageddon.
Andrew Gumbel reports from a community in fear
news.independent.co.uk
Originally published February 19, 2004

Opinions differ about the precise moment when Warren Jeffs, self-appointed prophet of the last sizeable community of polygamous Mormons in the United States, started to go a little nuts.  Some say it stems back to his adolescence when, as a gawky social misfit teased by his schoolmates, he was briefly thrown out of his father's house in Salt Lake City for an offence against his younger brothers alleged to be so grave it is mentioned by the faithful only in a low whisper.   Others say he developed a fanatical obsession with power and obedience when, in his twenties, he became headmaster of a religious school and routinely delivered savage beatings with a belt or yardstick to children who fell foul of his authority.   Others still say the real trouble started in 1998, when his father and predecessor as prophet, Rulon Jeffs, was incapacitated by a stroke and set Warren up as one of two candidates he deemed equally worthy of his succession.  Warren, described by his critics as almost pathologically jealous, rapidly positioned himself as de facto regent and, after his father's death in 2002, proceeded to strip his rival, Winston Blackmore, of all authority.   What is clear, however, is that Jeffs is now behaving like a dictator losing his grip, prompting fears that the community under his dominion, the remote twin towns of Hildale and Colorado City, on the Utah-Arizona border, is on the verge of imploding.  Fanatical, demented, unstable - such are the words used to describe him by critics both inside and outside the community.   Residents and law enforcement officials in both states are openly talking about the terrifying possibility of another Waco or Jonestown; in other words, a confrontation leading to mass bloodshed among the faithful.     Read more
 
 
Council will choose Colorado City mayor
The Associated Press
Originally published Thursday, March 11, 2004

The newly elected members of the Colorado City City Council will choose a new mayor to replace the man ousted from the Arizona border town by fundamental church leaders.   All three candidates vying for three City Council seats in Tuesday's primary election received more than 93 percent of the vote, avoiding a general election.   The council will choose a replacement for Dan Barlow, the town's only mayor in its 19-year incorporated history.   Barlow and about 20 other men were excommunicated by Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints leader Warren Jeffs in January in an apparent attempt to solidify his control.   They were told to leave town without their wives, children or belongings.   Edson Jessop, who has been a council member since the town was incorporated in 1985, was re-elected Tuesday.   Also elected to the council were Richard Allred, a private school teacher, and Donald Richter, a member of the town library board.
 
 
Excommunicated member of prominent polygamist family dies
The Associated Press
Originally published May 25, 2004

St. George, Utah -- Louis Barlow, a central figure in the recent purported power struggles in the polygamist-church-run communities of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, has died at the St. George home where he has lived since being excommunicated four months ago.   Barlow, 80 or 81, died Sunday night.  The cause was not disclosed and a manager at St. George's Spilsbury Mortuary, which will conduct the funeral services, said the family requested that no information, including the location of the services, be released.   Before the excommunications of Barlow and 20 other men, he reportedly had seven or eight wives, more than 60 children and at least 400 grandchildren.   "He was kind of the patriarch of the family," said town historian and former church member Benjamin Bistline.   Since the excommunications, at least six of Barlow's wives reportedly have been reassigned to other men by Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   Barlow, the oldest son of the twin communities' founder, John Y. Barlow, had been thought by many to be in line to head the church when its former leader, Rulon Jeffs, died in 2002.   Instead, Rulon Jeff's son, Warren Jeffs, took the reins and on Jan. 10 excommunicated the 21 men, among them Louis Barlow's brothers Joe, Dan and Nephi and his son Thomas.   The men quietly moved to St. George, giving no signs of pursuing the rumored power struggle between their clan and Jeffs.
 
 
Louis Barlow dies in St. George home
Older brother of former Colorado City mayor Dan Barlow was excommunicated from FLDS church along with 20 others
By Jane Zhang
The Spectrum
Originally published May 26, 2004

ST. GEORGE -- Louis Barlow, the eldest brother in Colorado City's power family, died Sunday night in St. George, where he had lived since the polygamist church founded by his father excommunicated him four months ago.   The cause was not disclosed to the public on Monday.  A manager at St. George's Spilsbury Mortuary, which will conduct Barlow's funeral services, said the family requested that no information, including the location of the services, be released Monday.   Several people having ties to the Barlow clan, which has about 4,000 members in the border towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, said in recent years Barlow had suffered a heart attack.  Barlow, in his early 80s, reportedly had seven wives, more than 60 children and at least 400 grandchildren.   "He was kind of the patriarch of the family," said Benjamin Bistline, a polygamy historian who lived most of his life in Colorado City.  "His brothers are going to miss him."   Barlow, three of his brothers -- Joe, Dan and Nephi -- and his son, Thomas, were among 21 men excommunicated on Jan. 10 by Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the largest polygamist enclave in North America.   A letter prophesying Barlow would be the new prophet soon emerged.  But the men quietly moved away to St. George, giving no signs of pursuing the power struggle between Jeffs and the clan descended from Colorado City's founder, John Y. Barlow.   Since then, at least six of Barlow's wives have been "reassigned" to other men.     Read more
 
 
Louis Jessop Barlow
Obituaries
The Spectrum
Originally published Wednesday, May 26, 2004

HILDALE -- Loving husband, father, and grandfather, Louis Jessop Barlow, age 79, passed away Monday, May 24, 2004 in Washington, Utah.  He was born August 9, 1924 in Salt Lake City, Utah, a son of John Y. and Martha Jessop Barlow.  He married Lucy Johnson September 24, 1942 in Cedar City, Utah.   Louis was born, reared, and educated in Salt Lake City.  After graduation, he worked at Woolsey's Ranch near Cedar City, later moving to Short Creek.   Shortly after his move, he joined the U.S. Navy, from which he received an honorable discharge.  In 1949, he received a teaching certificate from the Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona.  He then returned to Short Creek where he taught school, teaching all classes, one through eight, later advancing to the position of Principal.     Read more
 
 
More polygamists ousted by FLDS Church
The Associated Press
The Arizona Republic
Originally published July 28, 2004

SALT LAKE CITY - More members of the Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are apparently being banished from the southern Utah church, a resident claims.   FLDS leader Warren Jeffs allegedly ordered out at least eight church members living in Hildale and neighboring Colorado City, Ariz., this month, ordering them to repent from afar, Richard Holm told The Salt Lake Tribune.   Jeffs last year ousted Holm, a former Colorado City councilman.   Jeffs similarly banished 21 other men in January, and told them to leave town without their wives and children.  Truman Barlow was among those told to leave in the last few weeks, said Holm and Rodney Parker, a Salt Lake City attorney who represents the church.   Barlow is the son of the late polygamous prophet John Y. Barlow and brother to other church members ousted in January, including longtime Colorado City Mayor Dan Barlow.     Read more
 
 
Troubles dogging polygamy prophet
Joseph A. Reaves
The Arizona Republic
Originally published August 1, 2004

HILDALE, Utah -The surveillance cameras around his walled compound are gone. But everywhere the prophet looks these days, he sees trouble.   From southern Canada to northern Arizona and western Texas, authorities and activists are intensifying their investigations into the inner workings of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its self-proclaimed prophet, Warren Jeffs.   In the past few days:
  • Jeffs was accused in a lawsuit of sodomizing his then-5-year-old nephew and covering up serial child molestations by fellow church leaders for decades. In a statement Friday, he denied the allegation.

  • Texas authorities cited FLDS officials for 29 environmental violations at a compound the church is building on a remote ranch in the western part of the state.

  • The attorney general of British Columbia organized a task force to look into allegations of sexual exploitation, child abuse and forced marriages at an FLDS community near the Canadian-U.S. border.

  • Dozens of young men and boys who were chased out of the FLDS so older men could have a better pick of young brides have taken the unprecedented step of going public with their stories and appealing for help.

  • Rumors have circulated that one of Jeffs' dozens of wives may have run away into protective custody.
Read more
 
 
Former FLDS figure is missing
By Patty Henetz
The Associated Press
Originally published Saturday, August 14, 2004

HURRICANE — Relatives of a once promising leader for a polygamous community filed a missing-person report Friday, saying the FLDS church elder hasn't been seen since December and could be dead. Authorities said they would act on the report.   Fred Jessop, a former bishop of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, vanished after being excommunicated by the new leader of the faith, which believes polygamy assures a path to heaven and eternal life.   Jessop, who is 94 or 95, was last seen around town Dec. 20, say several relatives. One of his nephews, Joseph Charles Jessop Jr., told sheriff's deputies on Friday that he fears his uncle is either dead or is being held captive by Warren Jeffs, who took control of the church after the 2002 death of his father, former prophet Rulon Jeffs.   Many at the time thought Jessop, known as "Uncle Fred," or another church elder, Louis Barlow, would ascend to church president, but both instead were excommunicated.   Fred Jessop, a widely admired and benevolent church figure who was one of the town's original residents, held considerable sway before his ouster amid a leadership struggle.   Joseph Jessop Jr. said that he has read a letter purported to have been written by his uncle since he was last seen, but he is uncertain about its authenticity.  The letter appeared to be written with two different pens and had a dubious signature.   Washington County Sheriff's Deputy Jess Frazier said he would file a missing-person report immediately with the National Crime Information Center.     Read more
 
 
Authorities eye Social Security payments in Fred Jessop case
The Eldorado Success
Originally published September 16, 2004

Sheriff David Doran told the Success this week that he remains skeptical that the man he had a phone conversation with recently is "Uncle Fred" Jessop, the missing 94-year-old patriarch of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   Authorities in the Beehive State also have their doubts that the man who refuses to meet with Doran, or any other law enforcement official, is Fred Jessop.   So, officials in Utah and Texas have decided to try a fresh approach in the case, by looking into Social Security payments, made to Fred Jessop, as well as any Medicare claims, or other government documents that may have been filed on his behalf.   "We know someone has been cashing the Social Security checks," Doran says.   "Who that may be, is another matter."   Doran said that the elder Jessop could clear everything up by meeting with him or with Washington County, Utah Sheriff Kirk Smith.   "If he's alive and well then there's nothing to worry about," Doran said.  "If not, then we have lots of questions."
 
 
Searching for Polygamist Leader Warren Jeffs
John Hollenhorst reporting
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast December 2, 2004

Sam Brower, Private Investigator: "His acts now prove to me that he's a coward, that he doesn't have the courage to come out and defend himself."   Where is Warren Jeffs?   A private investigator tracking the leader of the nation's largest polygamy cult, says he seems to have gone underground.   A civil lawsuit accuses Warren Jeffs of child rape and sodomy, as well as racketeering.   But as far as outsiders are concerned, the religious leader seems to have vanished from the center of his expanding empire.   The secretive Utah-based polygamy group made national headlines a few months ago.   That's when critics discovered a new compound under construction in Texas.  Something big is going on there right now.   But Warren Jeffs' group also secretly bought a large tract of forest land near Mancos, Colorado.  Private Eye Sam Brower has been trying to find Warren Jeffs for months.  Sometimes he sneaks around in the woods.   Other times he's up front and in the open, driving to polygamist properties     Read more
 
 
How many doomsday predictions does one prophet get?
By Randy Mankin
The Eldorado Success
Originally published February 3, 2005

Winston Blackmore, known by many in the FLDS church as the Bishop of Bountiful, British Columbia, at least until he was excommunicated in 2002 by Prophet Warren Jeffs, posed some interesting thoughts this week.  In a newsletter he publishes on the Internet, Blackmore pointed out a number of predictions Jeffs has made, all of which have failed to come true.   Writing directly to Jeffs, Blackmore says, "I was so impressed when you told us that your father would live 320 years into the future that I could have bet it would happen.  I was so impressed when you told us that when the DOW hit 9000 that it would be the ultimate end of the economy that I traded off my investments and gave you the money.  When you predicted the end of the world in 98, I bought a generator.  When you changed the date twice in 99 I bought another generator.  When you changed the date to 2000, I traded again on a new, bigger one.  When you called for last minute donations, I sold my generators and donated my thousands."   But wait, it gets better.  Blackmore continues, "I knew that the Olympics would never happen because you said it wouldn't.  I traveled hundreds of miles around Salt Lake City, stayed away from California, sold my trucking company, and gave the money because I believed."   "Why did Uncle Rulon not live 320 years into the future?  Why is the economy prospering while the DOW is beyond 10,000?  Why did the Olympics happen?  Why did you ruin the Barlows?  Why the sacking of the UEP?"   But Blackmore did more than take Jeffs to task for his erroneous predictions, he challenged the prophet's decision to claim his dead father's wives as his own and chastised him for his treatment of the FLDS faithful.     Read more
 
 
Lawyer Petitions for Control of Financial Empire
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast February 17, 2005

(KSL News) -- A legal knot is tightening around the nation's most powerful polygamist leader.  In an unprecedented move late Thursday a lawyer petitioned a judge to take charge of the financial empire controlled by Warren Jeffs.   Jeffs is the secretive leader of the polygamy group based in Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona.  Most of the community's homes, property and financial assets are held in a trust that Jeffs controls.  It's reportedly worth tens of millions of dollars.   Seven young men who were kicked out are suing Jeffs for racketeering and sexual abuse.  Their lawyers have tentative backing from Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.  They want the court to appoint new managers for the financial assets.   Roger Hoole, Attorney for Plaintiffs: "And so initially we want to make sure the trust is under good management and the trust is not being used as a tool to kick young men out of their homes."   Jeffs has apparently moved his headquarters to a remote area of Texas where followers are building a large temple.
 
 
Polygamy Leader Apparently Sitting Out of Court Fight
John Hollenhorst Reporting
KSL-News Channel 5
Originally broadcast February 28, 2005

A court showdown is looming in Salt Lake City over the financial empire of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, and he's apparently decided to sit it out without a fight.  Meanwhile, Arizona authorities are moving toward a take-over of his community's school system.   A court deadline came and went Monday afternoon, and Warren Jeffs apparently did not file a response in a civil suit.  That paves the way for Jeffs' rivals to take over a financial trust said to be worth tens of millions of dollars.   That trust controls most of the land, houses and financial assets in Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona.   Critics say Jeffs uses the trust as leverage to control members of his polygamist church.   It's also the apparent source of funds in Texas, where Jeffs' followers are building the first polygamist temple.   Lawyers for ousted former members have asked a judge to appoint new trustees to take over the trust.  Jeffs seems to be ignoring the court process.  Critics say he told his followers God will defend his church and that the world will end on April 6th.   Meanwhile, Arizona officials are trying to get control of the public school that Jeffs allegedly controls on the Utah-Arizona border.  They say the Colorado City school is so badly mismanaged it's overspent by 1.2 million dollars in the last 20 months.  The Arizona legislature is considering several bills that empower the state to take over and put the school in the hands of a temporary manager.
 
 
Death of "Uncle" Fred Jessop confirmed
The Eldorado Success
myeldorado.net
Originally published March 16, 2005

1:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 16, 2005 -- Sheriff David Doran confirmed Wednesday, March 16, that Fred Jessop, known by members of the FLDS Church as "Uncle Fred," passed away at 2:10 p.m. Tuesday, March 15, 2005 at Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, CO.   The 94-year-old patriarch of the FLDS church was once seen as the heir apparent to former prophet Rulon Jeffs but was reportedly out-maneuvered by Jeffs' son, Warren Jeffs when the elder prophet died in September of 2002.   Shortly thereafter, Jessop was removed from his position of leadership in the church.  He has been considered missing by authorities for several months.   Word of Jessop's death reached Eldorado Wednesday with some sources saying he died at the YFZ Ranch.  Sheriff Doran told the Success that his sources indicate that while Jessop had indeed passed away, the death did not occur here in Texas.   Jessop's body is reportedly being transported to Spilsbury Funeral Home in Hurricane, UT.   Funeral services are slated for Sunday, March 20, 2005, in Colorado City, AZ.   The Success will publish more details as they become available.
 
 
Polygamist insider dies at 94
By Joseph A. Reaves
The Arizona Republic
Originally published March 17, 2005

Fred Jessop, a longtime member of the inner circle of the nation's largest polygamous sect, has died in Colorado, 15 months after he mysteriously disappeared from his home in a remote community along the Arizona-Utah state line.   Gary Engels, an investigator with the Mohave County Attorney's Office who has been closely monitoring the sect, confirmed Wednesday that Jessop died Tuesday afternoon in the Denver suburb of Lone Tree.   Jessop, 94, was "second councilor" of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a reclusive sect of some 7,000 to 10,000 believers based in the twin, isolated communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.   The FLDS broke away from the mainstream Mormon religion in 1890 when the church renounced polygamy.  FLDS leaders moved their main base to Colorado City-Hildale in the mid 1930s.   Jessop died in the Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, but officials there refused to disclose the cause of death.  He would have turned 95 on April 20.   The body was being transported to a funeral home in Hurricane, Utah, a small community 25 miles northwest of Colorado City where members of the sect often shop and where those who have been excommunicated from the FLDS often seek refuge.  A funeral was planned Sunday in Colorado City.   In the past year, Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the sect, has excommunicated scores of followers, including several top aides.  Jeffs himself hasn't been seen at his block-square Hildale compound since late last year and is believed to be living on a 1,691-acre ranch in West Texas where he is building a temple and several massive dormitory-style buildings.   Just before the purge of sect members began in December 2003, Jessop, who was known as "Uncle Fred," disappeared.     Read more
 
 
'Missing' FLDS leader reported dead
Sheriff says he has been told Fred Jessop died Tuesday in Colorado
By Rachel Olsen
The Spectrum
Originally published March 17, 2005

ST. GEORGE - Longtime bishop for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, "Uncle" Fred Jessop, reportedly died Tuesday in a Colorado medical center.   Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran heard of Jessop's death from his contacts in the Schleicher County, Texas, FLDS community.  He understood Jessop died around 2:10 p.m. and there are expectations that the funeral will occur Sunday in Colorado City, Doran said.   On Wednesday, Doran was waiting for confirmation of Jessop's death from the south Denver medical center where Jessop apparently died.   Jessop's body is reportedly being sent to Washington County, where Jessop was last seen sometime around December 2003.   Concerned family members filed a missing person report on Jessop in August with the Washington County Sheriff's Office.   The FLDS church, which largely controls the twin cities of Hildale and Colorado City, is led by Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the church, and constitutes the largest polygamist group in North America.     Read more
 
 
Once Reported 'Missing,' Polygamous Leader Now Dead
The Associated Press
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast March 17, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Fred Jessop, a longtime bishop for a polygamous community on the Arizona border who was stripped of his powers in a reported leadership struggle, has died of congestive heart failure.   He was 94.   The circumstances of Jessop's final years remained in dispute on Thursday -- mysteries that could go to his grave.  Even his death on Tuesday was shrouded in secrecy because of a federal privacy law.   Jessop was known as "Uncle Fred" to many who adored him in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which occupies the twin towns of Hildale and Colorado City astride the Utah-Arizona border.   Jessop was exiled 15 months ago because he threatened the authority of Warren Jeffs, who had taken over as presiding bishop of the church, said Flora Jessop, a distant relative who renounced the church and is an anti-polygamy activist living in Phoenix.  She suspects Fred Jessop had been held against his will in an undisclosed location since January 2004.   "It does a disservice to him to say that he had been kicked out of the church.  He was not.   He simply wasn't the bishop any more," church attorney Rod Parker retorted Thursday.   The position of bishop is subservient to presiding bishop and "responsible for the well being of the people in the community and for distribution of property pursuant to the United Effort Plan," the lawyer said.   Parker disputed that Jessop ever was missing -- he couldn't say where he'd been -- or had been banished or ever was considered a threat to Warren Jeff's authority.   Parker even disputed reports that Jessop had about 100 children from multiple wives, saying Jessop was biologically incapable of fathering children and "adopted" children instead.  Parker didn't dispute reports that Jessop had 30 or more wives.     Read more
 
 
Fredrick Jessop
Obituaries
The Spectrum
Originally published March 18, 2005

HILDALE - Fredrick Meade Jessop, 94, passed away March 15, 2005 at a medical center in a suburb south of Denver, Colorado, of causes incident to old age.  He was born April 20, 1910 in Millville, Utah to Martha Yeates and Joseph Smith Jessop.  He married Lydia Johnson August 4, 1935.   Fred spent his youth very close to his father on the family farm in Millville.  In 1935 he moved to Southern Utah.  He was the acting bishop of the FLDS Church for many years and has been very instrumental in the community development and in the founding of many businesses.  Through his administration farms were developed, a zoo was established and several parks were developed.   He is very much loved and respected by all of his acquaintances.   Funeral services will be held Sunday, March 20, 2005 at 2:00 p.m. at the LSJ Meetinghouse.  Visitation will be Saturday evening from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. prior to services.  Both visitations will be at the LSJ Meetinghouse.  Interment will be in the Isaac Carling Memorial Park.   Arrangements are made under the direction Spilsbury Mortuary, 110 S. Bluff St., St. George, Utah, (435) 673-2454.   Friends and family are invited to offer their condolences at www.spilsburymortuary.com.  Click on the dove.  Obituaries are also available at our Web site.  Click on the rose.
 
 
MCSO ready for potential problems at Jessop funeral
By Chris DeVore
Kingman Daily Miner
Originally published March 20, 2005

KINGMAN – Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan said he would send extra deputies to Colorado City after a former bishop of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints died last week.   Sheahan said he was in Colorado City late last week when the news of 94-year-old Fred Jessop's death broke and was able to see events unfold in real time.   "Jessop was known as 'Uncle Fred' to many who adored him in the FLDS, which occupies the twin towns of Hildale and Colorado City astride the Utah-Arizona border," an Associated Press report stated.  The AP also reported Jessop was exiled 15 months ago because he threatened the authority of Warren Jeffs, the presiding bishop of the church.   Sheahan said he and Sheriff Kirk Smith of Washington County, Utah, which sits just across the state line from Mohave County, worked on contingency plans to prepare for potential problems that could arise during funeral related events this weekend.   Sheahan said Friday his understanding was that visitation would be on Saturday and the funeral would be today.   He said the Sheriff's Office is prepared to send between four and 12 deputies to Colorado City just in case something happens, and will send more if necessary.   "We don't really anticipate any problems," Sheahan said.  "But you never know because the situation could become volatile at any time."     Read more
 
 
Faithful mourn Jessop
3,000 people honor FLDS bishop at burial procession in Colorado City
By Rachel Olsen
The Spectrum
Originally published March 21, 2005

COLORADO CITY — A mass of pastels dotted the gray as more than 3,000 people thronged the street Sunday in a procession to bury Fred Jessop, longtime bishop and loved leader in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   Jessop, 94, died Tuesday at approximately 2:10 p.m. in a medical facility south of Denver.  The whereabouts of Jessop were reportedly unknown for the past 15 months, although FLDS faithful apparently maintained Jessop was on a mission for the church.   The FLDS church, which largely controls the twin cities of Hildale and Colorado City, is led by Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the church, and constitutes the largest polygamist group in North America.   Jessop's funeral lasted for more than three hours inside the LSJ Meetinghouse in Colorado City before the graveside services occurred.   There a song with the refrain "perfect priesthood man" could be heard rising from the burial site of Jessop, even though the entire ceremony was closed to outsiders.  Comments on Jessop being a great man and a great example of the priesthood could be heard in the eulogy.     Read more
 
 
Funeral for former polygamist leader draws 3,000 mourners
The Associated Press
The Arizona Republic
Originally published March 21, 2005

ST. GEORGE, Utah - Funeral services for Fred Jessop, a former leader of the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, drew more than 3,000 mourners, some from as far away at British Columbia.   Jessop, 94, died Tuesday at a medical facility near Denver.   The services were held Sunday at Colorado City, Ariz., which with its twin city Hildale, Utah, the border, are dominated by the FLDS church.  The church also has an enclave at Bountiful, British Columbia, and is believed to have at least 6,000 members, making it one of the largest polygamist sects in the region.   Jessop's whereabouts had been a mystery to some of his relatives for the last 15 months ago.   Jessop had been a member of the church's First Presidency when Rulon Jeffs was president, and had thought to be one of two candidates to succeed to the presidency when Jeffs died in 2002.  The other man - Jeffs' son Warren Jeffs, who also had been a member of the First Presidency, became president.   Some believed Warren Jeffs exiled Jessop as part of efforts to consolidate power, which included ousting 21 men from the church and the community last year.   The relatives reported Jessop missing, but church attorney Rod Parker denied he been kicked out of the church and denied Jessop was missing.  He said Jessop did not want his whereabouts known.     Read more
 
 
Polygamous leader died of heart and kidney failure, coroner says
The Associated Press
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Originally published March 22, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY - Fred Jessop, a longtime bishop for a polygamous community on the Arizona border, died of heart and kidney failure, a coroner's report says.   Jessop, 94, was buried Sunday at Colorado City, Ariz., which along with the twin border city of Hildale, Utah, is controlled by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   "This was a natural death," deputy Douglas County, Colo., coroner Robert M. Montgomery said in a report obtained by The Associated Press.   A certified copy of the report said Jessop died March 15 of aortic stenosis, a narrowing of a crucial heart valve, congestive heart failure and a deterioration of the kidneys known as renal failure.   He was admitted six days earlier to Sky Ridge Medical Center in Lone Tree, Colo., complaining of shortness of breath.   "The subject had a documented history of congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, diabetes mellitus, degenerative joint disease and chronic renal insufficiency," Montgomery wrote in his March 17 report.   "An autopsy was not performed."     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs and the FLDS
By Wade Goodwyn, Howard Berkes and Amy Walters
National Public Radio
Originally published May 3, 2005

Upon the death of his father, 49-year-old Warren Jeffs took over as prophet of the FLDS, or Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in September of 2002.  Jeff's father, Rulon T. Jeffs, had been the group's prophet for the previous 15 years.  He died at the age of 92, leaving an estimated 75 widows and 65 children to mourn him.   The nearly two-decade tenure of father and son has split the polygamist community on the Utah-Arizona border.  After taking power in 1986, Rulon Jeffs slowly abolished the seven-member Priesthood Council that had previously governed the sect.  Rulon Jeffs eventually claimed a "One Man Rule" and as a result, part of the group split away and founded their own polygamist settlement nearby.  According to former followers, the prophet is considered to be God's mouthpiece on earth.  It is believed that God speaks directly to Warren Jeffs to reveal His will.  And through the prophet, God directs which male members are worthy of entry into heaven (females are invited into heaven by satisfied husbands).  Jeffs is also the only person who can perform marriages, and it is through him that wives are assigned to their husbands.  Pleasing the prophet can result in loyal members being rewarded with one or more wives.  Wives are considered to "belong" to their husbands for eternity.     Read more
 
 
Utah A.G. Asks to Freeze FLDS Assets
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast May 27, 2005

The Utah Attorney General's office was is court today -- seeking to freeze the assets of the trust fund of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   John Daley was there.  He joins us now live from the newsroom.   Keith -- it was an unusual day in court this morning ... with lawyers there from the AG's office ... and lawyers representing some members of the FLDS church ... but no one at the defense table representing leaders of the FLDS ... because this is an emergency action.   Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is asking leaders of this trust ... including FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs -- be replaced by an independent third party.   The AGs office says there's evidence trustees are not acting in the best interests of church members.   The trust, which controls FLDS church property and assets, has been estimated to be worth as much as 100 million dollars.   The judge did not rule this morning ... he is taking the issue under advisement.   We're not sure what the leaders of the FLDS church or Warren Jeffs make of this matter ... as they were not represented in the court.   We'll have more on this story tonight at 5 and 6.
 
 
Court seizes $100 mil in polygamist sect's funds
Jeffs accused of using trust to silence critics
By Robert Anglen
The Arizona Republic
Originally published May 28, 2005

Land, housing and assets belonging to the nation's largest polygamous community and estimated to be worth more than $100 million were temporarily frozen Friday by a Utah court.   The ruling effectively wrests financial power of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from self-proclaimed prophet Warren Jeffs, who for years has controlled the school district, municipal government and most of the property in the isolated towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah.   Judge Robert Adkins temporarily froze a trust fund for the church and suspended Jeffs and five other trustees, saying he found sufficient evidence that they committed a breach of faith by selling property to church insiders for less than market value.   The FLDS is a breakaway sect of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The trust, called the United Effort Plan, encompasses almost all the sect's assets and was supposed to be shared among 6,000 members, which, unlike the mainstream Mormon religion, practices polygamy.   But authorities in Utah and Arizona say that Jeffs has been using his control of the trust to silence critics.  He has excommunicated dozens of the sect's highest-ranking officials, ordering them out of their trust-owned homes, kicking them out of the community and reassigning their multiple wives to other men.   Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard and Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff praised the court's decision Friday.  "This ruling is a major step toward reducing the arbitrary power of Warren Jeffs and protecting the trust from his manipulation, liquidation and misuse," Goddard said Friday.     Read more
 
 
Temporary Restraining Order Issued
e-Press
Tri-State News Network
Originally published May 30, 2005

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. – Another step towards Colorado City's recovery from one man's domination.   According to Andrea Esquer of the Arizona Attorney Generals office, a temporary restraining order was issued Friday suspending trustees and freezing the assets of the polygamist sect in Colorado City, Ariz. and Hildale, Utah.   Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who has been working closely with Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard on the case, filed the order added Esquer.   Goddard stated that the decision was not directly connected to the Colorado City document seizure earlier this week.   However, Goddard stated that both of these actions put Warren Jeffs and other leaders under the public eye.   A hearing will be held on June 6th to review the case.
 
 
FLDS Buildings Disappear in Arizona and Utah
By Ben Winslow
KSL NewsRadio 1160
Originally broadcast June 2, 2005

KINGMAN, Ariz. (KSL/AP) -- The special investigator assigned to Colorado City by Mohave County said two buildings disappeared over the weekend.  One was in Colorado City and the other in neighboring Hildale, Utah.   Investigator Gary Engels said the buildings were dismantled and hauled away after a Utah judge last Friday ordered a freezing of a polygamous sect's trust that controls most of the property and assets in the border communities.  Engels suspects the dismantling flies in the face of the court order.   He said some of the activity is captured on videotape and he has relayed the information to the Arizona and Utah attorneys general.   Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says he is trying to protect the FLDS members.   "The judge has ruled that there is some evidence that their interests are not be protected by Warren Jeffs and the other current trustees.  We are not taking their money, we are not taking over their church, we are not trying to control anything other to make sure that their property is protected."   Shurtleff says an independent auditor is finding some possible fraud in the books and says they've managed to serve papers to a high-ranking FLDS church leader.   Rodney Parker of Salt Lake City, attorney for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, said Wednesday night that he had not heard of the buildings being destroyed and could not comment.
 
 
Polygamists accused of dismantling buildings
By 3TV and azfamily.com staff
Fox 11 - Tucson
Originally broadcast June 2, 2005

Followers of prophet Warren Jeffs are allegedly taking apartment buildings in Colorado City, Ariz., the home of several thousand polygamists.   Photos were taken this weekend as buildings were allegedly being dismantled.   In an unprecedented move last week, a Utah court temporarily removed Jeffs' ability to control a multimillion-dollar trust.   Investigators in the area think this is a violation of the court order.   Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard has been working with Utah authorities to take control of the trust away from Jeffs.  Today, a Goddard spokeswoman told 3TV they're "very concerned" about this apparent theft of trust property.   The issue is expected to be brought up at a hearing in Salt Lake City on Monday.
 
 
Judge Extends Orders Freezing Trust of Polygamous Sect
By Jennifer Dobner
The Associated Press
Originally broadcast June 6, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A judge on Monday extended for 10 days an order temporarily removing leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as managers of a church trust.   The United Effort Plan Trust was placed in the temporary control of a Salt Lake City certified public accountant May 27, after the Utah Attorney General's office said the trustees, including reclusive FLDS President Warren Jeffs, had started to liquidate assets and could leave some members of the trust without any means of support.   That same day, several buildings believed to be owned by the trust were dismantled and disappeared from the twin border towns of Hildale and Colorado City, Ariz.   Jeffs and other trustees -- Truman Barlow, Winston Blackmore, LeRoy Jeffs, William E. Jessop (aka William Timpson), and James Zitting -- have until June 22 to appear in court to object to the request they be permanently removed as trustees.   The trust was formed in the 1940s with assets from church members pooled together to be shared.  Virtually all the property in Hildale and Colorado City, where the church is based and where an estimated 10,000 members live, has been part of the trust.   No one knows for sure how much money is in the trust, but Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and others have estimated it contains at least $100 million.   Utah Assistant Attorney General Tim Bodily said in court Monday that efforts to serve notice of the court order on the trustees has been difficult and only indirectly successful.   No one knows the actual whereabouts of the men, Bodily said.  So notice has been served on them by mail, and in person through relatives, employers or other members of the church in Utah, Arizona, Texas and Canada.     Read more
 
 
Utah judge extends freeze on UEP assets
Arizona signs on to case as property disappears from C-City/Hildale
The Eldorado Success
myeldorado.net
Originally published June 9, 2005

Even before law enforcement officers and private investigators could serve papers on trustees of the United Effort Plan trust (UEP), notifying them that the trust's assets had been frozen by a Utah court, faithful followers of FLDS Prophet Warren Jeffs gathered last weekend at two UEP sites to dismantle buildings and remove equipment.   Private investigator Sam Brower was on hand to watch as a large steel building, once occupied by Cozy Log Homes, was dismantled and loaded onto trucks.  A video photographer named Mark Folkerson was also present to witness and document the activity.   Their reports, along with photos, made it into the hands of Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, whose office stepped up efforts this week to track down the relocated property.  The AG office is reportedly seeking information into the disappearance of the property and encouraging anyone with information to contact them.   Meanwhile, the push to wrest control of the UEP away from Warren Jeffs and his lieutenants continued on several fronts, including here in Schleicher County where two sets of court summons were served on YFZ Ranch officials, but not on Warren Jeffs himself or any of the other UEP trustees.     Read more
 
 
Polygamist Leader Charged With Child Sex Abuse
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast June 12, 2005

(ABC 4 News)-- The self-proclaimed prophet of the polygamous FLDS church is now a wanted man. Warren Jeffs has been indicted on two felony counts of child sex abuse.   The indictment was handed down by a federal grand jury in Mohave County, Arizona, which charges Jeffs with arranging a marriage between a 28-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl.   However, arresting the church leader may prove to be a formidable challenge because of his elusive nature.  Jeffs used to live in the southern Utah town of Hilldale, but he left several months ago.  Now, his compound is occupied only by caretakers.   Officials believe he may currently be living on a ranch in Eldorado, Texas.   Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff recently tried to serve him with a summons to appear in civil court, but came up empty.   But this is now a criminal matter, meaning it will be more difficult for Jeffs to hide.   Authorities will have the authority to physically enter property during the search effort.  And anyone who tries to stand in their way could be arrested.  And this factor may spark a confrontation that some of Jeffs' followers have been predicting.     Read more
 
 
Law Enforcers May Make Agressive Attempt to Arrest Warren Jeffs
By John Hollenhorst
KSl-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast June 13, 2005

The wherabouts of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs are still unknown, three days after his felony indictment for arranging a marriage with an underage bride.   Now, some of Jeffs' critics are starting to worry that authorities will put the case on the back-burner to avoid a confrontation.   John Hollenhorst joins us with details.   That worry is shared by many.   Even Jeff's harshest critics said today they hope law enforcment agencies can find a non-confrontational way to get him in custody.   Many believe Jeffs is, or was, at this huge compund in Texas.   A neighbor told the local newspaper he saw a convoy of vehicles leaving the property on Friday, right after the felony charges were announced.   A man who flew over the compound today told us ... it seemed unusually quiet.  There was almost no construction activity and women and children had nearly disappeared from sight.   The Jeffs group does not have a known history of violence.   But there are concerns that aggressive attempts to arrest Jeffs could lead to a standoff or showdown.   Long-time Jeffs critic, Buster Johnson, a county supervisor in Northern Arizona, told us that worry shouldn't deter authorities from enforcing the law.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs' Rise to Power Threw Group Into Public Eye
John Hollenhorst Reporting
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast June 14, 2005

The leader of the nation's largest polygamy group is still on-the-run or in hiding, following his indictment last week for arranging an illegal marriage.  Until the last several years, hardly anyone outside the group had heard of Warren Jeffs.  Now Jeffs' turbulent rise to power has swung the spotlight in his direction.   It's been fifty years since this much attention has focused on the polygamist community Jeffs dominates.  Ever since a police raid in 1953, Colorado City and Hildale have been pretty much left alone.  But in a few short years, the tumultuous leadership of Warren Jeffs has changed the dynamic.   In the 1990's the Colorado City group had a less controversial leader.  The elderly Rulon Jeffs was revered as a prophet.  His son Warren was known as a strict schoolmaster whose recorded sermons would later strike outsiders as politically incorrect.   Warren Jeffs: "You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth or rude and filthy.  Uncomely, disagreeable, and low in their habits.  Wild."   As his father weakened with old age, Warren began asserting power in ways that made some followers uncomfortable.   Anonymous Former Member: "Very bizarre, very bizarre and fanatical."   He ordered kids out of public schools and forbid contact with outsiders or outside media.     Read more
 
 
Utah judge's injunction guarding sect's assets
By Mark Shaffer
The Arizona Republic - Flagstaff Bureau
Originally published June 17, 2005

A Utah state judge on Thursday issued a preliminary injunction to keep a stranglehold over the assets of a Colorado City polygamist sect, a decision that drew strong praise from Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard.   Two temporary restraining orders had previously frozen estimated assets of more than $100 million from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  The FLDS is not affiliated with the mainstream Mormon Church.   "This really shifts the burden to (FLDS) prophet Warren Jeffs and his folks to show that they have been responsible trustees, and I don't think that's a burden they can carry," Goddard said.   Last month, a Utah judge froze the funds after determining he had sufficient evidence that trustees of the United Effort Plan trust, which holds almost all the sect's assets, were selling property to church insiders for less than market value.  The trust is supposed to be shared among 6,000 members.   Goddard said Thursday's decision ensures that an independent trustee will remain in place and "all the assets of the trust will receive public viewing."     Read more
 
 
Polygamist sect leader removed from church trust
By Jennifer Dobner
The Associated Press
San Diego Union-Tribune
Originally published June 22, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY – All trustees including the reclusive leader of a Mormon splinter group which still practices polygamy were permanently removed Wednesday as managers of the church's multimillion dollar trust fund.   Warren Jeffs and five other high-ranking members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints were barred by a judge from spending or selling any of the church's assets.   The assets include most of the property in the twin border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., where nearly 10,000 church members live.  The trust, called the United Effort Plan, also includes businesses and most homes in the two towns.   The state of Utah, fearing Jeffs was liquidating the trust as he built a new church enclave in West Texas, got a temporary restraining order last month freezing the trust's assets.   An independent auditor in Salt Lake City will remain in charge of the trust until new trustees are appointed by the court July 21 to replace him.   It's not the only legal problem for Jeffs, who hasn't been seen publicly in a year, although an attorney for some church members claimed Jeffs was seen last weekend in Canada.     Read more
 
 
Wanted: New Trustees For FLDS Financial Empire
By Ben Winslow
KSL NewsRadio 1160
Originally broadcast July 1, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY (KSL News Services) -- The courts are now accepting applications from people who want to be in charge of the Fundamentalist LDS Church's multi-million dollar empire.   The Utah Attorney General's Office is hoping to get the word out and at the same time distance itself from the financial arm of the polygamous church.   "We don't want to be seen as some people already think we are, as the state, the government, trying to take over religion," says Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.   Shurtleff says they plan to run newspaper ads and even hold a town meeting in the polygamous towns of Hildale and Colorado City to get new trustees.  He hopes current FLDS members will step forward and take control of it.  "People who have been involved in the trust, current or former member, people who live on trust property."   The courts stripped FLDS leader Warren Jeffs of his control over the church's financial empire.  Shurtleff and his office are not involved in selecting new trustees.
 
 
Arizona law enforcers swoop down on polygamous town
The Associated Press
KPHO News 5 - Phoenix
Originally broadcast July 9, 2005

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. Arizona law enforcers descended on the polygamous town of Colorado City to investigate a fundamentalist church.   A half-dozen sheriff's cruisers showed up at the same time a helicopter carrying Arizona Department of Public Safety officers dropped on Colorado City yesterday.   The Mohave County, Arizona sheriff's office confirmed their arrival was part of an investigation into church dealings but refused to release details.   The show of force came just after residents turned out for a public forum organized by the attorneys general for Utah and Arizona on the court-ordered takeover of the United Effort Plan.   The United Effort Plan is a trust once controlled by Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints President Warren Jeffs.   Jeffs was indicted by a Mohave County grand jury last month on charges of arranging a marriage between a teenage girl and a 28-year-old man who already had one wife.   The FBI has joined a search for the fugitive.
 
 
10K reward offered for polygamist church leader
By Beth DeFalco
The Associated Press
Austin American-Statesman
Originally published July 13, 2005

PHOENIX — Arizona and Utah's attorneys general on Wednesday announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the reclusive leader of a polygamous church based in communities along the states' common border.   Warren Jeffs, who has not been publicly sighted in months, was charged in Arizona in early June with counts that include conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor.   "I find it hard to believe (Jeffs is) the active leader of 10,000 and no one knows where he is," Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said.   Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, are dominated by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a sect that broke away from the Mormon church and practices polygamy.   Capturing Jeffs, 49, is considered a key to ending the turmoil in the two towns, where polygamist men marry one wife legally and then take on other women as so-called "spiritual" wives.   Goddard said Jeffs could be any number of places, including Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Mexico or Canada.     Read more
 
 
New judge will select overseers for church trust
The Associated Press
KVOA Channel 4 - Tucson
Originally broadcast July 13, 2005

ST. GEORGE, Utah. A new judge has been appointed to preside over a case involving who controls the trust fund for a polygamist church on the Utah-Arizona border.   The appointment came after another judge recused himself because of a potential conflict of interest when deciding who should be installed as new trustees for the United Effort Plan.   The United Effort Plan is a trust for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   The change in judges came as Utah and Arizona authorities continue to crack down on plural marriages and other areas of concern in the twin towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, where the church is thought to have its stronghold.
 
 
Two states seek polygamous sect leader
UPI
WebIndia123 - India
Originally published July 15, 2005

Two Western states are circulating wanted posters offering a $10,000 reward for the indicted leader of a polygamous sect.   Attorneys General Terry Goddard of Arizona and Mark Shurtleff of Utah posted the reward after neither state could find Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints.   Jeffs was indicted last month on charges that he arranged for one of his followers to marry a 16-year-old girl and that man illegally had sex with her.   It seems as if he has gone effectively underground, Goddard told the Arizona Capitol Thursday.  We're determined to leave no stone unturned.   Jeffs, 49, is believed to have fled the church's base in the twin communities of Colorado City, Ariz. and Hilldale, Utah.  There have been reports that Jeffs is possibly at the group's new compound in Eldorado, Texas.   The FLDS promotes polygamy, which is banned by Arizona's constitution.
 
 
FBI search for Jeffs
e-Press
Tri-State News Network
Originally published Sunday July 17, 2005

FBI has stepped in to assist law enforcement officers in detaining Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.  According to FBI Special agent Deborah McCarley The FBI is asking for the public's assistance in finding Jeffs.   "We are looking for and request that anyone who has seen him or have knowledge of him to provide such information," stated McCarley.   McCarley stated that the public would be the key to finding Jeffs as he has not been seen in two years though leads have led to Texas, Colorado and British Columbia.   McCarley also continued:   "As of yet they haven't had any leads that were substantial in the search for him."   The FBI requests that if anyone has seen Jeffs to please contact your local law enforcement agency.
 
 
Aug. 4 hearing set in FLDS trust case
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Wednesday, July 20, 2005

A Utah District Court judge rescheduled a hearing to consider new trustees for the United Effort Plan, a trust that controls the property and assets for the FLDS community.   The hearing will be held Aug. 4 at 1:30 p.m. before 3rd District Court Judge Denise Lindberg.   A Utah District Court judge recently ordered that Warren Jeffs, the leader of the FLDS church, be permanently removed as one of the UEP's trustees.  A hearing date was set for July 21 to discuss appointing new trustees.  However, the hearing was postponed after Judge Constandinos Himonas recused himself from the case, citing a potential conflict of interest.   Last week, Utah and Arizona officials announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of Warren Jeffs on two counts of felony child sex abuse for allegedly arranging, and performing, the marriage of a 16-year-old girl to a man who was already married.
 
 
God's Work
Legal Problems of the FLDS
By Jordan Smith
The Austin Chronicle
Originally published July 29, 2005

In the last few years, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its prophet Warren Jeffs have faced increasing law enforcement scrutiny and mounting legal woes. Some of the recent lowlights:

July 2004:   Jeffs' nephew, 21-year-old Brent Jeffs, files a civil suit against three of his uncles, including Jeffs, alleging that while he was a child he was repeatedly sodomized by the three men, who called the abuse "God's work," and threatened him with eternal damnation if he told anyone. Jeffs is seeking monetary damages from the FLDS' United Effort Plan trust.

August 2004:   A group of young men known as the "Lost Boys" file suit against Jeffs, the church, and the UEP trust, claiming that they were victims of the church's "secret, cruel, and unlawful practice of systematic excommunication of adolescent and young adult males for trivial reasons or no reason at all, in order to reduce competition for wives." Neither Jeffs nor the church has responded to the lawsuit, making it likely that the Lost Boys will prevail on a default judgment.

May 2005:   The Arizona Attorney General's Office executes search warrants seeking records from the Colorado City Unified School District, whose board and administrators are all high-ranking FLDS members. The Attorney General's Office is investigating allegations that the CCUSD is actually funneling funds through the school system and into the pockets of the FLDS leadership.     Read more
 
 
Quotations of the Prophet Warren Jeffs
By Jordan Smith
The Austin Chronicle
Originally published July 29, 2005

The following are excerpted from transcripts of several audio clips featuring the preaching and teaching of FLDS Prophet Warren Jeffs.   The audio clips were obtained by The Eldorado Success and are posted on the Success Web site, www.myeldorado.net.

On Race
"You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, or rude and filthy, uncomely, disagreeable and low in their habits; wild and seemingly deprived of nearly all the blessings of the intelligence that is usually bestowed upon mankind."   "So I give you this lesson on the black race that you can understand its full effects as far as we are able to comprehend.   And that we must beware – if we are for the prophet, the priesthood – we will come out of the world and leave off their dress, their music, their styles, their fashions; the way they think, what they do, because you can trace back and see a connection with immoral, filthy people."     Read more
 
 
UEP trustee hearing scheduled for today
The Eldorado Success
MyEldorado.net
Originally published August 4, 2005

Utah District Judge Denise Lindberg is slated to consider the future of the United Effort Plan Trust today at a hearing in Salt Lake City, UT.  The trust, once controlled by Warren Jeffs, the self-appointed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), has been under the control of a receiver since June when another judge, Judge Deno Himonas, removed Jeffs and several of his cronies from their positions as UEP trustees.   The UEP trust was originally established for the benefit and protection of FLDS members.  Most of the property in the twin towns of Colorado City, AZ and Hildale, UT, is owned by the trust and FLDS members have traditionally been allowed to build their homes and businesses on the land.  However, in recent years, the trust has been used to reward Jeffs most loyal followers and punish those who question his authority or otherwise fail to bend to his will.     Read more
 
 
Judge delays naming trustees for polygamist church
The Associated Press
KVOA Channel 4 - Tucson
Originally broadcast August 4, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY A Utah judge is hearing arguments from several lawyers whether new trustees should be appointed to manage millions of dollars held in a trust from a polygamist church on the Utah-Arizona border.   At least seven lawyers argued over why a judge should or should not name new trustees to oversee the United Effort Plan.   The United Effort Plan manages the finances for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   In June, the court permanently removed church leaders from management of the estimated 100 (m) million dollar trust.   The Utah attorney general sought the removal, saying the trustees, including fugitive church leader Warren Jeffs, had liquidated some trust assets and left others vulnerable by failing to defend lawsuits filed against Jeffs.
 
 
'The Prophet' makes most wanted list
e-Press
Tri-State News Network
Originally published August 19, 2005

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. - Warren Jeffs, the leader of the FLDS, a break away sect of mainstream Mormonism that practices polygamy, and has been wanted by the state of Arizona in connection with sex crimes against children, has just been added to the FBI's most wanted list for August and is said to be considered "armed and dangerous".   "If we're unsuccessful, then perhaps we decide to go public with attempting to locate and request the assistance of the public," said FBI special agent Deborah McCarley.   Jeffs, 49, is named as a defendant in a civil suit in Utah alleging sex offenses involving children and he's a controlling influence over a church-community trust that is tied up in civil litigation as well.  But his indictment by a Mohave County Grand Jury would bring Jeffs to Kingman first if he's located and taken into custody, according to Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith.     Read more
 
 
FBI believes sect leader may be in Lake County area
Fugitive Jeffs, head of fringe Mormon group, is wanted on child-sex charges.
By Austin L. Miller
The Ocala Star-Banner
Originally published August 20, 2005

LAKE COUNTY - The FBI is on the hunt for a reputed 49-year-old leader and self-proclaimed prophet of a sect known as the Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints, who is rumored to be in Leesburg.   Warren Steed Jeffs is wanted by the FBI for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, sexual conduct with a minor and conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor.   Born in San Francisco, he is described as white, 6-foot-3 to 6-foot-4, 150 to 155 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.  He has listed his occupation as a private school teacher and accountant, and is considered armed and dangerous.   Jeffs is the reported leader of the Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS, a group that distanced itself from the Mormon church in 1890 when Utah denounced polygamy, the FBI's Web site noted.  The sect has an estimated 10,000 adherents.  Jeffs and about 30 of his followers are suspected of being in the Leesburg area, trying to purchase land for the organization.   Officials from the Lake County Tax Collectors Office and the Property Appraiser's Office had no record of him buying any land.  They also didn't have any records of FLDS, the United Effort Plan or any other corporation Jeffs or any member of the sect may be using to buy land for homes and a temple.     Read more
 
 
More Charges Filed Against Warren Jeffs
Ben Winslow reports
KSL 1160 NewsRadio
Originally broadcast August 23, 2005

ARIZONA (KSL News Services) -- Arizona law enforcement sources tell KSL NewsRadio more criminal charges have been filed against Fundamentalist LDS Church Leader Warren Jeffs.  But these latest charges may not get police any closer to catching the fugitive polygamous leader.   They charges relate to his performing more "child bride" marriages.   Jeffs is a fugitive on the FBI's most wanted list.  Pro-polygamy groups say police won't get any help from the members of the FLDS membership.   Mary Batchelor is with the group Principle Voices Of Polygamy.   "The people in the FLDS community believe that it is their right to marry when they choose to marry and they believe in arranged marriages according to the guidance and leadership of their leader and they feel it is their god given right to follow that and that's why they feel like they're being persecuted."   Batchelor says with both sides digging in their heels, it will be difficult to find common ground.   "There still some people who feel like they're being charged only because of their marital relationship," she says.   Jeffs whereabouts are unknown but recent reports say he might be hiding in Florida.  The state of Utah is also investigating the polygamous leader.
 
 
Warren Jeffs' Influence Still Affecting Trust
John Hollenhorst Reporting
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast September 20, 2005

Fugitive polygamist leader Warren Jeffs hasn't been seen by outsiders for years, but it appears he's still calling the shots and pulling the strings on matters affecting the interests of thousands of people.  That came out in court today as a judge approved a controversial real estate deal.   When legal clouds started building over the twin polygamist towns of Colorado City and Hildale, real estate became a key element in the drama.  FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, controlled the United Effort Plan Trust, which owns most of the land and buildings.  Now Jeffs is a fugitive and lawyers are battling in court over the trust.   Marlene Mohn, Attorney for Former Followers: "Warren Jeffs disappears and all of a sudden there's numerous little corporations."   Critics claim Jeffs needed cash so he created shell corporations run by his closest followers to sell off land.   Roger Hoole, Attorney for Former Members: "There was an effort to convey property out of the trust, liquidate it at a sale price, at a fair sale price."   Bruce Wisan, Court-Appointed Fiduciary: "We feel that it was a fraudulent transfer out of the United Effort Plan trust."     Read more
 
 
FBI says fugitive Warren Jeffs possibly spotted at reservoir
By Paul Foy
The Associated Press
The Arizona Republic
Originally published October 25, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY - Fugitive polygamist leader Warren Jeffs was reported seen at Lehi and Strawberry Reservoir this weekend, and the vehicles spotted in Lehi have been traced to Jeffs' communities on the Utah-Arizona border, the FBI said.   Jeffs and a group of "bodyguard types" were reported buying fishing gear at Cabela's outdoor store in Lehi, 26 miles south of Salt Lake City.  The group was seen leaving in a GMC Yukon and a Ford pickup.  Store employees got the license plate numbers.   The vehicles were found in the area of the twin cities of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, where most of Jeffs' Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints followers live.   The owners were being interviewed and they or other possible users of the vehicles, such as family members, admitted being at Cabela's, FBI Special Agent Brent Robbins said Monday night.   Robbins said they had not confirmed that Jeffs had been with them.   The latest spotting of Jeffs was Sunday at Strawberry Reservoir, about 55 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.     Read more
 
 
Mormon fugitive's brother charged
Seth Jeffs was carrying money to his polygamist brother, Warren, court documents say. The latter is wanted by the FBI.
By Alicia Caldwell
Denver Post
Originally published November 1, 2005

The brother of fugitive Mormon polygamist Warren Jeffs was charged Monday with hiding the rebel religious leader after Pueblo sheriff's deputies found the brother transporting money and letters addressed to Jeffs.   After receiving a report of a suspected drunken driver Friday, deputies pulled over a car carrying Seth Jeffs and another man, according to arrest documents filed in U.S. District Court in Denver.   Deputies found about $142,000, sealed envelopes addressed to "The Prophet," and seven cellphones.  Warren Jeffs, who is on the FBI's "Most Wanted" list, has been indicted on two counts of sex with a minor but remains at large.   When Seth Jeffs was pulled over on Interstate 25, he told authorities he was on his way from a church headquarters in Utah to another in Texas.   The driver of the car, Nathan Allred, said Seth Jeffs had paid him $5,000 for his sexual services, according to the arrest affidavit.   Deputies arrested Allred and Seth Jeffs on prostitution and solicitation charges, according to the affidavit.   After getting a search warrant for the vehicle, authorities found a glass container fashioned into a donation jar.  Affixed to the container was a photograph of Warren Jeffs and a label that said "Pennies for the Prophet."   They also found several hundred letters addressed to Warren Jeffs relating to a variety of personal matters and issues involving the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.     Read more
 
 
Arrest nets letters, cash en route to FLDS chief
By Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Seth Steed Jeffs, brother of fugitive polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, is facing felony charges that could send him to prison for up to five years.   Seth Jeffs, who told authorities he is a "messenger" for the polygamous church led by his older brother, was initially arrested on charges of prostitution and solicitation.  A felony charge of harboring a fugitive was added after FBI agents interviewed the 32-year-old Hildale resident.   The U.S. Attorney's Office in Denver is handling the case.   Warren Jeffs is president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a sect that broke away from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints after the mainstream church disavowed polygamy in 1890.  The FLDS leader is wanted by Utah and Arizona authorities on a charge of sexual misconduct with a minor and is on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list.   A Pueblo County, Colo., sheriff's deputy arrested Seth Jeffs on a traffic stop Friday during the early morning hours after dispatchers received a report of an erratic driver.  Also in the car was Nathanial Steed Allred, 27, a cousin to the two Jeffs brothers.     Read more
 
 
Polygamist leader's brother held for trial
The Associated Press
KPHO News 5 - Phoenix
Originally broadcast November 3, 2005

DENVER - A federal judge ruled today there is enough evidence to pursue charges against Seth Steed Jeffs.   He's accused of harboring his brother and fugitive polygamist leader, Warren Jeffs.   The formal charges came a week after police arrested 32-year-old Seth Jeffs of Hildale, Utah, during a traffic stop in Colorado.   During a search, police seized $142,000 in cash, thousands of dollars in prepaid debit cards and his older brother's personal records and correspondence.   The younger Jeffs and a man in the SUV with him were arrested in Pueblo, Colorado, October 28th on charges of prostitution and solicitation for prostitution.   Seth Jeffs will be arraigned November 17th.  The US attorney's office will pursue a federal indictment against him.
 
 
Bail set in polygamy case
Seth Jeffs is accused of hiding his brother, a fugitive sect leader
By Karen Abbott
Rocky Mountain News
Originally published November 4, 2005

A man accused of hiding his brother, the fugitive leader of a polygamist sect, from authorities will be set free today if he posts a $25,000 bond secured by property, a federal magistrate judge ruled Thursday.   Ed Pluss, attorney for Seth Jeffs, said he talked to another brother of his client and believes bond likely will be posted today.   That brother, Lyle Jeffs, declined to comment after the hearing.   Prosecutors have charged Seth Jeffs with harboring a fugitive, a federal felony.  They had asked Colorado U.S. Magistrate Judge Craig Shaffer to order him kept behind bars.   "It would be very easy for him to just disappear," prosecutor Phil Brimmer said.     Read more
 
 
Court overseer of polygamist trust seeking delay on new trustees
The Associated Press
KPHO News 5 - Phoenix
Originally broadcast November 6, 2005

SALT LAKE CITY The court-appointed auditor trying to track down the loose assets of a polygamist sect will ask a judge tomorrow to delay appointing a new panel of trustees for the community trust.   Independent accountant Bruce Wisan says he was still unraveling a trust that owns real estate and other assets thought to be worth more than 100 (m) million dollars.   Wisan was appointed to oversee the trust when the judge stripped control from six trustees who served the now-fugitive leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   The judge was scheduled to select from a slate of 23 nominations for trustees at a hearing tomorrow.   The trust was established by leaders of the church in the 1940s to hold its members' collective assets, including includes virtually all of the property in the border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona.
 
 
Warren Jeffs' Brother Leaves Jail
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast November 7, 2005

(KSL News) -- The brother of fugitive polygamous leader Warren Jeffs is now out of jail.   Seth Jeffs left Denver after posting a 25-thousand dollar property bond.   Police arrested him in Colorado last month for soliciting sex from a male prostitute.   Officers found large amounts of cash, cell phones and credit cards they believe he used to help keep his brother on the lam.   That brought federal charges of harboring a fugitive.   Seth Jeffs will be back in court in about two weeks.
 
 
Fleeced flock
'Prophet' Warren Jeffs remains on the lam, financed by his followers
Opinions
The Arizona Republic
Originally published November 8, 2005

There are a couple of remarkable things about the arrest of polygamous leader Warren Jeffs' younger brother last week.  One gives a chilling insight into the depth of devotion enjoyed by an indicted fugitive.  Another shows the importance of multistate cooperation to catch him.   A donation jar found with Jeffs' brother, Seth, had a picture of the wanted man and an invitation to offer "Pennies for the Prophet."   The $142,000 in cash and thousands of dollars worth of prepaid phone and credit cards found in Seth Jeff's car show that far more than pennies support his brother, the "prophet" of the polygamous cult called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   Other information found with Seth Jeffs offered valuable information about how Warren is operating, says Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard.   It was a "breakthrough," adds Gary Engels.  He's the investigator for the Mohave County Attorney's Office who gathered the evidence that led to the indictment of Warren Jeffs and other cult members on charges relating to forced marriages of minor girls to older, already-married men.   Warren Jeffs' dogma teaches that a man needs three wives to reach the best neighborhoods in heaven.  Young brides are especially prized.     Read more
 
 
Wanted: Armed and Dangerous
As the FBI chases polygamist Prophet Warren Jeffs, work continues 24/7 on his religion's foreboding new Texas capital
By John Dougherty
Phoenix New Times
Originally published Thursday, November 10, 2005

A massive stone temple jutting from the crest of an oak-and-juniper knoll pierces the serenity of the broad horizon of the seductively beautiful Texas hill country.   The 90-foot-high edifice is topped with a cupola and buttressed by a grand sweeping staircase leading to the main entrance.  Circular columns resembling towers from medieval castles anchor each corner of the church, giving it an imposing and foreboding stance.   The gleaming-white cathedral is getting built at breakneck speed by a platoon of religious fanatics in a race to beat the fire and brimstone they are certain will soon engulf their world.   Outsiders are forbidden to come near the temple that marks the center of a sprawling religious compound rapidly emerging on 1,600 acres of arid soil near the small west Texas town of Eldorado.   It is here that fugitive polygamist Prophet Warren Steed Jeffs and a select group of his most faithful servants are preparing to make what could be the religious leader's final stand.     Read more
 
 
Ruling guides operation of FLDS trust
Religious influence over UEP assets is eliminated
By Linda Thomson
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Thursday, December 15, 2005

A judge issued a ruling Wednesday that essentially eliminates any religious influence over the assets of a trust that emerged from a secretive polygamous sect and lays the groundwork for the trust to operate independently.   Third District Judge Denise Lindberg released a 30-page decision that sets out operating guidelines for the United Effort Plan (UEP), which controls land, buildings and other assets in the adjoining polygamist strongholds of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.   The trust has been associated with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which practices polygamy and whose leader, Warren Jeffs, is on the FBI's most wanted list for alleged crimes unrelated to the trust.   The Utah Attorney General's Office asked for court intervention because law enforcement officials feared the trust's assets were being misused and trustees weren't acting in the best interest of all church members.     Read more
 
 
Top Story #4 - The Hunt for Warren Jeffs
John Hollenhorst Reporting
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast December 29th, 2005

Polygamy and the growing legal battle surrounding it made news repeatedly throughout 2005, but no polygamist captured headlines more often or with more urgency than the elusive fugitive Warren Jeffs.   Warren Jeffs is revered as a prophet by the nation's largest polygamy group.  His autocratic rule over the twin border towns of Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah made waves all year.   Richard Holm: "There's been some recent ripping of families apart, and I believe it will continue.  I believe that's what Warren thrives on.  He's a sensationalist and an extremist."   2005 started with the last apparent photo of Jeffs, an aerial shot in Texas on New Years Day showed a man leading a prayer.  An instant later his followers closed in to hide their leader.   On that exact spot, a temple quickly grew all year long on the Texas Prairie.  It now appears to be Jeffs' new headquarters, contradicting promises it would only be a church hunting retreat.   Randy Mankin, Owner-Editor, "The Eldorado Success", Feb. 17, 2005: "They lied to us about the purpose they were coming here for."     Read more
 
 
Missing grain elevator stolen, attorney says
The Associated Press
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Thursday, January 5, 2006

ST. GEORGE — A missing grain-elevator system that was dismantled and whisked away under cover of darkness over the weekend was "stolen" from the United Effort Plan Trust, a Salt Lake attorney said Wednesday.   "We have some names of people and we're pursuing criminal trespass and theft charges," said Salt Lake attorney Jeffrey Shields, who represents Bruce Wisan, the court-appointed accountant now overseeing the trust.  "Our position is that the rule of law applies.  If there's a dispute over property and you have a legitimate claim, don't grab the stuff and run.  Talk to Bruce, he's a reasonable guy."   The trust is the financial arm of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a polygamous sect that broke away from the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints decades ago over the practice of polygamy.   In June, a state judge assumed control of the trust, removed its current trustees and froze trust assets.  A temporary advisory board was appointed by the judge to help Wisan in his role as special fiduciary of the trust.  The advisory board will meet for the second time on Saturday in St. George.     Read more
 
 
Reward grows for sect leader
By Dennis Wagner
The Arizona Republic
Originally published January 18, 2006

The FBI has added $50,000 to a reward fund for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a Utah and Arizona religious leader wanted on charges of child molestation and unlawful flight.   Authorities are now offering a total of $60,000 for help tracking down Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  The attorneys general of Utah and Arizona previously had offered a $10,000 reward.   "We hope the $50,000 will motivate individuals who have information to come forward," FBI Agent Deb McCarley said Tuesday.   Jeffs, 50, is described as 6 feet 4 inches tall and 150 pounds, with brown hair and brown eyes.   He has been on the run for seven months.   Jeffs oversees the largest polygamous religious group in the nation, with outposts in Arizona, Utah, Texas, British Columbia and Colorado.   The sect is not affiliated with the mainstream Mormon Church.
 
 
FBI Raids Polygs
Federal agents descend on fugitive polygamist Prophet Warren Jeffs' followers with 66 subpoenas. Five were served
By John Dougherty
Phoenix New Times
Originally published January 26, 2006

The search for the fugitive leader of the fundamentalist Mormon church escalated when FBI agents entered the Colorado City, Arizona-based sect's packed meeting hall during a church-related function to serve grand jury subpoenas.   The January 14 raid on church property was the first time in 60 years that federal authorities have descended on the community for a law enforcement purpose.   The operation in Colorado City coincided with an announcement by the FBI that it was posting a $50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Warren Jeffs, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' prophet.  Arizona and Utah had already posted a $10,000 reward.   Half a dozen FBI agents were involved in the operation to serve subpoenas, according to FBI spokeswoman Deborah McCarley, who declined to provide other details.   Sources close to the investigation say five subpoenas were served on community members with close ties to Jeffs, though the FBI had intended to serve 66 subpoenas had they been able to corner all those individuals.     Read more
 
 
Bustup in Bountiful
Winston Blackmore Interview
By Hanna Gartner
The Fifth Estate
CBC Television
Originally published January 27, 2006

Hana Gartner:  CLEARLY THIS IS NOT THE SAME PLACE IT WAS WHEN WE SAT DOWN AND SPOKE THREE YEARS AGO. IT'S CHANGED A LOT.

Winstone Blackmore:  Has it already been three years?

Hana Gartner:  IT'S BEEN THREE YEARS.

Winstone Blackmore:  Three years since we sat down. Well, you know, to my thinking, I don't, I don't know how I – feeling different than I did three years ago.

Hana Gartner:  WELL IN THIS ENVIRONMENT? I MEAN HOW WOULD YOU – HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE THE CHANGES THAT HAPPENED HERE IN BOUNTIFUL IN THE LAST THREE YEARS?

Winstone Blackmore:  You know, being here, you don't really look at the changes. I don't really look at the changes, other than if you're referring to the community structure, like it's a different environment as far as we don't have any involvement with the other people that have gone a different way. But as far as our own structure goes, we still have the same, you know, we're strange people doing strange – the same strange things.

Hana Gartner:  WHAT DOES THE PROPHET HAVE AGAINST YOU?

Winstone Blackmore:  In the first place, Warren's not a prophet in my view. If he was, then his predictions would have come to pass. And, but as far as – as far as – I just do not –     Read more
 
 
More than one hundred years after the Mormon Church officially ended polygamy; its last remnants may finally collapse in the 21st Century
By Rick Ross
Cult News - Jersey City, NJ
Originally published February 1, 2006

Beginning with the death of Rulon Jeffs in 2002 the largest polygamist group in America called the "Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" (FLDS) began its decline.   The FLDS had reached its zenith of power and privileges under Rulon Jeffs; it was regarded as almost a virtual kingdom within the states of Utah and Arizona and seemed to be untouchable.   Jeffs who ruled over as many as 12,000 members ran the twin state border communities of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona.  He controlled vast property holdings through a trust, local government, schools, police, not to mention his own family of 19 to 75 wives and dozens of children.   The Canadian polygamist community of Bountiful in British Columbia was a loyal FLDS satellite governed by Winston Blackmore, one of Jeffs' obedient lieutenants.  But when Jeffs died at 92 or 93 Blackmore's loyalty did not transfer automatically to his leader's son and heir apparent Warren Jeffs.   Warren Jeffs, though declared "prophet" and undeclared king of the religious empire, proved to be something of a bungler and unable to hold it together.  The FLDS beset by both criminal and civil proceedings and also internal wrangling is now crumbling and falling apart.     Read more
 
 
Polygamous Religious Group Build Texas Temple
The Associated Press
WBNS TV Channel 10 - Columbus, Ohio
Originally broadcast February 1, 2006

SALT LAKE CITY -- The first temple of a reclusive polygamous religious splinter group appears to be nearing completion in a sparsely populated Texas county.   The group claims to be part of the Mormom religion, but the official Mormon church does not condone polygamy or recognize this group.   The temple stands on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' compound south of San Angelo. The polygamous group remains silent on the project or its progress.   Originally, the Schleicher County Sheriff was told that the YFZ Ranch was a hunting retreat, but he later learned that it stood for "Yearning for Zion."   Since then, homes, a meeting house, gardens, a quarry and a grain silo have been built.   One of the largest homes is believed to belong to church leader Warren Jeffs, who's on the FBI's Most Wanted List.  He's accused of arranging polygamous marriages involving child brides.
 
 
District in polygamist community may get Arizona bailout
The Associated Press
KLTV Channel 7 - Tyler, Texas
Originally broadcast February 15, 2006

PHOENIX Arizona is moving to provide a one-point-three (M) million dollar bailout to a school district in a remote community long dominated by a polygamist sect.  The Arizona House K-12 Education Committee today endorsed the bill.   An Arizona-appointed receiver assured members that the Colorado City Unified School District is under new management and that it shouldn't fall under the sect's sway again.   Receiver Peter Davis says the district needs the loan largely because members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints aren't paying property taxes.   The church, which was based in the twin border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, now has a compound in Eldorado, Texas.   Meanwhile, sect leader Warren Jeffs is a fugitive.   Jeffs is sought on Arizona charges of sexual contact with a minor and conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor and on a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.
 
 
Residents of polygamist towns ordered to pay taxes, confirm occupancy
The Associated Press
KVOA Channel 4 - Tucson
Originally broadcast February 24, 2006

SALT LAKE CITY Residents of a polygamist community on the Utah-Arizona border have been told they must pay property taxes and sign occupancy agreements if they want to stay in their homes.   They've also been told that they must allow inspectors on their properties and participate in a census.   Letters spelling out those requirements have been sent to the 1900 residents of Colorado City and neighboring Hildale, Utah.   A trust for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints holds all property in the towns.   The letters to residents say that the newly appointed trustees overseeing the trust have agreed that no one will be evicted from homes based on whether they're affiliated with polygamist church.  However, the letters also say that those who don't sign the agreement or refuse to pay taxes may be evicted.
 
 
Residents refuse to pay land taxes in Colorado City
By Pat Kossan
The Arizona Republic
Originally published March 2, 2006

About 1,500 homeowners in the Colorado City School District are refusing to pay their property taxes, fearing still-powerful leaders of the polygamist sect will banish them from the community.   It has created a standoff between officials from two states and the residents, who face possible eviction if they continue to obey polygamist leaders' orders not to pay taxes.  The impasse has prompted the district to ask the state for $2 million in loans to keep operating its three schools.   The State Board of Education agreed to a $711,629 loan this week. Now, district officials want lawmakers to pass a bill that would lend them the rest of the money and let them sell school buildings and use operating funds to make a bond payment.   It's another sign that the state's efforts to wrest the small community from polygamist control will be a long and hard battle.   The sect's leader, Warren Jeffs, continues to exercise influence in the city despite being on the run from the state and the FBI over charges of sexual misconduct.     Read more
 
 
Tax Evaders In Polygamist Town Face Eviction
The Associated Press
KUTV Channel 2
Originally published March 7, 2006

SALT LAKE CITY A court-appointed fiduciary is threatening to evict tenants of a polygamist sect's twin communities if they don't pay taxes and cooperate in managing the church's property.   Most of the property in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., is owned by the United Effort Plan, a trust arm of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   The Utah attorney general's office asked the courts last year to remove the controlling trustees of the UEP, including fugitive church leader Warren Jeffs.   In recent years, Jeffs and other church leaders purportedly used trust property to punish or reward church members for their obedience.   Wisan blames FLDS leaders for a "wholesale lack of cooperation and hostility" he has received from followers and local police officers.   Court-appointed trust officials have been complaining for months that some of the property, including buildings, appears to have been taken away.  Some may be used at new FLDS-related enterprises, including farming in Nevada.     Read more
 
 
Enclave Of Polygamist Sect Is Found In S. Dakota
The Associated Press
KUTV Channel 2
Originally published March 9, 2006

PRINGLE, South Dakota Another outpost of the polygamist sect headed by fugitive Warren Jeffs has been found in South Dakota, a Texas newspaper reported.   The discovery of the 100-acre site at Pringle, S.D. was reported Wednesday by The Eldorado Success in its Web edition.   The Success received anonymous e-mail and phone tips about the property and the people who bought, and discovered its connection to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which is headquartered in the twin towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah.  The sect also has long had an enclave in British Columbia and in recent years has established outposts in Texas, Colorado and Nevada.   Jeffs, considered a prophet by his followers, is wanted on a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution on an Arizona charge that he arranged a plural marriage between a 16-year-old girl and an older man.   It has been thought that he has traveled among the church's various properties, hiding out.   The Success said the $135,000 purchase of the South Dakota property in 2003 was fronted by David Allred, president of Details Unlimited, based in Washington County, Utah. Allred also fronted the purchase of the YFZ Ranch in Texas.     Read more
 
 
Followers Supply Warren Jeffs with Significant Income
John Hollenhorst Reporting
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast March 9, 2006

Yesterday we learned that the polygamy group led by fugitive Warren Jeffs is secretly developing another compound in South Dakota.  That caused many to ask, "Where does Jeffs get all his money?"   The South Dakota property is at least the third compound the group launched in the last couple of years, at a cost well into the millions.  It appears that being a prophet can be profitable.   The Jeffs group bought large tracts of land in Colorado, South Dakota and Texas.   Jeffs followers started a wave of construction projects, including their first temple.   The FLDS church obviously has money to spend.   Bruce Wisan, Court Appointed Fiduciary: "Yes, there is a very sizable cash flow."   Court-appointed fiduciary Bruce Wisan says the money comes from Jeffs' followers.  Most of them live and work on the Utah-Arizona border.   Bruce Wisan: "There are a lot of different business that are owned by church members that we believe contribute substantial amounts of money to the church."   The businesses include farms, construction, precision manufacturing, even a plant that makes ID badges for conventioneers.  All generate revenue for prophet Warren Jeffs.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs described as strict ruler of Mormon sect
Steve Miller, Journal Staff Writer
Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Friday, March 10, 2006

Federal fugitive Warren Steed Jeffs, linked by newspaper reports to a group living in a fenced-off enclave near Pringle, has ruled his polygamist Mormon sect with an iron hand, expelling rival leaders and stripping them of their wives, children and property, according to a variety of news reports.     Read more
 
 
Polygamist Town Mayor Quits
e-Press
Tri-State News Network
Originally published Tuesday, March 14, 2006

COLORADO CITY, AZ - No reason has been given, but the mayor of polygamous community, Colorado City, Arizona has resigned.  Richard Alfred has been the town mayor for only about a year.  His son, Joseph, has been the clerk of the town and submitted his resignation as well.  Both left their posts in mid-February, but the announcement wasn't made public until last night.  Councilman Terrill Johnson becomes the new mayor.   Richard Alfred has been a private school teacher in the community since members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints took their kids out of the public school system.
 
 
Colorado City mayor, attorney resign
Council announces open posts; clerk seeks extended leave
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published March 14, 2006

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. - Richard Allred resigned from his position as mayor of Colorado City on Feb. 16, three days after his son, town clerk Joseph Allred, asked for an extended leave of absence, the town council announced Monday night.   Filling in as mayor pro tem, councilman Terrill Johnson read Richard Allred's letter of resignation during the meeting.   "This is a sudden turn of events," Johnson said.  "I don't know about the council but I'm not in any big hurry to appoint someone else."   Joseph Allred requested a temporary leave of absence on Feb. 13.   Attempts by The Spectrum to reach him at the town office and at his home since mid-January have been unsuccessful.   He directed his letter to the attention of Johnson, although as of Feb. 13, his father had not yet resigned from his position as mayor.   Johnson also read a letter of resignation from the town attorney, Paul Lenkowsky, with Lenkowsky, Bidwell & Kelley.   Lenkowsky stated that he was resigning effective March 14 after a "careful consideration of our law firm's current caseload."     Read more
 
 
Councilman discussed at Hildale meeting
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published March 15, 2006

HILDALE - Hildale City Councilman William E. Jessop, who has been either excused or absent from meetings since last May, was the subject of discussion at the Hildale City Council meeting Tuesday morning.   Mayor David Zitting said state law requires him to take attendance at council meetings "quite seriously" and by being absent more than three consecutive times, the position is automatically vacant.   Jessop was marked absent for three months in a row from July to September 2005.  He was also marked excused from October 2005 to February 2006 and was not present Tuesday.  Zitting said the city council has been able to function so he has not pushed the issue.  But, he asked for input from the council on Tuesday.   "Under the circumstances that we are under, that we are facing ... because of the conditions and circumstances that we are in, just continue doing what we are doing ... and carry on where we were asked to carry on," Councilman Harold Peine said.     Read more
 
 
New photo released of fugitive polygamist prophet
Cult News from Rick Ross
cultnews.com
Originally published March 25, 2006

Authorities now have a new photo to identify wanted fugitive and polygamist leader Warren Jeffs reports the Salt Lake City Tribune.   Jeffs is the supposed "prophet" and President of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).   Once undisputed king of the largest following of polygamists in America and the final authority over about 10,000 followers situated in the states of Utah, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, Texas, South Dakota, and in Canadian British Columbia, Jeffs is now a man on the lam.   Federal authorities are ready to pay $60,000 reward to anyone with information leading to his arrest.   The FLDS leader is charged with setting up underage girls with middle-aged husbands, a common practice amongst polygamist groups.   But his fugitive status Jeffs hasn't stopped the so-called "prophet" from making a profit and moving money, which has enabled him to build new compounds for his most loyal followers in Texas and it seems South Dakota.     Read more
 
 
Judge: Church items remain trial evidence
Denver Post
Originally published April 5, 2006

A federal judge on Tuesday refused a request from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that the government return more than 300 items seized when a church member was arrested.  The material, ruled U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn, is evidence in a criminal case against Seth Steed Jeffs.   Jeffs is charged with helping his brother, a polygamist leader, evade authorities.  Warren Jeffs is accused of having sex with a minor.  In December, the church asked the judge to return many of the items seized when Seth Jeffs was arrested, saying the documents were purely religious and irrelevant to the criminal prosecution.
 
 
New charges filed against polygamous leader
By Jennifer Dobner
The Associated Press
The Arizona Republic
Originally published April 6, 2006

SALT LAKE CITY - Fugitive fundamentalist church leader Warren Jeffs has been charged with a pair of new first-degree felonies for his role in arranging a marriage between a teenage girl and an older man.   The two charges of rape as an accomplice, both of which carry a penalty of up to life in prison, were filed Wednesday by Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap in St. George's 5th District Court.   Jeffs, 51, is the leader of the Hildale-based Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which practices polygamy.   The case is not about religion or polygamy, Belnap said in prepared statement.   "This case is about a violation of the law by a person in a position of power and authority over a vulnerable young girl," he said.  "Mr. Jeffs is not exempt from the law despite his position or beliefs."     Read more
 
 
Polygamist charged with rape
Jeffs arranged marriage for a child, county says
By Ben Winslow and Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Friday, April 7, 2006

ST. GEORGE — The legal troubles surrounding the fugitive leader of the Fundamentalist LDS Church got much worse on Thursday, as Washington County prosecutors filed a pair of first-degree felony rape as an accomplice charges against Warren Jeffs.   Authorities across the state hailed the charges filed late Wednesday in St. George's 5th District Court, which accuse Jeffs of arranging a child-bride marriage.  And prosecutors expect the alleged victim to be their star witness.   "The victim in this case, Jane Doe, came to us," said Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap.  "We have been working with her for the past few months.   Jane Doe said she will testify at trial if and when it happens, and I believe that she will do that."   Belnap said the Washington County Sheriff's Office began investigating Jeffs, who is also wanted on sexual misconduct charges in Arizona, from January to March 2006 for arranging a "spiritual" marriage with an underage girl and an older man.   Possible charges against the man Doe married are possible, although his identity was not revealed Thursday.  The FLDS Church practices polygamy, but the court documents do not explicitly state if the marriage was polygamous.   "We haven't made any decision about him at this point," Belnap added.     Read more
 
 
Tapes of Jeffs illuminating
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Sunday, April 9, 2006

Law enforcement involved in the manhunt for Warren Jeffs have been learning more about him — from the fugitive Fundamentalist LDS Church leader himself.   Hundreds of hours of tape recordings of Jeffs' sermons are in the hands of the Utah Attorney General's Office and investigators in Arizona.  Some recordings obtained by the Deseret Morning News provide more insight into the mindset of the polygamist prophet.  The sermons go on for hours, with Jeffs speaking in a monotone.  The only break is the occasional hymn or a baby's cry.   Some of the Sunday sessions were secretly recorded just before Jeffs began mass excommunications of his flock.   "We are under attack," Jeffs proclaims in an Aug. 10, 2003, sermon, "We need the Lord's protection."   The recordings are poor quality.  They were recorded by Ross Chatwin just before he was ousted from the church.   Chatwin told the Deseret Morning News he hollowed out a Book of Mormon and slipped a digital recorder in there.  He also slipped it in his shoe.   "I wanted to believe everything was going to go right, but I started to figure out that it wasn't going to go right," Chatwin said.     Read more
 
 
Authorities Swarm Polygamists, Arrest James Allred, Mica Barlow
State and federal law enforcement launches a multifaceted campaign against fugitive fundamentalist Mormon Prophet Warren Jeffs and his followers
By John Dougherty
Phoenix New Times
Originally published April 11, 2006

State and federal authorities and the Mormon polygamist sect headquartered along the Arizona-Utah border seem finally headed for a showdown.   So far, there have been no reports of violence in the towns of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, but tensions are escalating in the remote communities about 400 miles north of Phoenix.   Fugitive polygamist leader Warren Jeffs has vowed not to be taken alive and has ordered his 10,000 followers to refuse to cooperate with law enforcement.   Authorities launched a multifaceted campaign against Jeffs and his top aides during the week of April 6, which marked the 176th anniversary of the founding of the Mormon Church by Joseph Smith -- the man who first espoused polygamy as the cornerstone of Mormonism.   The modern Mormon Church gave up polygamy in 1890 as a condition of Utah's gaining statehood.  But Jeffs and members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continue the practice that frequently involves the coercion of heavily indoctrinated, underage girls into "spiritual" marriages with already married men.     Read more
 
 
Brother Of Warren Jeffs To Change Plea
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Sunday, April 16, 2006

SALT LAKE CITY The brother of polygamist church leader Warren Jeffs has cut a deal with federal prosecutors who charged him with harboring a fugitive, court documents show.   Documents filed Friday in a Denver federal court show Seth Jeffs is scheduled for a change of plea hearing on May 1 in Colorado's U.S. District Court.   Jeffs, 32, was indicted in November for allegedly providing the means for his fugitive brother to remain in hiding.   He pleaded not guilty to the charges.   Details of the plea agreement have not been released.   Jeffs was arrested Oct. 28, 2005 for prostitution and solicitation during a traffic stop near Pueblo, Colo.  A man traveling with Jeffs in an SUV said he had been hired for sex.   Inside the car officers found nearly $142,000 in cash, about $7,000 in prepaid credit and phone cards, as well as personal papers belonging to Warren Jeffs.   In an interview with authorities, Seth Jeffs said he knew his brother was wanted and admitted that items addressed to "The Prophet" were intended for his sibling, a court affidavit said.   Seth Jeffs also said he didn't know where his brother was, and stated he wouldn't tell authorities if he did.     Read more
 
 
Appeals being made to polygamists to pay taxes or risk eviction
By Jennifer Dobner
The Associated Press
The Arizona Republic
Originally published April 20, 2006

HILDALE, Utah (AP) -- With tax deadlines either past or looming, the court-appointed accountant in charge of a polygamist church's trust held a town meeting here Wednesday to appeal for church members to pay their property taxes or risk being evicted from their homes.   The United Effort Plan trust holds almost all the property -- from tiny, partially finished homes to monstrous brick palaces -- in the twin towns of Hildale and Colorado City, Ariz., home of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   A Salt Lake City judge put the trust in Bruce Wisan's hands last June, after state attorneys said its assets had been mismanaged by church leader Warren Jeffs and other church officials.  Jeffs is a fugitive, sought on Utah and Arizona charges that he arranged plural marriages between underage girls and older men.   Wisan's control of the trust and his plea for property tax payments have been met with hostility, some of which erupted Wednesday night.   "What's this talk that we have a privilege of living here compared to a right?" asked resident LeGrand Hammond in response to Wisan saying residents had to pay their taxes for the privilege of remaining in their homes.  "I've lived here all my life. I built my home, and you tell me I have a privilege?"     Read more
 
 
The Ocho
The Warren Jeffs press tour.
By Bill Frost
Salt Lake City Weekly
Originally published April 20, 2006

Eight TV appearances by Fundamentalist LDS Church leader and FBI fugitive Warren Jeffs more recent than a 1993 videotape leaked to the media:

8.  ABC 4's Good Things Utah, in a cooking segment titled "Dinner and Quality Family-Time Tips for the Husband on the Go."

7.  The TV Guide Channel, discussing HBO's Big Love: "Only three wives? What-ever!"

6.  CNN's Larry King Live, though a confused King thought Jeffs was Jared the Subway Guy.

5.  The View, in a segment called "How to Tell Your Fiancι He's Been Damned to Hell by the Prophet and It's Just Not Going to Work Out."

4.  Bow-hunting with Ted Nugent on the Outdoor Life Network.

3.  On location with Fox 13's Big Budah at Chuck-a-Rama, talking about the latest American Idol contestant voted off.

2.  The Lifetime movie of the week: Plural Wives, Shattered Lives (with Tori Spelling).

1.  Celebrity cast member on the next installment of VH1's Surreal Life, with Kiss' Gene Simmons and the 1999 U.S. Women's Soccer Team.
 
 
FLDS man evicted from house, then allowed back
By Ben Winslow, Deseret Morning News
and Jennifer Dobner, The Associated Press
Originally published April 21, 2006

COLORADO CITY — A member of the Fundamentalist LDS Church who showed up at a town meeting over the United Effort Plan (UEP) Trust found himself evicted from his own home by church leaders.   It took lawyers for the court-appointed special fiduciary to end the housing feud with police in this polygamous border town.   Patrick Pipkin arrived at his home early Thursday morning only to be told by family members that he was no longer welcome there.   He received a call from Lyle Jeffs, who is presumed to be the acting bishop of the FLDS Church in the polygamous border towns of Hildale and Colorado City.   "He asked me, 'Are you with Warren?' " Pipkin said Thursday, referring to fugitive FLDS Church leader Warren Jeffs, Lyle's older brother.  "I said no."   Pipkin said he believes church leaders got word of his attendance at Wednesday night's UEP Trust meeting and moved to punish him.  After being evicted, Pipkin returned hours later to find Colorado City town marshals outside his home — with some of his belongings.  Marshal Helaman Barlow refused to answer questions about the role police played in the standoff.   "I will say this, I'm here to keep the peace," he said.     Read more
 
 
Brother helped Jeffs run
He doesn't reveal leader's location despite plea bargain
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Tuesday, May 2, 2006

DENVER — The brother of fugitive Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs has pleaded guilty to charges that he helped keep his brother on the run from authorities.   But Seth Jeffs is still refusing to give up the polygamist prophet's whereabouts.   "The plea agreement doesn't provide for that," said Bill Taylor, assistant United States Attorney for the District of Colorado.  "Our expectation is he will not."   Appearing in federal court here in Denver, Seth Jeffs pleaded guilty on Monday to a single charge of harboring and concealing a federal fugitive.   When he's sentenced July 14, federal prosecutors said he likely faces up to six months in prison.   However, Jeffs' lawyer expects his client will get probation.   "The government stipulated to a guideline calculation," Daniel Smith said outside of court.   The younger brother of Warren Jeffs is tall, thin, pale and balding.   Seth Jeffs was clad in a blue checkered shirt, a blue tie, dark pants and shoes for Monday's hearing.   Before the judge, Jeffs was exceedingly polite, answering questions with "Yes, your honor" or "No, sir."     Read more
 
 
Jeffs makes FBI's most wanted
The FBI hopes increasing Jeffs' status will corner the fugitive
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published May 7, 2006

ST. GEORGE/SALT LAKE CITY/PHOENIX - Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has a new claim to fame - hitting the FBI's top 10 most wanted list.   Officials announced the news at a joint news conference outside the FBI field offices in Salt Lake City and Phoenix at 7 p.m. (6 p.m. Arizona time), an hour before TV show "America's Most Wanted" aired a profile of the fugitive.   The FBI's Keith Bennett, U.S. Attorney Paul Charlton and Arizona's Attorney General Terry Goddard agreed the actions would heighten public awareness and increase chances of his capture.  They consider Jeffs armed and dangerous.   "We are doing everything we can to track him down," said Tim Fuhrman, special agent in charge of the FBI's Salt Lake City field office.   "We just made the determination that this is the next step that we can take as federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to potentially result in the apprehension of Mr. Jeffs."   By putting him on the top-10 list, the reward goes from $60,000 to $100,000.  The list also is distributed worldwide, putting head shots of Jeffs everywhere on a list that also includes terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.     Read more
 
 
FBI Sorting Through Tips About Warren Jeffs
John Hollenhorst Reporting
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast May 7, 2006

Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs became one of America's best known fugitives Sunday as national news organizations reported on his sudden elevation to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list.   Saturday night's broadcast of "America's Most Wanted" also stirred up some phone tips.  That show focused on Jeffs's dictatorial rule over his followers, and his performing of marriages for underage girls.   In spite of his new national profile, Jeffs continues to elude capture on rape charges stemming from an underage marriage.  In some ways, there are interesting parallels to another name on the Ten Most Wanted List-- Osama bin Laden.   "America's Most Wanted" used actors, real photos and sometimes the real voice of Warren Jeffs.   Religious zealotry was the theme.  Jeffs was portrayed running a Nazi-like regime in his FLDS church and ordering young girls to marry and have sex with older men.   Scenes from America's Most Wanted: (girl) "Please, I..." (man) "Hush up, child.  You don't want to keep the prophet waiting.   God knows what he's doing."   Host John Walsh sounded a bit like George Bush, describing Osama bin Laden.     Read more
 
 
FLDS told to pay taxes or else
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Sunday, May 7, 2006

The man appointed by the courts to oversee the Fundamentalist LDS Church's financial empire has compiled a list of the polygamist group's top leaders targeted for possible eviction — if they don't pay their property taxes.   The Deseret Morning News has obtained a copy of the list drafted for Bruce Wisan, the court-appointed special fiduciary of the United Effort Plan (UEP) Trust.  It includes more than 70 entries of names and addresses of prominent members of the polygamous border communities of Hildale, Washington County, and Colorado City, Ariz.   Partially handwritten and partially typewritten, it names the top people in the FLDS Church and a brief dossier on each one.  Some are the most loyal of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs' men.  They rank high in the polygamist church's priesthood and are close to the fugitive prophet.   The list also names people who have built enormous fences around their homes to keep prying eyes out.   "Whomever is living in Jim Allred's old compound with it's huge fences," the list says.  "Whomever is living at 740 across from Marilyn Holms old place.  They have huge walls."   A source provided the list to the Deseret Morning News shortly after an April town hall meeting in Hildale to urge people in the polygamous border towns to pay their property taxes.  If not, eviction from UEP land is a possibility.     Read more
 
 
Leader of Polygamist Sect Makes FBI's 10 Most Wanted List
LARRY KING LIVE
CNN
Originally broadcast May 8, 2006

LARRY KING, CNN HOST: Tonight, why has the leader of a polygamist sect made the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List? We'll take you inside the world of Warren Jeffs, wanted by Utah and Arizona authorities accused of arranging marriages between underage girls and older men.

With us Warren Jeffs' nephew, who accuses his uncle of sexually abusing him when he was five or six years old; two women who were wives in Warren Jeffs' community until they fled in fear; Utah State Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, and more all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. Over the weekend Osama bin Laden and eight other men were joined on the FBI's Most Wanted List by Warren Jeffs, the leader and self-proclaimed prophet of a polygamist sect called the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints. This sect separated from the mainstream Mormons in 1890 after Mormonism banned polygamy, the practice of men marrying multiple wives.

Warren Jeffs has been charged with rape as an accomplice in Utah and in Arizona with two counts of sexual conduct with a minor and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.

We'll begin the evening with Warren Jeffs' nephew, Brent Jeffs. Brent, you filed suit against your uncle two years ago, why?

BRENT JEFFS, NEPHEW OF WARREN JEFFS: Because he sexually sodomized me when I was a little boy.     Read more
 
 
Did FLDS 'cook the books'?
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Tuesday, May 9, 2006

The noose around fugitive polygamist leader Warren Jeffs is tightening.   Just days after Jeffs was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list, Utah's attorney general confirmed to the Deseret Morning News that his office has been quietly conducting an organized crime investigation into Jeffs and the Fundamentalist LDS Church.   "I believe Warren Jeffs ran the FLDS Church and the UEP as an organized crime-type setup," Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said Monday.  "We just have to get the evidence to prove it."   The attorney general said Jeffs and the FLDS Church are being looked at for "double books, cooking books, offshore accounts and fraud."  In 2005, the Utah Attorney General's Office petitioned the courts to take control of the United Effort Plan (UEP) Trust, which controls homes, businesses and property in the polygamous border towns of Hildale and Colorado City.   A judge appointed a special fiduciary to oversee the $110 million financial arm of the FLDS Church.  It is those records that Shurtleff said his office is examining in the organized-crime investigation.   "We've been following closely what the special fiduciary is uncovering from records and so forth," he said.   "It has been very informative, we'll say."     Read more
 
 
Preaching Polygamy; The Insider; Jeffs on the Run; Inside Secrets
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
CNN
Originally broadcast May 9, 2006

ANNOUNCER: Across the country and around the world, this is ANDERSON COOPER 360. Live from the CNN broadcast center in New York, here's Anderson Cooper.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, thanks for joining us in this 11:00 o'clock edition of 360. We're focusing tonight on Warren Jeffs.

To the FBI, Warren Jeffs is a criminal, the newest name on its 10 most wanted fugitives list. Among the criminal charges he is facing is engaging in sex with a minor.

But to Jeffs' followers -- and there are thousands of them -- and you're seeing pictures of some of them right now -- he's not a criminal, he's a prophet whose word is absolute.

You're about to hear something extremely rare, Warren Jeffs, in his own words, caught on tape.

Here's CNN's Randi Kaye.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His followers, an estimated 10,000 people, believe he is their prophet.

To the FBI, he's one of their top 10 criminals. The prophet, Warren Jeffs, is considered one of the most sinister polygamists of his time, a coldhearted, abusive leader, the head of a secret society where men have dozens of wives and small armies of children, where women as young as 13 are forced to marry and start families. Listen to how the fugitive prophet speaks to first-time brides. This is a rare audio recording of his teachings recorded by a disgruntled member and obtained by "KSL Radio."     Read more
 
 
Lots of tips, but no sign of Jeffs
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published May 11, 2006

ST. GEORGE - Since the announcement that Warren Steed Jeffs was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list as well as being featured on America's Most Wanted, the FBI has been busy following up on tips.   Supervisor special agent Pat Kiernan said the FBI has received a substantial number of tips, which have been keeping special agents busy.   "Every one (tip) is covered no matter how small or how far flung," Kiernan said.  Jeffs, 50, is wanted on charges filed in both Arizona and Utah.  Last year, he was charged by a grand jury in Arizona with two counts of sexual conduct with a minor, one count of conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.  Jeffs was also charged with rape as an accomplice in Utah in April.  After Saturday's announcement by the FBI, the reward for information leading to Jeffs' arrest went up to $100,000.   Kiernan said Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is wanted on two federal charges for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution out of Utah and Arizona and, since Jeffs is a fugitive, that's why the FBI is involved.     Read more
 
 
A Sect's Prophet, Teacher, Fugitive
By David Kelly and Gary Cohn
The Los Angeles Times
Originally published May 13, 2006

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. — There is nothing physically imposing about Warren Jeffs.  He's tall and reedy with a quavering voice and, acquaintances say, an especially limp handshake.   Family members describe the church leader as secretive, strict and "very militant about his religion."   Jeffs, 50, grew up in a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints compound in Salt Lake City, where he served first as a teacher and then principal of the sect's Alta Academy.   "Warren was very reserved, very starchy," said his brother Ward.  "He was an intelligent man, and my father always favored him."   Warren Jeffs is accused of repeatedly raping his then-5-year-old nephew Brent while Jeffs was at the academy.   In a lawsuit filed in 2004 by Brent Jeffs, who is now 23, the church leader is said to have a history of molesting children dating back to when he was 14.  The suit said the church had received complaints for years that he was abusing children yet did nothing to stop him and instead made him school principal.     Read more
 
 
The G-Men Hunt for a Polygamist
Cross Country
U.S. News & World Report
Originally published May 14, 2006 (May 22, 2006 Issue)

Notorious polygamist and self-proclaimed prophet Warren Steed Jeffs, who faces charges of rape, sexual contact with a minor, and arranging marriages between children and adults, has been on the run for two years.   But it's only recently that the big trouble long simmering out west--where Jeffs once led thousands of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints members--has been showing signs of coming to a boil.  The FBI just added Jeffs, 50, a former accountant, to its "Ten Most Wanted Fugitives" list and offered a $100,000 reward for information that leads to his arrest.   Meanwhile, the secretive polygamist church members, who live inside compounds in the neighboring towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., are entangled in an increasingly bitter standoff with authorities over whether they should pay taxes on property the breakaway members have migrated to since the mainstream Mormon church outlawed polygamy in the late 1800s.  Some fear violence.  The feds warned that Jeffs should be considered armed and dangerous.
 
 
Charismatic leader of polygamist sect sought
The Associated Press
KVIA ABC 7 - El Paso, Texas
Originally broadcast May 16, 2006

HILDALE, Utah Critics say polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs has extraordinary control over ten-thousand or so followers in Utah and Arizona.   Jeffs recently was put on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list alongside such figures as terrorist leader Osama bin Laden.   Jeffs is head of a renegade Mormon splinter group called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   He's accused of arranging marriages between underage girls and older men.   Jeffs is charged with child sexual abuse in Arizona and being an accomplice to statutory rape in Utah.   Carolyn Jessop in 2003 fled an 18-year marriage to a man 32 years older than her.  Jessop thinks Jeffs views himself as "untouchable."   An interview request faxed by The Associated Press to a church-owned ranch in Eldorado, Texas, where some say Jeffs has moved church headquarters, brought no response.   He's known to travel with bodyguards in SUV's with tinted windows, slipping in and out of church-owned properties in Colorado, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas and Utah.   The FBI considers Jeffs armed and dangerous.
 
 
Religious polygamist flees federal prosecution
Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is on the run
By Steven Skelley
Naples Sun Times - Naples Florida
Originally published May 17, 2006

The fifty year-old Warren Jeffs is accused of personally arranging marriages between underage girls and older men.  Jeffs's religion also allowed him to break up families of men he disagreed with.  He would then "give" that man's wife and children to another man, often a complete stranger.   The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sect that Jeffs belongs to split from mainstream Mormonism after the Mormon church renounced polygamy in the late 1800's.  The non-Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints church excommunicates members found to be still practicing polygamy.   Jeffs is wanted in Arizona on criminal charges of sexual conduct with a minor.  Utah has charged him as being an accomplice to rape.   Jeffs is now on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted Fugitives list.  There is a $100,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.  As Jeffs continues his misguided religious foolishness and flight from prosecution, people of faith are forced to explain that religious fanatics like Jeffs are not the norm in our churches.     Read more
 
 
Polygamist leader apologizes to LDS Church
By Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4
Originally broadcast May 18, 2006

According to Winston Blackmore, who has a relatively small but growing group of disaffected members of the FLDS Church, Warren Jeffs is a rather un-prophetic prophet.   He remembers a string of predictions about the end of the world that did not come true.  Blackmore says, "April of '99, the world was going to come to an end again.  By mid-99 it was going to come to an end.  By the fall of '99 it was going to come to an end.  And surely, by the millennial change the world was going to come to an end."   Blackmore says Warren Jeffs is controlling.  "He was recording people's conversations.   He was so interested in their private life and intruding in their private life that he wanted to know every detail."   Blackmore says Jeffs tears apart families.  "It was so shocking, and so disgusting and so repulsive."   With views like that, it's little wonder that as Warren took control of the more than 8,000 FLDS polygamists, Winston was out.     Read more
 
 
Crematorium oven allegedly ordered for polygamist temple by Warren Jeffs
By Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast May 24, 2006

Some former or expelled members of Warren Jeffs' FLDS sect recently told ABC 4 News about some disturbing projects ordered by their former leader.   One of those projects called for the acquisition of a thermostat used for controlling a crematorium oven, a device so powerful and hot, it would be capable of destroying human DNA.   The knowlege of the crematorium thermostat is raising some concerns in the law enforcement community, especially when one considers a drastic and brutal doctrine within the polygamst sect.   It's called blood atonement.  Warren Jeffs has been preaching it for years.  Now some who have left his FLDS church say he may be ready to put into practice what he has preached.   Blood atonement as taught by Jeffs means that the atonement of Jesus Christ does not cover all sins in all circumstances.  "He no longer believes in forgiveness and repentance.  That's a thing of the past.  It's over," said FLDS dissident Ross Chatwin.   Carolyn Jessop, another dissident, confirmed that when Warren Jeffs talks about the shedding of blood, he's not just talking about a couple drops.  She said, "Your priesthood head or whoever is god to you -- for a woman that would be her husband ... your throat is slit from ear to ear."   Chatwin is worried.  "There's a lot of people gone.  I have no idea where they're at.  Warren may be doing these blood atonements now."     Read more
 
 
What is terrorism?
By Henry Schuster
CNN
Originally published Thursday, May 25, 2006

Editor's note: Henry Schuster, a senior producer in CNN's Investigative Unit and author of "Hunting Eric Rudolph," has been covering terrorism for more than a decade. Each week in "Tracking Terror," he reports on people and organizations driving international and domestic terrorism, and efforts to combat them.

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (CNN) -- I am out west in Utah, Nevada and Arizona looking for the other fundamentalist polygamist on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list. The one whose name isn't Osama bin Laden. It's Warren Jeffs.


When I talk to folks -- be they former members of Jeffs' Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) or investigators -- and tell them my normal beat is terrorism, they invariably reply by saying that what Jeffs is accused of doing is itself terrorism.   Sam Brower is a private investigator who has been looking into Jeffs and his organization for the past three years.  He has helped plaintiffs in civil suits against Jeffs (at least two civil suits remain unresolved) and has spent time and effort trying to understand the man.   Brower compares Jeffs and his church to Afghanistan's former rulers, the Taliban.     Read more
 
 
Will Web site help reap FLDS taxes?
Fiduciary posts facts online about the church's UEP Trust
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Thursday, June 1, 2006

People within the Fundamentalist LDS Church have long been told to shun newspapers, radio and TV — but what about the Internet?   he court-appointed special fiduciary of the FLDS' United Effort Plan (UEP) Trust is hoping people within the polygamous border towns of Hildale and Colorado City, Ariz., are plugged into cyberspace — at least enough to see his Web site and pay their property taxes.   Bruce Wisan has launched www.ueptrust.com to "communicate information about UEP land and management issues to the people living on trust land and other interested parties."  It includes the latest court rulings, notices and updates on the financial battles surrounding the UEP Trust.   "I know there are FLDS people that use the Internet," Wisan said Wednesday.  "There's some FLDS that — through business — do have Internet capability."   The UEP Trust controls homes, businesses and property within Hildale, Colorado City and a scattering of homes in Bountiful, British Columbia, in Canada.  In 2005, the state of Utah took control of the UEP and ousted the board of trustees, including fugitive FLDS leader Warren Jeffs.  A judge placed Wisan in charge, assisted by an advisory board.  The UEP Trust has assets estimated at more than $110 million.   "The long-term goal of the UEP Trust is to administer housing solutions and to spur economic development by way of investment and job creation," the Web site said.     Read more
 
 
FBI chief speaks about Warren Jeffs, the late Jack Anderson
By Brent Hunsaker and Chris Jones
ABC 4 News
Originally published June 8, 2006

It is not a question of if, just when.  FBI Director Robert Mueller told Salt Lake reporters that fugitive polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs will be arrested.  He has statistics on his side.   The FBI has a 94% arrest rate for those placed on the "Ten Most Wanted List".   "Always in a situation like this it takes time," Director Mueller said.  "My expectation is that we will catch him."   Mueller brushed aside a challenge that Jeffs should not be on the same list as Osama Bin Laden.  "This is a person (Jeffs) who preys on children.  I would expect that most of the American public would view such a person as this as a person who belongs behind bars."   The placement of Jeffs on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List isn't the only way that law enforcement is ratcheting up the pressure over the last couple months.   Washington County, Utah, filed two first degree felony charges against Jeffs.  He's charged with being an "accomplice to rape".     Read more
 
 
Polygamists Pay Back Taxes
The Associated Press
KUTV Channel 2
Originally published June 20, 2006

SALT LAKE CITY A past-due tax bill on property and homes in the polygamist community of Hildale was paid off Tuesday – partially ending a monthslong standoff between many residents and the court-appointed accountant who was forced to resort to eviction threats to get some of the taxes paid.   A mostly cash payment of more than $10,000 was delivered to the Washington County treasurer's office about 11:30 a.m., accounting specialist Michelle Jacobson said.   That money, coupled with a payment made late Friday, cleared the outstanding balance of $17,950.50.  The overall tax bill for 2005 was about $295,000.   "They paid every bit of it," she said.  "There is even a $301.59 credit on one of the accounts."   For months the property taxes in Hildale and its sister community Colorado City, Ariz., had gone unpaid.  Home to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the two communities had reportedly been ordered by exiled church leader Warren Jeffs not to cooperate with government officials or a court-ordered accountant appointed to oversee the church's United Effort Plan Trust.     Read more
 
 
SERVICE BY PUBLICATION
The Spectrum - Legal Notices
Originally published June 28, 2006

The Fifth District Court to:

Drue Cornel Cooke
Thomas Arden Holm
Brian Richard Jessop
Jonathan J. Jessop
Wayne Jessop
Willie Jessop
Lawrence Stubbs
Janet White

You are hereby ordered to appear at the Fifth District Court, Washington County, State of Utah on Friday, July 7th at 1:30 p.m., so that the Court may determine if you are a material witness in and should be required to travel to Maricopa County, Arizona, to testify in Case No. 58 SGJ 106, on the 12th day of July, 2006. This order is made in accordance with provisions of Section 71-21-1, et. seq., Utah Code Annotated 1953, as amended. Failure to appear in accordance with this order will subject you to sanctions by this Court, which may include a warrant for your arrest.

Pub#L8066 published on
June 25 & 28, 2006.
The Spectrum UPAXLP
 
 
FBI Investigating Report Of Warren Jeffs Sighting
The Associated Press
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally published June 30, 2006

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- FBI agents were in a Cedar City subdivision Friday investigating a report that fugitive polygamist church leader Warren Jeffs had entered a residence there.   Jeffs, 50, was named to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list in May.  He is wanted on felony charges in both Arizona and Utah, accused of arranging marriage between underage girls and older men.   "Any time we get any sort of tip like this we're going to take it seriously and respond immediately," said Salt Lake City-based FBI spokesman Patrick Kiernan.  "We have agents on the scene and we are investigating."   Kiernan said Jeffs was not in the home.   Cedar City police received a 1:26 p.m. telephone tip from a neighbor who claimed to have seen Jeffs get out of a car and enter a home in the Black Rock subdivision, said an Iron County public safety dispatcher who had permission to release some information but did not want her name published.   Officers from Cedar City contacted the FBI, whose nearest office is 60 miles south of Cedar City, and then went to the residence with officers from the Utah Highway Patrol, Iron County sheriff's office and Enoch, including a SWAT team, Kiernan said.     Read more
 
 
Arizona forges ahead with FLDS trial
Prosecutors frustrated by towns' lack of cooperation
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Saturday, July 1, 2006

The sexual misconduct trial of polygamist Kelly Fischer will go forward, even without the alleged victim or any witnesses.   Police and prosecutors in Mohave County, Ariz., have been unable to find the the victim or witnesses to serve subpoenas to testify in the Colorado City man's July 5 trial in Kingman.   "We haven't been able to serve any of them," Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith said Friday.  "It's not for lack of effort, either."   Fischer, 39, is one of eight Colorado City men facing charges of sexual conduct with a minor and conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor.  The men are accused of being in polygamous marriages to underage girls.   Without his victim or his witnesses, Smith said he will continue with a criminal trial against Fischer using birth certificates and expert witnesses.   He expressed frustration that no one can seem to find anyone in the polygamous border towns of Hildale and Colorado City.   "It's hard to believe that in this day and age, that you would be unable to serve subpoenas.  That a whole society would be that closed off.  You can't talk to anybody or get any cooperation or get any witnesses," Smith said.  "It's unbelievable."     Read more
 
 
Warning Letter Sent To Polygamist-Trust Accountant
By Jennifer Dobner
The Associated Press
KUTV Channel 2
Originally published July 11, 2006

SALT LAKE CITY An attorney for the Hildale City Council is claiming a process server may have violated Utah's trespassing law when delivering tax demand letters to residents – a move that appears to be a push-back against authorities who have taken control of a trust that owns most of the city's homes.   Beginning in May, residents of Hildale were hand-delivered tax notices by a local man working for Bruce Wisan, a court-appointed accountant in charge of the United Effort Plan Trust.  The trust is the charitable arm of the polygamy-practicing Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which dominates the communities of Hildale and Colorado City, Ariz.   In a letter sent to Wisan on June 20, Hildale's contract attorney, Richard Chamberlain of Richfield, said people posting notices have been "a little careless and callous" in their manner.   Chamberlain wrote that in some instances he believes servers have violated state trespass laws by "interfering with the occupants' right to privacy and the safe and secure occupancy of the premises."   Wisan disagrees.   "I feel comfortable with what we're doing and how we've been doing it," he said Monday, adding that he didn't think Chamberlain had complete information.     Read more
 
 
The Man with 80 Wives, Channel 4, 10.50pm
The Herald - Glasgow, Scotland
Originally published July 19, 2006

Channel 4's Tainted Love strand begins with the story of Warren Jeffs, leader of a polygamous cult.  He's rumoured to have at least 80 wives, more than 200 children – and some 10,000 followers who consider him a prophet.  But he's also on the FBI's most-wanted list, with a $100,000 bounty on his head.  He's wanted for arranging marriages between under-age girls and older, married men – and his nephew has alleged that Jeffs raped him when he was five.   There is even concern that Jeffs might be prepared to sacrifice his followers in a Waco-style suicide pact.

Journalist Sanjiv Bhattacharya embarks on a search for Jeffs, who hasn't been seen in public for more than a year.  Who is the real Warren Jeffs: a religious delusionist or a psychopathic narcissist?  Why do some of the community's women allow themselves to be treated as commodities?  Can Sanjiv succeed where the FBI have failed?
 
 
America's most wanted: The man with eighty wives
Warren Jeffs is the brutal tyrant behind America's leading Mormon cult - as well as a prolific polygamist with a penchant for child brides. For two years he has been the target of an FBI manhunt. Sanjiv Bhattacharya joined the chase
The Independent - London, England
Originally published July 19, 2006

It is astonishing how much a cult leader can get done while he is on the run from the FBI.  Witness the case of Warren Jeffs, leader of the largest fundamentalist Mormon cult in the US, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) whose members number in the region of 10,000.   In the two years Jeffs has been a fugitive from justice, he has built compounds in Colorado, South Dakota and Texas, the latter including a huge temple.  He has rigorously controlled his followers, draining them of $5m (£2.7m) per month by some estimates, and performed scores of marriages in his capacity as "Prophet", no doubt adding to his own tally of 80 or so wives along the way (no one knows the exact figure).   It is also possible that he has raped dozens of children.  Jeffs is wanted for sex with a minor, conspiracy to have sex with a minor and rape of a minor as an accomplice.  If caught and convicted, he could face a lifetime in prison.  That he has been able to do all of this while eluding capture - by not only the FBI, but police in six states - might suggest that he is a highly sophisticated fugitive.  And perhaps he is.   But he cannot take all the credit - for most of his two years in hiding, the law enforcement agencies have been as inactive as he has been busy.   I discovered this when I set off to try to track Jeffs down for my programme The Man With 80 Wives.  I spent a month criss-crossing the country questioning his followers and former followers, his brother and nephew and, most significantly, some of his most senior henchmen, known as "bishops".     Read more
 
 
Polygamist Leader's Brother Among Those Imprisoned
By Jennifer Dobner
The Associated Press
KUTV Channel 2
Originally published July 22, 2006

ST. GEORGE - An accountant believed to hold the financial and family secrets of a polygamist church and its fugitive leader – who is his brother – is among five men being held in a federal prison after allegedly refusing to testify before a federal grand jury in Arizona.   Leroy Jeffs is the older brother of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs.  Once the lead accountant for the FLDS church, Leroy Jeffs was privy to details about the secretive church, including its property holdings, tithing information and detailed records of illegal plural marriages that occurred among the faith's estimated 10,000 members in the border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., a former church member said.   "I would say if anybody knew, Leroy knew," said Richard Holm, an excommunicated church member who continues to live in Hildale.  "He would also know more about Warren's motives than anybody else."   But since April 18, Leroy Jeffs has been sitting in the Central Arizona Detention Facility in Florence, prison officials said Friday.     Read more
 
 
Rival polygamist leader to re-dedicate controversial monument located near core of Warren Jeffs' followers
By Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally published July 26, 2006

A historical marker to the Short Creek raid once briefly stood in Colorado City.  Warren Jeffs, leader of the largest polygamist group in the United States, ordered it destroyed and the pieces scattered among the red cliffs above the polygamist community on the Utah-Arizona border.  Now, a rival to Jeffs wants to replace the marker that was destroyed.  He also wants to put a thorn back in Jeffs' side.   The rival is Winston Blackmore.  Blackmore was once known among the FLDS as "The Bishop of Bountiful".  He presided over the 2nd largest FLDS community of Bountiful, British Columbia - just across the Canadian border from Idaho.  But he was kicked out of the Church in the late 90's and is now one of Warren's most powerful and vocal opponents.   He says the monument he will dedicate in a park in Colorado City is simply to remind the people of the raid conducted by Arizona law enforcement in 1953.  But observers see it as an open challenge to Warren's leadership in the heart of what remains the largest single concentration of "Warrenites".     Read more
 
 
Monument Built For Polygamists Jailed In 1953 Raid
The Associated Press
KUTV Channel 2
Originally published July 26, 2006

COLORADO CITY/HILDALE - A marker honoring polygamist families arrested and jailed during a raid on their homes 53 years ago was erected in a Colorado City, Ariz., park Thursday – a gift from leader of a Canadian polygamist sect with ties to the community.   The monument is intended both as a symbol of the past and the future, Winston Blackmore said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.  Blackmore, who runs an independent polygamist sect in Bountiful, British Columbia, dedicated the monument in a short ceremony in Colorado City's Cottonwood Park while about 100 people looked on.   "It's really important that the people in Colorado City remember what we stood for, what our old leaders stood for," Blackmore said.   "If they could get that back, then maybe some of these families would take the initiative and gather together to get this community back to what it was."     Read more
 
 
Polygamists defy Warren Jeffs by re-dedicating controversial monument
By Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally published July 27, 2006

On a hot Wednesday morning along the Arizona strip, about a hundred people gathered in a park in Colorado City for an act of defiance.   They unveiled a stone marker to what is known around town as the Short Creek raid of 1953.   The raid was an attempt by Arizona authorities to wipe out polygamy.  Law Enforcement officers moved in to arrest the men and send the children off to other communities to be adopted.  "My father was 83 years old," said Joe Jessop.  Joe had just turned 12 a few days before the raid.  "He died (in 1954) just a couple weeks after he got out of jail."   Ultimately, the raid failed in its goal.  The families were separated, but only temporarily.  Eventually they reunited and returned to their community along the Utah-Arizona border to continue practicing "the principle" that they believe is central to their religion.   So, was this an act of defiance against the government?   The modest memorial certainly recalled an event that is perceived by many as a gross abuse of governmental power.   But no, the defiance was not directed as much at the government as the fugitive leader of the FLDS church, Warren Jeffs.     Read more
 
 
Property taxes are paid for 2 polygamous towns
Money turned over despite Jeffs' orders to his followers
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Friday, August 4, 2006

Despite an edict from fugitive Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs telling his followers not to pay property taxes, all of the property tax bills in the polygamous border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., have now been paid.   Approximately $1,117,467 in property taxes were paid on the Arizona side of the border, Mohave County Treasurer Lee Fabrizio said Thursday.  More than $250,000 in taxes were paid in June to the Washington County Treasurer's Office in St. George.   Staffers in the Mohave County Treasurer's Office told the Deseret Morning News that a lone member of the Colorado City community has been coming in over the past few weeks, bringing in "substantial amounts" of cash and money orders to pay the taxes on behalf of others.   It's good news to Bruce Wisan, the court-appointed special fiduciary of the United Effort Plan (UEP) Trust.  The UEP is the FLDS Church's financial arm.   "Although Warren has said 'Say nothing, do nothing, sign nothing,' we've devised a way for them to pay their taxes without having to be personally involved in the court process," he told the Deseret Morning News on Thursday.     Read more
 
 
Alternatives Offered In Polygamist Trust Battle
The Associated Press
KUTV Channel 2
Originally published August 14, 2006

SALT LAKE CITY More than a year after Utah's courts seized control of a polygamist church trust, attorneys have proposed reforms that will allow church members – not the trust – to own the homes they've built.  "To own their homes is something that they've never had before and that's significant," said Greg Hoole, an attorney who represents beneficiaries of the United Effort Plan Trust.   The charitable arm of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the $100 million trust holds most of the property and homes in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., where most church's estimated 10,000 members live.  Church leaders have controlled trust assets for decades, using homes and property as punishment or reward for members deemed faithful or fallen.  On Monday, 3rd District Judge Denise P. Lindberg gave tentative approval to reforms that will forever strip church leaders of that control, and give both active and former church members a chance to control their own lives.  The proposal was drafted by attorneys for Bruce Wisan, the certified public accountant Lindberg put in control of the trust in June 2005, after state attorneys said church leaders were using it for personal benefit, including keeping fugitive church leader Warren Jeffs in hiding.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs history & background
ABC 4 News
Originally published August 29, 2006

BORN: December 3, 1955 in San Francisco, California.  Took over as "prophet" in 2002.  WIVES: Believed to have over 80 wives.  The one he was captured with, Naomi, was born in 1974.  NUMBER IN FLDS CHURCH: Current membership is estimated to be 6,000 to 10,000.  Also estimated (by the FBI) that there are about 1,200 men who hold the priesthood.  RULON T. JEFFS: had "married" 22 women and had more than 60 children, though Jon Krakauer's book, "Under The Banner Of Heaven" attributed 75 wives to him.  Due to the secrecy of the FLDS church, exact numbers are unknown.     Read more
 
 
Leader of polygamist sect charismatic, zealous
By Debbie Hummel
The Associated Press
Dallas/Ft.Worth Star-Telegram
Originally published August 29, 2006

SALT LAKE CITY - He's a tall, lanky, rather bookish-looking man who has cast a broad shadow across the 10,000 or so members of his polygamy-practicing church.  In the four years since Warren Steed Jeffs took over leadership of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he has exercised extraordinary control over its followers with his particular combination of zeal, charisma and intolerance for disloyalty.  Jeffs had been on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list since May, with a $100,000 reward offered for information leading to his capture.  He is wanted in Utah and Arizona on charges of arranging two marriages between underage girls and older men.  The charges include two counts of rape as an accomplice in Utah, with each count punishable by up to life in prison.  Despite his soft voice and slight frame, the 6-foot-3 Jeffs is described as an imposing figure on his federal "wanted" poster, regarded as a prophet by some and a dangerous extremist by others.  Cold and abrupt is how historian D. Michael Quinn remembers Jeffs after a brief meeting in the 1990s.  Quinn had set up an appointment to speak with Jeffs' father, Rulon, who was then president of the FLDS church.  Quinn had spoken with Rulon Jeffs himself to confirm the appointment and arrived at the designated compound on time, he said.  "Out came the man that I later recognized as Warren Jeffs with two or three other men saying the appointment been canceled," Quinn said.  "In this interchange with me, it was very obvious to me that he had canceled his father's plans and he was there to enforce that."     Read more
 
 
Blackmore possible successor to Jeffs
By 3TV staff
TVK Channel 3 - Phoenix
Originally published Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Warren Jeffs took control of the polygamist sect from his father after his death.  But who's next in line?  The heir-apparent is a former follower of Jeffs' who started a splinter fundamentalist Mormon group after falling out of Jeffs' favor.  He reportedly has 80 children from 26 wives, many of them from Colorado City.  For two decades Blackmore was the bishop of Bountiful, a secretive and secluded polygamist community in British Columbia, just north of the Idaho border.  As the most powerful man in Bountiful, Blackmore decided who should marry whom and who deserved additional wives.  But he insists that he discourages the younger girls from marrying too soon which has Blackmore positioning himself as the anti-Warren.  Blackmore has accumulated considerable personal wealth.  He has business interests in British Columbia, Alberta and Idaho which include grain, cattle farming, forestry and transportation.  His estimated worth is more than $15,000,00
 
 
Polygamist fugitive Jeffs arrested with cash, cell phones, wigs
By Ken Ritter
The Associated Press
Las Vegas Sun
Originally published August 29, 2006

LAS VEGAS (AP) - A fugitive polygamist leader who was on the FBI's Most Wanted List was found with cell phones, laptop computers, wigs and more than $50,000 in cash when he was arrested in Nevada, authorities said Tuesday.  Warren Steed Jeffs, 50, was arrested without incident and no weapons were found when he and two others were pulled over on a routine traffic stop and taken into custody late Monday, said FBI special agent in charge Steven Martinez.  Jeffs, who was not driving, was stopped in a 2007 red Cadillac Escalade by a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper on Interstate 15 just north of Las Vegas.  He was being held as a fugitive in the Clark County jail.  He faces sexual misconduct charges in Utah and Arizona for allegedly arranging marriages between underage girls and older men.  It was not immediately clear if Jeffs would face extradition to Arizona or Utah.  "The inventory search is not complete.  No weapons were found in the car, thus far, or at the scene," Martinez told reporters in Las Vegas.  Martinez said Jeffs initially used an alias, but Martinez would not disclose the name.     Read more
 
 
From school principal to polygamist prophet
By Mark Shaffer
Arizona Republic - Flagstaff Bureau
Originally published August 29, 2006

Before he became a polygamist prophet, Warren Jeffs spent 22 years as principal of Alta Academy in suburban Salt Lake City, where all the high school students thought so much of him that they pooled their work earnings one year and bought him a $20,000 van.  "He was a very strict guy but very nice also," said Brigham Fischer, who attended the school in the early 1990s, while Jeffs was principal.  Fischer said he never saw a side of Jeffs that would ultimately lead the future leader of Colorado City's Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sect to inclusion on the FBI's Top 10 Most Wanted list and a fugitive on the lam for more than a year.  Jeffs was captured late Monday during a traffic stop north of Las Vegas.  But those were in the days before the bizarre, paranoid Jeffs, who has become the nation's most vilified polygamist since Joseph Smith.  And, probably, the most unlikely leader ever of the hard-bitten, frontier-influenced multiple marriage sects scattered throughout the West.  Fischer and other students remember Jeffs as being a goofy, lanky string bean of a man with thick glasses who often clowned for the camera during school pictures.  The Alta school was abruptly closed in 1998, because Jeffs' father, Rulon Jeffs, then the leader of the FLDS sect, the largest group of polygamist adherents in the country, had apocalyptic visions of the Salt Lake City area being destroyed.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs' arrest puts his flock in limbo
By Dennis Wagner
The Arizona Republic
Originally published August 30, 2006

Authorities have dogged Warren Steed Jeffs and the fundamentalist church he controls for several years, targeting polygamy, fraud and corruption in the twin hamlets of Colorado City and Hildale on the Arizona-Utah line.  They struggled to obtain convictions against leaders, however, because women and children in the tight-knit group refused to testify.   With the arrest of Jeffs, officials are hopeful that victims of sexual abuse may feel safe to step forward.  Jeffs, 50, was captured late Monday near Las Vegas.  He was wanted in Arizona and Utah on felony charges in connection with arranged marriages involving minor girls.  "Until today, Warren Jeffs was able to say, 'I'm above the law,' and his followers were terrorized by that," Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said.  "He had divine intervention that would smite them. . . . His control has got to be weaker than it was yesterday."  Goddard said he has no illusions that the church will dissolve with Jeffs behind bars.  Jeffs is so-called prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which has polygamous communities in Arizona, Utah, Texas and Canada.  The church split away from the mainstream Mormon faith more than a century ago over polygamy, and there is no present-day affiliation.  "Warren Jeffs had said he's untouchable and answers only to God and God protects him and keeps him safe," Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said.  "This is a crack in that veneer.  For those who fear him, they'll see he is behind bars like any other common criminal." Former church members seemed less certain of the impact, suggesting that the spiritual leader may only increase his status while in government custody.     Read more
 
 
Polygamist leader held grip on followers as fugitive
The Associated Press
KGBT 4 TV - Harlingen, Texas
Originally broadcast August 30, 2006

DATELINE After the capture of a fugitive polygamist church leader, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard thinks it will be easier now victims to step forward with information.  Fifty-year-old Warren Jeffs faces sexual misconduct charges for allegedly arranging marriages between underage girls and older men.  He was arrested during a traffic stop this week north of Las Vegas.  Former church member Andrew Chatwin says Jeff's arrest might provide a window of opportunity for some who have silently questioned the state of the church.  It also might shock fiercely loyal members who consider Jeffs an untouchable prophet of God.  Attorney Rod Parker, who has defended the church in the past says the insular communities Jeffs leads are expressing quiet sadness.  Jeffs' sect has built a large retreat development in Eldorado, Texas, about 40 miles south of San Angelo.
 
 
From 'nerd' to FLDS chief
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Wednesday, August 30, 2006

As the story goes, Warren Jeffs was not supposed to live.  On Dec. 3, 1955, he was born premature to Marilyn Steed, the fourth wife of his father, Rulon Jeffs.  He is one of dozens of siblings.  Jeffs grew up at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon, in a compound of homes that would later become the site of the Alta Academy, a private FLDS-run school.  The man who would become the FLDS Church's prophet was a bit of a nerd in high school.  His 1972 yearbook at Jordan High School in Sandy shows a young man in a shirt and tie and horn-rimmed glasses.  Graduating in 1973, Jeffs was one of the top students in the school academically.  The Beetdigger's high school yearbook says Jeffs was in the top 10 percent and the top 3 percent of his class.  Alumnus find it more than a little amusing that one of Jordan High's top 10 students is now on the FBI's top 10 list of wanted fugitives     Read more
 
 
Who Will be the Next Polygamist Prophet?
Fugitive leader Warren Jeffs is arrested, but that doesn't necessarily mean the end of his sect
By Peta Owens-Liston
TIME Magazine
September 4, 2006 Issue

Posted Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2006
During his 14 months in hiding from the FBI, Warren Jeffs managed to continue controlling and directing his followers — members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, who number an estimated 10,000, most based in the border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  Although wanted for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution charges of forcing underage marriages, he conducted even more underage unions, exiled men from their homes and families who were considered "unworthy," and ordered followers not to pay their taxes.  Some fear that his arrest could now create a power vacuum within his sect and attract other Jeffs-minded leaders interested in doing it their own way.  There is also the possibility of an exiled member returning to establish new leadership.  Carolyn Jessop, a former member of Jeffs' sect, points out that there are two high-powered, charismatic men who could possibly move back to Colorado City and take Jeffs' place: one is her ex-husband, Merrell Jessop, who oversees the sect's compound in Texas; the other is Wendell Neilson, who likely oversees another compound.  But she considers this unlikely.  "I don't think Warren would give away any of his power — he's too controlling and hungry for it and these men would be threats to his leadership.  Plus they would never go against Jeffs' wishes."  Jessop predicts that Jeffs will rely on his full brother, Lyle Jeffs, to act as his puppet and carry out his "revelations" from prison.  "He has had it too good for too long to let this thing go — he would rather watch the whole church dissipate than let someone else take over power," says Jessop.     Read more
 
 
Uncertain future for US polygamy sect
The arrest of US religious leader Warren Jeffs over alleged sex offences has brought his reclusive polygamous sect back into the public eye.
BBC News
Originally published Wednesday, 30 August 2006

The 50-year-old head of the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), was caught near Las Vegas after spending at least two years on the run.  He went into hiding after being charged in Arizona with sexual misconduct for allegedly arranging marriages between minors and older men.  He is also wanted in Utah on charges of being an accomplice to rape.  Although placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List three months ago, Mr Jeffs was eventually found as the result of a routine check by traffic police in Nevada.  His arrest means the breakaway Mormon sect, which has an estimated 10,000 members, must face the prospect of having its way of life examined in court.  The FLDS split from the Mormon Church more than a century ago after the latter renounced polygamy.  The isolated sect now dominates the towns of Colorado City, in Arizona, and Hildale, in Utah, less than a mile away.  A compound in Eldorado, Texas, is also home to a growing community.  Members believe a man must marry at least three wives in order to ascend to heaven.     Read more
 
 
From jail, Jeffs may hold sway
Officials worry control of polygamous enclave will continue
By Mark Shaffer
The Arizona Republic
Originally published August 31, 2006

COLORADO CITY - The man tasked with dragging a polygamous sect into the 21st century got a taste a few weeks ago of how much control Warren Steed Jeffs had over his flock, even after 14 months on the run.  Bruce Wisan, who oversees the trust that controls most of Colorado City, Ariz., and neighboring Hildale, Utah, called a public hearing to explain details of his plan to disperse the trust's housing and land to church members.  The holdings were placed in trust last year after they were wrested from Jeffs and high-ranking followers of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Only two people attended the hearing, a father and son, out of the estimated 8,000 people living in the largest multiple-marriage community in the country.  "He controlled things while he was on the run, and he'll control things while he is behind bars, just like mob leaders do," Wisan said.  Jeffs, who was on the FBI's most-wanted list, was arrested Monday night north of Las Vegas during a traffic stop.  Wisan, special fiduciary of the United Effort Plan trust, said that despite Jeffs' legal problems, he never lost control over his disciples while he was evading capture.     Read more
 
 
PAULA ZAHN NOW
Polygamist Leader Heads to Utah
CNN
Originally broadcast August 31, 2006

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: And thank you for joining us on a busy news day that has seen major developments in one of this year's most important top stories, the looming showdown over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

ROBERTS: Another "Top Story" we're following tonight: the capture of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.  We got our first close look at him today during a quick, but important court appearance -- coming up, where Jeffs goes next and the charges that he will face.  Earlier today, we finally got a good look at the man who has been the subject of a nationwide search.  Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs' future remains one of the nation's top stories.  We will have the very latest for you in just a minute.  We're also going to take a closer look at one of the most successful tools for catching fugitives, including Warren Jeffs.

Jeffs was caught this week in a routine traffic stop in Nevada.  And, today, he appeared in a Las Vegas courtroom.  He declined to fight extradition to Utah, where he will face charges of being an accomplice to rape.  Jeffs leads a community of 10,000 fundamental Mormon followers, who consider him a prophet.  Authorities say he has almost total control over those followers.

Ted Rowlands joins me now with the latest developments in Las Vegas from Las Vegas.

And, Ted, Jeffs didn't look much like a prophet in the courtroom today.

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, John.     Read more
 
 
Polygamist leader held grip on followers as fugitive
The Associated Press
KTEN Channel 10 - Denison, Texas
Originally broadcast August 31, 2006

DATELINE After the capture of a fugitive polygamist church leader, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard thinks it will be easier now victims to step forward with information.  Fifty-year-old Warren Jeffs faces sexual misconduct charges for allegedly arranging marriages between underage girls and older men.  He was arrested during a traffic stop this week north of Las Vegas.  Former church member Andrew Chatwin says Jeff's arrest might provide a window of opportunity for some who have silently questioned the state of the church.  It also might shock fiercely loyal members who consider Jeffs an untouchable prophet of God.  Attorney Rod Parker, who has defended the church in the past says the insular communities Jeffs leads are expressing quiet sadness.  Jeffs' sect has built a large retreat development in Eldorado, Texas, about 40 miles south of San Angelo.
 
 
Power and polygamy
By Jennifer Dobner
The Associated Press
Star-Tribune - Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Originally published Thursday, August 31, 2006

HILDALE, Utah -- While polygamist church leader Warren Jeffs has been a fugitive from the law for the past two years, he's never loosened his powerful grip on the 10,000 members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who live in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  People with a working knowledge of the insular communities suggest that Jeffs is likely to continue his hold on the faithful -- even from behind bars. Jeffs was arrested in a traffic stop Monday night in Las Vegas.  "I think there's a structure in place that if Warren got caught they'll still carry out his word, and they'll figure out how to keep communicating with him," said Andrew Chatwin, a former church members who moved back to Hildale last year.  On Tuesday, women with plaited hair and long dresses hoed their gardens under the late summer sun, a few kids rode bikes or played basketball at the local school and men in pickup trucks drove through town casting wary looks to outsiders.  "They'll stay loyal," Chatwin said. "Warren's not dead yet."  At the Food Town grocery store, a manager was calling police to have media shooed from the parking lot.  "Can't you see you're bad for business?" he asked an AP reporter.  "When you're here, I can't sell groceries."     Read more
 
 
Battle for sect
'Blood is just boiling' in B.C. commune after leader's arrest
The Canadian Press
Toronto Sun
Originally published Thursday, August 31, 2006

VANCOUVER -- A woman who escaped from a breakaway fundamentalist Mormon commune says the group's leaders will be battling for control of the B.C. sect after the arrest Monday of so-called prophet Warren Jeffs in Las Vegas.  Jeffs will be prosecuted first in Utah, then in Arizona, on charges that he arranged marriages of underage girls to older men, authorities said yesterday.  Arizona officials filed charges first, but Utah prosecutors agreed to try Jeffs first because they believe they have a stronger case and more serious charges, including two counts of rape by accomplice, which accuse Jeffs of forcing a girl to marry an older man and submit to him sexually.  Debbie Palmer, who escaped from the commune, said in an interview that Winston Blackmore of Bountiful, B.C., will be assessing his options for taking power over the dissident Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Blackmore was removed as bishop of Bountiful by Jeffs and replaced with her brother, Jim Oler.  "I know that Winston has been positioning himself to be available as a leader for any of the ones who have become disillusioned," she said yesterday.  But that could be difficult.  While Oler is Jeffs' point man and "enforcer" in Bountiful, he is also Blackmore's nephew.  "The fact that Jim accepted the position under Warren to be a bishop was quite a shock to all of us because Jim and Winston had been quite close.     Read more
 
 
'It's part of our life': Polygamy persists despite society's rejection in southwestern US
The Associated Press
International Herald Tribune
Originally published September 1, 2006

CANE BEDS, Arizona Ben Bistline chuckles when asked to explain why the practice of polygamy persists.  The outside world, he says, just doesn't get it.  "We just grew up in polygamy," said Bistline, a 70-something former polygamist and local historian.  "It's part of our life.  I don't know how else to say it."  Bistline has lived most his life along the Utah-Arizona border in a community once known as Short Creek — home of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He was here when Arizona authorities raided the community in 1953 in an attempt to stop plural marriages and has seen dozens of men and women jailed for their beliefs.  "They believe that it's necessary to gain their exaltation to the highest level of heaven," he said.  "They've been taught that since the day they were born.  It won't change."  Not even with the prosecution of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs.  "He's not the sole supporter of polygamy," said Lori Chatwin, a Colorado City woman who grew up there and married at 17.  "It's a religious belief."     Read more
 
 
Investigators say Jeffs had everything he needed to elude authorities
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published September 1, 2006

HURRICANE - Unlike some criminal suspects on the lam, Warren Steed Jeffs, 50, had something most who are fleeing felonies do not - an unlimited supply of money and scores of faithful followers willing to protect and hide him, according to investigators.  Private investigator Sam Brower, who has worked on the Warren Jeffs case for several attorneys for the last two years, said since 2002 Jeffs has asked followers for money.  Jeffs took over the leadership of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, whose followers predominately live in the twin cites of Hildale and Colorado City, Ariz., and required his followers to pay a 10 percent tithing to the church along with $1,000 a month.  Brower said in 2002, there was a sermon where Jeffs talked about people stopping work on their own properties and putting the money they would put into their own homes into the bishops storehouse, which is him.  "As far as how much he brought in, we can only speculate, but let's take a conservative estimate and say that there are just 1,000 people there that were donating the required $1,000 a month, that's a million dollars a month," Brower said.  "That's not counting the 10 percent extra money from people's work and business."  Brower said Jeffs micromanaged people's businesses the same way he does their lives and their families and everything else.     Read more
 
 
Imprisoned men from polygamist sect released from prison
The Associated Press
AZFamily Daily News
Originally published September 1, 2006

HURRICANE, Utah -- Six men incarcerated for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury in Phoenix have been released from prison.  The men had been found in contempt of court by a federal judge, and some had been locked up since April.  All are believed to be members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a polygamy-practicing sect based in neighboring cities of Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah.  The U.S. Attorney's office in Phoenix has never confirmed the existence of a grand jury investigation and its secret proceedings.  But it's been widely reported that authorities began serving subpoenas on members of the FLDS church beginning last January.  The office declined comment today on the release of the six men from prison.  It's unknown what questions were put to the six men or what kind of case federal prosecutors were trying to build.   FLDS leader Warren Jeffs was arrested on federal warrants Monday near Las Vegas.  He waived extradition to Utah yesterday.  One of Jeffs' brothers and another relative were among the six men who were released Tuesday.
 
 
Jeffs transport still pending
The Associated Press
KVOA News 4 - Tucson
Originally published September 1, 2006

HILDALE, Utah -- While authorities continue to work out extradition logistics that will bring polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs to Utah to stand trial on charges of rape by accomplice, a former Jeffs follower says there's a possibility the key witness could fold on the stand.  Former member Ross Chatwin said he expects Jeffs to play the role of a "sympathetic Jesus" or spiritual martyr in court.  That pressure might be too great for a young woman once part of the insular and obedient sect, Chatwin said.  "He'll say things like "I'll forgive you," and make her see that she's going to be the Judas here if she does this," said Chatwin.  "I don't think that she's going to make it."  Chatwin successfully fought Jeffs' Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints for the right to stay in his home in 2004.  Almost all property in the twin towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale are held by a church trust.  Jeffs, 50, is charged with two first-degree felony counts of rape by accomplice, accused of arranging a "spiritual marriage" between a girl, then between the ages of 14 and 18, and an older man sometime in the last four years.   Details of the case remain secret.  The name of the alleged victim, who is a longtime resident of Hildale, has not been released, nor is the name of her husband public.  Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap said Thursday the alleged victim is steadfast about testifying.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs wrote decree telling followers to keep mouths shut
By Harriet Ryan
Court TV
Originally published September 2, 2006

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (Court TV) -- When he was captured, fugitive polygamist leader Warren Jeffs was carrying a list of safe houses and a written decree banning members of his flock from disclosing his whereabouts, according to a Utah prosecutor.  "So I have to be hiding in my travels, not let anyone know.  And when I come to a land of refuge, you must not reveal where I am in your phone calls and your letters," Jeffs wrote in the document, according to court papers filed this week in St. George.  A prosecutor in Washington County listed the statement as one of several reasons Jeffs, 50, should be held without bail when he is transported from Las Vegas, where he was apprehended, to Utah to face rape charges connected with allegedly arranging underage marriages.  Authorities in Utah and Arizona, where Jeffs faces statutory rape and conspiracy charges, are convinced Jeffs will go on the lam if released.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs' leadership may be precarious, scholar says
Heavy-handed style deepened divisions, onetime friend says
By Linda Thomson
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Saturday, September 2, 2006

When the leader of a fundamentalist polygamist group goes on trial, what traditionally happens is instant martyrdom — fervent supporters are horrified their leader is being persecuted and they circle the wagons.  That may happen with some people in the case of Warren Jeffs.  But there may be others who will likely breathe a sigh of relief and quietly wait it out while the criminal justice system deals with Jeffs' criminal charges in Utah and Arizona.  "This situation is a little bit different," said Ken Driggs, an Atlanta defense attorney who has done scholarly research for years on the Fundamentalist LDS Church and knows Jeffs.  Driggs is writing two books on the group and has been called as an expert witness in litigation involving the church.  Beyond that, he has long-standing personal friendships with many people in the polygamous communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  Jeffs' heavy-handed leadership has deepened divisions within the church that were quietly and smoothly dealt with by Jeffs' late father, Rulon Jeffs.  There now are deep-seated personal, philosophical and economic differences that may have rendered Warren Jeffs' leadership "a little precarious," Driggs said.     Read more
 
 
Polygamist's arrest opens window into sect
Former members tell of Jeffs' stranglehold, 'army'-like atmosphere in group
By Jennifer Dobner
The Associated Press
MSNBC
Originally published September 3, 2006

HILDALE, Utah - Driving toward this tiny town feels like nearing the edge of the earth, a place of jagged red-rock peaks surrounding dry valleys covered in pinyon trees.  It seems like the perfect place to hide.  For about a century, that's what members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have done here and in adjoining Colorado City, Ariz. — living in isolation to practice their religion without interference.  However, the arrest of the sect's self-proclaimed prophet, Warren Jeffs, has increased outside attention on the group and its practice of polygamy, which sometimes includes marrying teenage girls to men 20 years or more their senior.  Jeffs, 50, a fugitive wanted on criminal charges in both Utah and Arizona for more than a year, was arrested outside Las Vegas late Monday during a traffic stop.  He waived extradition to Utah to face two counts of first-degree felony rape as an accomplice, accused of arranging a marriage that led to the rape of an underage girl.  If convicted, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.  Polygamy was a tenet of the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — the Mormons — but the practice was abandoned in 1890 when Utah became a state.  The church now excommunicates members found practicing polygamy, and the practice is banned in both the Arizona and Utah constitutions.  However, strident believers in "the principle," as it is known, have remained steadfast.  Members of the FLDS practice polygamy because they believe that plural marriage secures their exaltation in heaven and that the number of wives a man marries corresponds to the level of glory he'll achieve.     Read more
 
 
KEY PLAYERS IN A POLYGAMOUS DRAMA
By Daphne Bramham
Vancouver Sun
Originally published Sunday, September 3, 2006

In B.C. and the U.S., the legal net is closing on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

ATTORNEYS-GENERAL

WALLY OPPAL, B.C.

Since his appointment more than a year ago, Oppal has repeatedly expressed his concern about sexual and physical abuse of women and children in Bountiful. Unlike his predecessors, he has indicated he would not shy away from a case that would test Canada's 115-year-old polygamy law. Encouraged by Jeffs's arrest, Oppal hopes witnesses will step forward from Bountiful.

TERRY GODDARD, ARIZ.
Under him, Arizona has investigated and reorganized the school district, worked with Utah to reform the FLDS's trust, thrown out FLDS police officers who did not enforce the law, and established helplines and shelters for victims. In addition to Jeffs, Arizona has charged eight other FLDS men with sexual offences and has five others in jail for contempt after they refused to testify before a grand jury.     Read more
 
 
Polygamist Sect's Future In Doubt
With Warren Jeffs In Jail, What Happens To America's Largest Polygamous Group
By Kris Axtman
Christian Science Monitor
Originally published September 3, 2006

This week's arrest of Warren Jeffs, head of America's largest polygamous group, is a law-enforcement coup.  But it leaves wide-open the question of whether his followers will persist in their illegal practices or rejoin mainstream society.  Federal and state authorities, elated by Mr. Jeffs' capture Monday during a traffic stop north of Las Vegas, expect the latter.  The fugitive's arrest is "the beginning of the end of ... the tyrannical rule of a small group of people over the practically 10,000 followers" of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS, said Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard in a radio interview.  Extremist-group experts, though, caution that it's too early to predict the sect's demise.  "Yes, you have an infrastructure that has been decapitated.  But you also have thousands of really sincere believers, and they are not going to just disappear," says Brian Levin of the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism and a criminal-justice professor at California State University, San Bernardino.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs shaped FLDS church
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published September 3, 2006

CANE BEDS, Ariz. - Throughout the years, the area once known as Short Creek - now Hildale and Colorado City, Ariz. - has had its share of problems, but longtime resident Benjamin Bistline said the trouble really didn't start until the Jeffs, specifically Warren Jeffs, came into power.  Bistline grew up in the area but left the beliefs of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and allegiance to the leadership in the early 1980s and moved down the road to Cane Beds in 2003.  During the years, Bistline said he saw numerous changes in the church, the community and the people.  He then documented the information and wrote a book "The Polygamists: A History of Colorado City, Arizona."  Unlike today, when FLDS followers give money to self-proclaimed prophet Warren Steed Jeffs and little is celebrated, Bistline said growing up, there were celebrations and dances in the community.  "We celebrated the 24th (July 24 - Pioneer Day).  That was the big one. There was a fall festival and a fair and dances and that started clear back in the '40s and '50s," Bistline said.  Church services were held and money was collected for projects for the good of the community.     Read more
 
 
Arrest exposes sect's slave-like polygamy trade
By Chuck Green
The Pueblo Chiefton
Originally published September 5, 2006

Normally a person's religious beliefs are no one else's business.  Unless, of course, it leads to the terrorist act that kills thousands of people in the collapse of two skyscrapers, or in the killing of dozens of others in subway bombings, hotel bombings, railroad bombings and international wars.  Or it involves organized child abuse and welfare fraud.  Then it's everybody else's business - or should be.  The religious beliefs of Warren Jeffs became big news last week when he was arrested on charges of rape and interstate flight, following a long nationwide search for the man whose mug was on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List.  His followers "pretty much have to renounce their entire heritage to go against the prophet," the Arizona attorney general said last week.  "That has got to be hard to do."  It might be easier now that their prophet - who teaches his clan that he is above the law of man and is, in effect, a god - has been exposed.  Now that he is escorted in handcuffs and wears a jailer's blue jump suit, he even looks less like a prophet than when he wore his traditional dark suit and tie.  He also might have some explaining to do, if he ever has the chance, about his traveling attire.  He was wearing a pair of shorts and a T-shirt when he was arrested on a highway outside Las Vegas - a violation of the dress code he imposes on his flock.  And what about all those women's wigs in his luggage?     Read more
 
 
Jeffs to appear before a judge in Utah today
Polygamist being held without bail; hearing could change that
By Ben Winslow and Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Wednesday, September 6, 2006

HURRICANE — Captured polygamist leader Warren Jeffs will make his first appearance before a Utah judge today.  The Fundamentalist LDS Church leader is scheduled to appear in court this afternoon via video hookup from the Purgatory Correctional Facility.  Jeffs is being held without bail, although it is possible that could change at today's court hearing.  "He seems to be a very meek, passive person," Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith said outside the jail Tuesday afternoon.  "We will give him every benefit of the doubt until he proves otherwise."  Formal notice has not been filed in St. George's 5th District Court, but the office of Las Vegas lawyer Richard Wright confirmed to the Deseret Morning News he is representing Jeffs.  Wright has represented several high-profile clients in Las Vegas, including a county commissioner charged with political corruption and a boxer accused of assaulting his girlfriend.   "He's not making any comment," a woman who answered the phone at Wright's law firm said Tuesday.  Wright called the Purgatory Jail on Tuesday and requested Jeffs be segregated from other inmates "for his own protection," Smith said.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs, Cheney: Submit or Be Destroyed
Commentary by Gary Horton
The Signal - Santa Clarita Valley, California
Originally published Wednesday September 6, 2006

Last week, Warren Jeffs, self-proclaimed prophet and mouthpiece of God, was arrested north of Las Vegas while eating a salad in the back seat of his red bling-bling Cadillac Escalade.  Initially stopped only for missing vehicle plates, Jeffs' carotid artery was pumping so vigorously that the highway patrolman figured something grander was askew.  So, along with his 15 cell phones, walkie-talkies, police scanner, laptop computers, wigs, sunglasses, credit cards and $55,000 in cash, the long-on-the-lamb Grand Poobah of Polygamy and FBI's 10 Most Wanted poster boy was apprehended to face a little justice for his dark and nasty deeds.  "Religious persecution!" some might squawk.  Poppycock.  Jeffs' case isn't about faith.  It's about manipulating minors into kiddy sex.  He and his "priesthood" buddies use perverted religion and contrived fear of heavenly wrath to twist young girls into otherwise unwilling sex.  In one count against Jeffs, an underage girl was assigned a husband after her church leader "had a revelation."  She first complained to Jeffs that she was too young to marry, and later, that she "hated having husband-wife relations."  God's prophet's response?  "Your husband is your priesthood head and leader.  ... Go back and repent.  You go give yourself mind, body and soul to your husband like you're supposed to.  He will take you into the heavenly kingdom.  Go back and do what he tells you to do."  This was followed by the trademark spiritual blackmail present in abusive churches: "No matter what happens, you cannot fight with the priesthood because if you do, you'll lose your salvation."  Nice words to soothe the soul of a teenage girl under your spiritual guidance.     Read more
 
 
Text of Warren Jeffs song for students
Text of a song taught to first- and second-grade students in FLDS schools:
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Thursday, September 7, 2006

WE LOVE YOU, UNCLE WARREN

Uncle Warren is a tall man; he is nearly six-feet-four,
He sometimes has to duck a bit when coming through a door;
But never is he known to flee or duck responsibility.
Uncle Warren is a slender man; but he's so kind to all,
It's a wonder such a great big heart could fit a frame that small.
And every time I shake his hand, I feel my own little heart expand.

(Chorus)
Uncle Warren is a perfect Priesthood man;
To the Prophet he is loyal through and through.
And he's so full of love for our Father above,
You just can't help but love him, too.
    Read more
 
 
Jeffs' arrest may lead to an exodus of FLDS
Groups prepare to help those leaving abusive situations
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Thursday, September 7, 2006

Now that Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs is in custody, people trapped in abusive situations within the isolated polygamous sect may have a chance to break free.  "We are aware of some people in the community who have remained in the community who do want to leave," Mary Batchelor of the pro-polygamy group Principle Voices told the Deseret Morning News.  "This may be an opportunity to leave."  Representatives from social-service groups, government agencies, advocacy organizations and other polygamous groups met Wednesday in Salt Lake City.  They comprise the Safety Net Committee, a group coordinated by the Utah Attorney General's Office to provide resources about abuse and domestic violence to people in closed polygamous societies.  "The one thing that I did hear from some of the other polygamous groups is reaching out and trying to help people within that community," said Paul Murphy, the attorney general's Safety Net Committee coordinator.  Murphy said the Safety Net Committee wants to make sure the FLDS communities are aware that help is available for those who want out, and even those who want to stay.  However, FLDS faithful continue to remain silent.  "They are as isolated — or more isolated — than ever before," he said Wednesday.     Read more
 
 
Enclave sits silent, but FLDS in eye of the storm
By Lee Benson
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Friday, September 8, 2006

SANDY — The gates are rusting, the grass is yellow and dead, the trout pond is stagnant, weeds are everywhere and the apple trees are loaded down with wormy apples.  What a difference six years makes.  You only have to go back as early as 2000 to a time when the five mostly abandoned acres here on Little Cottonwood Road housed the bustling polygamous compound lorded over by Rulon Jeffs, the man proclaimed prophet by members of the Fundamentalist LDS Church.  Jeffs and several of his followers, including anywhere from 20 to 75 wives (estimates vary), first settled into the mouth of what is arguably Utah's most picturesque canyon in the 1950s, gradually increasing in size and number until 7-foot-high concrete walls enclosed three large homes, two other buildings, the trout pond, the fruit orchard and a large garden.  The compound had its own school, storehouse and a midwives' house for delivering babies.  Theoretically, a person could live there until the end of the world.  Which is what Rulon Jeffs foretold, more or less, in 1998 when he prophesied that Salt Lake City and vicinity would be destroyed sometime after the commencement of the new millennium and sometime before the Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games of 2002.  By the end of January 2000, the enclave was a ghost compound, evacuated like the Kansas prairie with a tornado on the way.  The Jeffs and everyone connected to them relocated 300 miles south to the polygamous border towns of Hildale and Colorado City on the Utah-Arizona border, joining some 10,000 FLDS faithful located there who rejoiced because they finally got their prophet full time.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs back in court
Jailed FLDS leader makes appearance via closed-circuit television
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published September 12, 2006

ST. GEORGE - A brief status conference was held Monday morning in 5th District Court for Warren Steed Jeffs, 50, with Jeffs again appearing via closed-circuit television.  The jailed leader of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, charged with allegedly arranging a marriage between an underage girl and older man, will be defended in Utah by Salt Lake City attorneys Tara L. Isaacson and Walter F. Bugden Jr.  Now that Jeffs has legal counsel, Judge James L. Shumate set another status conference set for Sept. 27.  Shumate said he spoke with Jeffs' attorneys 15 minutes before Monday's hearing.   The attorneys, with the Salt Lake City law firm of Bugden & Isaacson, were not in court on Monday.  However, the two met with Jeffs and Las Vegas attorney Richard A. Wright Friday afternoon.  Jeffs, appearing drawn, tired and sporting a light beard and mustache, acknowledged Monday that he was waiving his preliminary hearing, which by law is to be held within 10 days of his arrest.  Shumate said Jeffs' next appearance will be in the courtroom and not by video.     Read more
 
 
Like cults, our ideologies may oppress
By Tom Kerr / Guest writer
The Ithacan - Ithaca College - Ithaca, NY
Originally published September 14, 2006

Media coverage of the Aug. 30 arrest of polygamist Warren Jeffs took us into a contemporary American dystopia: the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In Jeffs' tightly organized cult, girls and women are treated like chattel by men.  Cult members believe Jeffs is the prophetic mouthpiece of God, who tells the flock that for men to achieve glory in heaven they should have at least three wives.  Jeffs says that women's only way to heaven is by invitation from satisfied husbands and that wives, including his 50 or so, belong to their husbands for eternity.  He also says that he is the prophet and can punish male followers by reassigning their wives, children and homes to other men, and, incidentally, that black people are the devil's representatives on earth.  CNN reporter Ted Rowlands spent a few days in Colorado City, Utah, interviewing current and former cult members.  As he explained on Larry King Live, "They know nothing different and that is why their allegiance is so pure and no matter what you think from the outside, to them the prophet is the prophet and they'll do anything that he says."  The sympathetic Rowlands took pains to explain how children and adults living in such an insular but sprawling community might well embrace the perverted beliefs and oppressive "lifestyle" of a cult like the FLDS.  He emphasized that FLDS members were never presented with choices, never allowed the freedom to choose between world views.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs will stay in jail; hearing set for Nov. 21
The Associated Press
KVOA News 4 - Tucson
Originally published September 28, 2006

ST. GEORGE, Utah -- Curiosity drew Ezra Draper to the courtroom. It had been four years since he last saw polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs.  "The guy's married to my little sister and it's like, yep, that's him," Draper said Wednesday after Jeffs made his first appearance in 5th District Court on charges related to arranging an underage marriage.   The hearing lasted less than 10 minutes for the self-proclaimed prophet who heads the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Jeffs is charged with two counts of rape as an accomplice, a first-degree felony that carries life in prison.  Both sides will return Nov. 21 to determine if there is probable cause to send Jeffs, still in jail, to trial in Washington County.  His bond status will also be reviewed.  Draper's 24-year-old sister is one of Jeffs' estimated 40-plus wives.  The two were married on her 18th birthday, said the brother, who left the FLDS church about three years ago.  He doesn't know where she is living.  In court, Jeffs looked "older and grayed up," said Draper, who had last seen him in 2002.     Read more
 
 
Arizona Slaps New Charges Against Polygamist Leader
By Edward Lawrence, Reporter
KLAS-TV Channel 8 - Las Vegas
Originally broadcast September 28, 2006

There were new developments on Thursday in the case against polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.  Jeffs appeared via video in a Utah court -- where officials from the state of Arizona served two felony warrants charging the leader of the fundamentalist L.D.S. church with five counts of sexual conduct with a minor and one count of conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor.  What this does is start the extradition process to Arizona.  Utah, Arizona, and Nevada are all connected to Warren Jeffs.  In Utah, he has been held without bail for two counts of rape as an accomplice. In Arizona his bail would be set at $600,000.  An amount his followers could post.  Timing is going to be key.  Arizona could extradite Jeffs before Utah gets the chance to put him on trial.  Both charges, in Utah and Arizona, stem from Jeffs' role as the leader of the fundamentalist L.D.S. church.  Prosecutors in both states say he forced underage girls to marry older men.  Then he coerced those girls to have sex with the men.  A number of the marriages actually happened in Nevada.  The polygamist community is so close knit that it's been difficult for prosecutors to get victims to come forward.  Now both states have victims and both want him to serve time in their prisons.  There will be an extradition hearing scheduled in Utah to see who tries him first.
 
 
A mistrial is declared in polygamist kidnapping case
Ex-FLDS man says he was rescuing his family
By Ben Winslow and Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Saturday, September 30, 2006

ST. GEORGE — A judge has declared a mistrial in the case of a man who claims he was "rescuing" his family from the clutches of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.  After Thomas Vaughn Barlow was kicked out of the Fundamentalist LDS Church in 2003, his lawyer said Barlow's wives were reassigned — to his brother.  "Warren went to Mr. Barlow's two wives and said, 'He's unworthy.  He can't save you.  You need to leave him or you'll go to hell,"' Travis Christiansen said Friday.  "Mr. Barlow felt he had an obligation to try and protect his family."  Barlow, 47, went on trial Friday in St. George's 5th District Court on charges of attempted kidnapping, a third-degree felony; assault, a class A misdemeanor; and commission of domestic violence in the presence of a child, a class B misdemeanor.  But Judge James L. Shumate was forced to declare a mistrial after a town marshal in the polygamous border town of Hildale failed to hand over a medical report to prosecutors and the defense until a jury had been impaneled Friday.  A pair of witnesses, including Barlow's ex-wife and the alleged kidnap victim, Terri Shapley, had already testified.  During the lunch break, deputy Washington County Attorney Ryan Shaum said he learned of the document from the Hildale officer.     Read more
 
 
Polygamy and Warren Jeffs
By Ahmet Kurucan
Commentary
Zeman Daily Newspaper - Istanbul, Turkey
Originally published October 20, 2006

Warren Jeffs, who was on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List, was arrested in Nevada in late August and charged with violating traffic regulations.  The reason he was wanted was because of homosexuality charges that had been filed against him.  However, there was a new twist in this case: Polygamy.  That is the reason why after Jeffs was arrested, he was the hottest topic in America for weeks.  A top-level representative of a major religious group in the United States pulled me aside and said: "If you invite us to your gatherings again, please don't invite that particular group.  If you prefer to invite them, then don't invite us.  We do not want to share the same space with them because they are not real Christians; they are a group of people who call their leaders 'prophets.'"  This is not the only group which refers to its leaders as prophets; there are so many leaders and prophets!  One of them is Warren Jeffs, the leader and "prophet" of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).  Jeffs, who was born in San Francisco in 1955, became the leader of FLDS in 2002 after his father, Rulon, died.  Before his death, Rulon Jeffs was considered the prophet of the FLDS, which embraced polygamy even though it had been denounced by the Mormons in 1890.  At the time of his death, the 92-year-old elder Jeffs had 75 wives.  A very short speech Warren Jeffs made right after his father's funeral ceremony will allow you to understand this group better: "I am not going to make a very long speech.  Hands off my father's widowed wives.  You, widowed women; you will stay in your rooms next to mine as you did when my father was alive."  That was all Jeffs said.  He did not encounter any objections, except from two of the women, and got married with all of them within one week.  If you ask me why they did not object, I would say that the FLDS believes a prophet does not speak wrongly or commit sin because they are sent by God.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs Extradition Hearing
KLAS TV Eyewitness News Channel 8 - Las Vegas
Originally broadcast October 25, 2006

A fight over who will try Warren Jeffs is brewing.  The polygamist is facing charges in two states for sexual misconduct with minors.  Utah's charges carry a more severe punishment of five years to life.  Still, Arizona prosecutors filed for an extradition hearing to get Jeffs to face charges there.  A Utah judge told Arizona they will have to wait.  The judge's order forces Arizona prosecutors to take extra legal steps to get the leader of the fundamentalist LDS church on trial in their state.  Warren Jeffs is currently in custody in Utah and will not let him go until he faces rape as accomplice charges.  Jeffs was arrested just outside Las Vegas in August.  Utah authorities quickly extradited him to Washington County to stand trial in St. George, Utah.  Washington County Deputy District Attorney Jerry Jaeger gave the civil answer to the legal tug of war started by Arizona.  "It was to work out details with extraditing Warren Jeffs at some point from Utah to Arizona," said Jaeger.  "Arizona will have to wait," said Judge James Shumate, Washington County District Court.  The judge explained to Jeffs that he wouldn't release him without a governor's warrant.  That means local Arizona prosecutors will have to ask their governor to ask Utah's governor to let Jeffs go.     Read more
 
 
Judge signs FLDS trust reform
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Friday, October 27, 2006

The signs placed in front of some of the homes in the polygamous border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., say it all: "UEP Property."  The Fundamentalist LDS Church's United Effort Plan Trust controls homes, businesses and land in these towns and other FLDS enclaves.  Based on the early-Mormon concept of a "united order," people put everything into a common pot and get things back according to wants and needs.  Now, the foundations of the UEP Trust are shifting.  A judge in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court signed an order late Wednesday reforming the $110 million dollar trust.  "That's wonderful," ex-FLDS member Richard Holm said when told of the reformation by the Deseret Morning News.  His home is on UEP land in Colorado City.  "It's a total change," he said Thursday.  "When it was created, the intent of the settlers was people were secure in their homes and not subject to the edicts of a madman."  In 2005, Judge Denise Lindberg took control of the UEP Trust amid allegations that FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs and other top FLDS Church leaders were fleecing it.  She appointed certified public accountant Bruce Wisan to act as the court-appointed special fiduciary, managing the trust.     Read more
 
 
FBI is asked to hand over Jeffs' papers
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Friday, October 27, 2006

Lawyers for the court-appointed special fiduciary of the United Effort Plan want a judge to force the FBI to hand over papers it seized when Warren Jeffs was arrested.  In a motion filed Wednesday in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court, the fiduciary's attorneys say items found with Jeffs could contain valuable information about property that belongs to the UEP Trust.  Jeffs is in the Purgatory Jail awaiting trial on polygamy-related issues.  "The documents, records, correspondence and computer seized by the FBI are likely to contain relevant information on several issues in this case," lawyer Jeffrey L. Shields wrote in papers obtained by the Deseret Morning News.  "The FLDS members in Colorado City and Hildale who were communicating with Warren Jeffs live on UEP land and may also work for businesses on Trust property.  Such communications may reveal important information about the identity, use, preservation, transfer or diversion of Trust assets."  The U.S. Attorney's Office in Nevada said the FBI is not required to let anyone see the seized documents.  Lawyers for Jeffs also want them, saying the papers are privileged communications between the man claimed by his followers to be a prophet and members of his church.     Read more
 
 
Monument Jeffs scorns is attacked
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Saturday, October 28, 2006

A monument that has been the scorn of Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs has been vandalized — again.   People who live in the polygamous border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., said tar was recently poured over a redrock monument to a 1953 raid on Short Creek.  The monument this summer had also been paintballed and buried.  The monument and a children's train running through Hildale's Cottonwood Park were vandalized recently after a harvest festival that drew more than 500 people.  Some FLDS members "were unhappy that the apostates were having a good time over at the park," said Bruce Wisan, the court-appointed special fiduciary of the United Effort Plan (UEP) Trust.  The UEP controls homes, businesses and property in the FLDS enclaves.  It was recently reformed by a judge in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court.  In an interview Thursday, Wisan said he has asked the Hildale Police Department to investigate the vandalism.  "We've got the police going over there," he said.  "I'm not very confident that the police will do much."     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs gets another letter in jail
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Monday, October 30, 2006

The man in charge of the Fundamentalist LDS Church's financial arm is asking jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs for help.  Bruce Wisan, the court-appointed special fiduciary of the United Effort Plan Trust, sent another letter to Jeffs at the Purgatory Jail in Hurricane.  He sent a copy of it to the Deseret Morning News on Monday.  In the one page letter, he asks for Jeffs to use his influence as the FLDS Church's leader to get his followers to pay their property taxes.  "I know that if you asked the FLDS people to properly and expeditiously pay their property taxes to their respective counties, it would happen," Wisan wrote.  "It appears to me that the FLDS people listen to your instructions in all things."  Wisan fought with FLDS faithful for months to get them to pay their property taxes in the polygamous border towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz.  After going house-to-house, knocking on every door and taping up tax notices, the property taxes were paid.  With taxes coming due for another year, Wisan threatened to pass the extra costs of posting the tax notices on to those who refuse to pay.     Read more
 
 
A Prophet in Purgatory
Will throwing the book at polygamist Warren Jeffs bust up his sect or be a boon to it?
By Don Lattin
San Francisco Chronicle
Originally published Sunday, November 19, 2006

Nevada Highway Patrolman Eddie Dutchover wasn't expecting much when he stopped the maroon 2007 Cadillac Escalade heading north out of Las Vegas.  All the officer wanted to know was why the car had paper tags rather than license plates.  But there was something strange about the tall, thin man in the back seat.  The guy seemed nervous, so jittery you could see the main artery in his neck furiously pumping blood up into his face.  Plus, he was obsessively eating a salad, refusing to make eye contact with the patrolman.  It was a hunch, but the cop was on the money.  He had just pulled over Warren Jeffs, the spiritual leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted fugitives, and a man with a $100,000 bounty on his head.  If there is a pope of Mormon polygamy, a powerful prophet who controls the lives of thousands of Americans who still believe in the sanctity of plural marriage, that man is Warren Steed Jeffs.  His 10,000-member fundamentalist Mormon sect is the largest of several splinter groups that refuse to accept the mainstream Mormon church's decision more than a century ago to suspend the practice of polygamy.     Read more
 
 
Witnesses reluctant to testify against polygamist leader
By Jennifer Dobner
The Associated Press
The Arizona Republic
Originally published November 20, 2006

HURRICANE, Utah - Sitting on the witness stand in 2003, Ruth Stubbs started crying as soon as she was asked a question.  Rodney Holm - whom she married at age 16, when he was 32 - was on trial for bigamy.  Stubbs was Holm's third wife.  Her sister Susie was, and still is, his first.  "I didn't know how I was going to tell my kids that I was the reason their father went to jail," said Stubbs, who had three children with Holm.  "I thought, they're going to hate me."  But it was more than that.  "When you're up there, you're going against the entire town and everything that you've ever been taught," she said.  Holm was convicted and served a year in jail, sealing Stubbs' escape from her life as a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which practices polygamy.  Holm has appealed his conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court.  Stubbs is one of the few "willing" witnesses to testify against a member of the sect.  On Tuesday, another witness is expected take the stand at a 5th District Court hearing to determine if Washington County prosecutors have enough evidence to try polygamist church leader Warren Jeffs on two felony counts of rape as an accomplice.  The witness was a child bride, identified in court papers as Jane Doe No. 4, allegedly forced by Jeffs, 50, to marry her first cousin in 2001 when she was 14 and the groom was 19.  "You can imagine the worry and stress she's under right now," said Gary Engels, a special investigator working for the Mohave County attorney's office on the two felony cases Jeffs faces in Arizona after his Utah case is concluded.  "This is the type of thing they say you are going to hell for."     Read more
 
 
Shurtleff wants access to FBI's Jeffs evidence
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Thursday, November 23, 2006

ST. GEORGE — Papers, ledgers and computers seized by the FBI when it arrested Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs could help the Utah attorney general's organized crime investigation into the polygamist leader and his church.   Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said he wants to see the seized evidence to determine if it would aid his investigation into Jeffs, the FLDS Church and its financial arm, the United Effort Plan Trust.  "Obviously, we think the laptops may have some information on them," Shurtleff said.  "It could have information about the UEP and the financial empire.  Also, information about types of crimes that might have been committed."  Jeffs, 50, was an FBI Ten Most Wanted fugitive until he was captured in a traffic stop outside Las Vegas in August.  Inside the Cadillac Escalade he was riding in, the FBI said it seized cash, wigs, papers, ledgers, cell phones, a GPS, computers and other items believed to have kept Jeffs on the run.  That evidence is now locked up in a federal court fight in Las Vegas.  One of Jeffs' lawyers is asking a judge to force the FBI to return the papers, claiming they constitute "privileged communications" between the FLDS leader and his followers.  "The administrative impound impinges on the First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion insomuch as the government took possession of religious documents which are deemed confidential and sacred by the FLDS," lawyer Richard Wright said in a motion filed in federal court.  "We don't want to look at personal church records about people and their so-called 'sins,"' Shurtleff said.  "He obviously had those laptops with him for a purpose.  Everything else he had with him was to keep him hidden and keep him away from the law, and that stuff's got to be relevant to the charges against him and we need a chance to look at it."     Read more
 
 
Jeffs May Be Passing Messages Through Visitors
By Jennifer Dobner
The Associated Press
KUTV Channel 2
Originally published November 29, 2006

SALT LAKE CITY During his first six weeks in jail, the leader of a southern Utah polygamist church had frequent visits from a brother and another church elder – both of whom dissidents suggest are carrying messages from Purgatory Correctional Facility to the faithful.  Warren Steed Jeffs, 50, is president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a sect that practices polygamy in arranged marriages where most brides are teenage girls.  Jeffs, arrested in August, is being held in Washington County, awaiting a Dec. 14 hearing to determine if he'll stand trial on two felony counts of rape as an accomplice.  The Associated Press obtained the list of Jeffs' weekly visitors through a public records request made to Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith.  The list shows 17 different visitors signed in between Sept. 4-Nov. 4.  Jeffs' most frequent visitor has been Richard Wright, the Las Vegas attorney Jeffs hired after his Aug. 28 arrest on a federal flight warrant during a Las Vegas-area traffic stop.  Wright has made a dozen visits, some of them with Salt Lake City attorneys he helped Jeffs screen for the Utah case.  Jeffs is represented by attorneys Wally Bugden and Tara Isaacson.  With Wright, they were among the first to see Jeffs at the Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane.  Jeffs exercises tremendous controls over his followers, dictating everything from who marries and when, to ordering excommunications and directing church members whether to pay taxes and cooperate with police and government officials.     Read more
 
 
Witness against Jeffs called strong
Lawyer says Jane Doe IV is still willing to testify in court
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Thursday, November 30, 2006

The woman accusing Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs of forcing her into a child bride marriage remains willing to testify against him, her lawyer said.  "I think when the full story comes out, it will be compelling," lawyer Roger Hoole said outside a court hearing in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court on Monday.  "She's a strong witness and we're looking forward to finishing up the preliminary hearing."  Hoole is representing the woman known in court documents as "Jane Doe IV."  She says that at age 14, she was told by FLDS leaders she would be marrying her 19-year-old first cousin.  When she objected to the union, Washington County prosecutors said Warren Jeffs threatened her "salvation."  "He had enough control to take everything away from me, when all I tried to do was everything he told me to do," the woman said of Jeffs during the Nov. 21 preliminary hearing.  At times, she sobbed on the witness stand as she recounted the arranged marriage and said her then-husband forced himself upon her.  "I don't think he (Jeffs) has any control over her anymore," Hoole said, declining to elaborate any more about how his client felt about facing the man she once considered a "prophet."     Read more
 
 
Judge will decide the status of papers seized from Jeffs
Ex-FLDS Church member wants access to 'sacred' documents
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Wednesday, December 6, 2006

A federal judge in Nevada will hold a hearing to decide whether to release a "mother lode" of papers, ledgers and other documents seized when Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs was arrested.  The hearing on lawyers' motions to get involved in the fight over Jeffs' papers has been scheduled for Jan. 8 in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.  Among those trying to get their hands on some of the FBI's seized evidence is an ex-FLDS Church member trying to collect on a lawsuit he won against Jeffs and Bruce Wisan, the court-appointed special fiduciary of the FLDS Church's financial empire, the United Effort Plan Trust.  "They just don't seem to want to give us the information and we think it's quite important to the trust and finding property and assets that belong to the trust," Wisan told the Deseret Morning News on Tuesday.  Jeffs' lawyer, Richard Wright, has filed court papers demanding that the FBI return some of the evidence, claiming some of the papers have been deemed "sacred" and constitute privileged communication between the FLDS leader and his followers.  "These records include confidential religious writings and teachings of the FLDS, as well as privileged communications with FLDS members," Wright said in an emergency motion filed shortly after Jeffs' arrest.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs very look made his followers cower
Opinion
The Spectrum
Originally published December 7, 2006

A letter writer said no one is concerned about the cousin of the now famous Jeffs. But they are. As far as Jeffs' following the religion and not the law is beyond dumb. The mere fact that he was an alleged accomplice to the abuse, assault, and agony of each victim is enough to put him away for a life time.

He's alleged of torturing and abusing everyone in the town of Colorado City for as long as he has had a hold over them. His very look could make them cower and the fact that every dime they had went to him makes you wonder how they even fed their children, but then they had to live on food stamps for that reason because he made them broke.

He isn't following the religion, he is a horrible man who took control of a town that once minded its own business and worked hard to live day by day. He hurt innocent children, women, men, and elders. This is a man who deserves to be sent to prison; this is a town that deserves to finally be free and live normally.

Ashley Stewart
Cane Beds, Ariz.
 
 
Jeffs' Ties to Border Officers Under Investigation
The Associated Press
USA Today
Originally published December 8, 2006

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The chief law enforcer in two Utah-Arizona border towns is accused of misconduct after writing a letter in which he warmly referred to the leader of a polygamous sect as "Uncle Warren" and pledged "our desire to stand with you and the priesthood."  "I am praying for you to be protected and yearn to be with you again," wrote Fred Barlow, who referred to himself as a "servant" to Warren Jeffs.  Jeffs is the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which has 10,000 members in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  Barlow is the marshal who oversees officers in the towns.  The letter was written in October 2005 while Jeffs was on the run from criminal charges.  The Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board is using the letter as evidence in one of three misconduct charges against Barlow, who could lose his certification.  The letter was obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune.  Separately, the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training Council this week voted to conduct its own probe of the police force, whose officers are accused of being too loyal to Jeffs.     Read more
 
 
Idyllic times long gone in Jeffs country
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Sunday, December 17, 2006

ST. GEORGE — The films show another time and another place, before the police and pesky reporters came.  The children laugh and make faces at the camera.  The men and women wave, hug and smile like happy families do.  A parade passes through Short Creek.  A band rides on a flatbed trailer.  Children ride on homemade floats set up on flatbed trailers, waving at the people gathered on the side of the street to watch.  The prophet, Leroy S. Johnson, is the parade's "grand marshal."  He smiles from the passenger seat of a car, waving an American flag.  These are among the images of life inside the Fundamentalist LDS Church enclaves of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., seen on a series of 8 mm films obtained by the Deseret Morning News.  They were shot sporadically from the late-1970s to the mid-1980s.  The grainy films were provided by a source who wished to remain anonymous because of family still within the polygamous sect, which is now controlled by jailed FLDS leader Warren Jeffs.  They are a stark contrast to the siege mentality that seems to have set in among Jeffs' followers since he was arrested in August after a few months on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list.     Read more
 
 
Judge allows 2 more parties into polygamist leader evidence case
By Ken Ritter
The Associated Press
San Diego Union-Tribune
Originally published January 8, 2007

LAS VEGAS – A federal judge on Monday broadened the legal tug-of-war over cash, computers and other materials seized from a vehicle during the southern Nevada arrest of polygamist church leader Warren Jeffs.  In a quick decision, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Jones said two other parties may join the government and Jeff's lawyers in arguing the civil case – the United Effort Plan Trust, which holds $110 million in Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints property, and a former Jeffs follower who won a $338,000 judgment from Jeffs after being fired from his job.  Lawyers for Jeffs did not oppose the motion.  The judge did not address questions about the materials, which have been held by the federal government since they were seized from a Cadillac Escalade during Jeffs' arrest Aug. 28 outside Las Vegas.  Police reported seizing $54,000 in cash, letters and other papers, four laptop computers, 15 cell phones, and other items, including wigs.  The contents of the letters and information on computers has not been made public.  "He didn't deal with the merits of the sealing or who gets access," said Jeffrey L. Shields, a Salt Lake City-based lawyer for the United Effort Plan Trust.  "He just granted intervention."     Read more
 
 
End of the road for Hildale?
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The Utah Attorney General's Office may begin looking at dis-incorporating the polygamous border town of Hildale, stripping its city leaders of their authority and turning it over to Washington County.  Irritated by Hildale leaders' refusal to cooperate with any of the court-ordered reforms of the United Effort Plan Trust, a judge in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court suggested that state authorities at least consider the idea.  "I hope that, if the need should arise, the attorney general will pursue. . .the necessary steps to ensure that nobody is above the law — including cities," Judge Denise Lindberg said at the conclusion of a Monday morning hearing at the Matheson Courthouse on the UEP Trust.  Dis-incorporation is the latest idea being considered to bring order to what continues to be a troubled situation in Hildale and its sister community, Colorado City, Ariz.  "We certainly have considered that in the past," assistant Utah Attorney General Tim Bodily said outside of court.  "We have not made a decision."  Lindberg asked the Arizona Attorney General's Office to look at the idea, too.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs Taken to Hospital, Returned to Jail
Amanda Butterfield Reporting
KSL TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast January 30, 2007

Warren Jeffs, leader of the FLDS Church, was taken to a hospital earlier this week after he was found "distressed."  Some former members of his polygamist group wonder if the incident had to do with one of his prophecies.  Three years ago Jeffs prophesized that he would die a martyr and this latest medical scare has former members of his wondering if Jeffs is getting a little nervous that prophecy may not be fulfilled.  Ross Chatwin, former FLDS member: "Well if he doesn't die as he prophesized here that I think that would be good for us."  Ross Chatwin was born into the FLDS religion.  He knew Warren Jeffs personally and says Jeffs has told his followers he will be a martyr.  Ross Chatwin: "He just said that we has going to be just like the prophet Joseph Smith."  Joseph Smith was the first prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He was killed while in Carthidge Jail in 1844 by an angry mob.  Chatwin predicts if Jeffs dies as he prophesized his followers faith will become even stronger.     Read more
 
 
Polygamy bill would cut custody rights
By Melissa Blasius
12 News - Phoenix
Originally broadcast February 1, 2007

A Valley lawmaker wants to strip polygamists of their parental rights in child custody cases.  Rep David Luhan (D-Phoenix) is sponsoring the bill that targets the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints.  Warren Jeffs heads the church, which is based in Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah.  The bill would bar judges from granting custody or allowing unsupervised visits for people who practice polygamy or child bigamy.  The House Human Services Committee held a hearing today before unanimously recommending passage of the bill.  It now goes to the floor of the House.  Former F.L.D.S. member Flora Jessop testified at this morning's hearing.  She said women who leave the polygamist sect face extreme difficulty because of religious intimidation, isolation and limited education.  She says a new custody law would encourage the women and show help is available to break the cycle of child brides.  Some family law attorneys believe the polygamy custody bill may face court challenges for infringing on the fundamental right to parent.
 
 
Jeffs' health woes may affect case
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs' recent health troubles are apparently prompting new concerns in the criminal case against him.  Prosecution and defense lawyers were involved in a hearing by phone on Friday with 5th District Court Judge James Shumate.  A court docket said the hearing requested "confidential and privileged physician contact." Court clerks could not say who made the motion, and a transcript of the hearing was filed under seal.  Jeffs' attorneys did not return a phone call seeking comment.  The Washington County Attorney's Office also did not return calls on Monday.  The FLDS leader was taken to Dixie Regional Medical Center in January after medical staff at the Purgatory Jail noticed him exhibiting "problems," sheriff's deputies said.  At the hospital, he underwent tests and was cleared to return to the jail a few hours later.  Washington County Sheriff's deputies would not say if Jeffs is exhibiting any more medical problems.  "I can't comment at all on any inmate's physical or mental conditions," Washington County Sheriff's Lt. Jake Adams said Monday.     Read more
 
 
"Crown Jewel" of polygamy community going up for auction
By Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast February 26, 2007

(Hildale, Utah) Six years ago FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs ordered his followers in the Salt Lake Valley to move out.  Salt Lake, he predicted, would be destroyed during the 2002 Olympic Games.  The order applied not only to individuals and families, but also businesses – the biggest of which was Western Precision.  Using community resources and labor, Western Precision built a new manufacturing plant and headquarters in Hildale, Utah – then the capital of Jeff's polygamous empire.  The 55,000 square foot building has office suites, conference rooms, a showroom, large manufacturing floor and oversized receiving and shipping bays.  It even has two apartments reportedly used by visiting clients.  (For more detailed information on the building, go to the auctioneer's website: www.goinggoinggone.bz)  The Western Precision facility is by far the largest and most expensive business in the twin polygamous towns of Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah.  Some have referred to it as their "crown jewel".     Read more
 
 
Internet tuning in to Jeffs — as a rock star
His voice, image making inroads in pop culture
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Sunday, March 11, 2007

He's gone from polygamy to pop culture.  Warren Jeffs merchandise is popping up on the Internet, from T-shirts featuring the Fundamentalist LDS Church leader dressed in stereotypical "pimp" garb, to Jeffs' voice fronting a song for an experimental rock group's latest album.  "His view of the world seems very twisted, and we wonder if he really believes what he's saying, or is it just rhetoric to control the flock?" Steve De Chiara of the Chicago-based group KinkZoid wrote in an e-mail to the Deseret Morning News.  "Warren Jeffs Explains" is the single off the group's latest album.  The group describes its style of mixing sounds, tape loops and instruments to "create a clash of audio imagery."  "While listening to the clips we noticed that he spoke very soft, rhythmically, and almost hypnotic in tone," which the group thinks may be useful for a good cult leader, De Chiara said.  The song features a racist and homophobic sermon by Jeffs explaining the origins of rock music.  Jeffs gave the lecture when he was principal of the FLDS-run Alta Academy school at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon in the 1990s.     Read more and hear the audio file
 
 
A prophet no more?
Jeffs called himself a 'sinner' in jailhouse conversation
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Tuesday, March 27, 2007

ST. GEORGE — Warren Jeffs has reportedly renounced his title as "prophet" of the Fundamentalist LDS Church in a jailhouse conversation with one of his brothers.  "He said he is the greatest of all sinners and, in so many words, worked his way to be the leader and prophet when he knew he wasn't called of God to be a prophet," a law enforcement source familiar with the conversation told the Deseret Morning News.  Jeffs, 51, made the comments during a January conversation with his brother, Nephi Jeffs, who has visited him in the Purgatory Jail in Hurricane.  The conversation was recorded by jail officials, who monitor most of the FLDS leader's phone calls and visits.  A tape is reportedly in the hands of the Washington County attorney, who is prosecuting Jeffs on charges of rape as an accomplice, a first-degree felony.  He is accused of performing a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her older cousin.  A hearing is scheduled for today in 5th District Court on a series of motions filed by Jeffs' defense team, including a request to move the trial out of St. George.  The tape is considered evidence in the growing criminal cases against Jeffs and is not expected to be made public unless it is played in court.  The source, who did not want to be identified, said law enforcement agencies in Utah and Arizona involved in the Jeffs cases had been briefed on it.  "I cannot confirm or deny that," Gary Engels, an investigator with the Mohave County Attorney's Office, said Monday.     Read more
 
 
Report: Jeffs Admits He's Not Called of God; Loses All Three Court Rulings
John Hollenhorst Reporting
KSL TV 5
Originally broadcast March 27, 2007

Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs lost three important court rulings in his legal battle against charges of being an accessory to rape.  A St. George judge refused to throw out the charges.  This showdown in court comes on a day when new questions have been raised about Jeffs' status as a religious leader.  The self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist LDS Church reportedly admits he was never called by God.  During a stunning jailhouse conversation between Warren Jeffs and his brother, Nephi, Jeffs reportedly admitted he wasn't called of God to be a prophet.  An anonymous law enforcement official told the Deseret Morning News, "He said he is the greatest of all sinners and, in so many words, worked his way to be the leader and prophet when he knew he wasn't called of God to be a prophet."  The anonymous source said Jeffs told his brother that, and the jail recorded the conversation.  The source says Jeffs' followers in Hildale and Colorado City have a right to know.  Jeffs reportedly told his brother to tell FLDS church members the news, then later said he'd changed his mind.  Presumably, that development will play no role in today's legal battles.  Jeffs' defense lawyers and prosecutors would not comment on the Deseret Morning News report.  A number of Jeffs' relatives and followers also ignored questions from reporters.  Jeffs looked grim, gaunt and rarely smiled in court today.  Testimony in this case certainly indicates he exercised strong control.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs' followers left in the dark
By Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast March 28, 2007

Court observers were shocked yesterday by the appearance of Warren Jeffs and by a report that Jeffs may have made a jailhouse confession denying he was ever a prophet.  You would think the people would be interested in what's going on with the man they think is a prophet.  But there's one problem: the faithful are forbidden from reading the news paper or watching television.  Sam Brower, a private investigator said Jeffs looked "much worse for wear" and more gaunt.  After the trial, his followers weren't talking.  Very few of the FLDS followers are aware of Jeffs' reported confession or his apparent fragile health.  Issac Wyler from Colorado City says he thinks some in the FLDS are moving away from Warren Jeffs.  He says that some people are listening to Wendell Nielsen, Jeffs' first counselor, who might become Jeffs' successor.

brent@abc4.com

Stay tuned to ABC 4 tonight at 10 when Brent Hunsaker tells us what changes are unfolding in the polygamist border towns and if they're for the better.
 
 
Relations thaw between "Believers" and "Non-believers" in polygamist community
By Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast March 28, 2007

It is hardly open rebellion. But some of the rules handed down by polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs to his followers are being bent, if not broken.  For one thing, the apostates (those who do not follow Jeffs) who live in Colorado City and Hildale say Warrenites (those who do follow Jeffs) are starting to be friendly again.  For a long time, the apostates say they were ignored. Warrenites looked the other way when they walked by.  They would not speak to them or even look at them -- only to kick them out of their store or restaurant.  But now, several apostates report that Warrenites are exchanging the occasional wave, making small talk with them and even serving them with a smile.  It may not sound like much, but for people who have been treated as if they were ghosts for several years, it is big.  Also, the sounds of barking dogs are again being herd around the community.  For years there had been none.  Warren Jeffs allegedly ordered them all destroyed.  Jeffs also supposedly demanded that his followed "black out" their windows with blinds, heavy drapes or cardboard -- anything to block the outside world.  Now a few of the coverings have been removed and sheers put up in their place.     Read more
 
 
Change in Air Among Jeffs' Followers
John Hollenhorst Reporting
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast March 28, 2007

Some former followers of Warren Jeffs were not surprised by reports that Jeffs now expresses doubts about being a true prophet.  They say even some of his polygamist true believers are beginning to have doubts.  So there's a change in the air.  Isaac Wyler, a former F.L.D.S. member said, "Things are changing drastically.  People are way more open."  Isaac Wyler has his finger on the pulse of the Jeffs community because he's knocked on virtually every door.  A former F.L.D.S. member, he now delivers delinquent property tax notices.  Last year he could hear Jeffs' sermons on tape at nearly every door.  "At least 90 percent of the homes were listening to Warren Jeffs," he said.  But on his rounds this year?  Wyler says, "I haven't heard one tape of Warren, not even one, which is really weird."  With Jeffs in jail, most homes have music playing instead of sermons.  "I'm not talking rock and roll, nothing like that.  I'm talking good music, classical, that sort of thing, things that was kind of pretty well banned here for a while."  Former follower Richard Holm has noticed changes, too.  "There seems to be a certain easing in tensions a little bit," he said.  They say they see more people on the street, people outside having fun, Jeffs followers acting somewhat friendly.  They're still not talking to fallen-away members, but at least they're not giving angry gestures.  There are fewer closed gates and blacked-out windows.     Read more
 
 
Reported jailhouse confession could multiply legal problems for Warren Jeffs
By Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast March 29, 2007

Since his father Rulon Jeffs died in September 2002, Warren Jeffs has been the prophet of the FLDS polygamist group.  Under that mantle, Jeffs has allegedly separated husbands from children and wives, kicked rivals to his rule out of the community and directed the building of a new compound and a temple near Eldorado, Texas.  People familiar with the FLDS leader says his reign has been one of the most tumultuous of any previous leader.  But now Jeffs has reportedly denied having authority to do any of that.  The Deseret News reports that in a jailhouse conversation with his brother, Nephi Jeffs, Warren Jeffs confessed that God did not speak to him and that he is "the greatest sinner".  The newspaper says there's a recording of that conversation in the hands of the Washington County attorney, but it has not been made public.  Neither the county attorney nor sheriff will even confirm its existence.  However, if it does exist and Warren Jeffs did confess – if only to his brother – then far from solving his legal problems, it may multiply them.  It could expose him to additional criminal charges as well as civil lawsuits.     Read more
 
 
'I am not the Prophet,' says note by Jeffs
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Thursday, April 5, 2007

Warren Jeffs apparently abdicated his position as president of the Fundamentalist LDS Church in a note he wanted to give to the judge handling the criminal case against him.  The note is partially visible in photographs taken at the end of Jeffs' court appearance last week.  The Deseret Morning News had the photographs analyzed by a digital enhancement expert, a forensic handwriting analyst and a genealogist.  "I have not been a Prophet and am not the Prophet," one line that is visible reads.  The contents of the note were also corroborated by law enforcement sources who spoke to the Deseret Morning News on the condition of anonymity.  A thin and frail-looking Jeffs attempted to speak to the judge after a long day of hearings in St. George's 5th District Court last week.  "May I approach the bench?" Jeffs asked Judge James Shumate.  "I need to just take care of one matter."  Shumate refused to hear it, urging Jeffs to speak to his lawyers.  "Can I take care of it now?" Jeffs asked again.  The polygamist sect leader then bent over and wrote something down on a pad of paper.  His hands shaking, he fumbled as he tried to tear at the paper, but he needed help.  A Deseret Morning News photographer representing the media in the courtroom took pictures of the event.  The image of the note was shot from a distance, and the writing is fuzzy.  Some sentences have been deciphered, including a line Jeffs wrote saying he "failed (to) lead the people of the Fundamentalist Church."     Read more
 
 
FLDS Church Change in Leadership Appears to be in the Works
John Hollenhorst Reporting
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast April 5, 2007

A leadership change and possibly a struggle for power seem to already be underway in the Warren Jeffs polygamy group.  His apparent loss of faith in himself may trigger more upheavals in the far-flung FLDS Church.  Last night's disclosure that Jeffs apparently tried in court to renounce his status as a prophet was greeted with joy in some quarters.  But that's undoubtedly disturbing and disorienting to his faithful followers.  The faithful are forbidden to speak to outsiders, so our sources are second-hand.  But it appears Jeffs' probable successor has been auditioning for the part for several months.  "There are dogs on the street," said one resident of Hildale.  It's a sure sign the atmosphere is changing.  Warren Jeffs forbade dogs, but his right-hand man, Wendell Nielsen, seems to be easing the fallen prophet's strictest rules.  Former members believe Nielsen has been secretly running the FLDS group for months, during what appears to be a psychological decline by Jeffs in jail.  Nielsen owned the Western Precision Manufacturing Company, a financial mainstay for the Jeffs group.  The building was auctioned off recently. Nielsen disappeared from public view at the same time Jeffs did more than two years ago.  Former member Richard Holm told us, "I think Wendell Nielsen is the behind-the-scenes Wizard of Oz, pulling the strings."  He's believed to be living in Las Vegas, where his old company operates under a new name, keeping up the flow of money.  There's an unverified report Nielsen came back to town last weekend and convened a suit-and-tie meeting, inside a warehouse, surrounded by a fleet of vehicles.     Read more
 
 
Power shift for FLDS may be under way
But communities seem unaware of Jeffs' note
By Ben Winslow and Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Friday, April 6, 2007

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. — Here in this stronghold of the Fundamentalist LDS Church, a power shift may be under way in the polygamist sect's hierarchy.  It comes as FLDS leader Warren Jeffs apparently abdicated his role as a "prophet" in both a jailhouse conversation with one of his brothers and a note he tried to give to a judge in court last week.  Both instances were corroborated by law enforcement sources who spoke to the Deseret Morning News on condition of anonymity.  Questions swirl around Jeffs' health and mental state.  In a court appearance last week, he appeared skeletal and lethargic.  Defense attorneys would only say that he is "very frail."  "I think his conscience is working on him," said ex-FLDS member Richard Holm.  Jeffs, 51, is facing charges in St. George's 5th District Court of rape as an accomplice, a first-degree felony.  He is accused of performing a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.  In Arizona, he is facing charges related to performing child-bride marriages.  He was also recently indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.  Here in the FLDS communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., on Thursday, shopping continued at the local grocery store, children were seen happily playing outside their homes, and the sound of a dog barking drifted through the air.  Residents of both towns appeared oblivious to the news that Jeffs had apparently penned a note seen in court with the words, "I am not a prophet."  Several residents declined to speak to a reporter.     Read more
 
 
Fight over evidence delays Jeffs' hearing
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs' next court appearance has been delayed until further notice.  A judge in St. George's 5th District Court signed an order Tuesday afternoon canceling next week's hearing on a motion to suppress evidence seized when the FBI arrested Jeffs last year.  No future date was set and no reason was given for the continuance.   "Legal issues have led to the court continuing the hearing," deputy Washington County Attorney Brian Filter said Tuesday, declining to elaborate.  The decision comes as new papers were filed in federal court in Salt Lake City, challenging the government's possession of evidence that the FBI seized when it arrested Jeffs.  The court documents include a declaration from a member of the Fundamentalist LDS Church, providing a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the polygamous sect.  "The need to protect such records from disclosure stems from the long history of persecution, ridicule, harassment and physical assault of the faithful by non-members and apostates," FLDS member Alvin S. Barlow Sr. wrote in the declaration.  "This history of persecution has persisted since the Prophet Joseph Smith founded the Church and continues today in great force against the followers of the FLDS."     Read more
 
 
Is Warren Jeffs Losing Sanity?
Rod Decker Reporting
KUTV Channel 2 News
Originally broadcast April 20, 2007

(KUTV) SALT LAKE CITY Has the polygamous prophet Warren Jeffs become insane in jail and incompetent to stand trial?   Secret proceedings in a St. George courtroom may indicate that is so.  Judge James Shumate took a motion from attorneys in secret and issued a secret court order in the Jeffs case earlier this month.  Attorneys for news media say those secret proceedings should be open.  And their filings say the secrets may have to do with whether Warren Jeffs has lost his sanity.  Speaking for news media, lawyer David Reymann is asking for public proceedings.  And his papers suggest what the judge and lawyers may be keeping secret.  "There is a presumption that the public should have access to public proceedings," says Reymann.  The papers say the secret documents may suggest that Jeffs has lost his mental balance, and is incompetent to help with his defense.  Note, Judge James Shumate has cancelled all further hearings, something that often happens when the defendant's sanity is in question, but doesn't happen too often otherwise.  And recent courtroom pictures show, Jeffs slept in the last hearings and could hardly pay attention to what was going on.     Read more
 
 
Judge concerned for Jeffs' medical privacy
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Tuesday, April 24, 2007

ST. GEORGE — A judge here is expressing concern for the medical privacy of Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs.  In his response to a request by the news media to intervene in the criminal case against Jeffs, 5th District Court Judge James Shumate said he wanted attorneys for the Deseret Morning News and other news media outlets to address medical privacy issues.  "The Court has some concerns about the effect granting proposed media intervenors' motion may have on Mr. Jeffs' federal medical privacy rights under HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996," Shumate wrote in an order released Monday.  Lawyers for the news media, the Washington County Attorney's Office and Jeffs' defense team must respond by May 11.  The Deseret Morning News, the Associated Press, the Salt Lake Tribune, the Spectrum of St. George, KSL-TV, the Utah Media Coalition and the Utah Headliners Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists are challenging a decision by the judge to seal a petition filed by Jeffs' defense attorneys earlier this month.  The petition came after Jeffs' last court appearance, where he appeared skeletal and lethargic.  At one point, the FLDS leader nodded off and drooled in open court.     Read more
 
 
Has Jeffs lost hold over FLDS?
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Tuesday, May 1, 2007

ST. GEORGE — Persistent questions about how much of a grasp Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs retains on his followers could help investigators digging into alleged crimes within his polygamous sect.  Some are leaving the FLDS Church and bringing with them information, authorities say.  Some of that information has also been about Jeffs, who remains under investigation by the offices of the Utah and Arizona attorneys general.  "It's not an avalanche, but we are able to talk to people.  There's more of a dialogue," Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said.  In an interview with the Deseret Morning News, Goddard said law enforcement officials have focused on "every aspect of life" in the polygamous border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  Officials are going after suspected abuses within the Colorado City Unified School District and the multimillion-dollar United Effort Plan Trust.  Efforts are being made to reach out to abuse victims within the closed society.  Goddard believes the effort is having results.  "I'd like to think it has made isolation a little more difficult," Goddard said.     Read more
 
 
Polygamist leader gets jail visits from doctor, family
By Jennifer Dobner
The Associated Press
Fox 10 - Phoenix, AZ
Originally published May 11, 2007

SALT LAKE CITY -- A polygamist church leader who appeared frail and disengaged during recent court proceedings has since April been visited most frequently by a man described as his personal physician, records from a southern Utah jail show.  Dr. Lloyd Hammon Barlow first saw Warren Jeffs, head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in the Washington County jail on Feb. 12, about two weeks after he was rushed to a St. George hospital for undisclosed treatment.  Barlow's visit also came three days after the transcript of a motion for "privileged physician contact" was filed under seal in 5th District Court in St. George.  Jeffs, 51, is in jail awaiting a trial on two first-degree felony counts of rape as an accomplice for his role in a 2001 spiritual marriage between a 14-year-old follower and her 19-year-old cousin.  No trial date is set.  Purgatory Correctional Facility records obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request also show that Jeffs' mother, two of his wives and a son have visited.  Barlow is a Utah-licensed family practitioner and surgeon with a degree from the University of Utah, records show.  He also has medical licenses in Arizona and Texas, where the FLDS owns a 2,000-acre ranch.     Read more
 
 
Husband alleges church took wife, son
By Gary Tuchman, CNN Correspondent
CNN
Originally published Thursday, May 17, 2007

What would you do if your clergyman said you were no longer worthy of your family and they were taken away from you?  To most of us, it's preposterous to even imagine such a thing happening.  But I spent some time this week with a 22-year-old Idaho man who claims that's exactly what happened to him.  Wendell Musser is desperate.  Vivian, his 21-year-old wife, and Levi, his 1-year-old son, dissapeared, he says, and he blames polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).  Musser tells me Jeffs, whom followers believe is a prophet, has about 180 wives.  He said Jeffs asked him to live with and protect eight or nine of them in a secret hideaway while Jeffs was running from the law.  Ultimately, Jeffs landed on the FBI Ten Most Wanted list on allegations of arranging marriages of young girls to adult men.  He has since been caught and is awaiting trial.  But while Jeffs was on the run, Wendell Musser and his wife Vivian took care of Jeffs' wives.  Musser told us Jeffs would occasionally visit.  He said the "prophet's" spouses didn't know quite how to act when their husband came a callin' because with so many wives, they spent time with him infrequently.  Last June, Musser was pulled over by police for DWI.  He spent two days in jail.  When he got back to the secret hideaway in the remote Colorado mountain town of Westcliffe, not only were Jeffs' wives gone, but so were Vivian and Levi.     Read more
 
 
Caretaker for polygamous sect leader looks for wife, child
By Jennifer Dobner
The Associated Press
Fox 10 - Phoenix
Originally published May 20, 2007

SALT LAKE CITY -- Wendell Musser followed church leader Warren Jeffs like many others do, with devotion and loyalty so deep that he obeyed without question when called to take a secret mission.  Jeffs, head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was on the run from lawsuits in Utah and criminal charges in Arizona tied to the sect's belief in polygamy and spiritual marriages involving minors.  Musser's task in 2005: Take care of Jeffs' many wives in remote areas of Colorado.  Ultimately, the secrecy would breed doubt -- and a mistake -- that cost Musser his wife, child and membership in the church.  He has filed a lawsuit against Jeffs to learn the whereabouts of his family.  The court filing and an interview with Musser provide details of Jeffs' life on the run for nearly two years before he was arrested during a traffic stop in Nevada last August.  It is a story of small-town isolation, disguises, hours of prayer, high-tech devices and meetings with Jeffs in a parking lot in Colorado Springs.  "It was an honor to get a mission for the church," Musser, now 22, said.  "But it was really a lot different than I expected.  It was out in the middle of nowhere, and we were hiding."     Read more
 
 
Jeffs' lawyers seek identity of sources from reporter
By Jenniefer Dobner
The Associated Press
Fox 10 - Phoenix
Originally published Friday, May 25, 2007

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Attorneys for Warren Jeffs have subpoenaed a local newspaper reporter, seeking the identities of confidential sources used in a story about the polygamist leader.  Jeffs' attorney Wally Bugden handed the subpoena to Deseret Morning News reporter Ben Winslow outside a federal courtroom here Thursday.  At issue is an April 5 story in the Salt Lake City daily which digitally enhanced a photograph to glean the contents of a note Jeffs wrote during a March court hearing.  The paper said the note's contents were "corroborated by law enforcement sources who spoke to the Deseret Morning News on the condition of anonymity."  Utah has no shield law protecting the confidential sources of reporters.  "We're filing a motion to quash the subpoena," said David Reymann, a lawyer for the newspaper.  The photograph of the note was taken by a Deseret Morning News photographer who was serving as the media pool photographer during a March 27 hearing in 5th District Court in St. George.  The newspaper digitally enhanced and mirrored the photograph to discern its contents.     Read more
 
 
Hearing focuses on secrets in the Warren Jeffs case
By Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4
Originally broadcast May 25, 2007

First there was the letter that should have remained secret.  Back in March, as a long hearing came to a close, Warren Jeffs tried to address the judge.  He had something he wanted to say.  But 5th District Court Judge James Shumate said no.  In his hand was a letter on lined, white paper he'd written in court that day.  Later, before being returned to the Purgatory Jail, he would try again to get that letter out.  He asked a bailiff to give it to the news media.  The bailiff said no.  But using some digital enhancements of a photo of the letter, the Deseret Morning News did what Jeffs could not: it published at least part of it.  Judge Shumate believes that was a secret that should have been kept secret.  He ruled in court today that the Deseret Morning News violated Attorney/Client privilege.  The judge said he would still allow a camera to remain in the courtroom, but under tightened rules.  He said if any more digital trickery is used, those responsible will be in contempt of court.  The judge also decided not to require Deseret Morning News Reporter Ben Winslow to testify under oath about the confidential law enforcement sources who initially told him about the contents of the letter.  Winslow had previously vowed to protect those sources -- even if it meant going to jail.     Read more
 
 
Court health evaluation: Jeffs mentally ill, but competent to stand trial
By Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4
Originally broadcast May 29, 2007

ST. GEORGE, UT (ABC 4 News) - On Tuesday, 5th District Court Judge James Shumate released a pair of mental evaluations of Warren Jeffs that had been previously sealed.  One evaluation was by Tim Kockler, a Licensed Psychologist in St. George and the other by Associated Behavior Consultants of Holladay.  The bottom line: Both agreed that Jeffs is manifesting the symptoms of "Depressive Disorder".  (Nielsen called it a substantial mental illness.)  Both agreed that the depression should not stop his trial from going forward.  Judge Shumate secretly ordered the evaluations after a March 27th hearing.  Jeffs appeared dazed during that hearing.  He fell asleep several times.  What's more, the already thin Jeffs had obviously lost even more weight.  Eric Nielsen of Associated Behavior Consultants reported that Jeffs was "guarded and careful" during his interview on April 10th.  Nielsen wrote that Jeffs "came across as mildly depressed" and there was evidence he'd been "struggling with symptoms of depression coupled with anxiety".  Also, Jeffs would go days "refusing food and liquid" while spending "several hours on his knees praying".  He prayed so long that he had "ulcers on both knees".     Read more
 
 
Prison no barrier to influence over polygamist sect
By Jason Szep
Reuters
The New Zealand Herald
Originally published June 14, 2007

HILDALE, Utah (Reuters) - From a cell in the Purgatory jail 10 months after his arrest, fundamentalist Mormon leader Warren Jeffs is still God's voice on Earth to thousands of polygamists in this isolated community.  "Warren Jeffs isn't 'gone'. He doesn't have to be there to rule the place," said Enos Steed, a 21-year-old former member of Jeff's Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), a polygamist sect that broke from the mainstream Mormon church 72 years ago.  To about 10,000 followers in the twin border communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, Jeffs remains a spiritual leader who channels divine revelations and a feared prophet, even 25 miles away in Purgatory, a jail in the Utah city of Hurricane where he awaits trial.  "As long as he is alive he will be the prophet, unless he stands up before them and renounces the religion, denounces what he's been doing for the past decade.  That's the only way, besides dying, he will not be the prophet," said Steed.     Read more
 
 
St. George man stumbles across rare FLDS books
By Jennifer Dobner
The Associated Press
Provo Daily Herald
Originally published Monday, June 18, 2007

SALT LAKE CITY -- It's a book collector's dream -- rifling through the shelves of a secondhand store with the hope of finding a valuable volume for a bargain basement price and stumbling onto a gold mine.  It happened January 31 to a St. George man, who plunked down $40 and took home eight books of sermons and writings from elders of the secretive, polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Adding interest to the find -- the books are inked in red with a property stamp from Purgatory Correctional Facility, which is the Washington County jail in Hurricane where FLDS church president Warren Jeffs is awaiting trial on charges of rape by accomplice.  The volumes are rare and likely worth much more than the St. George man paid, said booksellers who trade in early writings from leaders of the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the religion to which the FLDS church traces its roots.  "Those books are unbelievably scarce," said Tom Kimball, an American Fork collector and seller.  "They could be worth thousands.  It's every Mormon book nerd's fantasy."     Read more
 
 
Utah Polygamists Snap Up iPhones
Polygamists in southern Utah, northern Arizona and Nevada camp out to be first in line to buy iPhones
Computer & Technology
PR-inside.com - Vienna, Austria
Originally published June 30, 2007

LAS VEGAS, NV -- Several hundred polygamists from Utah camped out over night at AT&T stores in Las Vegas, Flagstaff, AZ, and St. George, UT in order to buy up as many iPhones as possible.  Fights nearly broke out in Vegas as would be iPhone purchasers became irate as they realized nearly all iPhones were bought by Utah polygamists.  "We weren't sure who this group of people dressed sorta like Mennonites were.  There were not only adults, but dozens of teenage children.  When other customers complained that there was a huge line of these people, preventing anyone else from buying iPhones, there wasn't much we could do about.  They did line up first," said Ben Levy, customer at the Woodlands Village AT&T store in Flagstaff, Arizona.  "I didn't think polygamists were allowed to use technology, but I guess they're not like the Amish," said John Cantor, iPhone purchaser who was one of the lucky few to get an iPhone after the polygamists bought up most of the iPhones at the Henderson, Nevada AT&T store.  In fact, when polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs was apprehended by the FBI last year, he had several Apple iPods in his possession.  Apparently, the Utah polygamists are a fan of Apple products.  It is unclear what these Utah polygamists plan to do with all of these iPhones as they refused to speak to any reporters about their new iPhones.  Perhaps they were taking the moniker "Jesus Phone" a little too seriously.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs ordered to reunite man with young son
By Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Friday, July 20, 2007

ST. GEORGE — Fifth District Judge James L. Shumate ordered jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs to reunite a former follower with his young son or face significant financial penalties.  Wendell Musser, 22, was separated from his former wife, Vivian Barlow, and their son, Levi, in June 2006.  Jeffs joined the two together in a spiritual marriage ceremony the previous year.  Musser said the couple grew to love each other.  Musser fell out of favor with Jeffs, whom he had been helping during his time as a federal fugitive, when he was arrested in Colorado for driving under the influence.  He was ordered to return alone to Utah to write letters of repentance to Jeffs, which he did.  When Musser was told he no longer held the priesthood and that his family had been taken from him, he searched in vain for his wife and son.  "She needs to realize what she's doing is hurting me and Levi," Musser said following Thursday's hearing in St. George.  "I do love them.  I won't give up on them.  I'm still waiting."  The last time Musser saw his former wife and son, who will turn 2 years old on July 30, was on May 25 in Hildale.  That meeting was arranged and attended by several FLDS men, including Musser's father and Barlow's father, and deputies from the local police department.  Musser said Barlow wouldn't let him hold his son and would not discuss his rights as a father.  He hasn't seen or heard from them since, he said.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs Questioned in Custody Case
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast July 27, 2007

(KSL News/AP) FLDS Church leader Warren Jeffs was questioned today about the location of an ex-church member's estranged wife and son.  Earlier this month, Jeffs was ordered to turn over information about the whereabouts of Wendell Musser's wife, Vivian, and son, Levi.  The deadline passed, so a judge ordered Jeffs to be deposed in jail.   Musser's attorney says if Jeffs refuses to talk, he'll seek sanctions against Jeffs.  The 51-year-old Jeffs is head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He's in jail pending an unrelated criminal trial on charges of rape as an accomplice.  Musser filed a civil lawsuit against Jeffs in May.  He says Jeffs split him from his wife and toddler son last July after Musser was arrested for drunk-driving.  At the time, Musser was serving as a caretaker for some of Jeffs' wives while the church leader was on the run from police.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story)
 
 
Polygamous Sect Leader Won't Talk
The Associated Press
Washington Post
Originally published Saturday, July 28, 2007

HURRICANE, Utah -- A polygamous sect leader on Friday refused to divulge the location of an ex-follower's wife and child, an attorney said.  Warren Jeffs was questioned by attorneys for Wendell Musser in the Washington County jail, but provided no substantive information, attorney Roger Hoole said.  "He pulled out a piece of paper and read: 'I'm not going to answer on the grounds that it might incriminate me,'" Hoole said.  "He apparently concludes that his actions are criminal, although this is a civil case."  Musser served as a caretaker to Jeffs' many wives in a string of Colorado houses while the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints was on the run from police in 2006.  Musser said he was kicked out of the church after a drunken-driving arrest a year ago and cut off from his wife, Vivian Barlow Musser, and son, Levi, who turns 2 on Monday.  Musser, 22, sued Jeffs in May, seeking information about his family.  Musser claims the separation was ordered by Jeffs.  Musser had a brief reunion in late May, but his wife rejected him, refused to say where she was living and wouldn't allow him to hold Levi.  A district court judge ordered Jeffs to provide information by July 25 or face a deposition by Musser's attorneys.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs in court to face contempt charge
Polygamist has failed to help ex-follower find son
By Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Tuesday, August 14, 2007

ST. GEORGE — Jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs is expected in court today to face a contempt charge for failing to answer questions that would reunite a former follower with his toddler son.  Wendell Musser filed a civil suit earlier this year against Jeffs, seeking his assistance in locating his former wife, Vivian Barlow, and their son, Levi James Musser, who turned 2 years old on July 30.  Musser once worked on behalf of Jeffs as a family caretaker while the 51-year-old leader of the Fundamentalist LDS Church was in hiding.  Jeffs is jailed awaiting a Sept. 10 trial date on two felony counts of rape as an accomplice, a first-degree felony.  When Musser was arrested in Colorado for investigation of drunken driving, he was ordered by Jeffs to return to Utah and repent.  After several weeks away from his family, Musser discovered Barlow and Levi had disappeared.  Musser said he began looking for them, but had no success.   After filing the lawsuit against Jeffs, Musser was notified by his father to meet family members in Hildale, Utah, where he was able to speak to Barlow and see his son.  Musser hasn't had any contact with them since that time and subsequently sued Jeffs for access to his child.  Following a default judgment against Jeffs, who did not respond to the lawsuit, 5th District Judge James L. Shumate ordered Jeffs to provide Musser with the information necessary to contact Barlow or face financial sanctions.  When confronted with questions about Barlow and Levi during a July 27 deposition conducted at Purgatory Correctional Facility, Jeffs repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.     Read more
 
 
Judge: Jeffs has right not to answer questions
The Associated Press
The Arizona Republic
Originally published August 15, 2007

ST. GEORGE, Utah - A judge says jailed polygamist-sect leader Warren Jeffs has the right not to answer questions under oath about the location of a former caretaker's son.  The judge refused to find Jeffs in contempt of court during a hearing in St. George, Utah.  Wendell Musser sued Jeffs to learn the whereabouts of his wife and son.  Musser claims Jeffs forced him out of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and cut him off from his family last summer after a drunken-driving arrest in Colorado.  The judge said the dispute between Barlow and his wife over their 2-year-old son should be left up to the parents and court -- not Jeffs.  Both parents are seeking sole custody of the boy.
 
 
No contempt charge for Jeffs, judge says
By Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published August 15, 2007

ST. GEORGE -- A 5th District Court judge ruled Tuesday that polygamist leader Warren Jeffs could not be held in contempt for invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.  Wendell Musser, 22, sought the contempt charge after Jeffs refused to answer questions that would lead Musser to his estranged wife, Vivian Barlow, and their 2-year-old son, Levi.  Musser once worked for Jeffs as a family caretaker, but he lost his position and family after being arrested on suspicion of drunken driving.  Musser then filed a civil lawsuit against Jeffs to help locate his family, saying Jeffs had absolute control of Barlow and Levi.  Jeffs failed to answer that suit and was ordered by Judge James L. Shumate to provide the information under oath in a deposition or face serious financial penalties.  During the deposition hearing, Jeffs invoked the Fifth Amendment when questioned about Musser, his family and the FLDS church, which led to Tuesday's contempt hearing.  By that time, Barlow had also retained an attorney and was granted limited intervention in the case.  "I wonder if this is all moot," Shumate said at the start of Tuesday's hearing.  "I wonder how far we need to go now that the mother has intervened and Levi is having his needs addressed by both Mom and Dad."  Barlow's attorney, Reed Braithwaite, told the judge he has arranged a tentative meeting between Musser, Barlow and Levi in his St. George office on Wednesday.  Musser's attorney, Roger Hoole, argued that Jeffs continues to insert himself into Musser's family by controlling Barlow's life and should be ordered by the court to stay out of their business.  "Warren Jeffs has absolute control over Vivian Barlow," said Hoole.  "It was at his direction that Wendell Musser was separated from Vivian, and he still is (separated)."     Read more
 
 
Jeffs an unlikely leader
By Daphne Bramham
Vancouver Sun
Originally published Friday, September 7, 2007

Warren Jeffs is a shadowy, reclusive man who has never been interviewed.  It's only since his arrest that there are even current photos available of him.  He should never have been the prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  He queue-jumped the succession line by excommunicating those ahead of him - including Winston Blackmore, the bishop of Bountiful, B.C. Even if the FLDS believed in dynastic succession, Jeffs wouldn't qualify.  His mother, Merilyn, wasn't Rulon Jeffs's first or even second wife.  She was the fourth wife and Warren was her second son.  Jeffs is said to have more than 80 wives; about a dozen of them are his father's widows. No one knows how many children he has.  In court, Jeffs has spoken only a few words in a voice so soft it was barely audible.  But his sermons, are delivered in a monotone and followers are urged to constantly listen to the tapes of them.  The prophet is feared much more than he is loved.  When he enters the courtroom for his trial next week, any FLDS members there will stand out of respect.  He stands nearly 6-4.  But at a court hearing last March after months of fasting, Jeffs was a skeletal 130 pounds.  He fell asleep several times during the hearing, drooling on to the lapels of his dark suit.  But he was also disoriented and distraught.     Read more
 
 
The words of Warren Jeffs
Vancouver Sun
Originally published Friday, September 7, 2007

From a Home Economics Class in December, 1997 lesson titled: Teaching children before they are born.

"A mother has the responsibility for the housework and for children. You should start long before the baby is born. A mother will take proper pains to teach the children the first principles of the gospel."

"If the mother does not teach her child properly in those first few years the sins of the children will be on the head of the mother, not the father."

"It is the mother's duty to teach the children that everything in the home belongs to father, and that all that you are doing in the home is to build up father. (Mothers) say, "This is what father wants," and she is always turning the children to those over her."

"But even though everything belongs to father, we must teach the children to respect each other's possessions."

"Brigham Young names one weakness in women....When they get married they are always wanting to party, or go visiting, attend socials, do everything except the training of their children, and that is why so many children have struggles and fail, because the mother attends to everything but this duty of working with the children. And ladies, this is your mission. It is the greatest mission given to women to bring forth children and raise them in light and truth."
Read more
 
 
Trial of polygamist "prophet" to begin in Utah
By Alexandria Sage
Reuters
Originally published September 11, 2007

The self-proclaimed "prophet" of a polygamous clan in an isolated desert enclave at the border of Utah and Arizona goes on trial this week in St. George, Utah, accused of arranging a marriage between an unwilling 14-year-old girl and her cousin.  Warren Jeffs, 51, is charged with two felony counts of being an accomplice to rape and could face life sentences for each charge.  He has been in prison since his arrest in August 2006 after 15 months as a fugitive on the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Most Wanted list and has pleaded not guilty.  The Jeffs trial is the long-awaited crux in authorities' efforts to control the 7,500-strong enclave of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS, in the twin towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona -- a dusty, red-rock area some 100 miles northwest of the Grand Canyon.  For years, the group that holds to early tenets of the Mormon faith, including polygamy, existed virtually free of outside interference from authorities, although exiled or escaped members reported crimes such as widespread welfare and tax fraud, underage marriages and sexual abuse.  But some three years ago, Utah's attorney general convened a task force to uncover crimes within polygamous communities, including abuse of minors and other sex crimes.  Although polygamy is banned under Utah law, authorities say prosecuting so-called plural marriages is impractical.     Read more
 
 
Polygamy trial to begin in Utah
Reuters
Toronto Star
Originally published September 13, 2007

ST. GEORGE, Utah – The hot-button topics of religious freedom and child sexual abuse are the backdrop for opening statements Thursday in the criminal trial of the leader of a fundamentalist Mormon clan of polygamists.  Warren Jeffs, 51, has pleaded not guilty to two felony charges of being an accomplice to rape.  Prosecutors claim Jeffs, who is considered the sect's prophet, orchestrated a marriage between an unwilling 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin in 2001.  Each charge carries a potential sentence of between five years and life in prison.  The case has galvanized the attention of this small city of golf courses and retirees, and pushed the practice of polygamy into the spotlight – a practice the early Mormon church once embraced but rejected in 1890.  Although polygamy is illegal in the United States, an estimated 37,000 people in western states subscribe to it.  The law is rarely enforced because local authorities say prosecuting so-called "plural" marriages is impractical.  Jeffs is not charged with polygamy, a third-degree felony in Utah, punishable by up to five years in prison.  But defense attorneys are expected to argue Jeffs is being persecuted for his religious beliefs, since polygamy and arranged marriages are the way to salvation within the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS, which Jeffs has led since 2002.  No charges against the accuser's husband have been filed.     Read more
 
 
Shurtleff wants to see Jeffs evidence
He says items from car could be key to an organized-crime probe
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published September 16, 2007

ST. GEORGE — A stalled organized crime investigation into the Fundamentalist LDS Church could heat up again if the Utah Attorney General's Office is able to get its hands on evidence seized when FBI agents arrested polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.  "We believe there's substantial information in there that would help with regard to financial investigations," Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said in an interview with the Deseret Morning News.  Shurtleff was tight-lipped about what evidence he would like to see but said some of it could be valuable to ongoing investigations into Jeffs and the FLDS Church.  "We've heard so much," he said.  Jeffs, 51, is on trial in 5th District Court on charges of rape as an accomplice, a first-degree felony.  He is accused of performing a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.  Jeffs was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list until he was arrested in a traffic stop outside Las Vegas in August 2006.  A Nevada Highway Patrol trooper stopped a red 2007 Cadillac Escalade because the temporary tag wasn't visible.  The traffic stop ultimately led to the discovery of Jeffs and a "mother lode" of evidence inside the Escalade that has been the subject of legal battles in several states.     Read more
 
 
Polygamy Dos and Don'ts
The Primer
Posted by Bonnie Goldstein
Slate - Part of The Washington Post Company
Originally published Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Last week, the criminal trial of Warren Jeffs began in Washington County, Utah.  Jeffs is the so-called prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints, a Mormon breakaway faction that practices polygamy.  Jeffs stands accused of being accomplice to rape in the 2001 forced marriage of a 14-year-old sect member to her 19-year-old cousin.  A fugitive for two years prior to his 2006 arrest, Jeffs is the son of Rulon Jeffs, who led FLDS until his 2002 death.  The character Roman Grant, played by Harry Dean Stanton in the HBO series Big Love, is based loosely on Rulon Jeffs, and the character Alby Grant, played by Matt Ross, is similarly inspired by Warren Jeffs.     Read more
 
 
Polygamy trial evokes many feelings
If polyamorous marriages weren't taboo, power of cults would diminish
By Dominick Bonny
The Daily Evergreen - Pullman, Washington
Originally published September 18, 2007

Polygamy is a hot legal topic in American society. This is due in large part to the Warren Jeffs trial currently being argued in St. George, Utah. Jeffs is the leader of the largest polygamist religious sect in the United States and charged with multiple counts of rape and rape as an accomplice.

The reason he is charged with these crimes is because, as the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he had the absolute power to approve or deny all the marriages within his community. Jeffs is on trial because he forced a 14-year-old girl to marry her first cousin, who was nearly 20. She didn't want to and protested, but was ultimately forced into the marriage, and Utah is trying to find out if Jeffs is guilty of any criminal conduct.

He is charged as an accomplice to rape because he used political and religious power to force an unwilling, underage girl into marriage and subsequent unwilling sex with her husband. The sticky issue here is what kind of a precedent would it set if Jeffs gets convicted.
Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs Abandoned By His Flock Of Supporters?
By Doug Ware - KUTV.com
Dan Rascon Reporting
KUTV Channel 2 News
Originally broadcast September 20, 2007

(KUTV) ST. GEORGE - Just over a year ago, Warren Jeffs was a fugitive from justice, a man on the FBI's ten "Most Wanted" list and maintained tremendous influence over polygamous communities in southern Utah -- as well as out-of-state.   Now, Jeffs appears in court every day while facing a future in prison.  And his religious authority is hemorrhaging like blood from a cavernous wound.  His so-called polygamous "flock" of followers seem to be breaking formation from Jeffs' way of life -- perhaps because they no longer fear the self-proclaimed "prophet" of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now that he is behind bars.  Joseph Broadbent, 18, once saw Jeffs as the supreme religious authority.  Now, however, he feels as though he's been cheated out of a normal life.  "The way I was taught... he was basically God," he said.  "We worshipped him every day."  A year ago, Broadbent escaped his polygamist lifestyle along the Utah-Arizona border -- Jeffs' stronghold to command his FLDS followers -- saying that he no longer wanted any part of the religion.  "The way he breaks up the families... he actually tells you who you are going to marry. I hope he stays in jail for life, That's what I'm hoping." Broadbent said.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs Still Dominant Force Even After Conviction
Polygamist Leader May Still Control Sect From Prison, Former Members Say
By SCOTT MICHELS
ABC News
Originally published September 27, 2007

Though Warren Jeffs is facing up to life in prison, the fundamentalist Mormon leader will continue to control the lives of thousands of his followers, people familiar with the polygamist sect say.  Jeffs was convicted Tuesday of being an accessory to rape for coercing a 14-year-old girl to marry her 19-year-old cousin.  The verdict set off speculation over what will happen to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints if he is given a lengthy prison term.  But, former members say Jeffs will probably still be revered as the prophet, the leader of the sect who is regarded as God's voice on Earth.  They said they expect Jeffs, for the time being, to continue to be a dominant force in the lives of the estimated 10,000 sect members who live along the border of Utah and Arizona.  "For those who believe, he is a prophet anointed by God," said Dan Fischer, a former member who started a network to care for boys who were kicked out of the sect so older men could have multiple brides.  "There is nothing that man can do to change that."  Fischer added, "Should he decide that someone should be ousted [from the sect], he can still pull that off from prison, just like a mafia boss can run the mob from jail."     Read more
 
 
Polygamist townsfolk eager to stay under cover
Outsiders clearly unwelcome in community where no one makes eye contact and doors are shut tight
By Petti Fong
WESTERN CANADA BUREAU CHIEF
Toronto Star
Originally published September 29, 2007

HILDALE, Utah–It is quiet here in the coppery shadow of the Canaan Mountain, except for the sounds of children playing behind high walls.  The high-pitched happy voices sound eerie to me because they're indistinguishable.  Are there 10 children behind those walls or 100?  On a recent afternoon in this community of 1,900, the sidewalks are nearly deserted.  The men turn their heads to avoid looking at you, the women look down.   Up walkways to houses, blinds suddenly close and persistent door knocks are steadfastly ignored.  It would be easy to believe you're invisible in this town except for the men following you, everywhere you walk or drive.  Members of the polygamist community that settled here thought they were out of reach of lawmakers and prying neighbours.  That may have been the case 60 years ago when this vast area of near-desert and rich red sandstone mountains was remote, unreachable.  The reluctance of people to talk here is the clearest sign that Warren Jeffs, the spiritual leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, still has influence among his followers.  Since his arrest last year and throughout his week-long trial, Jeffs has been living at the regional prison known as Purgatory, which is halfway between his compound in Hildale, where his wives live behind brick walls, and the courthouse in St. George.  In that courthouse this week, Jeffs, 51, was found guilty by a jury of being an accomplice to two counts of rape after he urged and blessed the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to her 19-year-old cousin.  The intrusion of outsiders is resented.  "When we get people prodding customers and asking questions, it's not welcome," says David Jessop, manager of the local supermarket.  To stop a photographer from taking pictures from the sidewalk, Jessop shielded his customers with his white SUV as they entered and left his store.     Read more
 
 
In the book of our life, what will we write
By Norma Najacht
Opinion
Custer County Chronicle - Custer, South Dakota
Originally published Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I love it when the good guys win.  Whether it's a book, a movie, or just life, I like happy endings.  I believe life truly is stranger than fiction, which is why I enjoy books and movies about real people.  And I especially like reading books or watching movies about people who have made a difference in somebody else's life.  Who could forget Oskar Schindler, the German businessman who saved the lives of over 1,000 Polish Jews during Nazi Germany's "final solution," immortalized in the movie "Schindler's List."  The survivors and descendants of the approximately 1,100 Jews sheltered by Schindler now number over 6,000.  Another of my favorite movies is "Anna and the King." The film is based on the life of Anna Leonowens, a British governess in Siam (now Thailand) during the 19th century.  While it is uncertain how much influence she really had on the king's son, and therefore the country, it is accepted that she did, indeed, have a direct impact on the future of that country.  What an inspiration to know that one lone woman can change the course of an entire country!  The book "Tisha" was given to me by a former pastor's wife and it is to this day one of my favorites.  If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it.  It is the true story of a young women who went to Alaska as a teacher and influenced many a life because of her high principles and refusal to compromise.  It is full of adventure and romance and, yes, it has a happy ending.  I gravitate to books and movies where it is a woman who makes a difference.  I believe each of us has that potential, yet we see it so rarely.  I am convinced that Elissa Wall, the 21-year-old woman who brought a lawsuit against Warren Jeffs, Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) prophet, is one of those women.  Imagine what courage this young woman must have possessed to bring down this man she was taught from birth was the mouthpiece of God!  From an early age, she was taught that he alone holds the keys to heaven and hell.  He holds complete sway over the lives of an estimated 10,000 people in the FLDS.     Read more
 
 
The not-so-good Halloween ideas
By Jon Busdeker
The Huntsville Times
Originally published Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hunter become hunted

Find as many stuffed-animal dogs you can and start gluing them to your body. It doesn't matter if the dogs are big, little, black, brown or purple, just get as many on you as possible. Then, slip on your now-worthless Michael Vick jersey, and show what happens "When Dogs Attack."

Not guilty?

If you recently bought a new refrigerator, this one will be easy. Grab a nice suit, a tie and a pair of glasses and put those on. Dye your hair white. Now, get the refrigerator box, cut some squares in the bottom and make it look like a bathroom stall. Wave your hands underneath it and you're Sen. Larry Craig.

The kids aren't alright

We need dedication for this one. It's going to take acting like trash, drinking a lot, smoking cigarettes and shaving your head. After getting that down, try lip-synching when you get to the party. You're the perfect Britney Spears. And remember, be careful when you get out of the car - oops, you did it again.

I do, I do and I do

If you actually have more than one friend, get them all together. Have everyone wear dresses (they must cover every bit of skin) and you wear a suit and go as Warren Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. For the entire evening, tell everyone you are a prophet and the women are your wives.
Read more
 
 
Wednesday Breakfast Bender
By Emil Steiner
OFF/beat - Real, Strange News
The Washington Post
Originally published October 24, 2007

Welcome to October 24th! On this date 60 years ago, Walt Disney testified to the House Un-American Activities Committee, naming Disney employees he thought were Communists.

Future News Prediction: Osama Bin Laden apologizes for repeatedly saying "Warren Jeffs" when he meant to say Mitt Romney during a new tape released by Al Jazeera.
 
 
Colorado City is impacted by change
Custer County Chronicle - Custer, South Dakota
Originally published October 24, 2007

With all the construction going on at the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) compounds in Custer County and Texas, one might wonder if there's anyone left in Colorado City, Utah.  "Most of the people are left here," said Isaac Wyler, former FLDS member and resident of Colorado City.  "I'd be surprised if 1,000 are gone."  As for someone firing three shots at him two weeks ago, it turned out to be a pickup backfiring.  Still, it was meant to scare him, he believes.  The pickup belongs to a FLDS member who was going to testify at FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs' trial last month on Jeffs' behalf, he said.  He is one of Warren's "goons," Wyler said.  Warren's "goons" are not members of the Colorado City police force, which is FLDS, but they work side by side with the police.  "Some have badges and some don't," Wyler said.  When Andrew Chatwin was evicted from his home in Colorado City, they were all involved.  "We call them the 'god squad,'" Wyler said.  There is a lot of harassment going on in Colorado City, he noted.  For him, it started when he was kicked out of the FLDS along with 20 other men Jan. 10, 2004, and didn't leave the area.  It was the largest single "kick-out" in FLDS history, according to Wyler, with 70 women leaving their husbands and hundreds of children taken from their fathers.     Read more
 
 
Howl attracts all kinds
By Lindsay Anderson
The Utah Statesman - Utah State University
Originally published October 29, 2007

Lord Voldemort, Strawberry Shortcake and Dwight Schrute were just a few of the thousands of characters who attended USU's annual Halloween party, the Howl, held at the Taggart Student Center and Fieldhouse Saturday.  A long-standing USU tradition, the Howl always gets a great turnout, averaging between 4 and 5 thousand people each year, said Megan Smith, ASUSU activities director.  "Every year is a little bit different," Smith said.  Each activities director has their own ideas, she said, and gets to decide what activities and changes will be taking place.  This year, one of the changes was the entrance, from the TSC to the Fieldhouse, "so people don't have to wait out in the cold," Smith said.   Planning for the Howl started the second week of school, Smith said, and the setup on Saturday lasted seven hours.   Activities at the Howl this year included bands in the Fieldhouse, a DJ in the Hub, a hypnotist in the Ballroom, root beer in the Juniper Lounge and a photographer in the Walnut Room, who would take pictures and put them on a Web site, Smith said.  There were three different hypnotist shows throughout the night, and around 20 students were selected from the audience in each show to participate.  Some of the activities they performed while hypnotized included dancing, rowing a boat to a nudist colony and riding a roller coaster.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs Court Documents Unsealed
By Christina Flores
KUTV Channel 2 News
Originally broadcast October 30, 2007

Details of the Warrens Jeffs case kept secret during the trial were made public Tuesday.  The state unsealed court documents and they're now open for all to see.  There are many details about Warren Jeffs' health - like the fact that he lost 30 pounds in jail, his private conversations with family, and his own doubts about being prophet of the FLDS Church.  During his trial, Warren Jeffs appeared sickly and seemed to fall asleep.  But recently unsealed court papers reveal while Jeffs was in jail he became so sick, he went to the hospital.  Doctors said he was depressed.  In January, right before he went to the hospital, the documents say Jeffs called family and church members and told them, "When he was 20 years old, he had been immoral with a sister and a daughter."  During those phone calls, he "renounced his role as the prophet" because "the lord revealed to him that he was a wicked man and has not held the priesthood since he was 20 years old."  Jeff's attorney, Walter Bugden, later asked the judge to keep that information out of the trial, because the state would use it to depict Jeffs as "a wicked and immoral man."  The judge agreed.  The court papers say a month after Jeffs renounced his role as prophet; he talked to family on the phone again and retracted his renouncement of the prophecy, saying he'd just been through a great spiritual test.  Two months after that, Jeffs tried to pass a note to the judge in court.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs' jail conversations may haunt him in trials
Law enforcers could use taped words of 'prophet'
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Thursday, November 1, 2007

Tapes are apparently still being made of Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs' conversations inside the Purgatory Jail.  "We record conversations of all inmates," Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith told the Deseret Morning News on Wednesday.  "We are not doing anything differently with Warren Jeffs than we do for anyone else, and nothing has changed since his conviction." Only conversations deemed protected, such as the ones between an attorney and client, are not recorded.  The sheriff declined to comment on the contents of several jailhouse tapes that were detailed in recently unsealed court documents.  More court documents also reveal some of Jeffs' writings that were seized when the polygamist leader was arrested in August 2006, after months on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List.  "You know that there are laws passed for the purpose to take me in bondage and put me in prison. The evil powers know of this mission, and the devil wants this work stopped," Jeffs reportedly said in a 2005 document that prosecutors cite in a court filing.  In other court papers, defense attorneys detailed how Jeffs renounced his role as a prophet of the FLDS faith and suggested that 31 years ago he had done something "immoral" with a sister and a daughter.  He did not elaborate and later recanted his renouncement, saying he had "experienced a great spiritual test."  The documents were suddenly made public late Tuesday night when 5th District Judge James Shumate ordered their release without any explanation.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs tried to commit suicide in jail
Reported by Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast November 1, 2007

Washington County, Utah (ABC 4 News) - Sources familiar with both Warren Jeffs and his confinement in the Purgatory Correctional Facility tell ABC4 that on at least two occasions he tried to harm himself.  Both incidents took place back in January of this year.  Neither came close to succeeding.  In one instance, Jeffs rammed his head against the wall of his jail cell.  In the other instance, he apparently tried to use his jail-issued clothes to strangle himself.  Also in January, Jeffs was briefly taken to a hospital emergency room.  But a Washington County Sheriff's spokesman says that it had to do with his heart.  Suicide attempts should not be surprising given the diagnosis of depression from two mental evaluations of Jeffs.  Always thin, Jeffs had lost 30 pounds in his first few months in PCF.  He was not sleeping well.  And after the suicide attempts, Jeffs was confessing to friends and family members that he was a "wicked man".  Depressed or not, former FLDS member Carolyn Jessop says she was surprised.  "We believe that suicide is a horrible sin. That's one of the worst," she said.  "I always considered him narcissistic and a person like that protects himself."     Read more
 
 
Guilty conscience didn't bother Jeffs for long
By Linda Valdez, editorial writer
The Arizona Republic
Originally published November 3, 2007

Cult leader Warren Jeffs had at least one lucid moment in a life that he used to bully and brainwash followers of his polygamous group.  Documents unsealed after his conviction as an accomplice to rape reveal that Jeffs called himself a "wicked man."  He later changed his mind.  Not so fast, Warren.  What you experienced is a guilty conscience.  A long prison sentence could help you ponder all the wrongs you've done to people who trusted you.
 
 
Papers: Polygamist Leader Tried Suicide
Polygamous-Sect Leader Attempted Suicide in Cell While Awaiting Trial, Documents Say
By Ed White
The Associated Press
ABC News
Originally published November 7, 2007

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A polygamous-sect leader tried to hang himself in jail in January, eight months before a jury convicted him of rape as an accomplice, according to court documents.  The disclosure Tuesday was in an evaluation by mental-health expert Eric Nielsen, who examined Warren Jeffs in April and found him depressed but fit for trial.  The suicide attempt was not disclosed in May when a judge released portions of the report.  Jeffs, 51, is president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He was convicted in September of two counts of rape as an accomplice in the 2001 arranged marriage of a 14-year-old follower and her 19-year-old cousin.  He could be sentenced to life in prison later this month.  He also faces criminal charges in Arizona and in federal court in Utah.  Jeffs tried to commit suicide in his cell at the Washington County jail on Jan. 28, Nielsen wrote.  Authorities at the time said Jeffs was taken to a hospital but declined to say what caused the hospital visit or elaborate on Jeffs' health.  "He was interviewed the following day, and his mood was described as somber and dull," Nielsen wrote.  "He has complained that he was feeling anxious."  On Jan. 30 and Feb. 2, Jeffs threw himself against the walls and banged his head, Nielsen said.  In April, when Nielsen examined him, Jeffs replied "not really" when Nielsen asked whether he had truly intended to kill himself.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs tried to kill self, papers say
Unsealed evaluation says he tried to hang self in cell
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs tried to kill himself in the Purgatory Jail and repeatedly renounced his role as "prophet," newly released court documents say.  In a mental competency evaluation unsealed late Tuesday, doctors wrote that Jeffs tried to hang himself inside his cell in January.  That led to a trip to the emergency room, and he returned to the jail under a suicide watch.  A few days later, doctors said Jeffs was observed "throwing himself against the walls," which led jail staff to give him a tranquilizer.  "On Feb. 2, 2007, he was banging his head on the wall. He denied any hallucinations at that time but simply described himself as anxious," Dr. Eric Nielsen wrote, noting that a psychiatrist who interviewed Jeffs determined the suicide attempt was a "cry for help."  When pressed about whether he was really intending to kill himself, Jeffs told Nielsen, "not really."  The report said Jeffs claimed to be feeling better, which he attributed to "prayer and study."  Jeffs was diagnosed with a depressive disorder and ultimately declared competent to stand trial.  The FLDS leader recently was convicted of rape as an accomplice, a first-degree felony, for performing a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.  A 5th District Court judge in St. George ordered more documents unsealed Tuesday after requests from several news media outlets, including the Deseret Morning News, and a private investigator.  "Obviously, in Warren's own words he is a fraud," said Sam Brower, the private investigator who has been looking into Jeffs and the FLDS Church for lawyers suing the polygamist sect.     Read more
 
 
Video tape shows Jeffs admitting he's no prophet
Reported by Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast November 7, 2007

ST. GEORGE, Utah (ABC 4 News) - The split-screen video shows Warren Jeffs in the upper right hand square wearing the jail-issued green and white "pajamas".  On the left is his brother Nephi.  The conversation was recorded January 25, 2007 in the Purgatory Correctional Facility in Washington County.  In a conversation pockmarked with pauses - some of them lasting minutes - Jeffs speaks in a deliberate, quiet tone.  But the emotional undercurrent is strong - especially considering that Warren Jeffs is a prophet to roughly 10,000 polygamists in the FLDS community.  For the first half hour, the conversation is routine.  Warren Jeffs wants to send a message of support and love to his followers.  This despite the fact that just the day before he had called several from the jailhouse phone and told them that he lost his priesthood 31 years ago after being "immoral" with a sister and daughter.  Now, it seems, he's back in the role of shepherd.  He tells Nephi to tell his people, "When the Lord allows us a test, let us turn to him to be at peace."  He directs Nephi to have someone call on a sick little girl and "give a blessing."  A few times during the first half hour Jeffs seems to have finished.  He even hangs up the phone used to talk to visitors on the other side of the glass.  Then he tells Nephi not to send the first message and begins a bizarre, halting dictation to Nephi of what he says are the words that God is now whispering to him.  He says the message - phone calls - he gave yesterday are true - except for the part about being "the wickedest man on the face of the earth since Adam's time."  (In a few minutes he would clarify that he is the wickedest man "in this dispensation.")     Read more
 
 
Jeffs confession met with mixed feelings in polygamist towns
Reported by Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast November 8, 2007

HILDALE, Utah (ABC 4 News) - Warren Jeffs has confessed, but the question remains: Will his followers accept it?  The best guess from people who have lived all their lives in the polygamist community along the Utah-Arizona border is this: A few will, most won't - at least not for the time being.  Although 5th District Court Judge James Shumate only unsealed details of the confession this week, they have been known by some of Jeffs' family and close lieutenants for months.   In late January, Jeffs made a several phone calls in which he not only renounced the leadership of his polygamist group but also claimed that he never was a prophet.  In fact, he admitted to incestuous relations with both a daughter and a sister when he was 20-years old.  While not repeating the incest part of his confession, Jeffs also told his brother Nephi during a personal visit that another man, William T. Jessop, was the real prophet and had been since their father Rulon Jeffs passed away in 2002.  Jeffs called himself "the most wicked man of this dispensation."  Those who have left the FLDS group - apostates as they are called by Warren Jeffs - say the faithful can explain away just about anything - even a confession that they can now see and hear for themselves.  "You watch," said Isaac Wyler.  "They'll say that you guys doctored the tapes to make him say that."     Read more
 
 
Mixed reaction to Jeffs tapes
Some FLDS think they're a lie, others are stunned
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Saturday, November 17, 2007

Tapes of Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs' jailhouse conversations are slowly circulating throughout the polygamous border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  However, they are not generating quite the reaction that ex-FLDS members and others pursuing the polygamist sect leader had expected.  "A lot of people just refuse to believe it no matter what," said Sam Brower, a private investigator working for lawyers suing Jeffs and the FLDS Church.  "Others, they look at it and feel betrayed."  Brower said he has handed out about a half-dozen copies of the DVD of the jailhouse conversation in which Jeffs renounced his title as prophet of the FLDS faith.  Some of the recipients are people still in the church, he said.  "One ... he was in his own words, he said, 'I'm stunned. I'm stunned. I can't believe it,"' Brower recalled.  Many believe the tapes are a lie, said Isaac Wyler, an ex-FLDS member who lives in Colorado City.  "They're claiming everything from him being drugged to the actual tape itself being manipulated," he said.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs Faces Sentencing Tuesday
KUTV 2 News
Originally broadcast November 19, 2007

FLDS leader Warren Jeffs is scheduled to learn his fate Tuesday in a St. George courtroom.  Jeffs was found guilty of two accomplice to rape charges each count carries a possibility of five-years-to-life in prison.  Last week his attorneys tried to get the judge to throw the case out arguing the case was speculative and circumstantial.  Monday prosecutors filed a motion asking the judge to deny the defenses' request.  They claim the jury had evidence beyond a reasonable doubt when they convicted Jeffs.  We will have live coverage of the sentencing from Saint George all day Tuesday.
 
 
Warren Jeffs must pay extra security cost for trial
By Daphne Bramham
Vancouver Sun
Originally published Tuesday, November 20, 2007

ST. GEORGE, Utah - In the Utah justice system, there is such a thing as adding insult to injury.  The St. George Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff's Office want Warren Jeffs, the convicted prophet of North America's largest polygamous group, to pay the extra security costs for his trial.  Jeffs, who was on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list while he was a fugitive, was convicted in September on two counts of conspiracy to commit rape.  His sentencing hearing is Tuesday afternoon.  He faces from five years to life in prison on each count.  They're asking the court to assess Jeffs costs of $111,247 for the additional policing costs of the high-security trial - $56,027 for extra police and $55,220 for transporting him daily from his cell at Purgatory Correctional Facility to the St. George courthouse.  Jeffs's lawyers filed a motion Monday opposing the "restitution" fee.  Jeffs's attorneys countered by filing a motion on Monday calling the so-called restitution fee unconstitutional and "cruel and unusual punishment."  "Mr. Jeffs, like all criminal defendants has a right to a public trial by jury," it says.  The motion goes on to enunciate his other constitutionally guaranteed rights to have an attorney, to "confront and compel witnesses" and the right to due process.  "Inherent in these rights is the need to provide a secure facility in which a jury may safely hear the case, the public may safely attend the trial, a defendant's attorneys may safely present a defense, the accused may safely confront witnesses, witnesses may safely testify and judges may safely oversee the proceedings," it says.     Read more
 
 
Sect Leader Is Sentenced in Utah
By John Dougherty
New York Times
Originally published November 20, 2007

ST. GEORGE, Utah, Nov. 20 — The polygamous leader of a fundamentalist Mormon sect was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years to life in prison for forcing a 14-year-old girl to "spiritually" marry her 19-year-old cousin and commanding the naive bride to submit to sexual relations against her will.  The defendant. Warren S. Jeffs, 51, was convicted by a jury in September of two counts of acting as an accomplice to a rape.  Judge James L. Shumate of Fifth District Court imposed two consecutive sentences of five years to life in prison.  Mr. Jeffs remained seated, his face expressionless, as Judge Shumate announced the sentence.  He declined the judge's offer to address the court, and his defense lawyer, Walter Budgen, said Mr. Jeffs did not want to say anything publicly because he still faces criminal charges for arranging underage marriages in Arizona.  In Utah, Mr. Jeffs faces federal charges of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution.  Mr. Jeffs was convicted after a week-long trial that included riveting testimony by the victim, Elissa Wall, who is now 21, married and no longer a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a Mormon sect with an estimated 10,000 members.  Ms. Wall testified that she told Mr. Jeffs she did not want to marry her cousin Alan G. Steed and later begged Mr. Jeffs to be released from the union because of unwanted sexual contact.  A day after Mr. Jeffs was convicted on Sept. 25, Mr. Steed was charged with one count of rape and is awaiting trial.     Read more
 
 
Polygamous sect leader sentenced to 5 years
Jeffs convicted for role in arranged marriage between teens
The Associated Press
MSNBC
Originally published November 20, 2007

ST. GEORGE, Utah - A judge sentenced a polygamous-sect leader Tuesday to two consecutive terms of five years to life in prison for his role in the arranged marriage of teenage cousins.  Warren Jeffs, 51, was convicted of two counts of rape as an accomplice for his role in the marriage of a 14-year-old follower and her 19-year-old cousin in 2001.  It will be up to the Utah parole board to decide how long he actually stays behind bars.  Jeffs' attorney, Wally Bugden, asked the judge for concurrent sentences but lost the argument.  "This was all about religion," Bugden said outside court.  "The foundation of this case was the prosecution of Mr. Jeffs because of placement marriages."  Jeffs is head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, whose members practice polygamy in arranged marriages that have often involved placing young girls with older men.  Most FLDS members live in the twin communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., about 350 miles southeast of Salt Lake City.  Washington County prosecutors said Jeffs enticed Elissa Wall into marriage and sex against her will by telling her that the relationship was commanded by God and that any refusal would place her salvation at risk.     Read more
 
 
US polygamy sect leader sentenced
A US polygamist sect leader has been sentenced to five years to life in jail as an accomplice to rape for forcing a 14-year-old girl to marry her cousin.
BBC News
Originally published Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Utah court said the state board of pardons would ultimately determine how much time Warren Jeffs would serve.  The self-proclaimed prophet spent 15 months on the run before his arrest in August 2006.  The 51-year-old was found guilty in September of two counts of encouraging the girl to have sex against her will.  Jeffs was the head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS).  The sect split from the Mormon Church after it renounced polygamy.  He went into hiding after being charged in Arizona with being an accomplice to incest and sexual misconduct for allegedly arranging marriages between minors and older men.  At the time of his arrest he was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list.  A jury convicted Jeffs of orchestrating the girl's marriage to her 19-year-old cousin in 2001 and encouraging her to have sex by telling her she would go to hell if she did not.  Allen Steed, who has not been charged with any offence, testified that his wife had initiated their first sexual encounter.     Read more
 
 
Hope Organization Member Notices Change in Polygamist Communities
By Andrew Adams
KSL Newsradio
Originally broadcast November 20, 2007

Ahead of FLDS Church leader Warren Jeffs' sentencing today, there are signs of change in the polygamist communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  There are cases of FLDS faithful acknowledging dissidents, and that usually just doesn't happen.  But Warren Jeffs' influence is still felt.  Just last Saturday, Elaine Tyler, with the HOPE Organization, was in town and was tailed, likely by Jeffs' henchmen, the so-called "God squad."  Tyler said, "I have been out there dozens of times and never had noticed that I was followed. And we were definitely followed last Saturday. There was a white truck that followed us the entire time."  Tyler says there is other, good news.  She says whole families are now contacting her organization, looking for help on their way out of polygamy.     Listen to broadcast
 
 
Jeffs sentenced in Utah
By Aaron Royster
Kingman Daily Miner
Originally published November 21, 2007

After being sentenced to five years to life in prison in Utah, Warren Jeffs is coming to Arizona on charges he faces in Mohave County.  "I don't know how long it will take to get him to Arizona, but I believe the defendant and his attorneys want him to appear in Arizona as soon as possible after he is sentenced," Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith said.  The Associated Press reported a Utah judge sentenced Jeffs, 51, to five years to life on each charge of rape as an accomplice on Tuesday.  The sentences will be served consecutively.  The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole will decide how long after the 10 years Jeffs will be required to serve.  The board's decision is final, cannot be appealed and is not subject to judicial review.  Procedural issues are subject to judicial review.  A jury found Jeffs guilty of the two charges on Sept. 25.  As the spiritual leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Jeffs arranged the marriage of a 14-year-old follower and her 19-year-old cousin in 2001.  The victim testified she felt pressured to have sex with her cousin by Jeffs in order to obtain salvation.  Jeffs will technically be in the Utah State Prison system while being tried in Mohave County, Smith said.  The Mohave County Attorney's Office will have to proceed under the Interstate Agreement on Detainers, he added.  "After that it will just depend on how long it gets to take to get discovery completed and all the interviews done before we can set a trial date," Smith said.  In Mohave County, Jeffs has been indicted in four separate cases.     Read more
 
 
Sect leader jailed for forced marriage of 14-year-old
From correspondents in St George, Utah
Melbourne Herald Sun - Australia
Originally published November 21, 2007

US polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs was sentenced to 10 years to life in prison today for forcing a 14-year-old to marry her cousin.  Jeffs, the self-proclaimed "prophet" of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), spent 15 months on the run and was on the FBI's Most Wanted list before his arrest in August 2006.  He was convicted in September.  A Utah court said Jeffs' sentence was subject to review by the state board of pardons, which will ultimately determine how much time he serves.  Looking gaunt, Jeffs showed no emotion when the sentence was read and he declined to address the Utah court.  But his victim, who is now 21, was in court and directly spoke to the judge before sentencing.  "Jeffs and his influence over me, as a 14-year-old girl, affected me and my family in so many ways," said Elissa Wall.  She said she trusted the court would give him "the sentence that he deserves and that some good would come from this".  Jeffs forced her to marry her 19-year-old cousin despite her objections.  Revered as infallible by his followers and reviled as power-crazed and delusional by others, Jeffs, 51, led some 7500 FLDS members in the red-rock borderlands of Utah and neighbouring Arizona.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs still a danger, FLDS escapee says
By William Hermann
The Arizona Republic
Originally published November 26, 2007

Author Carolyn Jessop is coming to Changing Hands Bookstore in Tempe today and says she has a message for anyone who thinks sending Warren Jeffs to prison will change things in the small Arizona and Utah communities where Jeffs once ruled as "prophet" and forced Jessop and many other women into polygamous marriages.  "They still aren't getting it about Jeffs," said Jessop in a telephone interview.  "He left a structure behind when he went into prison. He gave people power, and the men he put into power have a claim to nothing unless they maintain the idea that Warren is a prophet and every order he gave - and gives - still has to be obeyed."  Jeff was sentenced Tuesday in Utah to two terms of five years to life.  Jeffs was the leader of Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints communities on the Arizona-Utah border, and still faces charges in Arizona for being an accomplice to sexual conduct with a minor, conspiracy and incest.  A federal trial for felony flight is pending.  But whether Jeffs is gone, his legacy of unquestioning obedience remains, Jessop said.     Read more
 
 
FLDS sect may splinter now that Jeffs is in prison
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Sunday, December 2, 2007

The Fundamentalist LDS Church could be in for a leadership shake-up — or it may splinter now that polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs is in prison, the attorney generals of Arizona and Utah say.  "It's awfully hard to have a leader in prison," Terry Goddard said in an interview with the Deseret Morning News.  Goddard was in Park City this past week for the conference of the National Association of Attorneys General.  In the interview, he weighed in on Jeffs' recent sentence.  Jeffs was convicted of first-degree felony rape as an accomplice and sentenced to two terms of five-years-to-life in the Utah State Prison for performing a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.  His attorneys have said they will appeal.  The FLDS leader is facing similar charges in Arizona, and a federal grand jury has indicted him for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution stemming from his time on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list.  Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said there may be a split within the ranks of the closed polygamous society.  "I've heard from members of the FLDS Church who are standing by him 100 percent," Shurtleff said.  "(They are) telling me how wrong we are, how godly a man he is and how we don't know the true Warren Jeffs."  Others are beginning to waver.  "We've heard there are a number who are hedging their bets and looking to the new potential leader," he said, adding that there may be divisions within FLDS enclaves scattered across the West and in Canada.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs resigns as head of FLDS Church
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published December 5, 2007

ST. GEORGE — The day he was sentenced to prison for two counts of rape as an accomplice, Warren Steed Jeffs resigned as president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Through his attorneys, Walter Bugden and Tara Isaacson, a statement was released to the media today regarding Jeffs resignation.  For more, please see tomorrow's edition of The Spectrum & Daily News.
 
 
Jeffs resigns as head
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published December 6, 2007

ST. GEORGE - Attorneys for polygamist leader Warren Steed Jeffs filed a motion Wednesday seeking a new trial and released a statement, per Jeffs' instructions, stating that he has resigned as president of the corporation of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  According to the statement distributed to the media, Jeffs' resignation was tendered Nov. 20 when he was sentenced to two back-to-back sentences of five-years-to-life in prison.  Jeffs was found guilty on Sept. 25 of two first-degree felony charges of rape as an accomplice.  The charges stemmed from Jeffs arranging and performing the 2001 marriage of 14-year-old Elissa Wall and her 19-year-old cousin Allen Steed.  At the time of the marriage, both were members of the FLDS Church, which encourages the practice of arranged and plural marriage.  The statement released Wednesday afternoon, isn't the first time Jeffs renounced his roll as the prophet of the church.  During a jailhouse conversation between Jeffs and his brother, Nephi, on Jan. 25 at Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane, Jeffs told his brother he was not the prophet and was never the prophet and that he (Warren Jeffs), has been the "most wicked man in this dispensation, in the eyes of the Lord."  He also said he was immoral with a sister and a daughter when he was 20, but did not elaborate on his conduct.  Knowing that jail staff was videotaping his visit with his brother, Jeffs instructed Nephi to obtain a copy of the video and share it with the public.  Several days later, he attempted suicide at the jail, where he was being held in administrative custody.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs Resigns as President of Polygamous Sect
Associated Press
Fox News
Originally published December 6, 2007

SALT LAKE CITY — Warren Jeffs, the leader of a polygamous-sect for five years, resigned his position as president of his church on Nov. 20 — the same day he was sentenced to prison for convictions on two counts of rape as an accomplice, his attorney said Wednesday.  Information about Jeffs' resignation as head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints came in a statement from defense attorney Wally Bugden that was faxed to media outlets.  The statement says Jeffs wanted the information released to reporters and church members.  An assistant at Bugden's law office said no one would be responding to questions from media.  It's unclear if that means Jeffs also surrendered his religious authority as the faith's prophet.  In January, a despondent Jeffs attempted to hang himself after telling his brother he was "not the one to be the prophet."  He later renounced the statement and has continued to pass spiritual and practical messages to church members through visitors.  On Tuesday, lawyers asked a 5th District Court judge to grant Jeffs a new trial, claiming "errors and improprieties" occurred during the four-day trial in September.  Court documents gave no specifics, but defense attorneys have contended that Jeffs' prosecution was a form of religious persecution and was politically motivated by state officials who disapprove of polygamy.     Read more
 
 
Futures of Jeffs, followers iffy
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Thursday, December 6, 2007

On the day he was sentenced, Warren Jeffs' followers did not stand for him.  Through all of the previous court hearings in his rape-as-an-accomplice trial, the dozen or so faithful members of the Fundamentalist LDS Church stood as a sign of respect every time he entered or exited the St. George courtroom.  On Nov. 20, they did not.  A statement issued by Jeffs' lawyers, announcing that he "resigned as president of the Corporation of the President of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Inc." may explain why.  Jeffs' lawyers said Wednesday he resigned the day he was sentenced.  "The fact they did not stand up, we felt something had happened relative to his standing as prophet," said Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs move may be ploy to retain leadership
He has severed only financial ties to church
By Carrie A. Moore
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Thursday, December 6, 2007

Observers knowledgeable about Mormon fundamentalist splinter groups are wondering whether Warren Jeffs' formal resignation as president of an FLDS corporation on Wednesday is simply a legal ploy that severs his financial ties to the church but allows him to remain its covert spiritual leader.  John Hamer, author of a new book, "Scattering of the Saints: Schism Within Mormonism," said news of Jeffs' resignation could mean different things to his followers than it does to outside observers who assume he has simply disassociated himself from any oversight of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  He said language saying Jeffs had resigned as "president of the priesthood council" does not appear in the statement released by Jeffs' attorneys on Wednesday.  That designation is tantamount to being the spiritual leader of the church, he said, and Jeffs has not written his resignation from the faith's priesthood.  "The pattern of FLDS members ... would be a senior member of the council with a title like 'president of the high priesthood"' would be considered the spiritual leader of the church, he said.  Members of the FLDS Church long considered themselves part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in name but rejected the church's leadership as "out of order" and instituted their own presiding council regarding doctrinal matters, Hamer said.     Read more
 
 
Documents say Jeffs' attorneys protested mistrial request by prosecutors
By Nancy Perkins
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Wednesday, January 23, 2008

ST. GEORGE — Attorneys for Warren Jeffs argued against a proposed mistrial in the polygamist-sect leader's recent conviction of rape as an accomplice, it was revealed in documents unsealed by a district judge in St. George on Tuesday.  Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap sought the mistrial after it was learned one of the jurors had been sexually assaulted as a young girl and failed to reveal that information during the jury selection process.  The incident came to light during jury deliberations and was reported to 5th District Court Judge James Shumate by another juror.  Belnap cited two sections of Utah law that deal with prejudicial jury conduct or false statements of a juror.  "If there is a conviction, the state will not have a fair trial because the Supreme Court will likely order reversible error based upon it," Belnap tells Shumate during the closed hearing in the judge's chambers.  "If there is an acquittal, the state will have no remedies whatsoever. That injustice to the state in this case is such that a mistrial is appropriate under the law and under the circumstances."  Shumate denied the motion for a mistrial after Jeffs' defense team argued in favor of continuing deliberations with an alternate juror.  "We want this jury to decide this case," Jeffs' attorney, Wally Bugden, is quoted as saying in the unsealed court transcript.  "And we believe you can give the jury an instruction to disregard and to begin resuming, commence their deliberations."  Shumate interviewed all four alternate jurors before selecting one to sit on the jury.  Less than three hours later, the jury returned a guilty verdict.     Read more
 
 
Polygamist leader's fasting lands him in prison infirmary
By Paul Foy
The Associated Press
Provo Daily Herald
Originally published February 22, 2008

SALT LAKE CITY - Frail and losing weight, polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs is in a prison infirmary because of a self-imposed fast.  Roger Hoole, a lawyer who is suing Jeffs to learn the location of an 18-year-old client's mother, said he learned of Jeffs' condition while making plans for a Thursday deposition with Jeffs.  "He appeared skinny, hard to hear; he speaks so softly at this point," Hoole said of Jeffs, who invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination for most of the lawyer's questions.  Hoole represents Johnny Jessop, 18, who sued to force Jeffs, head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, to reveal the location of Jessop's 62-year-old mother, Elsie.  Jessop, who was kicked out of the sect, has not spoken to his mother in more than 18 months.  "There are hundreds of these boys, just thrown away, surplus males," Hoole said.  Angie Welling, a spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Corrections, said Jeffs, 52, was taken to a prison infirmary Tuesday evening.  "He's receiving the medical care that he needs," Welling said Thursday, declining to release any other details.     Read more
 
 
Abuse Probed at Polygamist Compound
Life on Texas Polygamist Compound Old-Fashioned, but Far From Pleasant, Authorities Say
By MICHELLE ROBERTS
The Associated Press
ABC News
Originally published April 8, 2008

ELDORADO, Texas Apr 8, 2008 (AP) - Until the raid on their compound last week, the women and girls of the Yearning for Zion Ranch spent their days caring for its many children, tilling gardens and quilting, dressed in pioneer-style dresses sewn by their own hands.  But it was no idyllic recreation of 19th-century prairie life, authorities say.  Since last week, they have interviewed members of the polygamist sect looking for evidence that that girls younger than 16 were forced into marriages with older men.  Five miles off the highway, beyond a double gate, the group's members live lives that are isolated even for the scruffy West Texas prairie.  Their 1,700-acre ranch is like its own city, with a gleaming temple, doctor's office, school and even factories.  "Once you go into the compound, you don't ever leave it," said Carolyn Jessop, who was one of the wives of the alleged leader of the Eldorado complex, but who left the sect before it began moving to Texas in 2004.  State authorities had taken legal custody of 401 children, saying they had been harmed or were in imminent danger of harm.  Officials continued searching the compound on Tuesday.  The raid on the compound founded by jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs started with a call from a 16-year-old who alleged abuse.   Authorities were looking for evidence that the girl, who allegedly gave birth at 15, was married to a 50-year-old, and for records related to other mothers aged 17 and younger.  Even with their parents' permission, Texas law forbids girls younger than 16 to marry.     Read more
 
 
Is Texas group a religious sect or clear-cut cult?
Opinions differ on how to characterize alleged polygamists
By Jeanna Bryner
LifeScience
MSNBC
Originally published April 9, 2008

The allegedly polygamous group whose compound was raided this week in Texas is either a religious sect or a full-blown cult, depending on whom you ask.  The raided compound was founded by jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, who took over in 2002 as prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which broke off from the Mormon church in the 1930s over the issue of polygamy.  Authorities have reportedly taken into legal custody more than 400 children and 133 women deemed to have been harmed or in imminent danger of harm.  While the media and some sociologists call the group a religious sect, other experts see it as a clear-cut cult, defined by charismatic leadership and abuse.  According to news accounts of the FLDS, pubescent girls were forced into "spiritual marriages" to older men.  Inside the compound's walls, researchers say, a new reality was born, with members indoctrinated so fully they had no concept of reality outside the walls.  "In the case of the FLDS, we're talking about basically believing that women are there to be baby factories, and you have extreme patriarchal control of that group," said Janja Lalich, a sociologist at California State University, Chico.  Lalich told LiveScience she definitely thinks the Texas compound should be called a cult.  "If you've got a group that's abusing hundreds and hundreds of women and children, let's call it what it is," she said.     Read more
 
 
Temple raid could help other investigators
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Friday, April 11, 2008

While Texas officials are keeping quiet about what they seized from the Fundamentalist LDS Church's ranch, authorities and lawyers in Utah and Arizona are hoping it can reinvigorate their investigations into the polygamous sect.  "My personal hope is it will jump-start it," Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff told the Deseret Morning News on Thursday.  "But I don't know how long it will be before that information is shared with us."  The Utah Attorney General's Office has been conducting an organized-crime probe into FLDS leader Warren Jeffs and the church, but Shurtleff admits the investigation has stalled, mostly because authorities cannot get their hands on evidence.  Papers, computer equipment and other evidence seized when Jeffs was arrested in Nevada in 2006 is in the custody of the FBI.  It is the subject of legal battles over whether some of it is "privileged communication" between the religious leader who was once on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list and his followers.  The FBI confirmed it served a federal search warrant on the YFZ Ranch on Tuesday, but declined to comment on what was seized, saying it is part of a pending federal case.  "The application and affidavit in support of the search warrant are sealed and will remain sealed; no further comment will be made as this is a pending investigation," Richard Roper, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, said in a statement Thursday.  Shurtleff said he has been told authorities in Texas seized "lots of records, hard drives and computer records" from the temple on the YFZ Ranch.  A judge in Texas will likely have to decide to what extent — if any — the evidence is protected by privilege.  Already, lawyers for the court-controlled United Effort Plan Trust want to see some of that evidence.  "We're taking steps to get those documents," said Jeffrey L. Shields, a lawyer for the UEP Trust.  "It may not relate to the kids, but it may relate to the trust."     Read more
 
 
Polygamy Attire Born of Rules
Garment Rules Used to Control Women's Individuality, Former Cult Members Say
By CHRISTINE BROUWER
ABC News
Originally published April 17, 2008

When the women of a Texas polygamist cult emerged from self-imposed seclusion into the media spotlight this week, it looked to some outsiders as if they had stepped out of another century.  Wearing heavy pastel-colored dresses buttoned up to the neck and reaching down to the ground, their hair pinned up into tight, tall waves, the women congregated on the porches of the sprawling Yearning for Zion Ranch and pleaded for the return of their children, 314 of whom are in state custody while authorities investigate allegations of child abuse.  Their unusual appearance garnered nearly as much attention as their tears and meek manner.  "The compound fence isn't the only cage for the women of polygamy," Rebecca Walsh, a columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune wrote in an article this week critical of the sect.  "There is also a prison uniform: yards of pink and blue fabric, inches and inches of hair, and ugly orthopedic shoes."  In a letter to the same paper, an unidentified female member of the sect responded to Walsh's comments.  "I am free to dress as I like," she wrote.  "I think dresses are romantic. They bring out the feminine side in me. Our bodies are sacred. And they are not to display before the world. That is the reason we cover them. & Our motive is not isolation but simplicity."     Read more
 
 
FLDS became more restrictive, secretive and threatening
Carolyn Jessop co-author of ESCAPE, her memoir of life in the FLDS and her escape from it
Anderson Cooper 360 Blog
CNN
Originally published April 18, 2008

One of the aspects of my former life people are always curious about is the clothing women in the FLDS wear. Sometimes the media refers to it as "pioneer-style" clothing or "Little House on the Prairie" attire. With their long dresses, long underwear and hair piled high on their heads women in the FLDS look like they are racing headlong into the 19th century.

It looks bizarre to me now, but I wore clothing like that for 35 years. This all started after the disastrous Short Creek raid in 1953. That raid is a focal point in FLDS history. Arizona officials raided the polygamist community and tried to break it up. But they failed when wrenching pictures of mothers being separated from their children were published in newspapers and there was a huge public outcry.

But the raid turned out to be a huge plus for the FLDS because so much sympathy was generated. After the court case was tossed out, people came home and continued the polygamist lifestyle but became even more secretive.

That's when the clothing changed drastically for women—but it wasn't the only thing. Women lost a lot of rights in 1953. They no longer had any say in who they could marry nor could they choose how to dress. The way this was spun was that since the community had come through the raid so successfully, it was now ready to practice a higher form of God's law. (God is always the explanation when things get more restrictive; change is presented as a prize for being righteous and faithful. We were always told we were worthy of a higher law.)
Read more
 
 
Willie Jessop: Purported Frontman at Texas Polygamy Compound
'20/20' Visits El Dorado Ranch, Speaks to Former Sect Members
By JOHN QUINONES and HARRY PHILLIPS
ABC 20/20
Originally broadcast April 18, 2008

EL DORADO, Texas, April 18, 2008 — Deep in the vast mesquite-covered scrubland of west Texas lies the spiritual center of a secretive polygamous sect.  The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints arrived quietly nearly five years ago and from nothing, built a virtual instant city whose gleaming white temple quickly became its centerpiece, and today, the center of controversy.  This week, with allegations of child abuse swirling around their compound, sect members reluctantly opened their gates for the first time to outsiders, to protest their innocence and to reveal a glimpse of their pain.  "It literally breaks my heart," said one woman who identified herself as Nancy.  "My children are everything to me. Help us get our children back."  he polygamists say the call that triggered the police raid was a hoax and that now authorities are on a witch hunt.

Who's in Charge?

With Warren Jeffs still in jail doing time for rape as an accomplice in the forced marriage of an underage girl, another man has reportedly assumed Jeffs' authority.  Four years ago, he was part of an attack on an ABC camera crew in the fundamentalist church community of Colorado City, Ariz., Jeffs' home base.  His name is Willie Jessop, he's a former body guard to the "prophet" and said to be one of the most powerful men in the Texas compound today.  "You know it seems like whenever they're in trouble they call in Big Willie to just kind of run the show," said Sam Brower, a private detective who has spent the past five years tracking Warren Jeffs' flock across several western states.  Brower says he has no doubt that sexual abuse is happening in the compound.  "I mean that is part of their lifestyle, part of their culture," he said.  "Warren Jeffs brought that over."  Willie Jessop is reviled by former church members who were kicked out by Jeffs in Colorado City, Ariz., such as Issac Wyler and Richard Holm.  They say they were forced to leave nearly five years ago.  "Around here a lot of us call him 'Thug Willie,'" Wyler said.  "But he was -- he's been kind of Warren's bouncer. He is the one that stays in front of the meeting house door and kicks out people."
Read more
 
 
Sect's roots run deep
By Roma Khanna
Houston Chronicle
San Antonio Express-News
Originally published April 20, 2008

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. — Annie Jessop lay sleeping outdoors, hoping to escape the summer heat in the stone home she shared with 40 others, when authorities raided this polygamist enclave in 1953 to investigate "open and notorious cohabitation."  Outside it was dark. Officers with flashlights roused the children, including the 15-year-old Jessop, and rounded up the men.  Some 260 children were removed. And Jessop suddenly found herself on a course of uncertainty, moved from one temporary home to another, including a nursing home, converted Army barracks and a Phoenix apartment 370 miles away.  "I went from a place where I knew everybody by their first name to a high school of 2,500. It was totally overwhelming," the now-70-year-old Annie Bistline said last week.  "We were so homesick that, if we thought we could get away with it, we would have just gone back."  Nearly 55 years later, a similar raid would thrust the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints into its most volatile period, with authorities taking custody of 416 children in West Texas, this time amid allegations of child abuse.  On Friday, a judge in San Angelo granted the state temporary custody of the children after a chaotic two-day hearing and ordered paternity testing, with more hearings required by June 5.  In the end, the 1953 case fell apart. But it would take months, in some cases years, before the displaced women and children returned to their community and resumed lives devoted to the practice of plural marriages.  That life continues today for several thousand people in this remote region along the Arizona-Utah border.  In recent years, however, local prosecutors have become more diligent and aggressive.  A handful of members has been arrested and jailed, including Warren Jeffs, who has been the sect's spiritual leader since 2002 and whose father led the church for 16 years before.  Jeffs' spiritual philosophy has ignited criticism from some members and child advocates who say the group must stop marrying underage girls to older men.  With those tensions have come increased secrecy and isolation, including the drive to send members to places like the Yearning For Zion Ranch outside Eldorado.     Read more
 
 
Colorado evidence is sent for screening
By Ben Winslow
Deseret News
Originally published Sunday, April 20, 2008

SAN ANGELO, Texas — State and federal prosecutors will be asked to screen evidence gathered against a Colorado woman now dubbed a "person of interest" in the investigation into a series of calls that triggered the massive raid on the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch.  Rozita Swinton, 33, gave a statement to Texas Rangers, who also seized evidence from her Colorado Springs apartment.  While authorities would not say specifically what was in Swinton's home, the Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement issued late Friday that the officers found "several items that indicated a possible connection between Swinton and calls regarding the FLDS compounds in Colorado City, Ariz., and Eldorado, Texas."  Texas DPS officials said the items will be sent to crime labs for analysis.  Anti-polygamy activist Flora Jessop said she recorded hours of phone calls between herself and a 16-year-old girl named "Sarah," who claimed to be pregnant and in an abusive plural marriage to an older man.  Jessop told the Deseret News she got the first call on March 30 — a day after a family crisis shelter first received a similar call.  The call to the family crisis center triggered the raid on the YFZ Ranch, where 416 children were taken into state protective custody.  The man named in the phone calls, Dale Barlow, was questioned in Utah by Texas Rangers and has yet to be arrested.  Child welfare officials still have not identified the 16-year-old girl named "Sarah," whose calls prompted the raid.  "What we're hearing from DPS is that it is a possibility (that Swinton is 'Sarah'), but we don't have any concrete evidence of that," Shari Pulliam, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Family Services, said Saturday.     Read more
 
 
Polygamist sect kept money flowing into Texas compound
By John MacCormack
San Antonio Express-News
Originally published April 20, 2008

ELDORADO — After more than a century as Schleicher County's only settlement, tiny, unpretentious Eldorado four years ago suddenly found itself with an improbable new neighbor rising swiftly from empty brush a few miles from town.  In four years, members of a secretive, hard-working polygamist sect have built a whole town on a 1,700-acre ranch, erecting more than 30 large buildings, including a soaring white temple that dwarfs any house of worship within hundreds of miles.  The market value of their Yearning for Zion Ranch and its improvements already exceeds $21 million, with the approximately 80,000-square-foot temple alone valued at $8.7 million, according to the county tax appraiser.  One of the county's biggest taxpayers, the sect paid its $424,000 bill last year on time.  And there is little mystery about the source of all the money and manpower it took to build the ranch, according to dissident members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints who still live at the sect's historic home on the Utah-Arizona border.  Before he was arrested in August 2006, Warren Jeffs, the sect's self-pronounced prophet, aggressively dunned the faithful at its base in Arizona, known as Short Creek, for donations of both cash and labor to build its so-called New Zion in Texas, the first sect settlement to have a temple.  "The money came from Warren's milkers. It's like he's got electric milkers on a bunch of dairy cows. He's got all these people and he's milking them for all they're worth," said Richard Holm, 55, a Utah businessman who left the sect years ago — but not before contributing more than $5 million in cash and property.  "The Texas compound is supposedly for some of the elite that were culled out of the common folks and riffraff who were left here to work and send money to the elite over there," Holm said.     Read more
 
 
Polygamist clothing has roots in 19th century and 1950s
By Hillary Rhodes
The Associated Press
Deseret News
Originally published Tuesday, April 22, 2008

For a society accustomed to the likes of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan, the images of the women from the polygamist compound in Texas are almost shocking in their understatement: Ankle-length dresses, makeup-less faces, hauntingly uniform hair.  And while no one would accuse the women of making a fashion statement, the pioneer-style outfits are a rare example of how in an age of overexposure, modesty, too, can give pause.  The puff-sleeved, pastel dresses worn by the women in the sect are a combination of original 19th-century wear and 1950s clothing that was adopted when the church took a conservative turn, according to Janet Bennion, an anthropologist who studies polygamist women.  The dresses are meant to show modesty and conformity: They go down to the ankles and wrists, and are often worn over garments or pants, making sure every possibly provocative inch of skin is covered.  John Llewellyn, a polygamy expert and retired Salt Lake County sheriff's lieutenant, says the women cover themselves "so that they're unattractive to the outside world or other men."  The appearance of unity through uniform dress, however, can belie the jealousy that often arises when the women — who might all look alike to an outsider — find themselves in competition with one another over the affections of the same man, Llewellyn says.  The clothing is also stitched with special markings "to protect the body and to remind you of your commitment," Bennion says.  She declined to go into detail about the stitchings because she said it would be an infraction against the Fundamentalist LDS Church community to talk about their sacred symbols.     Read more
 
 
LATTER-DAY RESTRAINTS
RAIDING THE CLOSET FOR LATEST CULT FASHIONS
By DANICA LO
New York Post
Originally published Tuesday, April 22, 2008

April 22, 2008 -- PUFFY polyester dresses, sporty Skechers sneakers, sky-high bangs (circa the late '80s) and a unibrow might just be your ticket to heaven.  Who knew?  Fashion and grooming certainly aren't the biggest concerns to emerge from the Yearning for Zion (YFZ) Ranch since federal officials began their raid of the Texas compound in early April.   But it's become just about impossible to ignore the superficial.  Cult members' elaborate hairstyles, voluminous tailored gowns and gentle, pastoral demeanor have riveted the nation.  To outsiders, the women of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) trudging out of the courthouse each day look like a uniform pastel parade.  But for the religious community members, modest, pioneer-like clothing is much more than a reflection of the lifestyle choices they've made.  For these women, fashion is a matter of life and death.  Carolyn Jessop, the ex-wife of current YFZ Ranch leader Merril Jessop, fled the FLDS community in Colorado City, Ariz., five years ago and is the author of the best-selling memoir "Escape."  According to Jessop, fundamentalist doctrines preach that clothing will be the deciding factor God's armies use on Judgment Day to differentiate between the righteous and the evil.  "It was sobering - especially to a 6-year-old - to think that you could . . . end up dead if you didn't wear the right clothes," she writes of her first fashion epiphany.     Read more
 
 
She's got the look
By SUSAN KRASHINSKY
Globe and Mail - Toronto, ON Canada
Originally published Saturday, May 3, 2008

The look has been described as Gibson Girl meets Little House on the Prairie.  When the news cameras descended on the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Tex., four weeks ago, images of uniformly dressed women instantly became symbols of a religious sect and a lifestyle whose doors have long been closed to the outside world.  But what exactly is the point of the old-fashioned hairdos and pastel pioneer-style dresses?  Like many religious traditions that encourage women to cover themselves, the central theme is modesty.  Dresses worn by women in FLDS communities are long enough to cover ankles and wrists.  Long undergarments are sometimes worn to ensure that no skin needing to be covered is accidentally revealed.  There are additional messages coded in the FLDS dresses.  They have special stitching "to protect the body and to remind you of your commitment," said Janet Bennion, an anthropologist who studies polygamist women.  Their pastel tones represent docile femininity, and their identical styles show conformity.  Women in FLDS society never cut their hair: they believe they will use it to wash Christ's feet during the Second Coming and, as 1 Corinthians says, "... if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her, for her hair is given her for a covering."  The look is a blend of the styles worn by FLDS women since the 19th century, and 1950s clothing that came into fashion when the church took a conservative turn, said Ms. Bennion, a professor at Lyndon State College in Vermont.  The fact that outsiders find the style passι is partly the point, since it means wives and daughters are unattractive to outsiders and men other than their husbands.

With a report from the Associated Press
 
 
Jail takes its toll on polygamist leader's authority
By JACK DOUGLAS Jr.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Originally published Sunday, May 4, 2008

As his polygamist followers in Texas undergo one of the most intensive child abuse investigations in the nation's history, sect prophet Warren Jeffs sits in a small jail cell in Arizona, emaciated and under a suicide watch, as he awaits trial on charges of criminal incest and sexual assault in a desert town that was once the home of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.  Jeffs, 52, is alone in his cell 23 hours each day, allowed out only to shower and use the telephone.  He is given two 30-minute visitation periods a week.  Those who come to see him are usually his wives from Texas who, one sect expert said, have a "vested interest in his retaining his leadership."  But Jeffs' rule over the estimated 10,000 members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is believed to be eroding, observers and former sect members say.  "From a theological standpoint, Warren Jeffs would still be considered the prophet, even though he is behind bars," said Shannon Price, director of the Salt Lake City-based Diversity Foundation, which helps victims of polygamy.  But Jeffs' continued control relies on the information he gets from the outside world, said Price, who grew up in a monogamous family but has relatives who are polygamists, including three uncles who were "prophets" of the sect.  Based on his visitors' log at the Mohave County Jail, she said, Jeffs is getting his news from women who have little sway in the male-only hierarchy of the FLDS and its sprawling compound near Eldorado, in West Texas.     Read more
 
 
Feds getting involved in polygamy cases
By Suzanne Struglinski and Ben Winslow
Deseret News
Originally published Friday, May 9, 2008

WASHINGTON — A Justice Department prosecutor has been assigned to review how the federal government can help state and local law enforcement with polygamy cases, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard in a letter this week.  But members of Utah's plural communities are expressing concerns about the scale and scope of the investigations.  "I'm a little bit concerned," said Christine, a member of the Bluffdale-based Apostolic United Brethren group.  "I think it's a bit much."  Mary Batchelor, the director of the pro-polygamy group Principle Voices, said she was concerned that the federal government might circumvent local law enforcement, who she said had a great deal of experience with the polygamous culture.  "I don't think our communities should be specially targeted for investigation any more than any other community should be targeted," she said Thursday.  The attorneys general of Utah and Arizona have been pushing for federal assistance on investigations into tax fraud, child labor violations, child-bride trafficking and organized crime — specifically in the FLDS Church, along with its leader, Warren Jeffs.  Goddard said they would simply discuss their suspicions about crimes being committed.  "Suspicions don't constitute probable cause," he told the Deseret News.  "But I've always believed in the 'where there's smoke there may be fire' theory of law enforcement."     Read more
 
 
Marvin Wyler's family has abandoned him
By John Dougherty
The Arizona Republic
Originally published Sunday, May 11, 2008

COLORADO CITY- Marvin Wyler turns up a recording of his fourth daughter, Zina, singing one his favorite songs.  Her crystal-clear voice fills the kitchen and family room of Wyler's sprawling home, where he and his plural wives raised 34 children.  The recording is the only way Wyler, 63, can hear his daughter's lovely voice, even though she lives only a half-mile down the road in this small town on the windswept Arizona Strip where a fundamentalist Mormon offshoot has continued the practice of plural marriage since the 1930s.  Wyler believes in the teachings of Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith that included plural marriage as a necessary precursor to exaltation and eternal life as a god in the "celestial kingdom."  But Wyler left the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 2002 over doctrinal differences with its leader, the now imprisoned Warren Steed Jeffs.  Wyler's decision to quit the FLDS came with a high price.  None of approximately 50 children and grandchildren remaining in the sect that has no affiliation with the mainstream Mormon Church, which disavowed polygamy in 1890, has had any contact with him in six years.  Wyler said he doesn't know how many grandchildren he may have from Zina.  "It was 10 at last count, but I don't know," he said.  "If they found her in my home, they would cut her off (from the church)."  It's ironic, Wyler said, that FLDS members are now suffering the agony of separation from loved ones after Texas last month removed 462 FLDS children from their religious compound and placed them in foster homes.  "I wish it on nobody, but the pain and suffering they are now feeling is exactly what they put us through six years ago," Wyler said.     Read more
 
 
The Road to Eldorado: Expelled from the FLDS
By Jennifer Litz
Editor
Del Rio Live! - Del Rio, Texas
Originally published Monday, May 12, 2008

Richard Holm lived in a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints community in Colorado City, Arizona, before the Eldorado compound was built in Texas.  But in late 2003, Warren Jeffs, now serving jail time for being an accomplice to rape for arranging the marriage of a 14-year-old, took away Holm's family in the span of a few days.  His story shows the plight of men connected to the FLDS.  "I guess I was excommunicated," Holm says.  "I had been gone on a trip with my wife; I had two wives at the time, both sisters.  I had kids with just one of them, the younger one was not able to have kids; I married one when she was 20 and the second at 22.  My wife Lorena is the one I had seven kids with at that time.  "In November of '03, we had gone on a trip to Idaho and got home to Colorado City, Arizona, where I was born and raised; right after getting home, my wife got a call from her dad, Truman Barlow, telling him to see her because our holy prophet had told him that if our daughters stayed with me they'd go down with the wicked.  I had heard rumors that Warren was just going to kick me out.  "Well, when she got that call to go over to her dad's, she asked her dad, 'what about Richard?' and he said, 'I guess he can come too.'  He and I had been good friends; we traveled, did a lot of things together, for the previous 15 or 18 years, had a lot of involvement.  So we all three [Holm and his two wives] went over to Truman's, on a Sunday night, and he says, 'I don't know what's going on or what's behind this, but we gotta comply.  This is what Uncle Warren — that's what they called him — said.'  And so as soon as I heard that, I dialed Warren Jeffs, called his number to see what he was thinking; his brother Nephi answered the phone; he tried to get Warren on the phone, but he wouldn't talk, he was too busy.  He said if I called back later he'd talk to me.  It took me two days of calling every hour or two, but he finally answered the phone.  When he answered the phone I said, 'why are you doing this to me?'  And he said, 'I don't know, that's what the Lord told me just this morning.'     Read more
 
 
Relatives outside polygamist sect seek custody
Parents complain about vague details of requirements to get children back
The Associated Press
MSNBC
Originally published Tuesday, May 20, 2008

SAN ANGELO, Texas - Two men excommunicated by a polygamist sect went to a west Texas courtroom Tuesday to offer themselves as guardians for their children, who were seized from a church-run ranch, if the state deems their custodial parents unfit.  "If we can establish I'm not guilty of those things, why can't I have my children?" asked Arthur Barlow, 59, who drove from southern Utah to seek custody of five of his children, who lived at the Yearning For Zion ranch in nearby Eldorado.  Barlow and Frank Johnson, another father seeking custody of his children, were both excommunicated from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  It was not clear how many other relatives of the more than 460 children have asked to be considered alternatives to foster care.  Child Protective Services typically looks for relatives in custody cases.  

Second day of hearings
Hearings for the children entered their second day in the five courtrooms of the Tom Green County courthouse. The hearings, designed to set up procedures for the parents to regain custody of their children, are expected to last three weeks.  Barlow testified he was excommunicated four years ago and had never been to the YFZ ranch, where all the children were removed last month and placed in foster care facilities around the state after agency argued underage girls were being forced into marriages and sex.
Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs' influence evident in FLDS hearings
By Ben Winslow and Amy Joi O'Donoghue
Deseret News
Originally published Tuesday, May 20, 2008

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Warren Jeffs may be incarcerated in an Arizona jail, but his influence among his followers is front and center in Texas courtrooms thousands of miles away.  The issue of the Fundamentalist LDS Church prophet's continuing influence played out in court today before Judge Barbara Walther in a case involving Jeffs' own brother, Seth Steed Jeffs.  The brother and his wife, Kathryn, have seven children in state custody scattered across Texas in four different facilities.  In today's hearing, the attorney representing Seth Jeffs objected to the state's prohibition that forbids children and family members to even mention Warren Jeffs' name while in the foster facilities.  "To prohibit the mentioning of a name doesn't protect the children," argued Carl Kolb.  Child Protective Services attorney Allen Griffiths disagreed, saying that when Warren Jeffs is exalted as the leader of the faith, it becomes problematic.  "When he's held up as an example of what a man should be, then these children are at risk. He's been convicted on one charge of a sex offense with a minor and is facing other charges," he said.  Religion and the rights of FLDS faithful to worship freely dominated the hearing — one of many hearings scheduled over the next three weeks designed to determine whether the 464 children taken from the YFZ Ranch will eventually be reunited with their parents or not.  The attorneys for Seth and Kathryn Jeffs repeatedly stressed Tuesday that the vague family service plan recommendations could run counter to FLDS beliefs.  As an example, Nancy Delong — who is representing Kathryn Jeffs — said the service plans call for the parents to follow "any and all" recommendations made by counselors as a result of required parenting classes and/or psychological examinations.  "My client could be asked to denounce Jesus Christ and worship Thor," Delong said.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs: The Godfather
Susan Spencer Takes A Closer Look At Jailed FLDS Leader Warren Jeffs
48 Hours
CBS News
Originally broadcast May 27, 2008

(CBS) The western United States is home to a man thousands of his followers call simply "the prophet."  Some say his teachings are directly linked to those alleged abuses in Texas.  "Some even believe him to be God on Earth," explains Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.  Not that you'd guess that by looking at him - 52-year-old Warren Jeffs comes across as rather ordinary.  But as leader of the radical FLDS, he is anything but.  His critics believe he has transformed the church from a quirky religion to something much more sinister today.  "There's a certain brand of FLDS under Warren Jeffs that is also, I believe, similar to an organized crime group," says Shurtleff, who says he sees parallels to the mob in the FLDS' organization, finances and lack of respect for the law.  The best example of that, Shurtleff says, is the practice of underage marriage.  "I've gone on record as calling them the American Taliban, in the way they treat women," Shurtleff tells correspondent Susan Spencer.  Utah Private investigator Sam Brower has been keeping an eye on the FLDS for years, first helping members who'd left the group, and later working with law enforcement.  "He controlled every detail of a person's life. Where they work, who they're gonna marry, where they're gonna live, almost down to when they're gonna have sex and why," says Brower, who has a pretty low opinion of Jeffs.     Read more
 
 
Objection raised by trust concerning subpoena for papers in Jeffs' car
By Suzanne Adams
Kingman Daily Miner
Originally published Thursday, May 29, 2008

KINGMAN - The Arizona Attorney General's and the Mohave County Attorney's offices have hit another snag in their quest for evidence against Warren Jeffs.  Bruce Wisan, court appointed special fiduciary of the United Effort Plan Trust, is fighting a subpoena for documents issued by the state and the county.  The subpoena was issued on May 9 and requested a number of items that were seized from the maroon Cadillac Escalade Jeffs was riding in when he was arrested on Interstate 15 near Las Vegas in August 2006.  Some of the items requested are: four spiral note pads with notes; a blue zippered pouch containing letters, vehicle documents and other documents; three letter-sized envelopes containing religious documents; two file folders containing religious documents; a black duffle bag containing letters and documents addressed to Jeffs; and three laptop computers with wireless network cards, thumb drives and portable hard drives.  According to court documents filed by Wisan's attorneys, Wisan is objecting to the request because some of the documents are connected to a stipulated protective order between Wisan and Jeffs' attorney.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs' daughter wins protections
By Kirk Johnson and Gretel C. Kovach
The New York Times
Denver Post
Originally published June 4, 2008

SAN ANGELO, Texas — A 16-year-old girl who, her attorneys said, was sexually abused in a West Texas polygamist group led by her father, Warren Jeffs, was given added legal protections Tuesday by a district judge who barred any contact between her and Jeffs.  The ruling came as more children from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints continued to go home to their parents from state foster care.  The order's language puts the focus of the investigation of the group more squarely onto Jeffs, who led the sect as a hailed prophet of God and is now serving a sentence of 10 years to life for a conviction in Utah last year of forcing an underage girl in his sect to marry against her will.  Last week, investigators from the Texas attorney general's office executed a search warrant to obtain DNA from Jeffs in Arizona, where he is awaiting trial on other charges related to underage marriages.  The warrant said investigators had evidence that Jeffs had married four young girls in Texas and Utah, two of them at age 12.     Read more
 
 
UEP Trust waiting on FLDS probe
By Ben Winslow
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, June 5, 2008

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Lawyers for the court-controlled real-estate holdings arm of the Fundamentalist LDS Church say they will wait until a criminal investigation into the polygamous sect subsides before pushing subpoenas to see evidence.  The United Effort Plan Trust's court-appointed special fiduciary wants to see evidence that was seized by authorities during the raid on the YFZ Ranch.  Subpoenas were served on prosecutors here, but no hearing has been scheduled on the matter.  "The subpoena will stay in place until they've taken care of job one," Sam Allen, a San Angelo attorney retained by the UEP Trust, told the Deseret News on Wednesday.  "When they've done their priority of investigating materials and how they decide to address the criminal case."  A judge on Monday ordered an agricultural financial institution to give up information about the funding of the ranch.  "We're just tracking assets," said Bruce Wisan, the special fiduciary of the UEP Trust.  Wisan is seeking information about the UEP Trust's management before the courts took over, as well as any assets to satisfy an $8.8 million judgment against FLDS leader Warren Jeffs and other former trustees who were accused of mismanaging it.  Jeffs was convicted last year in Utah of rape as an accomplice in the arranged marriage of a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.  He was sentenced to two terms of five years to life in prison.  An Arizona judge dropped four of eight charges against Jeffs on Wednesday, saying a state incest law does not apply to the arranged marriages of two teenage girls and their older male relatives.     Read more
 
 
Who is Willie Jessop?
Reported by: Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast June 8, 2008

COLORADO CITY, Arizona (ABC 4 News) - Since authorities raided the FLDS Eldorado, Texas ranch back in April, Willie Jessop has become the official pokesman for the secretive polygamist religion.  You've probably seen him on every channel and network. He is quoted in newspapers around the world.  So who is Willie Jessop?  Many assume that he's an ecclesiastical leader or even Warren Jeffs' right hand man, but he is neither.  Jessop is Jeffs' bodyguard.  "Willie was always the strong arm," said private investigator Sam Brower.  "He was the guy who showed up just to intimidate people."  In his home community along the Utah-Arizona border, he's known as "Big Willie" or "Willie the Enforcer."  To those who no longer believe in Warren Jeffs, he is known as "Willie the Thug."  He showed up at trials, including the trial of Warren Jeffs.  He showed up in Eldorado following the raid.  At first, he remained in the shadows.  Then he started to share the microphones with Salt Lake attorney Rod Parker.  It was Jessop who announced that the FLDS church leadership was apparently ready to give up the practice of marrying underage girls, a practice that Jessop had denied any knowledge of the week before.  "The church will counsel families that they will never request nor consent to any underage marriage," said Jessop.  Ross Chatwin is a former FLDS member who grew up with Jessop and faced him down when he was kicked out of the church.  "If they say 'counsel' then they're just playing a game and they plan on continuing with underage marriage," warned Chatwin.  "And it really worries me when Willie gets up there and starts saying that 'I don't know of any underage marriages.' That's an absolute lie."     Read more
 
 
Dossiers of select FLDS members sent to Texas officials
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Washington (Utah) County Sheriff's Office sent Texas authorities dossiers of several FLDS members "who may engage in acts of intimidation or violence again law enforcement and/or potential witnesses."

The information, obtained by the Deseret News through Texas public records laws, includes intelligence compiled during Warren Jeffs' 2007 trial in St. George for performing an underage marriage.

William Roy Jessop
  • AKA "Willie the Thug" or "King Willie"
  • The most serious threat affiliated with the FLDS religion.
  • Reportedly has a passion for violence, weapons (legal and illegal) and explosives.
  • Accused of intimidating witnesses at Warren Jeffs' trial in 2007.
  • "If anything remotely resembling violence or intimidation occurs, you can be fairly certain that William had a hand in it."
  • Has acted as a spokesman for the FLDS Church after the raid on the YFZ Ranch.
  • Lives in Hildale, Utah.
Ruth Cooke
  • A "wild card" who is "blindly devoted to Warren and the FLDS religion."
  • "We reviewed countless letters she had sent to Warren that confirmed her unstable behavior, as she talked of disturbing visions she had received and breaking down the prison walls in the name of the prophet."
  • "She is just the kind of person who may be capable of doing something crazy, but justified in her head."
    Read more
 
 
Shurtleff skips meeting with FLDS leader
By Nancy Perkins
Deseret News
Originally published Saturday, June 14, 2008

Mark Shurtleff's absence from a scheduled meeting between a leader in the Fundamentalist LDS Church and the Utah Attorney General's Office was conspicuous to at least one participant.  "There were some very good people at that meeting, but Mark Shurtleff didn't bother showing up," said FLDS member Willie Jessop.  "Making a relationship work can't be one-sided. It's pretty shortsighted if it's always all the other guy's fault."  Chief Deputy Kirk Torgensen and several other representatives of the Attorney General's Office met with Jessop on Thursday in Salt Lake City.  Torgensen said the fact that Shurtleff wasn't at the meeting was "appropriate."  "At this point I think it's appropriate for Willie Jessop to be talking to me. That's all I want to say," Torgensen said on Friday.  Jessop traveled to Utah from Texas, where he has been serving as spokesman for the polygamous sect since Texas authorities raided the group's Yearning for Zion Ranch near Eldorado.  "Of course, I hoped that Mark Shurtleff would be there. Part of the reason why the governor's office helped set up this meeting was for us to talk to Utah officials about how our people felt about the raid in Texas. A lot of them felt like it happened because of the tainted, bad information Utah provided," Jessop said.     Read more
 
 
Lawyer decries FLDS profiling as slanderous
By Ben Winslow
Deseret News
Originally published Wednesday, June 18, 2008

An attorney for the Fundamentalist LDS Church says Utah authorities are spreading "slanderous statements" and jeopardizing public trust by profiling members of the polygamous sect.  Reacting to a Deseret News report about dossiers of FLDS members deemed a potential threat, FLDS spokesman Rod Parker sent a letter to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap and Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith.  Copies of the letter were also sent to Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., St. George's mayor and police chief, the Washington County Commission and the director of the Utah Peace Officer Standards and Training, which certifies and disciplines police officers.  Parker said he wrote the letter on behalf of FLDS member Willie Jessop and others who were identified in the profiles given to Texas authorities by Utah law enforcement.  "We believe those profiles contained statements which your office either knew or should have known were unsubstantiated or from unreliable sources," Parker wrote.  "Such irresponsible use of the justice system puts at risk numerous citizens and law enforcement officials of other jurisdictions and states."  Under Texas public records law, the Deseret News obtained e-mails from Utah authorities warning Texas law enforcement about certain FLDS members deemed potential threats.  It came in the aftermath of the raid on the FLDS Church's YFZ Ranch in Eldorado, Texas.  Much of that information was gathered during last year's high-profile trial of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, who was convicted of rape as an accomplice for performing a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.  Parker suggested that the massive security beef-up around the courthouse was based on "paranoia."     Read more
 
 
Lawyer accuses sect leader of intimidating teen
CNN
Originally published Friday, June 20, 2008

(CNN) -- A lawyer for a teen member of a polygamist sect has accused a sect leader of harassing and intimidating them both in a request for a restraining order filed Friday.  Natalie Malonis filed the request for the restraining order against Willie Jessop in District Court in San Angelo, Texas.  She is an attorney ad litem on behalf of the 16-year-old girl, who has been named in court documents as the daughter Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned "prophet" of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  In the documents, Malonis suggested that Jessop may be trying to prevent the girl's testimony before a grand jury.  Jessop's conduct, "if allowed to continue, will impede the investigation of a report of child abuse or neglect," she said.  There was no immediate response from Jessop to the court filing.  The girl was among more than 400 children that state child welfare workers seized from the FLDS's Yearning for Zion Ranch in April.  The children were returned to their families after the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the state had no right to remove the children because it lacked evidence to show that they faced imminent danger of abuse.  The girl's return to her mother was delayed after her attorney said she was a victim of sexual abuse.  Eventually, she was allowed to return to her mother under certain conditions, including that she be kept away from Jeffs and the YFZ Ranch.  Since Jessop has inserted himself into the case, Malonis said, her excellent attorney-client relationship has deteriorated, and she has not been permitted to speak to the girl without him being present.     Read more
 
 
Texas grand jury set to hear evidence against FLDS polygamists
Reported by: Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast Friday, June 20, 2008

ELDORADO, Texas (ABC 4 News) - The criminal investigation into the FLDS is entering its final stages.  Sources both in Utah and Texas tell ABC 4 News a grand jury will begin hearing evidence next week.  The Eldorado Success Newspaper reports the Texas attorney general is replacing local prosecutors which is evidence that the stakes are high in the FLDS case.  The attorney general and all others involved in the grand jury process cannot comment.  The proceedings are secret, but a source familiar with the investigation says subpoenas have already been given to several members of the polygamist group.  At least one potential witness, a 16-year-old girl, has not been found.  According to an affidavit filed in court in Schleicher County, Texas, investigators for the attorney general have been unable to locate Teresa Jeffs.  Teresa is a daughter of FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs and is believed to be a child bride of Raymond Jessop.  She had been living in the San Antonio area with her mother, Annette.  What happened to her?  Teresa's attorney ad litem, Natalie Malonis, told the court, "I believe that Teresa was avoiding service because of coercion and improper influence from Willie Jessop."  Willie Jessop is known around the polygamist communities of Colorado City and Hildale as "Willie the Enforcer."  He was once a bodyguard for Warren Jeffs.  Last fall in St. George, Utah, 5th District Court Judge James Shumate kicked Jessop out of the Jeffs trial for allegedly trying to intimidate witnesses.     Read more
 
 
FLDS is left without a leader
With Jeffs in jail no one seems to know whom in sect holds power
By LISA SANDBERG and TERRI LANGFORD
Houston Chronicle
Originally published June 21, 2008

Al Holm lived his entire life as a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints — until he confessed two years ago to being addicted to online porn sites and was expelled.  Now, contrite, lonely and grieving the loss of his family, he's trying to work his way back into the secretive polygamist sect.  But he can't find anyone with the authority to pardon him.  "There are a lot of people underground," said Holm, a long-distance truck driver.  "I know it's difficult for me to get in touch with (the leaders) when I need them."  Legal pressure is mounting against the breakaway Mormon sect on several fronts.  Courts forced Texas authorities to return the hundreds of children it seized in April from the FLDS ranch near Eldorado but is building a criminal case as it investigates alleged forced marriages between minor girls and older men there.  A massive civil suit against the church is winding its way through the courts in Utah.  And the group's leaders appear to be underground, and possibly on the run.  In Utah, former members are suing them and the church they lead for millions of dollars.  Should criminal charges be filed in Texas, the church's leaders will likely be targets, said a knowledgeable source close to the sect who asked not to be named because of the sensitive nature of the proceedings.  "I expect (Texas authorities) are going to get to the leadership," the source said.     Read more
 
 
Dossier reveals information about 13 FLDS men
KXAN Channel 36 - Austin, Texas
Originally published June 23, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) -- Wednesday, a grand jury will talk about possible criminal charges in the West Texas polygamist raid case.  Sect members worry documents given to law enforcement officials will unfairly impact the decision.  A dossier appeared in the Schleicher County Sheriff's inbox on April 16, just days before a judge would rule to keep more than 400 FLDS children in state custody.  FLDS attorney Rod Parker said the packet of information paints an unfair portrait of FLDS Church members.  "It does hurt real people to have that kind of information going out to law enforcement and as law enforcement accepts it at face value," Parker said.  The dossier profiles 13 men and comes from the Washington County Sheriff's Department in Utah.  FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop is referred to as "Thug Willie."  The dossier states that at Warren Jeffs' trial he was trying to intimidate witnesses by staring menacingly at them.  "His actions making him a definite threat," it reads.  The dossier also calls church member Rulon Barlow a cause for concern, because he seemed to be staring down prosecuting attorneys and witnesses.  The e-mail finished with a warning.  "Be aware of the wild card," it reads.  "There are many individuals who are willing to give their life for the cause and you can never underestimate what a religious fanatic is capable of."     Read more
 
 
Letter on FLDS persons of interest
KXAN Channel 36 - Austin, Texas
Originally published June 23, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) -- The following information was given to Sheriff Doran:

Sheriff Doran,

I am responding to your request for information regarding any FLDS members who may engage in acts of intimidation or violence against law enforcement and/or potential witness in your upcoming cases involving the religious group.

The following information is based on facts, witness statements and personal observations accumulated during my criminal investigation of Warren Jeffs and the subsequent trial.

I understand that you have already received a similar document from Mohave County (AZ) Investigator Gary Engles. I understand that he provided the names of Lyle Jeffs, William E. Jessop, William R. Jessop, David S. Allred and Nephi Jeffs as possible threats. I would like to include several other people of interest and also provide additional information about the subjects listed above. I will also provide as many photographs as possible, given the short notice, as well the necessary information for you to obtain the remaining photos at a later date.

Lyle Jeffs is a brother to former FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs. He has also been referred to as #3, a reference to his rank in the FLDS hierarchy under Warren. I have come across minimal information to suggest that Lyle would be considered a threat to commit acts of violence or witness intimidation.
Read more
 
 
E-mail to Teresa Jeffs' attorney
KXAN Channel 36 - Austin, Texas
Originally published June 23, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas (KXAN) -- The following is an e-mail from Theresa Jeffs, who is subpoenaed to speak at a a grand jury hearing in San Angelo Tuesday, to her attorney.

The hearing will focus on a restraining order Jeffs has filed against Willie Jessop, a member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Eldorado.

Below is the e-mail Jeffs sent:

From: Teresa Jeffs
Sent: Friday, June 20, 2008 10:39 PM
To: Natalie Malonis
Subject: Re:

Natalie, quit all your lying about everything. You need to realize that I have a mind of my own and I can do things on my own if I choose to. I just want you to realize that I am not putting up with you any longer when you are acting this way and trying to make your name so great, saying to the whole world that you are "protecting Warren Jeffs' daughter". That is nothing great to do because I live in a happy family and I have been happy all my life until you and CPS have been so bothersome and nosy! Let me live a free life.

I want you to quit telling the whole world that Willie is making me do all this. Last I knew, he had gone to salt lake and I have had nothing to do with him in the last while.
Read more
 
 
Polygamous sect spokesman seeks restraining order
The Associated Press
News 8 Austin
Originally published Wednesday, July 9 2008

SALT LAKE CITY -- A spokesman for a polygamous sect has asked a judge for a restraining order against a Cedar City, Utah, private investigator.  Willie Jessop wants investigator Sam Brower to keep at least 500 feet from Jessop's homes and business offices in Hildale and Cedar City, and in the San Angelo, Texas, area.  Brower has worked with lawyers involved in cases filed against the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Jessop claims Brower has trespassed -- at least once with a TV news crew -- frightening Jessop's children and harassing employees of his excavating business.  Brower didn't immediately comment.  Jessop became the public face of the church in April, after authorities in West Texas acted on a report of child abuse and raided a church ranch.  More than 400 children were removed, but have since been returned to their parents.
 
 
Polygamist leader hospitalized
CNN
Originally published July 9, 2008

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) -- Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs was flown to a Las Vegas hospital after his jail guards noticed he appeared to be feverish and convulsing, Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan said Wednesday.  Jeffs' condition is not believed to be life-threatening, said Sheahan.  He was being held at the Mohave County Jail in Kingman, about 100 miles from Las Vegas, since February 26.  He is awaiting trial on four charges of being an accomplice to sexual conduct with a minor.  Jailers at the Mohave County facility in Kingman noticed Jeffs appeared to be "acting in a convulsive manner, and looked in a very weakened state."  Jail medics recommended he be taken to a Kingman hospital.  Doctors there determined he should go to a larger facility, so Jeffs was flown to the Sunrise Medical Center in Las Vegas.  Sheahan said he is trying to get information about Jeffs' condition.  Jeffs' attorney in Arizona, Michael Piccarreta, also declined comment on his client's hospitalization.  The 52-year-old is the leader and so-called prophet of the estimated 10,000-member Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an offshoot of the mainstream Mormon church.  The FLDS openly practices polygamy at its Yearning for Zion Ranch outside Eldorado, Texas, along with two towns straddling the Utah-Arizona state line -- Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona.     Read more
 
 
FLDS gets restraining order against possible grand jury witness
By TERRI LANGFORD
Houston Chronicle
Originally published July 9, 2008

A Utah judge today granted a temporary restraining order that will keep a private investigator at least 500 feet from a key member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the polygamist sect under investigation in Texas.  FLDS attorney Rod Parker said the order was signed by state District Judge G. Rand Beacham.  The order keeps Sam Brower at least 500 feet from Willie Jessop and his family when they are at one of the three residences or at the FLDS office space near the Tom Green County courthouse in San Angelo.  A hearing on the matter is scheduled for July 23.  Jessop, the former bodyguard to jailed FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, has emerged as the church's chief spokesman since Texas officials raided the sect's Yearning For Zion Ranch in early April.  With the approval of state District Judge Barbara Walther, Texas Child Protective Services investigators removed more than 400 of the sect's children after reporting they had found evidence leading them to believe the children were subjected to physical or sexual abuse.  The Texas Supreme Court reversed Walther's decision, telling CPS officials that they had not proved the children were in danger.  The children were reunited with their families, with certain restrictions, as the agency investigates whether any of the children were abused.  Some FLDS teenage girls, some as young as 15, have been "spiritually married" to adult men.  After the children were returned to their families, Jessop announced the sect would discourage marriages involving minor girls.  Brower, who works for a law firm representing former FLDS members who are suing Jeffs and the church, has been investigating the group for years.  He is expected to be called to testify before grand jurors in Schleicher County, who will next meet on July 22 to hear evidence about possible crimes committed by the group.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs released from hospital
By Amanda Butterfield and Andrew Adams
KSL 5 TV
Originally broadcast July 9, 2008

There's been a health scare for polygamist-sect leader Warren Jeffs. He was found convulsive and feverish in his Arizona jail cell last night and was flown to a Las Vegas hospital.  He is out of the Las Vegas hospital now,but police there say they don't know whether he was taken back to jail in Kingman, Arizona, or taken elsewhere.  Jeffs had been at the Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nev., since Tuesday.  It's unusual for a jail inmate to be taken out of state for medical treatment, but he was under 24-hour guard by deputies and detention officers from Mohave County, Ariz.  Jeffs was taken from Utah to the Mohave County Jail in Kingman, Ariz. in late February after he was found guilty for his part in arranging the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to her 19-year-old cousin.  He was sentenced to 10 years to life in prison and faces two similar trials in Arizona on charges of being an accomplice of incest and sexual misconduct.  The Mohave County Sheriff's Office will only confirms that on July 8, Jeffs was transported first to the Kingman Regional Medical Center and was later airlifted to Sunrise Medical Center in Las Vegas.  A source close to law enforcement tells KSL Jeffs' health started failing several weeks ago when photos of him kissing a 12-year-old girl were aired by several media outlets.  The source tells us Jeffs stopped eating after the photos were published, and he went into a "funk," realizing Texas officials might have evidence to prosecute him there too.     Read more
 
 
FLDS man gets restraining order
By Ben Winslow
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, July 10, 2008

A St. George judge has granted a high-profile Fundamentalist LDS Church member's request for a temporary restraining order against a private investigator.  The order bars Sam Brower from going within 500 feet of any property owned by Willie Jessop, as well as any contact with the FLDS spokesman or his family.  Jessop sought the restraining order after he said that Brower scaled a 6-foot tall fence and drove past "no trespassing" signs to photograph Jessop's family last month — with a TV news crew in tow.  In court papers, Jessop said his family was frightened by the intrusion.  "We just want him to leave Willie and his family alone," said Rod Parker, Jessop's attorney.  In an interview with the Deseret News on Tuesday, Brower denied the allegations.  "I fully expect the FLDS and their attorneys to make desperate attempts to stifle me for my investigation into their activities," he said.  Jessop said Brower has a long history of harassing FLDS members.  Brower has worked for attorneys suing the FLDS Church on behalf of ex-members, tracking down leaders and members in efforts to serve court papers.  He also recently filed an affidavit supporting a restraining order against Jessop, blocking him from having contact with a 16-year-old girl subpoenaed to testify before a Texas grand jury. Parker said Jessop's restraining order had nothing to do with the Texas affidavit.  The judge scheduled a July 23 hearing on whether to make the restraining order permanent.  Brower said he welcomed it.  "Throughout the past several years, the FLDS have dodged subpoenas," he said.  "Maybe this is an opportunity to go to court and get some truth."

E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com
 
 
A New Prophet for the Polygamists?
By HILARY HYLTON / AUSTIN
TIME Magazine
Originally published Friday, July 18, 2008

"I am one of the most wicked men on the face of the earth since the days of Father Adam." Those words, spoken by polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs, were recorded in a jailhouse phone conversation over year ago. On tape, he renounced his leadership of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, the breakaway Mormon sect whose latest run-in with the law saw hundreds of women and children rounded up by authorities in Eldorado, Texas.

Jeffs' "convulsive" condition, his taped "recantation" of his role as Prophet and a recent brief hospital stay away from jail prompted speculation about his control of the FLDS and over who might assume the leadership of the sect. Will it be a return to a more benign leadership, or could there be a battle that might turn bloody, as some splits in polygamist communities have proved in the past?

Sam Brower, a private investigator who works for a Salt Lake City law firm representing several former FLDS clients who are suing Jeffs and the trust that holds much of the community's property, said most of the members of Jeffs' leadership team — the most likely pool for a new FLDS Prophet — "are in the wind," transient and hard to find. But William E. Jessop, the man on the receiving end of Jeffs's 2007 jailhouse conversation, lives openly in Hildale, Utah, an FLDS community. He is described as "respected as bishop in the FLDS religion" in dossiers compiled around Jeff's trial and sent by Utah law enforcement to Texas officials to help with their case against the Eldorado polygamists. As for Jessop's prestige, his portrait can be found hanging in some FLDS homes, though perhaps not as ubiquitous as Jeffs's. In his recantation, Jeffs described Jessop as "the true keyholder appointed by his father." Brower, who believes Jeffs is "a deviant," says Jessop is "less twisted."
Read more
 
 
Sect spokesman called before grand jury
The Associated Press
KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Waco, Texas
Originally broadcast August 21, 2008

ELDORADO, Texas (AP) - A polygamist group member who has become its most visible spokesman since Texas authorities raided their ranch in April has been called before a grand jury.  Willie Jessop was escorted in before the grand jury in Eldorado, Texas, on Thursday.  The proceedings of a grand jury are secret, but he and several women in prairie dresses could be seen going in and out of a building where the grand jury is meeting.  Thursday's meeting is the third since the raid following allegations that underage girls were being forced into marriages and sex.  It's unclear whether the meeting would result in any new indictments against members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  At their last meeting, in July, the grand jury indicted polygamist leader Warren Jeffs and four followers on charges of sexual assault of a child.  A sixth man, the group's doctor, was indicted for failing to report child abuse.
 
 
POLYGAMIST SECT LEADER: Jeffs rushed to ER again
Jail staff concerned about his health
By DAVE HAWKINS
SPECIAL TO THE REVIEW-JOURNAL
Las Vegas Review-Journal
Originally published September 20, 2008

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs was rushed to a hospital again this week after suffering from dehydration, malnourishment and associated lethargy, jail officials confirmed Friday.  Legal counsel has been asked to research pursuit of a court order to allow staff to force-feed Jeffs to ensure his health and safety, Mohave County Jail Commander Bruce Brown said.  "He should weigh no less than 160 pounds based on national standards for his height," said Brown, who blamed the problem on Jeffs' self-imposed sporadic intake of food and fluids.  Jeffs stands about 6 feet 3 inches tall.  "As of yesterday, he was down to 144 pounds," Brown said.  Jeffs was sent to the hospital with similar symptoms and an undisclosed abnormality in July, and then was flown to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas for evaluation.  Jail officials also are concerned about Jeffs' insistence on spending hour after hour on his knees in prayer, Brown said.  He said the practice has brought infection and sores.  Brown said Jeffs rebelled against the restriction that he spend no more than 15 minutes on his knees in prayer three times a day.  "We have had to have staff literally pick him up off his knees and place him on his bed and then use soft restraints on his bed to keep him so he can't get off his bed," Brown said.     Read more
 
 
Investigation of Texas Polygamist Sect Is Likely to Spill Into Utah, Arizona
By STEPHANIE SIMON
Wall Street Journal
Originally published October 11, 2008

Six months after they raided a polygamist sect's compound, Texas authorities have brought bigamy and child-abuse charges against members of the group as part of a criminal investigation that could soon expand to Utah and Arizona.  During the raid, Texas authorities took the controversial step of seizing more than 400 children, contending they were endangered by the group's practice of marrying young girls to much older men.  All but one of the children have since been returned to their families.  But state officials have held on to the hundreds of documents and computer files they took during their search of the sprawling Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas.  Prosecutors in three states hope to use that evidence to press a wide range of criminal charges -- from tax evasion to sexual assault -- to break open the secretive Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which split from the mainstream Mormon church decades ago.  Lawyers for the sect did not return calls seeking comment.  Prosecutors say the seized evidence includes family photos and genealogies; lists of "spiritual marriages" between young girls and older men; detailed travel logs; and financial records for the sect's extensive business dealings.  The cache also includes sermons extolling underage marriage, apparently recorded by the group's self-styled prophet, Warren Jeffs, and played for the children as part of their religious upbringing, according to a law-enforcement official.  The key question for prosecutors will be whether they can make criminal charges stick without cooperation from witnesses inside the sect.     Read more
 
 
Judge rejects restraining order against FLDS investigator
By Ben Winslow
Deseret News
Originally published Tuesday, Nov. 18, 2008

ST. GEORGE — A judge has denied a request for a restraining order against a private investigator who has spent years looking into the Fundamentalist LDS Church.  Court records indicated that after a day of testimony on Tuesday, the judge denied Willie Jessop's motion for a restraining order keeping Sam Brower away from him.  "The grounds for a preliminary injunction have not been met and is therefore denied without prejudice," the court minutes said.  "The temporary restraining order is withdrawn."  Jessop, a spokesman for the FLDS Church, sought the restraining order accusing Brower of trespassing on his property.  Brower, who works for attorneys suing the FLDS Church, denied any wrongdoing and accused the polygamous sect of trying to stifle his investigations.
 
 
Restraining order pulled back on investigator Brower
BY PATRICE ST. GERMAIN
The Spectrum
Originally published November 20, 2008

ST. GEORGE - Fifth District Court Judge G. Rand Beacham rescinded a temporary restraining order following an all-day hearing Tuesday.  The temporary restraining order was filed in July by Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints spokesman Willie Jessop against private investigator Sam Brower.  Jessop got the restraining order against Brower following an incident in which Jessop claimed that Brower escorted a news crew to his home and office in Hildale and another residence of Jessop's called the Boulder Mountain Ranch in the Canaan Gap area, part of the unincorporated county near Hildale.  During questioning by Brower's attorney, Willard Bishop, Jessop said Brower was "a paid hit man to take down the church."  Jessop said that in confrontations he had with Brower, Brower was extremely abusive, screamed insults at him and several times, deliberately moved his jacket to show Jessop he had a gun.  When questioned by Bishop, Jessop was asked if he was ever a bodyguard for FLDS leaders.  Jessop said he could not recall being a bodyguard, but said any church member has an obligation to protect their family and church.  Brower said he has worked on issues surrounding the FLDS church and Hildale and Colorado City communities for about four years and said he was never asked to investigate Jessop, but said he did some investigating on his own.     Read more
 
 
Brent Hunsaker: A Day Down the Rabbit Hole
Reported by: Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally published November 20, 2008

On Tuesday, photographer Aaron Kimbell and I had the unfortunate task of going to court.  It was nothing big - not for us at least.  It was a big deal for Southern Utah gumshoe Sam Brower.  Sam is a friend and occasional source for news about the "goings on" in the polygamist burbs of Colorado City and Hildale (why only one "L"?).  Sam was hauled into court accused of being a pest and a pain in the backside of Willy Jessop.  That is the same Willy Jessop who is also known among current and former polygamists as "Willy the Enforcer".  Willy bragged about being the bodyguard of FLDS prophet and convicted felony, Warren Jeffs.  (By they way, Willy, just where were you in '06 when your FBI-10-most-wanted-fugitive-boss, wearing a clever disguise of shorts and a t-shirt, was snagged during a routine traffic stop outside of Vegas?)  Since the raid on the FLDS ranch - also known as the "shining city hidden in the middle of nowhere Texas" - Willy has became the outspoken spokesman for the FLDS Church.  You remember - he's the guy who, after claiming he knew of no underage marriages, got in front of the cameras and microphones in Texas and promised that the FLDS will no longer perform underage marriages.  (Willy - you can't stop what you never started.)     Read more
 
 
Polygamist leaders indicted - and jailed
By Chuck Johnston
CNN National Desk
Originally published November 25, 2008

The patriarch of the world's biggest polygamist sect's compound in Eldorado, Texas turned himself in after being indicted on felony charges. Fredrick Merril Jessop, 72, of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), is charged with one count of conducting an unlawful marriage ceremony involving a minor, which is a third-degree felony.  Jessop has been running the compound, called the Yearning for Zion Ranch, home to hundreds of church members.  He was husband of Carolyn Jessop, who wrote in her best-selling book, "Escape" about their marriage and life in the FLDS, and her frightening escape from Merril Jessop and the compound with her children.  Carolyn Jessop and others have said girls as young 11 have been forced into polygamists marriages with older men, boys have been ejected from the sect on trumped up infractions, and children have been beaten.  Two other FLDS elders were also charged, and turned themselves in. Wendell Loy Nieslen, 68, is charged with three counts of third-degree felony bigamy.  Leroy Johnson Steed, 42, is charged with one count of sexual assault of a child, one count of second-degree felony bigamy, one count of third-degree felony bigamy, and one count of tampering with physical evidence, a third-degree felony.     Read more
 
 
Texan polygamy leader charged in child abuse case
By Hannah Strange
The Times - London, England
Originally published November 25, 2008

A leader of a Texan polygamist sect and two other church members have surrendered to authorities to face felony charges over the marriage of underage girls to older men.  Fredrick "Merril" Jessop, 72, an elder from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), oversaw its Yearning for For Zion Ranch in west Texas, which in April was raided by state police amid allegations of rape, forced marriage and child abuse.  He faces one count of conducting an unlawful marriage ceremony involving a minor on July 27, 2006 - the same day his 12-year-old daughter was allegedly married to jailed FLDS leader Warren Jeffs.  The girl is now the only child from the ranch still in foster care after her mother refused to cooperate with child welfare authorities.  At the height of the abuse case, which rocked a country where polygamy is usually pushed to the far reaches of the national consciousness, 439 children were removed from the compound and taken into state custody.  However, they were later ordered to be returned to their parents due to a lack of evidence of abuse in all but a handful of cases.  Some three dozen remain under court oversight.  In all, 12 FLDS men have been indicted since the raid, during which authorities found safes stuffed with cash and a tousled bed in the compound temple, which they suspect was used for the consummation of "celestial" marriages.  A grand jury in Eldorado, Texas, indicted Mr Jeffs, Mr Jessop, Wendell Loy Nielsen and Leroy Johnson Steed on November 12.  Only Mr Jeffs' name had been released before yesterday, when the other three men were booked and released after posting bond.     Read more
 
 
Top FLDS member, spokesman subpoenaed
CNN
Originally published January 22, 2009

(CNN) -- A top member of a Texas polygamist sect and the group's spokesman have been subpoenaed and are scheduled for court depositions Friday and Monday, according to court officials.  Merrill Jessop, an elder in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and leader of the sect's Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas, will be deposed at 9 a.m. Friday (10 a.m. ET), according to Vicki Vines of the Schleicher County District Court clerk's office.  Willie Jessop, a sect member who has served as its spokesman, is set for deposition at 9 a.m. Monday, Vines told CNN.  The San Angelo, Texas, Standard-Times newspaper reported the subpoenas were issued in a case involving a now-17-year-old daughter of imprisoned FLDS leader and "prophet" Warren Jeffs.  Court documents allege that the girl was 15 when Jeffs allowed her to marry one of Merrill Jessop's sons, who was 34 at the time, the Standard-Times said.  The girl's attorney, Natalie Malonis, had requested a restraining order against Willie Jessop, saying he harassed and intimidated both of them and might be trying to prevent the girl's testimony before a grand jury.  The girl was among more than 400 children seized by state child welfare workers from the YFZ Ranch in April.  The children were returned after the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the state had no right to remove them and lacked evidence to show that they were in imminent danger of abuse.  The girl's return to her mother, however, was delayed after her attorney said she was an identified victim of sexual abuse.  She was allowed to return to her mother under conditions that included being kept away from Jeffs and the YFZ Ranch.     Read more
 
 
Papers detail sect's plans
By Paul A. Anthony
San Angelo Standard-Times
Originally published Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The leaders of a polygamous sect sought to create a trust through their Schleicher County ranch, likely as a way to self-finance the group's Texas operations, according to some of more than 1,000 pages of documents released Monday by the Tom Green County 51st District Court.  The mountains of evidence - used as exhibits in the deposition last month of sect bishop and YFZ Ranch leader Merril Jessop - contain hundreds of pages of dictations by Warren Jeffs, self-styled prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  Ranging from the bizarre to the devout, Jeffs' dictations were seized in an April raid on the ranch by child-welfare and law-enforcement officials.  Some of the dictations have already been released in the course of multiple cases winding their way through the courts, but the release Monday features a swarm of missives sent in a three-year period as Jeffs fled authorities, visited every state capital and settled down for a time at the ranch.  They also include dictations and orders sent from his Utah jail cell, showing that despite his imprisonment, Jeffs maintained a tight grip on the actions of his followers in Schleicher County.  Among the documents are efforts to create a trust in Texas apparently mirroring the United Effort Plan in Utah, which has been the subject of litigation for years.  The sect has long been suspected of using proceeds from the trust to finance the 2004-05 construction of the 1,400-acre ranch, and the documents indicate Jeffs and others had an eye on replicating the system to make the ranch self-sufficient in Texas.  In 2005, according to one dictation, YFZ Land Corp. owner David Allred sold the property to three other FLDS members, who then appointed Jessop the company manager.  "All this is in preparation to transfer the land into a trust," Jeffs dictated.     Read more
 
 
Documents: YFZ Ranch was Jeffs' 'center stake,' used to punish and reward followers
By Paul A. Anthony
San Angelo Standard-Times
Originally published February 13, 2009

It was called the place of refuge - hundreds of acres in Schleicher County as isolated from the world as the people who would live there.  For Warren Jeffs, the self-declared prophet of the polygamous sect that owns the land, it was a new hope, a retreat for his closest allies to continue with God's work while they awaited the destruction of everyone around them.  He called it the "Center Stake of Zion."  The isolation was shattered April 3 - rent in the West Texas night amid allegations of forced marriage and sexual abuse, the temple desecrated by lawmen with a search warrant, 439 children taken into state custody.  The children have nearly all been returned and their cases closed, criminal cases are crawling through the courts, and the YFZ Ranch is slowly being repopulated - but the April raid destroyed the secrecy surrounding the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, possibly forever.  In the largest release of evidence to date, hundreds of pages of dictations by Jeffs to his wife Naomie were unsealed last week, painting a picture in Jeffs' own words of a paranoid leader whose meticulous control over his flock knew no bounds, continuing even after his arrest and imprisonment for arranging a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.  The dictations, along with letters and sermons written from jail less than a week before the raid, provide the clearest glimpses yet of a prophet genuinely afraid of the corrupting influences of the world on his congregation - and the often draconian steps he took to purify his members.  "The report was there were many tears, much soberness and humbling among the family," Jeffs said after ordering four women and five children to leave the ranch in May 2004.  "Even some of the young children cried, seeing some of their brothers and sisters going. I thank the Lord he reveals what to do to clean up the lands of refuge."     Read more
 
 
Life At Polygamist Ranch Was Austere, Controlled
The Associated Press
CBS 11 TV - Dallas / Fort Worth
Originally published April 3, 2009

ELDORADO (AP) -- It was a year ago that the outside world got its first glimpse beyond the battered green gate of the YFZ Ranch.  And the view was mesmerizing:  Women in pioneer-style dresses, their hair swept up in braids.  Men who married multiple times -- sometimes, it was said, to underage girls.  Children snatched by authorities from their mothers, for fear that they might be abused.  Officials had come looking for an abused teenage girl named "Sarah."  Since then, it's become clear Sarah didn't exist, that calls made to a domestic abuse hot line were probably faked.  And since then, all but one of the 439 children who were taken away in one of the largest custody cases in U.S. history have returned to their families.  About two-thirds are back at the ranch, says Willie Jessop, spokesman for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  But life at the YFZ Ranch has not returned to normal.  The sect's prophet, Warren Jeffs, is not there -- convicted in Utah as an accomplice to rape, he sits in a 7-by-12-foot cell in Arizona awaiting trial on a similar charge and has been indicted in Texas for sexual assault of a child and bigamy.  And Jeff's followers have yet to recover hundreds of boxes worth of Jeffs' journals and teachings, letters from FLDS members, family photos and detailed church census records that were seized by authorities in the raid that began last April 3.  Documents used in court proceedings and thousands of pages of additional records, obtained by The Associated Press, offer a window into an industrious, prayerful community in which marriage was considered a mandatory ticket to heaven, and where legal marrying ages were secondary to divine matches ordained by Jeffs.  But more than anything else, these papers testify to a simple truth:  At the YFZ Ranch, Warren Jeffs controlled everything.     Read more
 
 
Polygamy Part of Religious Lifestyle
Reporting: Rick Sallinger
CBS 4 - Denver
Written for the Web by CBS4 Special Projects Producer Libby Smith
Originally broadcast May 15, 2009

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. (CBS4) -- It's been more than a year since authorities raided the Texas compound of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints or FLDS.  Police believed that under-age marriage and abuse was happening on the compound and they removed all the women and children.  Families have been reunited now, and many of them are moving back to the Church's base along the Utah-Arizona border.  Driving through the twin cities of Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah is like stepping back in time.  Residents wear conservative, handmade clothing, The men, women and children are covered from neck to ankle - a sign of modesty, respect and devotion to God.  "I had a little girl come up to me and say, 'You don't believe in the Prophet'. She was probably 6-years-old. I said, 'Why?' 'You're not wearing long underwear'," said former FLDS member Dawna Bastline.  These towns were founded by polygamist leaders.  Marrying multiple wives is one tenet of the FLDS.  The Church teaches that men must have at least 3 wives to reach the highest levels of heaven.  The religion also extends to every aspect of life.  FLDS children are home schooled.  Church leaders banned dogs after a child was bitten.  Television is also banned.  "My dad got a call...'You got a TV in your home? Get rid of it. No questions, no nothing. Get rid of it now'," Bistline told CBS4.  "They don't allow them to go to the movies. They don't allow them to listen to music. They don't allow them to have extra-curricular activities - basketball, baseball, whatever," explained Michelle Chatwin, a former FLDS member's wife.     Read more
 
 
Fate of polygamists' trust undecided
United Press International
Times of the Internet - North Olmsted, Ohio
Originally published July 23, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY, July 23 (UPI) -- The future of a trust set up by a breakaway Mormon group practicing polygamy remains uncertain following a Utah judge's rejection of four settlement plans.  The United Effort Plan Trust, founded in 1942 by the group now known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, owns most of the twin towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., as well as other real estate.  Judge Denise Lindberg said all four plans, including those proposed by the Utah Attorney General's Office, restore too much control over the trust to the FLDS.  She said any solution has to be religiously neutral.  Lindberg said she might even dissolve the trust.  She set a hearing July 29 on a proposal to sell Berry Knoll Farm, one of the trust assets.  The trust has been managed since 2005 by Bruce Wisan, a Salt Lake City lawyer.  The trustees, all FLDS members, were stripped of control because of lawsuits charging they had mismanaged the assets.
 
 
Polygamists rally to protest land sale
Written by: Dan Metcalf Jr.
Email: dan.metcalf@abc4.com
ABC 4 News
Originally published July 29, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Hundreds of FLDS faithful crowded the streets surrounding the Matheson courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City Wednesday morning to protest the proposed sale of their lands to pay off debts of the United Effort Plan Trust.  Court arguments were being held on Wednesday over the possible sale of a 438-acre parcel of land owned by the UEP trust.  The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a polygamous church led by jailed leader Warren Jeffs.  Judge Denise Lindberg presided over the hearing in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City Wednesday morning.  The land is part of a communal land trust called the United Effort Plan, which is associated to the FLDS church. Bruce Wisan, a court-appointed accountant, has been in control of the UEP trust since 2005.  Wisan wants to sell the land in northern Arizona to pay off some of the trust's nearly $3 million in debt.  FLDS leaders had planned to build a temple on the site near the Utah-Arizona border towns of Hildale and Colorado City.  Church members gathered at the courthouse to stop the sale.  Stay tuned to ABC 4 News and ABC4.com for more on this story.     See photo
 
 
Polygamists rally to protest land sale
Written by: Dan Metcalf Jr.
Email: dan.metcalf@abc4.com
ABC 4 News
Originally published July 29, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - A judge did not make a ruling Wednesday on the fate of a historic farm owned by property trust once controlled by a polygamous sect.  Thousands of followers of the the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints crowded the streets surrounding the Matheson Courthouse in downtown Salt Lake City Wednesday.  They were protesting the proposed sale of a 438-acre parcel of land owned by the United Effort Plan Trust.  For three hours, they argued for and against the sale of the land in northern Arizona, and the possible dismantling of the United Effort Plan trust.  Third District Judge Denise Lindberg wondered why both sides could not come together on this issue.  Willie Jessop said, "I thought it was interesting she comes out as Martin Luther King can't we get along. But, then I'm going to sell your lands, that's ridiculous. How does she do that?"     Read more
 
 
Arizona: Sect Leader Refuses Food
By KIRK JOHNSON
National Briefing | Southwest
The New York Times
Originally published August 4, 2009

Warren S. Jeffs, the polygamist leader who was convicted of sex crimes in 2007, is refusing food in an Arizona jail and is being force-fed and monitored around the clock as his health deteriorates, the Mohave County Sheriff's Office in Kingman said.  Mr. Jeffs, 53, is serving a sentence of 10 years to life for a conviction on rape charges in Utah for forcing a 14-year-old girl in his church to marry against her will.  He has been held at the Mojave County jail since early last year awaiting trial on similar charges in Arizona.  A sheriff's spokeswoman said doctors who examined Mr. Jeffs on Friday saw a sudden erosion of his health and ordered him to be fed.  He resumed eating earlier this week, said the spokeswoman, Trish Carter, but refused food again Monday night.  Mr. Jeffs led the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which split from the mainstream Mormon faith, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, after Mormons disavowed polygamy in 1890.
 
 
Arizona jail force-fed FLDS church leader Warren Jeffs
By Jennifer Dobner
The Associated Press
Minneapolis Star Tribune - Minneapolis, MN
Originally published August 4, 2009

BEAVER, Utah - Polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs is being force-fed in jail for the second time in less than a week after again refusing to eat, Arizona officials said Tuesday.  Mohave County sheriff's spokeswoman Trish Carter said force feeding of Jeffs started Friday at the Kingman, Ariz., jail after it was found he was not eating.  Jeffs subsequently started eating on his own again and continued doing so until Monday night, she said.  But on Tuesday, Jeffs again refused to eat and is now being force-fed via a tube down his throat that delivers liquid nutrition, Carter said.  "Mr. Jeffs is closely being watched 24 hours a day," a statement from Carter said.  In a letter filed with the Mohave Superior Court on Friday, the jail's medical director said Jeffs had been refusing food and was no longer urinating.  Medical Director Kirsten Mortenson said Jeffs' vital signs were worsening and he was suffering peripheral edema — the swelling of extremities like hands, feet and legs — brought on by "protein/calorie malnutrition."  "This deterioration will continue to accelerate and become harder to reverse the longer it persists," Mortenson wrote in a letter to Judge Steven F. Conn.  "His death could be imminent without immediate medical intervention."  Contacted by cell phone Tuesday by The Associated Press, Mortenson said federal privacy laws prevented her from making any comment.     Read more
 
 
Authorities: FLDS leader Jeffs starving himself
By Dennis Wagner
The Arizona Republic
Originally published August 5, 2009

Fundamentalist church leader Warren Jeffs, awaiting trial in Kingman for facilitating child marriages, has starved himself to a point where jailers are force feeding him, the Mohave County Sheriff's Office says.  In a letter last week to Superior Court Judge Steven Conn, the jail's medical director said Jeffs' physical condition was precarious due to his refusal to eat.  "He is weaker and more debilitated. ... His vital signs are worse," wrote Dr. Kirsten Mortensen.  "His death could be imminent without immediate medical intervention."  Trish Carter, a spokeswoman for the Sheriff's Office, said Jeffs began eating voluntarily over the weekend, but had to be given meals via a throat tube again Tuesday.  Jeffs, president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is awaiting trial on charges that he served as an accomplice to rape by arranging marriages of underage girls to men in the congregation.  Jeffs, 53, was convicted last year in Utah of rape as an accomplice for presiding over the union of a child and an adult church member.  He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, which must be served after the Arizona case is resolved.  Defense attorney Michael Piccarreta said Tuesday that Jeffs is not fasting in protest, but eschews food while in religious meditations.  Piccarreta said leaders of other faiths also have denied themselves meals while incarcerated.  "Mr. Jeffs, when he goes into deep prayer, does not eat or drink," Piccarreta said.  "Occasionally, that has some medical repercussions. The jail needed to deal with a deteriorating medical condition, and they dealt with it."     Read more
 
 
Polygamist Prophet Warren Jeffs near death?
Reported by: Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally published August 5, 2009

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) – FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs is reportedly in deteriorating health because he refuses to eat.  Jeffs is in jail in Mohave County, Arizona awaiting trial.  Kristen Mortenson, D.O., the medical director at Jail, wrote on Friday, July 31st to Superior Court Judge Steven Conn, "This deterioration will continue to accelerate and become harder to reverse the longer it persists. His death could be imminent without immediate medical intervention."  Mortenson ordered the "force feeding" of Jeffs using a tube placed down his throat.  Jeffs has been receiving nourishment by tube for the better part of the last 5 days.  Trish Carter, a spokesperson for the Mohave County Sheriff's Office said that at one point Jeffs agreed to resume eating on his own.  But Monday evening he again refused to eat, and the tube feeding resumed Tuesday morning.  Since his first public appearance in a Nevada courtroom nearly 3 years ago, Jeffs has always looked thin.  But when he was transferred to Utah to stand trial, he lost even more weight.  At one point, 5th District Court Judge James Shumate became alarmed by his appearance and demeanor and ordered a physical and psychological evaluation.  Jeffs also was once taken to the emergency room of a St. George hospital where he was checked out by doctors and cleared to return to jail.  Carolyn Jessop, a former polygamist wife of Jeffs' Lieutenant Merril Jessop, said Jeffs was known for his frequent, long fasts.  But in jail that fasting has apparently become so extreme that it is endangering his life.     Read more
 
 
Touring polygamy town
Reported by: Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast October 30, 2009

ST GEORGE, Utah (ABC 4 News) The Holm brothers say it is unlikely they will strike it rich offering tours of Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah.  But their fledgling "Polygamy Experience" tour of the towns that straddle the Utah - Arizona border has struck a cord with some who are curious about what goes on there.  Even though the tours have been offered for only a few weeks, they've already had inquiries from most of the western states as well as England, France and Germany.  The Holm brothers came from a prominent, polygamist family, but the stories of how they left their family and community couldn't be more different.  Heber Holm left Colorado City when he was a teenager.  He generally has fond memories of growing up in the area.  But when his father died, he said there was little to hold him in a community or a religion that preached the more wives you have, the greater your "glory" in heaven.  Heber moved to the St George area and eventually joined the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Richard Holm's departure was much more painful.  He stayed in the community and became a city councilman, successful businessman and patriarch of his own polygamist family.  But it all came crashing down with the rise of Warren Jeffs as prophet and leader of the FLDS -- the dominant polygamist group in Colorado City and Hildale.  Wielding almost unlimited power, Jeffs expelled just about anyone who he perceived to be a challenge to his authority.     Read more
 
Brent Hunsaker - Some suggestions for the tour of polygamy town
Reported by: Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally published November 1, 2009

The tour now being offered of Colorado City and Hildale is good for anyone who wants to know the history of polygamy as practiced on the border of Utah and Arizona. This is especially true because the two brothers conducting the tour have incredible inside knowledge of the community both before and after Warren Jeffs. (After all, he is the reason why all of this has become so fascinating, right?)

The Holm brothers were both raised in Colorado City. Heber Holm left when he was teenager. Richard stayed and became a successful businessman and member of the Colorado City council until Jeffs threw him out on his ear.

Their information is unbeatable, but the presentation could use some work. Granted this tour is still in its infancy, but here are just a few suggestions:
- For the tour guides: Have a script. No, I'm not saying read from it, just have it. A script can help you focus both what you want to say and how to say it. Sure, depending on the interests of the tourist you should be willing to adapt or even throw out the script if necessary. But have one nonetheless.

- Add a sound system in the bus or van. It will help you be heard over the road noise.
Read more
 
 
One Year Older
Happy Birthday
Cityfile - New York
cityfile.com
Originally published December 3, 2009

The always amusing Michael Musto of the Village Voice celebrates his 54th birthday today.  Julianne Moore is turning 49.  Daryl Hannah is turning 49, too.  Actress Amanda Seyfried is 24.  Ozzy Osbourne is turning 61.  French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard is 79.  Actor Brendan Fraser is turning 41.  Retired Olympic figure skater Katarina Witt is 44.  Freaky televangelist Benny Hinn is 57.  And infamous polygamist Warren Jeffs turns 54 today.
 
 
Top 10 Arizona Stories of 2007
Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs convicted, jailed
Dennis Wagner
The Arizona Republic
Originally published Dec. 29, 2009

The saga of a polygamy sect in northern Arizona spans nearly a century, but 2007 was a seminal year: That's when the sect's spiritual leader was convicted and put behind bars.  Warren Jeffs, prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was found guilty in Utah on Sept. 25 of two counts of rape as an accomplice and sentenced to 10 years in prison.  Jeffs, charged in Arizona and Utah for conducting child marriages, had been on the FBI's list of most-wanted fugitives when he was captured during a traffic stop near Las Vegas a year earlier.  Based in the twin communities of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, the FLDS church teaches that plural marriage is instrumental to salvation.  It is not affiliated with the mainstream Mormon religion, which renounced polygamy more than a century ago.  The church has been under siege for years by state authorities, who say the sect sanctions matrimony for underage girls, perpetuates fraud and violates the rights of disaffected members.  In the past decade, key leaders were prosecuted.  Schools were taken over by the state.  FLDS law officers were stripped of their badges.  A church trust that controls property owned by the estimated 10,000 followers was seized.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs May Still Be "Running The Show"
Reported by: Brian Mullahy
KUTV 2News
Originally broadcast Thursday, Dec 31, 2009

Documents may show Warren Jeffs still in control of FLDS affairs, while he was a fugitive from justice, and even after being locked up for more than a year.  Recently-released transcripts include a letter, purportedly from a jailed Jeffs to his FLDS first presidency, and pages of "dictation" attributed to the polygamous leader.  "We got authority from the court to get a subpoena to recover the records," said Jeffrey Shields, an attorney representing a trustee, overseeing property in the polygamous communities of Hildale, Colorado City, on the Utah-Arizona line.  That subpoena was served after a raid by authorities on a sprawling Texas FLDS ranch in April 2008, a raid touched off by suspicions of child abuse tied to marriages of underage girls.  Also seized in the move against the ranch were records, released to Salt Lake lawyers roughly two weeks ago, which seem to cast light on Warren Jeffs' secretive dealings.  One document is a letter, dated November 9, 2007, more than 14 months after Jeffs' arrest for being an accomplice to rape.  In it, Jeffs purportedly writes of one FLDS member: "...he does not hold the priesthood...his family is released...he should close down his affairs in Colorado."  Jeffs seemed to remove the man as a husband and father, appointing "a caretaker of this family," and commanding that the ousted man "should not have contact with his former family."     Read more
 
 
Utah AG Threatens To Dissolve Hildale
Reported by: Brian Mullahy
KUTV 2 News
Originally broadcast Wednesday, Feb 3, 2010

Mounting allegations against the polygamous city of Hildale could launch a move to dissolve its city government.  Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff raised the potential in a letter to FLDS lawyers last week, writing that "serious issues" must be addressed in the community, and that his office is "prepared to seek a disincorporation" with the Legislature if necessary.  Possible translation: shape up, or lose your city.  "It just hits with a tremendous shock," said FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop in a 2News phone interview Wednesday.  "I don't know how you can appease the Attorney General's Office when he's threatening this action."  Jessop openly wondered how the same move would be received in a host of other Utah cities.  The Attorney General's Office said it's investigating specific allegations in Hildale, including water fees not going into the water system, but ultimately to FLDS leaders, police beholden to those leaders, and non-FLDS residents thwarted on getting building permits.  A "disincorporation" bill is in play at the Utah State Capitol this legislative session, but it does not seem to relate to Hildale. Still, such a move could be forthcoming.  In the meantime, Shurtleff is urging sides in vexing property disputes in Hildale and its twin, Colorado City, to reach a settlement within 30 days.  A fiduciary appointed by the court to oversee property in the United Effort Plan Trust is at odds with FLDS representatives, who want the property turned back to them.  If Hildale government is dissolved, the area on the Utah side of the Utah-Arizona line would come under the control of Washington County government.
 
 
FLDS Church announces new president
Ben Winslow
FOX 13 News - KSTU-TV
Originally broadcast February 6, 2010

HILDALE - The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has a new president, at least of its corporate entity.  The move raises questions about the role of convicted polygamist leader Warren Jeffs in the church.  In a filing with the Utah Department of Commerce obtained by Fox 13 on Saturday, it was announced that Wendell Loy Nielsen has been "called as president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in conformity with the constitution, canons, rites, regulations or discipline of such church..."  Nielsen, 69, was previously a counselor in the FLDS Church.  Jeffs, 53, resigned his role as president of the FLDS back in 2007 shortly after being convicted in Utah of rape as an accomplice for performing a marriage between a then-14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.  He is also facing criminal charges in Arizona and Texas.  The filing appointing Nielsen to head the 10,000-member FLDS Church raises questions about Jeffs' role as leader, although it is likely he remains the church's spiritual figurehead. FLDS Church attorney Rod Parker told Fox 13 on Saturday that any decisions about who members follow are made on an "individual basis."  Many members consider Jeffs a prophet.  The FLDS Church is a breakaway sect from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.     Read more
 
 
FLDS Church chooses new President
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast February 7, 2010

ELDORADO, Texas (ABC 4 News) - With Warren Jeffs behind bars, the FLDS church has chosen a new President.  69-year old Wendell Nielsen has been chosen as president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints.  That's according to a document filed with the state of Utah.  The document names Nielsen as the president of the FLDS Church's Corporate Entity, but that doesn't necessarily mean that Jeffs won't still be regarded as prophet by the sect.  Nielsen is said to have at least 21 wives and lives at the YFZ ranch in Eldorado, Texas.
 
 
FLDS church names new president
KSL 5 TV
Originally published February 15, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY -- A polygamous church led by Warren Jeffs before he was jailed in 2007 has named a new president who is facing bigamy charges.  Wendell Loy Nielsen, 69, was named president in documents filed with the Utah Department of Commerce.  He has long been a senior leader in the hierarchy of the southern Utah-based Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He previously served as a counselor to Jeffs and his father, Rulon Jeffs, who led the church until his death in 2002.  Nielsen "has been running the day-to-day affairs of the church for some time," church spokesman Willie Jessop said.  "He has the trust of the people."  A successful businessman, Nielsen lives at the faith's Yearning for Zion ranch in Eldorado, Texas.  He faces three counts of bigamy for having allegedly married three adult women in 2005.  Handwritten family records seized by police during the raid showed Nielsen may have as many as 21 wives.  In 2008 he was one of 12 men indicted by Texas authorities on criminal charges that followed a raid on the ranch after an allegation that a teen bride had been physically and sexually abused.  Nielsen was named president of the church in papers recorded last month.  Warren Jeffs officially resigned as president of the church in late 2007.  It's not clear if Nielsen is now considered the church prophet or if Jeffs retains the role despite his incarceration after a conviction in Utah for rape as an accomplice in 2007.  The state paperwork is a legal formality that clarifies that Nielsen has the authority to make decisions related to church business and legal dealings, church attorney Rodney Parker said.     Read more
 
 
Future of FLDS assets comes before Supreme Court
Reported by: Marcos Ortiz
ABC4 News
Originally broadcast February 17, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – The future of FLDS property is in the hands of the Utah Supreme Court.  Arguments in a five year old battle over control of property assets owned by the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) were heard by the state's highest court.  The land is located in Hildale, Utah, Colorado City, Arizona, and Bountiful, British Columbia and is home to 10,000 members of the FLDS.  In 2005, state attorneys alleged that then FLDS leader Warren Jeff's mismanaged the property and Utah courts took control of the trust.  Wednesday, attorneys for the state argued that it's too late for church members to ask the Supreme Court to stop the takeover.  They also argued that their decision to allow any member to petition for trust benefits doesn't violate their religious beliefs.  But in court, attorneys for the FLDS argued that state control is a violation of their constitutional right as a religion.  At stake is whether members past or present have any say in assets owned by the FLDS church.  Members donate any assets when they become members and it is then shared amongst members.  When those who leave the faith whether it's voluntarily or through excommunication, any claims to trust assets are given up.  If assets are controlled by a trustee those members would be able to lay a claim to that property.  Attorneys for the FLDS claim that such a move would violate the church's original covenant.  The doctrine created by founder Joseph Smith ordered that church leaders were the one's who made decisions in the interest of the entire community, not individuals.  The Supreme Court took the matter under advisement.
 
New Research Reveals Secrets About Psychology of Polygamous Sects and Their Leaders
Top Forensic Psychiatrist Inspired by Study of Elizabeth Smart's Accused Kidnappers
Nightline
ABC News
Originally broadcast March 1, 2010

A judge ruled today that Brian David Mitchell, the man accused of kidnapping Elizabeth Smart, forcing her to be one of his multiple wives, and holding her between 2002 and 2003, is competent to stand trial.  Mitchell, 56, was declared psychotic and incompetent in Utah State Court in 2005, but Federal prosecutors, who indicted Mitchell in 2008, asked a U.S. District Court to conduct another competency trial.  Prosecutors asked forensic psychiatrist Dr. Michael Welner, an associate professor of psychiatry at NYU School of Medicine and the chairman of The Forensic Panel, to examine Mitchell, a street preacher who has claimed to be a Mormon prophet.  To better understand the tenets of fundamentalist Mormon doctrines and practices and determine the differences between religion and psychosis, Welner analyzed the case histories of more than 60 leaders of American fundamentalist sects.  He identified a number of psychiatric and justice issues distinct to polygamous and rejectionist sect leaders and followers and presented this research for the first time at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences annual meeting in Seattle last week.  Welner, who is also a consultant to ABC News, shared his findings in a glimpse of the context he had to consider in evaluating Brian David Mitchell:

Q: What has surprised you the most about what you've learned about the polygamous sects?

A: The sexuality issues are not to be generalized. There are sects in which one finds absolute perversion on the order of the depravity scale, and there are others in which polygamy serves the sect in ways that have nothing to do with the gratification of the leader. This study has taught me that their enforced solitude and separation from the mainstream does often conceal crime that is more devastating to human rights than anything we cover in our most sensational news. But to simply dismiss polygamists as a bunch of degenerates is a simplified broad brush.     Read more
 
 
 
Doctor who evaluated Brian David Mitchell looks into psychology of fundamentalists
Ben Winslow
Fox 13 News
KSTU-TV
Originally broadcast March 5, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY - A forensic psychiatrist who helped make the federal government's case that Brian David Mitchell is mentally competent to face trial in the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart has recently completed a study examining the psychology of fundamentalists.  Dr. Michael Welner, an associate professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine and the chairman of The Forensic Panel, recently presented his findings at a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.  Welner could not get into specifics about Mitchell because of the ongoing criminal proceedings.  Mitchell is accused of abducting Elizabeth Smart from her bedroom back in 2002.  She was found nine months later walking down a Sandy street in the company of the homeless street preacher and his wife, Wanda Barzee.  "I think Brian David Mitchell is a complicated person," Welner said in an interview Friday with Fox 13.  To understand Mitchell's motives, Dr. Welner also looked at other polygamous groups and their leadership dynamics.  He said he reached a number of fascinating conclusions.     Read more
 
 
Roll up for the polygamy experience
In Colorado City, locals don't want to be treated 'like monkeys in a zoo' – but they've become a tourist attraction.
By Guy Adams
The Independent - London, England
Originally published Saturday, 15 May 2010

The tour starts at a restaurant just outside Colorado City.  It's called the Merry Wives Cafι, which is ironic because there's nothing very merry about this remote and windswept town on the border between Arizona and Utah, since local authorities haven't got round to re-legalising the sale of alcohol following the end of Prohibition in 1933.  But if we're going to split hairs, the people who named the cafι deserve credit for at least one thing: the local community does indeed contain an awful lot of wives.  Our guide, Richard Holm, should know.  He's been married three times: first, to his childhood sweetheart, Shauna, in 1971; then to a much younger woman, Lorena, in 1985; and finally, to a girl called Alice, in 1996.  Between them, these lucky ladies bore him 17 children.  Oh, and in keeping with local custom, all three were married to him at exactly the same time.  That's because Colorado City is a polygamist community, and for many years, Richard was one of its most enthusiastic members.  Today, things are different.  The 57-year-old still lives in the town, with its vast, 30-room homes holding extended poly-families, but he's no longer a member of the Mormon sect which has safeguarded the tradition of plural marriage there since the 1930s.  He's abandoned organised religion, divorced all three wives, and recently launched a new career as a tour guide, taking bus parties of curious visitors around his hometown, on a trip he calls "The Polygamy Experience."     Read more
 
 
A Modest Proposal: Outlaw Retrograde Mormon Dress
Might a burqa ban herald a new fashion for outlawing religiously inspired dress championed by other faiths?
By Michael Scott Moore
European Dispatch
Miller-McCune magazine - Santa Barbara, California
Originally published May 26, 2010

The recent hysteria in Europe over burqas and other full-face veils may have a salutary effect if it convinces both Americans and Europeans to think a little harder about their own parallel societies.  Evidence that it's hysteria is simple: Christopher Hitchens and other pundits weren't calling for unprecedented Western laws against certain types of clothing, say, three years ago.  But starting last year, when French President Nicolas Sarkozy first proposed a law restricting Muslim veils, Hitchens jumped on the French bandwagon and said the U.S. should "consider banning the burqa."  Oddly, Hitchens and the other prophets of this new brand of Western liberty haven't recommended a ban on those draping, pastel frocks with ruffled shoulders that women in American polygamist cults seem to favor.  The American public saw them on the news two years ago when the Texas government raided Warren Jeffs' polygamist compound near Eldorado, Texas, the seat of his Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  The dresses look innocent enough, but experts on American polygamy say women are trapped by them.  Not only do the heavy impractical costumes evoke a bygone time; they deliberately shroud a woman's sexual charms, and they stifle individuality.  "You can modify people's behavior just by putting them in a certain kind of dress," said Carolyn Jessop, once a wife of a high-ranking member of the FLDS, to a Salt Lake Tribune columnist in 2008.  "It is a uniform. You have nothing about you that's individual. You're just a part of a whole."  A woman from the FLDS countered in a letter to the Tribune that her clothes were not some kind of oppression.  "I am free to dress as I like," she wrote, anonymously.  "I think dresses are romantic. They bring out the feminine side in me. Our bodies are sacred. And they are not to display before the world. That is the reason we cover them. Our motive is not isolation but simplicity."     Read more
 
 
Polygamist Leader Warren Jeffs Goes Free in AZ, But Still Doing Time and Facing Charges in Two States
By Caroline Black
CBS News
Originally published June 10, 2010

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (CBS/AP) All charges against polygamist leader Warren Jeffs have been dismissed by a Mohave County judge after a prosecutor said continuing with the charges in the state of Arizona would be "impractical."  Mohave County Attorney Matt Smith's motion to dismiss the four charges of being an accomplice to sexual conduct with a minor was granted Wednesday.  According to Smith, the two alleged teenage victims who claimed Jeffs played a role in the arranged marriages with their older male relatives no longer want to proceed with prosecution in Arizona.  In his motion to dismiss, Smith wrote, "It would be impractical and unnecessary to spend taxpayer money on this defendant under all the above mentioned circumstances."  The former leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has already spent more time in an Arizona jail than he would receive if convicted, and Jeffs has had significant medical problems while there.  However, this does not mean that Jeffs, who was at one time on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list, will go free.     See photo
 
 
Brent Hunsaker - New picture of Warren Jeffs
Reported by: Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally published June 25, 2010

It has been years since we've seen FLDS leader and convicted accomplice to rape, Warren Jeffs.  And since a picture is worth a thousand words, here's the one they took of Jeffs as he was processed a few days ago into the Utah State Prison at Point of the Mountain.  To my eye, he looks a lot older.  (Prison will do that to you.)  But Jeffs really doesn't appear to be all that much thinner.  I remember when he showed up in Judge Shumate's courtroom in St George looking both thin and out-of-it.  Judge Shumate was so alarmed that he ordered a full mental and physical evaluation of the polygamist prophet.  After that, Jeffs seemed to bounce back just in time for his trial.  I am told that while he was in the Mohave County, Arizona jail he was frequently force-fed through a tube in his nose.  In fact, for a long time I am told that the tube was kept in even when he wasn't fasting -- saving wear and tear on the nose.  So ... I was just wondering: What's that mark below Jeff's right nostril?  Could it be caked blood from the feeding tube?  Are they also using the tube at the Utah State Prison to keep him alive?  I'm just asking.     See mug shot
 
 
Brent Hunsaker - Brian David Mitchell vs Warren Jeffs
Reported by: Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally published July 30, 2010

While sitting in a federal courtroom listening to lawyers drone on about a change of venue for the accused kidnapper of Elizabeth Smart, my mind begins to wander.

I begin thinking there are similarities between Brian David Mitchell and another man who's legal troubles I have also followed: Warren Jeffs.

Brian David Mitchell vs Warren Jeffs
  • Both are men of religion.

  • Both claim to talk to God.

  • Both also claim the legacy, if not the mantle, of Joseph Smith Jr.

  • Both believe the mainstream LDS Church has lost it way.

  • Jeffs is the defender of a religion that seems to have forsaken just about every other principal for "The Principal" – namely polygamy.

  • Mitchell also practiced polygamy.

  • Both are accused by authorities of taking girls as "spiritual wives".
    Read more
 
 
Polygamist sect leader Jeffs to be extradited to Texas
By the CNN Wire Staff
CNN
Originally published August 12, 2010

(CNN) -- At the urging of the Texas governor, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has signed an extradition warrant that will send polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs to Texas to face criminal charges, according to Gov. Herbert's office.  There is no word on when Jeffs might be taken to Texas.  Jeffs was indicted in Texas in 2008 on a felony charge of sexual assault of a child.  The indictment accuses Jeffs of assaulting a child "younger than 17 years of age and not legally married to the defendant" in January 2005.  If convicted on the Texas charges, Jeffs could face a maximum penalty of five to 99 years or life in prison and a fine of $10,000.  It has been a summer of legal action involving cases against Jeffs.  June 9, an Arizona judge dismissed charges against Jeffs after the Mohave County prosecutor requested they be thrown out, citing "much more serious charges" against him in Texas.  The prosecutor said Jeffs' alledged victims in Arizona wanted him to "face these more serious charges as soon as possible."  Jeffs had been awaiting trial in Arizona on four charges of being an accomplice to sexual conduct with a minor.  July 28, the Utah Supreme Court overturned Jeffs' 2007 convictions and ordered a new trial, saying instructions given to jurors were erroneous.  Jeffs had been convicted on two counts of being an accomplice to rape.  He was accused of using his religious influence over his followers to coerce a 14-year-old girl into marrying her 19-year-old cousin.  Jeffs was sentenced to two consecutive prison terms of five years to life.     Read more
 
 
For The Family That Has Everything: FLDS "Prophet" Warren Jeffs' Sermons For Sale On eBay
By Craig Malisow
Crime
Houston Press
Originally published Mon., Aug. 23 2010

If you never had a chance to hear Fundamentalist Mormon prophet/alleged child-rapist Warren Jeffs wax philosophical on such heady issues like marrying your underage cousin and why blacks are an inferior race, now's your chance: cassettes of Jeffs' sermons are now available on eBay.  Jay Beswick, a child welfare advocate and professional thorn in the side of the FLDS said that, over the years, he's bought 550 tapes from folks who were kicked out of the church.  He says he's donated some to libraries and given some to state attorneys general in Utah and Arizona, who have tried unsuccessfully to prosecute Jeffs for being a really creepy dude.  And now, he says, he's given some to Texas prosecutors in advance of Jeffs' upcoming extradition to the Lone Star state, where he's been charged with bigamy and aggravated sexual assault of two underage girls in the Yearning for Zion compound in West Texas.  So far, there are no bids on a tape of Jeffs' March 12, 2002 sermon -- which actually might be a good thing, since, Beswick says, it's historically been FLDS members doing all the buying in order to suppress the tapes.     Read more
 
 
Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs refuses extradition to Texas
By the CNN Wire Staff
CNN
Originally published September 8, 2010

(CNN) -- Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs will stay in a Utah jail for at least two more months after his attorneys objected to his signing an extradition waiver in a Utah court Tuesday.  Jeffs will appear in court again on November 15 for a hearing at which the court will determine if Jeffs is the same person charged in Texas.  Jeffs was indicted in Texas in 2008 on a felony charge of sexual assault of a child.  The indictment accuses Jeffs of assaulting a child "younger than 17 years of age and not legally married to the defendant" in January 2005.  The "prophet" of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints -- a polygamist offshoot of the mainstream Mormon church -- was wanted in Utah for allegedly being an accomplice to rape.  He was accused of using his religious influence over his followers to coerce a 14-year-old girl into marrying her 19-year-old cousin.  On the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list, he was arrested in August 2006 at a traffic stop.  He was sentenced to two consecutive prison terms of five years to life following his 2007 conviction, but the Utah Supreme Court overturned the convictions in 2007 and ordered a new trial.  The court said that instructions given to the jury were erroneous.  He faced similar charges in Arizona, but a judge dismissed charges against him after the Mohave County prosecutor requested they be thrown out, citing "much more serious charges" in Texas.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs extradition to Texas stalls again
Reported by: Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast November 15, 2010

WEST JORDAN, Utah (ABC 4 News) - Monday, Polygamist Prophet Warren Jeffs walked into 3rd District Court in West Jordan in a suit and shackles and with a broad smile on his face.  He greeted each of his defense attorneys will a handshake and then nodded to his followers who were also in court.  Jeffs' smile was understandable given his legal victories of late.  By far the biggest came last Summer when the Utah Supreme Court overturned his 2007 conviction on 2 counts of "rape as an accomplice".  The justices said there was a mistake in one of the jury instructions and ordered a new trial.  Even so, the charges he still faces in Eldorado, Texas could put him in jail for the rest of his life.  There he is accused of sexual abuse, aggravated sexual abuse and bigamy for allegedly marrying an underage bride.  The hearing Monday was about extradition to Texas.  Texas wants Jeffs and Utah wants Texas to have him. Governor Gary Herbert signed the extradition warrant August 10th and Jeffs' attorneys have been fighting it ever since.  Jeffs attorneys say the Utah case should be finished first.  "If the state wants to re-prosecute or try Mr.. Jeffs again, then lets go," said Wally Bugden.  "Lets have finality. Lets have this case resolved in this state right now before we have to face prosecution in some other state."  Assistant Attorney General Craig Barlow argued in court Monday the warrant is in order and Jeffs can be sent to Texas before another trial is ready to be held in Utah.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs to government leaders: "repent or be destroyed"
Reported by: Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast November 16, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs is apparently back in the prophet business.  Not three years since a jailhouse confession to his brother, Nephi, that "I am not a prophet", Jeffs is sending out an apocalyptic warning to government leaders who he says are persecuting him.  He calls it a proclamation.  It is dated, Friday, October 2, 2009.  On that date Jeffs was still in jail in Kingman, Arizona awaiting trials that would never come.  Sections of the proclamation are nothing more than quotations from Mormon scripture and from the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith Jr.  The first two sections, however, are apparently written by Warren Jeffs himself.  Jeffs writes, "Inasmuch as government officials have joined with those who were once members ... who are now apostate and determined to destroy the Church ... and have fought to use records of the Church to persecute and prosecute ..."  "We declare a warning ... He, the Lord, will send His judgments (sic) upon them. This ... through His servants ..."  Then Jeffs switches voice, speaking in the first person for Jesus Christ, "I say unto you repent or be destroyed in the flesh."  "I, the Lord, shall soon bring upon you the overflowing scourge ... For this land shall be cleansed."  And to avoid the overflowing scourge, Jeffs writes, "restore to my people their lands and houses, and deliver my people from the hand of their oppressors."     Read more
 
 
 
Utah Supreme Court Denies Warren Jeffs Emergency Petition of Relief From Texas Extradition Order
By Morgan Skinner
KCSG News
KCSG Television - St. George, Utah
Originally published November 24, 2010

(Salt Lake City, UT) - The Utah Supreme Court has denied Warren Steed Jeffs petition for emergency relief from a Texas extradition order claiming violation of his consitutional rights to a speedy retrial in Utah.  (Court Order)  The 54-year old leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) was previously convicted in southern Utah as an accomplice to rape of a 14-year old girl, a member of his church that Jeffs' married spiritually to her 19-year old cousin.  The conviction was over turned by the Utah Supreme Court in July citing flawed instructions to the jury.  Prosecutors in Washington County where he was tried and convicted have not determined whether they will re-try Jeffs.  Texas authorities have charged Jeffs with bigamy, aggravated sexual assault and assault based on alleged incidents with underage girls at a church ranch near Eldorado, Texas.  The information that led to the charges was gleaned from church and family records seized during a raid on the Yearning for Zion ranch in April 2008.  A federal indictment stemming from Jeffs' "unlawful flight to avoid prosecution" as a fugitive on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list is also pending.  Jeffs remains in the Utah State prison at Draper, Utah.     See mug shot
 
 
Warren Jeffs arraigned in Texas on sex charges
From staff and wire reports
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Wednesday, December 1, 2010

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs was quietly extradited from Utah to Texas, where he was arraigned Wednesday to face trial on bigamy and sexual assault charges.  Jeffs, who was indicted more than two years ago, appeared during a brief hearing in San Angelo, Texas Attorney General's Office spokesman Jerry Strickland said.  The 54-year-old Jeffs was not asked to enter a plea and spoke only to tell he judge that he needed more time to find a lawyer, Strickland said.  Texas authorities have charged the ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints with felony bigamy, aggravated sexual assault and assault.  Prosecutors plan to try the charges separately, with the first trial scheduled to begin Jan. 24.  The charges stem from the 2008 raid of the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, where authorities seized more than 400 children and placed them in state custody on suspicion that the girls were being sexually abused and the boys were being raised to be sexual predators.  Most of the children were eventually returned to their families, but several men in the sect who see Jeffs as their spiritual leader were charged with child sexual assault and abuse.  On Wednesday, Jeffs was in the same courtroom where several members of his church were convicted.  He was brought to Texas a day earlier from Utah, where he was convicted in a case stemming from the marriage of an underage girl to her cousin.  That conviction was overturned in 2007.  A phone message left with Jeffs' attorneys in Utah was not returned Wednesday.  Willie Jessop, a spokesman for the church, declined immediate comment.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs faces unbeaten Texas prosecutors
By PAUL J. WEBER
Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published December 2, 2010

BIG LAKE, Texas — Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs is going up against Texas prosecutors who haven't lost a criminal case against his followers since the 2008 raid of the YFZ ranch.  Jeffs remained jailed Thursday after being transferred from Utah this week.  The 54-year-old is charged with sexual assault and bigamy in Texas and had been fighting his extradition.  Jeffs is the ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Texas juries have returned swift convictions against five FLDS members since last year.  Two other defendants were sentenced after pleading no contest.  Prosecutors say the evidence "has been clear and convincing to juries."  Neither Jeffs nor the church have commented since being extradited.  His first trial is scheduled for January.     See photo
 
 
Polygamist leader Jeffs appears in Texas court
JIM FORSYTH | SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS, UNITED STATES
Reuters
Mail & Guardian Online - Johannesburg, South Africa
Originally published December 30, 2010

A Texas judge on Wednesday entered not guilty pleas on behalf of Warren Jeffs after the polygamist sect leader remained silent when prosecutors read bigamy and sexual assault charges against him.  The court entered entered not guilty pleas for Jeffs on three felony charges: sexual assault of a child, aggravated sexual assault of a child, and bigamy, the Texas Attorney General's Office said.  District Judge Barbara Walther set a pretrial hearing for January 5 in the case, followed by a preliminary trial date of January 24.  The trial is expected to be postponed because Jeffs (55) has no formal legal representation in Texas.  He told Walther during the brief hearing that he was finalising arrangements with a law firm in the state.  An attorney who represented Jeffs in criminal cases in Utah and Arizona was in court for the hearing but is not licensed to practice law in Texas and could not stand with Jeffs at the defence table.

New trial
In November the Utah Supreme Court ruled Jeffs could be extradited to Texas, rejecting his 11th-hour appeal.  In September 2007 a jury in St George, Utah, found Jeffs guilty of being an accomplice to rape for performing a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.  He was sentenced to 10 years to life in prison.  But the Utah Supreme Court overturned that conviction in July of this year, ordering a new trial because the trial judge gave faulty instructions to jurors.  He was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List for months before he was captured in a routine traffic stop outside Las Vegas in August 2006.  Jeffs is considered the spiritual leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, a breakaway sect of Mormonism which believes marriages between older men and young girls is the key to spirituality.
 
 
Church leader facing child sex charges
World
The New Zealand Herald - Auckland, New Zealand
Originally published Thursday Jan 6, 2011

The leader of a Utah sect that believes in polygamy and sex with children has appeared in a US court on sexual assault charges.  Warren Jeffs, the ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, did not speak and had the Texas court enter not guilty pleas on his behalf.  Prosecutors say Jeffs had sex with two children, one under 14 years old and the other under age 17.  Jeffs' new attorney, Gerry Morris of Austin, asked San Angelo district court Judge Barbara Walther for more time to prepare a defence, telling her "I've only just been hired to the case and haven't looked at the materials."  Jeffs, 55, had been scheduled to go to trial this month on aggravated sexual assault charges, with a separate trial for sexual assault and one for felony bigamy to come later.  Jeffs was extradited from Utah on Nov. 30 and Walther had said extradition rules compelled her court to try him on all counts within 120 days of his arrival in Texas.  Jeffs, who is being held without bond, smiled at three male followers who stood when he was brought into the courtroom.  The Texas charges stem from the 2008 raid of the Yearning For Zion Ranch in Eldorado, a remote community south of San Angelo in this pecan-growing region.  Authorities seized 439 children and placed them in state custody on suspicion that the girls were being sexually abused and the boys were being raised to be sexual predators.     Read more
 
 
Word Of "Big Shakeup" In Polygamous Communties
Reported by: Brian Mullahy
KUTV 2News
Originally broadcast Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A purge may be underway in the polygamous communities of Hildale-Colorado City on the Utah-Arizona border.  2News has been told even men who were in FLDS leadership positions have been ousted from the sect.  "There's a big shake up," said Isaac Wyler, long-time resident of Colorado City.  "There are a lot of people who are shaken by what's happened with their families."  Wyler was one of three people, close to the communities, who spoke to 2News Tuesday night.  Perhaps as many as three dozen men have been told to leave over the past two months, and the orders to get out may have come from none other than the jailed Warren Jeffs.  "I think he's very paranoid about certain people, and worried they could try to usurp his power," Wyler said.  "These people are not talking. They're rattled to their core."  Jeffs is held in Texas, charged with bigamy and sexual assault of underage girls, but 2News has been told he has access to a phone.  Jeffs, it's said, may have been on the phone during FLDS Sunday meetings.  When Jeffs was transferred from Utah to a cell in the Lone Star State, it seemed he might be further isolated.  But from lock-up, Jeffs may have orchestrated the ouster of two leaders at the FLDS Yearning for Zion Ranch, a sprawling hardscrabble property in west Texas.  In addition, 2News has been told an FLDS leader in Canada may be out, along with Hildale's now ex-mayor, described as an FLDS "patriach" appointed by former sect leader Leroy Johnson.  Sources also said Willie Jessop, who has served as FLDS spokesman for years, may also be on the outs.  In the past, when men were kicked out, their wives and children were reassigned to other men.  Whether that has happened this time is not known, but 2News has been told nearly all of the women and children remain in the polygamous communities.  FLDS attorney Rod Parker declined comment Tuesday night.  An attempt to reach Willie Jessop was unsuccessful.
 
 
Sources: FLDS leaders ousted by Warren Jeffs
By Natalie Rivers
KTVK - azfamily
Originally published February 23, 2011

COLORADO CITY, Utah - New developments from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as sources tell 3TV's Mike Watkiss dozens of prominent men have been ousted.  Sources say incarcerated leader Warren Jeffs has kicked dozens of prominent men out of the FLDS church.  Those recently kicked out include David Zitting, the elected mayor or Hilldale, Utah; Willie Jessop, an enforcer; and Merrill Jessop, the leader of the YFZ Ranch.  Jeffs did this all while behind bars in Texas.  The purging was similar to 2004 when Jeffs kicked well-respected and longtime Mayor Dan Barlow out of the church.  Sources say he did this because after being transferred from a Utah jail, he now has access to a phone in the Texas jail where he is currently being held.  Many think the purge demonstrates his deepening paranoia that his leadership is threatened as he remains behind bars for what could be the rest of his life.
 
 
 
Jeffs resumes control of FLDS from jail
JENNIFER DOBNER
Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published February 23, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — Jailed polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs has resumed legal control over his Utah-based Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Documents filed with the Utah Department of Commerce show church President Wendell Loy Nielsen resigned his post Jan. 28.  Jeffs signed the documents retaking control of the church corporation Feb. 10 and filed the papers with the state five days later.  "I, the undersigned, Warren Steed Jeffs, have been called and sustained as the president," Jeffs writes in a cover letter to the Commerce Department.  The 55-year-old resigned the presidency in 2007 after he was convicted in Utah of rape as an accomplice, but he remained the faith's spiritual leader.  The Utah Supreme Court overturned Jeffs' convictions last year.  He's now in a Texas jail awaiting trial on aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and bigamy charges.  Texas prosecutors say information uncovered during a raid on the church's ranch in Eldorado, Texas, show Jeffs had sex with two children, one under age 14 and the other under age 17.  A court entered not guilty pleas on his behalf.  Church spokesman Willie Jessop did not immediately return a message from The Associated Press on Wednesday.  Nielsen, 70, has long been a senior church leader, serving as a counselor to both Jeffs and his father, Rulon Jeffs, who led the church from the 1980s until his death in 2002.  Nielsen had been the president of the church corporation since January 2010.  It's not clear whether Nielsen has retained his ecclesiastical responsibilities to the church in the wake of his resignation.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs Restored As Head Of FLDS, Despite Legal Troubles
By Howard Berkes
National Public Radio
Originally published February 23, 2011

He may be sitting in a Texas prison, but Warren Jeffs has officially resumed control of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), the nation's largest polygamist group.  A document filed with the Utah Department of Commerce names Jeffs as president and "corporation sole" of the FLDS faith.  "Corporation sole" is a phrase often used to give corporate authority to an individual leader of a religious group.  The document is at the bottom of this post.  In a letter that accompanies the document, Jeffs says that he was "called and sustained as the President" of the FLDS Church.  The faithful believe that their "president and prophet" is "called" to the position in a process that is divinely inspired.  Other leaders and members then "sustain" that calling.  Jeffs had officially surrendered control of the faith in 2007 after being convicted of being an accomplice to rape and sentenced to two consecutive terms of five years to life in prison.  Earlier that year, according to court documents and jail recordings in Utah, Jeffs abdicated his position as FLDS prophet, admitted to "immoral" behavior with a sister and daughter and said God "had revealed to him that he was a wicked man."  These statements were made during a period of poor physical and mental health in prison, which included a suicide attempt, according to court documents filed by Jeffs' attorneys.  Jeffs later renounced the statements.  Jeffs' Utah conviction was overturned last year by the Utah Supreme Court.  A similar prosecution in Arizona was dismissed.  Jeffs was then extradited to Texas to face charges of bigamy and sexual abuse of a child.  It is unclear why Jeffs would resume control of his church now, or how he would lead the faith while in prison.  Attorney Rodney Parker, who has represented the FLDS in the past, tells NPR that he is "not in a position to comment."     Read more
 
 
Read the new FLDS church's Corporation Registration Information Change Form filed with the Utah Department of Commerce February 15, 2011 naming Warren Jeffs as the President and Corporation Sole for the FLDS church
 
 
Warren Jeffs Controls FLDS Church From Jail
Reported by: Brian Mullahy
KUTV 2News
Originally broadcast Wednesday, February 23, 2011

FLDS polygamous leader Warren Jeffs' reach may still extend much further than his Texas jail cell.  2News was first to report Tuesday night on rumblings of a "purge" and power "shake-up" among FLDS ranks.  Jeffs, it seemed, was reasserting himself years after his initial arrest.  "He's able to call out, I think, during times of his choosing," said former FLDS wife Carolyn Jessop.  She received word Jeffs has had access to a phone during his Lone Star lockup, able to connect in a way he apparently could not, while incarcerated in Utah.  Citing sources she said are still in the communities, Jessop told 2News, "He's been talking to the congregation from jail...on speaker phone."  In a filing to the Utah Department of Commerce, signed by Warren Jeffs nearly two weeks ago, Jeffs said he had been "called and sustained" as president of the FLDS Church, and he described himself as "the corporation sole" of the church's corporate entity.  Days earlier, Wendell Loy Nielsen resigned the post, and sources said Nielsen may be among a number of men recently ousted from the FLDS sect altogether.  Others expelled are said to include long-time FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop, former Hildale mayor David Zitting, and Merril Jessop, who it's said led the YFZ ranch in Texas.  "I'm just disappointed that the individual who put the (FLDS United Effort Plan) trust in jeopardy, is back in charge of the church," said Bruce Wisan, a court appointed fiduciary, whose job is to oversee property in the polygamous communities.  Wisan maintained he's been thwarted in collecting property taxes, and working out occupancy agreements with residents.  He said Jeffs could further hurt those efforts.     Read more
 
 
Jailed sect leader retakes legal control of church
By Dennis Wagner
The Arizona Republic
Originally published Feb. 23, 2011

Warren Jeffs, the jailed "prophet" of a polygamist sect based on the Arizona-Utah line, has launched a purge of key followers and reassumed legal command over his church's corporation.  But former members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints don't seem to agree on what it means for the embattled organization or for its 55-year-old spiritual leader, in jail since his arrest in 2006.  He resigned the presidency a year later.  "It looks like Warren is taking power back," said Carolyn Jessop, a former congregant who now lives in Salt Lake City and is still in contact with sect members.  "It changes everything. He had indirect access before. Now, instead of people managing everything in the name of Warren, he's managing in his own name."  Flora Jessop, a former church member in Phoenix who is not related to Carolyn and who also keeps in touch with members, offered a contrary view: "Warren never let go of control of the church, so I don't know why this is a big deal. He's always been calling the shots. Warren has always been the prophet, and there can be only one prophet on Earth at a time."  In a Feb. 10 declaration filed with the Utah Division of Corporations, Jeffs identified himself as the president and "sole" of the corporate arm of the FLDS sect, which is not affiliated with mainstream Mormonism.  His attorney could not be reached for comment.  Jeffs is in jail in Texas, awaiting trial on charges of aggravated sexual assault and bigamy.  He was first charged more than five years ago, during a crackdown in Arizona and Utah on child marriages, fraud and police misconduct in the isolated twin towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, where the sect was dominant.  FLDS doctrine holds plural marriage to be a sacred obligation.  In 2007, Jeffs was found guilty in Utah of rape as an accomplice.  The conviction was overturned by the state Supreme Court.  Jeffs resigned as corporation president after his Utah conviction, and Wendell Nielson, a high-ranking church member, took his place.  Utah records show Nielson formally quit that post on Jan. 28.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs retakes control of FLDS Church
Ben Winslow, Reporter
Fox 13 News
KSTU-TV
Originally broadcast February 23, 2011

HILDALE, Utah — From his jail cell in Texas, polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs has taken control again of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Sources tell Fox 13 more than 30 people have been ousted from Utah's largest polygamous church as a result.  "We knew that things were changing, and then there started being the rumblings of people being kicked out that basically had been controlling things for the last four years," said Carolyn Jessop, an ex-FLDS member.  Among those reported to have been ousted: the mayors of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop and two of Jeffs' closest counselors, Wendell Nielsen and Frederick Merrill Jessop.  James Oler, the bishop of the FLDS enclave in Bountiful, British Columbia, was also rumored to have been exiled.  "He's really in a position now because he has direct access to the congregation," Carolyn Jessop told Fox 13.  "He can axe anybody and he can give direct orders over the phone."  Jeffs, 55, is able to make phone calls from where he is being held in the Reagan County Jail in Big Lake, Texas.  He is facing charges of sex assault and bigamy in the Lone Star state, accusing him of engaging in underage marriages.  The charges stem from the 2008 raid on the FLDS Church's sprawling YFZ Ranch near Eldorado, Texas.  Jeffs was originally convicted in Utah on a rape as an accomplice charge.  It was overturned by the Utah Supreme Court.  On Wednesday, a status conference was held in St. George's 5th District Court on whether or not to retry Jeffs.  It was delayed until May.  Washington County prosecutors have not decided whether or not to seek a new trial.  Jeffs filed papers with the Utah Department of Commerce earlier this month taking control as president of the FLDS Church's corporate entity.  The filings, obtained by Fox 13, included a statement of resignation by Wendell Nielsen and a filing that Jeffs had "been called and sustained as the President of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints."     Read more
 
 
Read the FLDS letters sent to the Utah Department of Commerce including the statement of resignation by Wendell Nielsen from the position of president of the church effective January 28, 2011
 
 
Sources: Jailed polygamist retakes control of church, ousts 45 members
From Gary Tuchman
CNN
Originally published February 24, 2011

(CNN) -- Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs is not only running the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, but he has also ousted at least 45 high-ranking members he considered a threat to his leadership, two well-placed sources tell CNN.  Those who have been kicked out of the church -- all men -- are not allowed to return to their wives or children, the sources said.  Jeffs, scheduled to go to trial this year on sexual assault and bigamy charges, is running the affairs of the church from his jail cell in Texas, the sources said.  Jeffs gave up control of the splinter sect that advocates plural marriages, including marriages that involve girls younger than 18, after he was convicted in 2007 of rape as accomplice.  That conviction was overturned last year.  Sources within the church tell CNN that the man who replaced Jeffs as business head of the church, Wendell Nielsen, has been removed and that Jeffs has signed documents retaking control of FLDS.  Also removed are Willie Jessup, Jeffs' one-time bodyguard who served as the spokesman for the church after a raid on its Texas compound; and David Zitting, the mayor of Hildale, Utah, a town in which the population consists almost entirely of members of the church.  The FLDS splintered from the Mormon Church more than a century ago when Mormons renounced the practice of polygamy. Jeffs' church is believed to have about 10,000 followers.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs resumes control of FLDS Church; mayor resigns, others allegedly ousted
By Pat Reavy
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, Feb. 24, 2011

HILDALE, Washington County — Warren Jeffs has resumed control of the FLDS Church, according to recently filed documents, and sources familiar with the situation say he has launched an extensive purging within the organization.  According to a document filed with the Utah Division of Corporations and Commercial Code, Wendell Nielsen, 70, resigned as president of the Fundamentalist LDS Church on Jan. 28.  In a separate document filed on Feb. 15, Jeffs said he had "been called and sustained as the president" of the Utah-based church, "and by virtue of such calling I am the corporation sole of the Corporation of the President of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, organized under the laws of the state of Utah."  Nielsen, who has long been a senior leader in the church's hierarchy, was named president of the church in January of 2010.  At the time, attorney Rod Parker said the paperwork making Nielsen the president was a legal formality that clarified he had the authority to make decisions related to church business and legal dealings.  Jeffs resigned as president of the church corporation on Dec. 4, 2007, about a week after he was sentenced by a Utah judge after being convicted of rape as an accomplice — a conviction that the Utah Supreme Court has since overturned.  By then, Jeffs had been incarcerated for more than a year awaiting trial.  Documents and videotapes released as part of his court proceedings showed he had overseen church dealings from behind bars.  And although church members have not specified his role in the church since then, there have been many indications that he was always still considered to be the church's spiritual leader or prophet.  Switching leaders of the FLDS corporation is just one of many changes reportedly happening within the polygamous community.  People familiar with the situation in the FLDS towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, say Jeffs has ousted between 30 to 35 male church members.  Those ousted allegedly include several key figures in the church presidency such as Willie Jessop, who has acted as a spokesman for the FLDS Church since the raid on the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado, Texas, in 2008; Merrill Jessop, head of the YFZ Ranch; and Joe Nielsen, according to sources familiar with the situation.     Read more
 
 
Attorney General's Office, social workers discuss aftermath of Jeffs retaking FLDS leadership
Ben Winslow
Fox 13 News
KSTU-TV
Originally broadcast February 24, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — In the aftermath of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs reasserting control over the Fundamentalist LDS Church, those who work with people in Utah's polygamous communities are trying to figure out how to help newly excommunicated members and their families.  Fox 13 was there as the Utah Attorney General's Office, social workers, government officials and representatives of Utah non-profit organizations met on Thursday to try to assess the impact of a purge within the FLDS Church.  "For us, the issue is -- who's in charge?" said attorney general's spokesman Paul Murphy.  "Who has the power to negotiate? One question I have is who's running city governments right now?"  Sources tell Fox 13 more than 30 men have been kicked out of the FLDS Church by Jeffs, 55, who recently began issuing edicts in phone calls from his jail cell in Texas, where he is facing sexual assault and bigamy charges.  Jeffs' conviction in Utah of rape as an accomplice was overturned by the Utah Supreme Court.  Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap told Fox 13 on Thursday he is prepared to re-try Jeffs if necessary, but has not made a formal decision.  He said he would wait and see what happens to Jeffs before proceeding.  Those reportedly ousted by Jeffs include some of the top leaders of the polygamous sect, including the mayors of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., and counselors Wendell Neilsen, Merrill Jessop and James Oler in Canada.  "We're hearing that some men are leaving," Murphy said.  "But we're hearing that a lot of families are staying intact. We want to make sure that's the case, that women and children are safe."     Read more
 
 
Mike Watkiss: FLDS leader Warren Jeffs reasserts his authority over church
By Catherine Holland
KTVK - azfamily
Originally published February 24, 2011

COLORADO CITY , Utah -- Polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs appears to be back in control of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, even though he's behind bars in Texas.  As Mike Watkiss explained to Tara Hitchcock, Jeffs reportedly has kicked dozens of prominent men out of the FLDS church.  "These are men some feel could have threatened [Jeffs'] authority," Watkiss said.
 
 
 
Mike Watkiss interviews former FLDS member Isaac Wyler
By Catherine Holland
KTVK - azfamily
Originally published February 24, 2011

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. -- In the wake of news that polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs was reasserting his control over the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a Texas jail cell, Mike Watkiss talked to a former FLDS member.  Jeffs reportedly has kicked dozens of prominent men out of the FLDS church.  Isaac Wyler was excommunicated by Jeffs in 2004.  He told Watkiss that he's watching these latest developments with great interest.  "My guess is Warren is kind of paranoid about people trying to take his power," Wyler said.
 
 
 
Federal judge blocks sale of polygamous sect land
By JENNIFER DOBNER
The Associated Press
San Jose Mercury News
Originally published February 24, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge on Thursday said the state of Utah violated the constitutional rights of Warren Jeffs' polygamous church when it seized the faith's communal land trust and carved away its religious principles.  U.S. District Judge Dee Benson's ruling makes permanent an injunction that blocks the state of Utah from selling off assets, land or property held in the United Effort Plan Trust.  The primary effect of the state's actions — beginning in 2005 — served to inhibit religion and was a move toward "disestablishing" the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Benson said.  "The resulting intrusion into the everyday life of the FLDS church and its members fostered not only 'excessive government entanglement with religion' but was a virtual takeover by the state," the judge wrote.  Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said his office disagrees with the 48-page ruling but needs some time to digest it.  "We're looking at an appeal," Shurtleff said.  Valued at roughly $114 million, the trust holds most of the property and homes in the FLDS-dominated communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., which straddle the states' border.  There is also property in Bountiful, British Columbia.  The Utah state courts seized control of the United Effort Plan assets in 2005 after state attorneys said Jeffs and other church leaders had used trust assets for their own benefit and left property holdings vulnerable to liquidation through default judgments in civil lawsuits.  In 2006, 3rd District Judge Denise Lindberg approved changes that stripped religious requirements from the trust, allowing for former FLDS members to claim beneficiary rights.  The FLDS ignored the state's intervention until 2008 when Lindberg agreed to let the court-appointed trust manager, Bruce Wisan, sell off a church farm to pay trust debts.  Some 6,000 of the church's 10,000 members then sued in federal court, claiming state intervention violates their religious rights.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs Shuts Down Dairy, General Store is Next Says Source
Written by Joyce Kuzmanic
News, State, Top News Stories
St. George News
Originally published February 26, 2011

HILDALE – A former member of the FLDS Hildale UtahChurch with strong ties to the communities of Hildale and Colorado City, Ariz., told St. George News that Warren Jeffs has "cleaned house" as reported in the media.  "Warren is apparently cleaning house. He closed the Dairy – all that wonderful cheese and ice cream is now gone," the source said. St. George News has elected to not name the source for fear of retribution against his family.  The source said Jeffs asked Terril Johnson, who has run the Meadowayne Dairy for years and who is also the mayor of Colorado City, to step down, as well as David Zitting, the long standing mayor of Hildale.  Zitting had worked as the town's mayor for 25 years.  When asked why Jeffs allegedly demanded Zitting step down, the source said Jeffs' response was: "You are an enterprising man."  "Warren considered Zitting to be out for power, a man of enterprise, a mover and a shaker and, therefore, competition," the source said.  A call to the Dairy by St. George News has not been returned.  "We do know they both have resigned their positions as mayor," the source said.  The source was told that Johnson was told to shut down the dairy, and that yesterday it was moved to a private building "where only the worthy can partake."  The source said next on the chopping block could be the general store, Cooperative Mercantile Corporation, and to make it "only accessible to the faithful."  "Jeffs is doing his best to control their food source," he said.  "It seems that Jeffs' issue is that the Dairy and other commercial enterprises offer the fruits of the labor of the faithful to those outside the community, the gentiles [the term given by the FLDS for non-FLDS persons] and also to the unworthy of the FLDS (not to mention those apostates, those who have left Warren's fold)."  The Dairy was a favorite of many Utahns who went there to purchase raw, organic cheese and milk.  Our source bemoans that "closing the Dairy has really hit some people's heartstrings. The squeaky cheese it produces kind of started a phenomenon. Several have tried to reproduce it but have not succeeded. It was their flagship product that got people hooked."     Read more
 
 
Jeffs sends letter to President demanding to be released
By Mike Watkiss
3TV Phoenix
Originally broadcast February 28, 2011

SAN ANGELO, TX – Sources tell 3TV's Mike Watkiss that incarcerated polygamist prophet Warren Steed Jeffs issued a proclamation from behind bars.  Jeffs reportedly wrote and sent a letter to President Barack Obama, members of his Cabinet and members of the U.S. Congress demanding he be released from jail.  In the letter Jeffs also reportedly asks that the government back off FLDS members or God's wrath will be brought down on them.  Jeffs recently kicked dozens of prominent men out of the FLDS church.  Among those who were asked to leave the church was well-respected and longtime Hildale, Utah Mayor David Zitting.  Sources say he made the power play after being trasferred to a Texas jail from Utah where he now has access to a phone.  Jeffs is awaiting trial on child sex crimes charges.  His trial is scheduled to begin in July.
 
 
 
Read Warren Jeffs's Warning to the Nation sent to President Obama, many Cabinet members and members of Congress February 28, 2011
 
 
Warren Jeffs to President Obama: Let my people go or else!
Reported by: Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast March 1, 2011

COLORADO CITY, AZ (ABC 4 News) - Polygamist prophet Warren Jeffs of the FLDS Church is sending "A Warning to the Nation" that catastrophe awaits unless he is freed and the FLDS people get back control of the land in the United Effort Plan Trust.

600 Packets

This warning reportedly targets members of Congress and the Obama Administration.  Several sources in Colorado City, Arizona say Jeffs' followers mailed more than 600 packets to Washington D. C.  The packets contained not only the Jeffs' warning, but also a 900 page petition signed by approximately 13,500 followers of Warren Jeffs.  Of Utah's congressional delegation, so far only the office of Congressman Jason Chaffetz has acknowledged receipt of the warning and petition.  ABC 4 News obtained a copy of the warning from private investigator Sam Brower. We also received the first couple pages of the petition.  On the two pages reviewed by ABC 4 News, six of the 30 signatures were from children under the age of ten.

Revelation

Jeffs claims the warning is actually two revelations from God.  He recorded the first revelation October 7, 2010 while he was held at the Utah State Prison at Point of the Mountain.  The second was dated just a month ago, February 5, 2011, after his transfer to Big Lake, Texas.  In the revelations, God is speaking directly to "the honorable President of the United States of America."  He instructs the President to "cause that the prosecutors, now cease their attack upon my servant Warren Jeffs."  He also demands "that this nation now restore to my people the consecrated land taken from them."  If President Obama doesn't comply, Jeffs, writing for God, states, "... I shall cause a great destruction in the land of Illinois, to the loss of life and to your awakening."  Illinois is the President's home state.     Read more
 
 
 
Karen Carlson – Mormons are not threatening the president!
Blogs
ABC 4 News
Originally published March 1, 2011

ABC4's Brent Hunsaker is reporting on a memo being sent out from the FLDS church which threatens to "..let this nation know I am with my people, and shall sweep the wicked from off the face of the Land of America."  This manifesto of sorts, is being distributed by the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Chris of Latter Day Saints, Warren Jeffs, who's facing several charges of rape for marriages to under-aged girls, some as young as 12.  In this "petition," which is 9 pages long, it says Warren Jeffs received messages from God when he was imprisoned for these charges, saying "LET MY PEOPLE GO!" (yes, it was all caps in the petition), and that "if you do not respond to my word...I shall send the judgment named to awaken you."  Keep in mind, the letter starts out as addressed to the "honorable President of the United States of America," and was addressed Thursday, October 7, 2010.  No word on whether the White House is considering this a threat.  Now there are rumblings that once this gets national attention, as it will likely do, those who are not familiar with the LDS church will mistake the "FLDS" with the "LDS" faith.  Those typically referred to as "Mormons" are those who belong to the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints."  Think Brigham Young University.  Think Mitt Romney.  DO NOT think Warren Jeffs.  Warren Jeffs was convicted in Utah of "rape as an accomplice," for performing a marriage ceremony of an underage girl to her first cousin when she was just 14.  Warren Jeffs was on the FBI's Most Wanted List in 2005 and though his conviction in Utah was overturned last year, he now sits in prison in Texas, facing charges of bigamy and sexual assault.     Read more
 
 
Polygamist sect leader warns of doomsday if he is not freed
By Dave Hawkins
SPECIAL TO THE LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL
Originally published March 2, 2011

KINGMAN, Ariz. -- Polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs declares that doomsday is imminent in a rambling document he claims is a revelation from the Lord.  The nine-page copyrighted document promises deadly, catastrophic events if the self-proclaimed prophet is not released from jail in Texas, where he awaits trial.  "Let this nation know I am with my people, and shall sweep the wicked from the face of the Land of America," it states.  Passages indicate that deadly storms and earthquakes can be expected "soon."  Jeffs, 55, heads the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), a sect that practices polygamy and is based in an isolated border area of northern Arizona and southern Utah about 150 miles from Las Vegas.  The bizarre document, written and numbered in biblical style, is titled "A Warning to the Nation -- A Petition to the President of the United States of America."  His brother Lyle Jeffs and Vaughn Taylor, high-ranking members of the FLDS, signed off on the document as witnesses "to the word of the Lord" received and delivered by Warren Jeffs.  Various media outlets have reported that the document has been mailed to President Barack Obama, members of Congress and federal officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Secret Service officials refused to comment Wednesday on whether the document had been delivered to the White House.  But a spokesman for Arizona Rep. Trent Franks, whose district includes the FLDS community of Colorado City, Ariz., confirmed that the document was received at the congressman's office in Washington, D.C.  Warren Jeffs has been in jail since his arrest during a routine traffic stop in Las Vegas on Aug. 28, 2006.  He was on the run after being charged during a crackdown on arranged marriages in Colorado City and Hildale, Utah, bordering communities controlled by the sect.  He was convicted in Utah of being an accomplice to rape, but his conviction was overturned by the state supreme court.  He then was extradited to Texas on charges of sexual assault of a child and bigamy.     Read more
 
 
Free Me, or Face Doomsday: Warren Jeffs
Sect leader writes bizarre 9-page letter about coming catastrophe
By Mark Russell
Newser Staff
Newser - Chicago, IL
Originally published March 4, 2011

(Newser) – If Texas authorities don't free polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs from jail, the world will soon end in an apocalypse of earthquakes and storms ... or so warns Warren Jeffs. In a bizarre nine-page letter titled "A Warning to the Nation — A Petition to the President of the United States of America," Jeffs writes, "Let this nation know I am with my people, and shall sweep the wicked from the face of the Land of America." The document was allegedly sent to the White House and federal officials.

Secret Service officials wouldn't confirm this, but the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that one passage did zero in on Obama's previous home state: "I the Lord am soon to send the shaking of the earth in a place in thy land not known as a usual place of violent shaking, unto the loss of many lives. I shall cause a great destruction in the land of Illinois, to the loss of life and to your awakening..." The Review-Journal notes that two high-ranking Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints members signed the document as witnesses "to the word of the Lord" as delivered by Warren Jeffs.     See mug shot
 
 
Jeffs may have something with his doomsday warning
A Column Called Bob
Bob Challinor
Desert Valley Times - Mesquite, Nevada
Originally published March 4, 2011

Leave it to Warren Jeffs, polygamous sect leader, to come up with the best "get out of jail free" card in history.  The 55-year-old head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints wrote a copyrighted, nine-page document that guarantees terrible, catastrophic events if he isn't released from the pokey in Texas where he awaits trial.  A self-proclaimed prophet, Jeffs seems to have the connections to promise deadly storms and earthquakes "soon" if he doesn't get his walking papers.  "Let this nation know I am with my people, and shall sweep the wicked from the face of America," the document states.  The document didn't state who was poised to go under the push broom, but he better check the list twice to see who has been naughty and nice.  Jeffs might be on the list for sexual assault of a child and bigamy, charges that extradited him to the Gray Bar Motel in Texas.  Some people weren't taking any chances.  About half the members of Congress called in sick the day the document hit the media.  Jeffs wrote and numbered his document in the manner of the Bible and titled it, "A Warning to the Nation – A Petition to the President of the United States of America."  And Barak Obama thought he was done bailing people out.  Jeffs didn't offer Obama any advice about getting the U.S. out of the recession; only himself out of jail.  The document demanded an end to the persecution of FLDS members and their lifestyle of plural marriage.  Failure to follow those simple instructions will cause loss of life through earthquakes and storms.  He must have been reading too many warning labels or something.     Read more
 
 
Inside a troubled fundamentalist Mormon sect
As Warren Jeffs sends a bizarre doomsday warning to Obama from jail, we look at the continuing strife of the FLDS
By Carol McKinley
Religion
Salon - Salon Media Group
Originally published Saturday, Mar 5, 2011

These are tough times for America's most infamous polygamous sect. Their prophet, Warren Jeffs, has been slinging orders to his people like lightning bolts -- from a pay phone in his jail cell. Followers have been told to rebaptize, to regulate their sex lives and to build, build, build as he prepares them for Zion and the end of the world. Three years after the raid that brought his fundamentalist Mormon sect to national attention, Jeffs is suffering the consequences of incendiary evidence seized by authorities, but it's his followers who are suffering the wrath. As Isaac Wyler, one of the church's most vocal apostates, says: "He's a madman."

As Jeffs awaits trial on child sexual assault and bigamy charges in West Texas, members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS, are struggling to pay his thousands of dollars in attorney fees. They live in poverty and suffer his condemnation but don't ask questions because they believe Jeffs holds the key to Zion. A rambling 900-page warning recently sent from Jeffs to President Obama may signal his desperation.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs must be cut off from FLDS
Brody Burns, Contributor
Opinion
The Daily Aztec - San Diego State University
Originally published 13 March 2011

Warren Jeffs, a demonic cross of wacko Charlie Sheen, serial adulterer Tiger Woods and super teethy televangelist Joel Osteen, are all back in the news. Apparently Jeffs filed paperwork this past month to retain legal control of his purported 10,000 member, offbeat, absurd and peculiarly dressed sect of Mormonism, The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The significance of this filing is that it was made from prison, while Jeffs awaited charges of bigamy and aggravated sexual assault in Texas. So, legally he can control a mega-church from prison, disseminating whatever he sees fit to his followers and openly endorsing criminal activity, but I can't even use my phone while on a computer in the Library?

Here's a brief timeline of FLDS history. It hit the Arizona-Utah border in the mid-19th century and got busy, fast. Citing an 1886 revelation, the core value it pontificates is the virtue of plurality in wives. Despite being formally excommunicated from the larger Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, FLDS still kept on trucking. Think of it like this: If Christianity were like pizza, you start out with cheese, let Catholicism represent meat lovers, and LDS would be a supreme, all basic denominations within one religion. FLDS would be like a cheese pizza with cyanide and pop rocks. Seriously, these people are odd.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs Retakes Control Of Church From Jail Cell
By John Steele
Odd News
Online Journal
Originally published March 25, 2011

Religious leader Warren Jeffs has retaken control of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, CNN reported Wednesday.  Jeffs is running the splinter sect, which advocates plural marriages, including marriages that involve girls under 18, from a jail cell after he was convicted in 2007 of rape as accomplice.  While that conviction was overturned last year, Jeffs is currently awaiting trial in Texas on sexual assault and bigamy charges.  Jeffs was succeeded by Wendell Nielsen as the business head of the church.  When Nielsen stepped down, Jeffs signed documents to retake control, sources within the church told CNN.  When the Mormon church outlawed polygamy over 100 years ago, a small sect of the Mormon population left to form the FLDS.  Jeffs' church is believed to have about 10,000 followers.  Critics of the FLDS say they force young girls into spiritual, polygamous marriages.  Texas prosecutors filed charges against Jeffs in 2008 after authorities raided the sect's Yearning for Zion Ranch in El Dorado, Texas.  They removed 400 children whom authorities feared had been sexually abused.  The sect has denied any sexual abuse.
Source: CNN
 
 
Rumors in polygamist community: A challenge to Warren Jeffs?
Reported by: Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast March 25, 2011

COLORADO CITY, Arizona (ABC 4 News) - To the outside world, this polygamist community along the Utah-Arizona border has always been a strange place.  "It has probably got to seem a whole lot stranger now," said Colorado City native Isaac Wyler.  Wyler said it all started when FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs was extradited to Texas.  At his new jailhouse, he's been given almost unlimited access (for a steep price) to a telephone. "When I was a child growing up it was strange," he said.  "Now it is just plain weird."  These days at the Merry Wives Cafι, Wyler trades the latest gossip over breakfast with others who are still in the polygamist community, but do not believe Jeffs talks to God.  They're part of a growing number of people who Warren Jeffs calls "apostates."  In fact, in the last few months their ranks have grown substantially as Jeffs has aggressively kicked out up to 60 men effecting hundreds of women and children.  Among the exiled are some pretty big names in the FLDS community: Merril Jessop, who once ran the ranch outside of Eldorado, Texas, Wendell Nielson, a Jeffs' counselor, Terrill Johnson, mayor of Colorado City, and Willie Jessop who was once the FLDS spokesman.  Whenever a man is rejected, he's told to leave his community, his home and his family and "repent from afar."  But this time some are refusing to leave.  "If it is true, then I can say congratulations, good," said Richard Holm.  Once a Colorado City councilman and an influential business leader, Jeffs kicked out Holm more than a decade ago.  It is rumored that they are either planning a coup against Jeffs or starting a rival, polygamist group.  Whatever their plans, they're not talking to outsiders and at any rate, Holm doesn't see them helping the community much.  "It seems like freedom is to have less church control of any type, but to have just common sense and decent interaction between individuals," he said.     Read more
 
 
 
FLDS Church elder moves to replace Warren Jeffs
By Jennifer Dobner
Associated Press
Deseret News
Originally published Monday, March 28, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — Jailed polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs may no longer have control of his southern Utah-based church after a senior leader on Monday moved to replace him.  William E. Jessop filed papers with the Utah Department of Commerce to take over as president of the corporation that is the Fundamentalist LDS Church.  Jessop, who served as bishop of the twin FLDS border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., said Monday his rise to the presidency is not an attempt to take over the church, but rather the fulfillment of an earlier directive from Jeffs.  "It is an attempt to preserve ... the church," Jessop, 41, said in an interview with The Associated Press.  An attempt to reach Jeffs at the Texas jail where is being held was unsuccessful Monday, and a telephone call to his criminal attorney was not immediately returned.  A message left for Rod Parker, a Salt Lake City attorney who represents the church in civil matters, also wasn't returned.  Jeffs, 55, was convicted in Utah in 2007 on two felony counts of rape as an accomplice and was ordered to serve life sentences, but the convictions were later overturned.  Earlier that year, while jailed and awaiting trial, Jeffs tried to cede authority of the church — both as president and spiritual leader — to Jessop in a series of recorded telephone calls to followers and to Jessop, himself.  "I know of your ordination, that you are the key holder, and I have sent a note with my signature so that there is no question," Jeffs told Jessop in a Jan. 24, 2007, telephone call from a Utah jail.  The tapes and a DVD of the conversation were released by the court as part of Jeffs' trial.  Jessop did not respond to the offer at the time, and Jeffs publicly remained spiritual head and president of the church.  Other church members speculated the calls from Jeffs were merely a test of their faith.  Four days later, Jeffs attempted suicide by trying to hang himself in the jail.     Read more
 

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

 
 
Warren Jeffs Out? New Man As FLDS Leader?
Reported by: Brian Mullahy
KUTV 2News
Originally broadcast Monday, March 28, 2011

(KUTV) COLORADO - It appears Warren Jeffs, the widely known polygamous figure, is out as head of the FLDS sect's corporate body, just weeks after it seemed he had retaken control from his Texas jail.  A new filing with the Utah Department of Commerce showed William Edson Jessop as president of the FLDS corporation.  A document signed by Jessop asked, "Who do you want to remove from the business entity, and what position do they hold?"  In response, Jeffs name and the title "president" were listed.  The move follows rumblings over a potential power shake-up in the FLDS communities of Hildale-Colorado City, on the Utah-Arizona border.  Sources told 2News Warren Jeffs recently initiated yet another so-called purge of the communities, allegedly kicking out at least several men who had prominent roles.  William Edson Jessop is not the Willie Jessop who had served as spokesman for the group.  People with links to the communities said the William who is ostensibly the new president is known as "little Willie."  Word is he was given authority over the FLDS sect years ago by none other than Warren Jeffs' father, the late Rulon Jeffs.  Warren may have acknowledged as much at one point, and is said to have even turned over his wives to "little Willie," before changing his mind.  Eventually, "little Willie" may have joined the ranks of men who were kicked out of the communities under the direction of Warren.  In the Department of Commerce filing, Jessop said he lived in Westcliffe, Colorado.     Read more
 
 
Presidency change spurs questions over FLDS future
By Jennifer Dobner
Associated Press
Deseret News
Originally published Tuesday, March 29, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — The future of a 10,000-strong southern Utah-based polygamous church remained uncertain Tuesday, a day after a new president replaced its jailed leader.  Senior church elder William E. Jessop became president of the corporation that is the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints after filing papers with the Utah Department of Commerce on Monday.  Warren Jeffs didn't formally resign the presidency, and it's unclear whether he approved or even had prior knowledge of Jessop's plan.  "It's really going to be interesting now to see No. 1, Warren Jeffs' reaction, and No. 2, what the people's reaction will be," said Anne Wilde, co-founder of the polygamy advocacy group Principle Voices.  "Whether this will cause a division in the group isn't clear."  Utah Department of Commerce rules don't require a resignation to install a new president for any corporation.  Commerce spokeswoman Jennifer Bolton said Tuesday that Jeffs, 55, has the option of mounting a challenge to Jessop, but her agency hadn't heard from him.  If he did contest it, the department would place a "hold" on Jessop's papers, Bolton said.  Both sides would then have up to 30 days to prove their right to the presidency.  If it can't be resolved, the state would ask the courts to settle the matter.  A legal loss for Jessop would mean the church's presidency reverts back to Jeffs — even though he's in a Texas jail awaiting trial on bigamy and sexual assault charges for allegations involving offenses with underage girls.     Read more
 
 
Fight over control of polygamous church begins
By Jennifer Dobner
Associated Press
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, March 31, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — A rival church elder is fighting to keep jailed polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs in charge of his Utah-based church after another member seized the presidency this week.  In papers filed with the Utah Department of Commerce on Thursday, Boyd L. Knudson claims that William E. Jessop never had authority to assume the role as president of the corporation that is the Fundamentalist LDS Church.  "I declare that according to church rules, William Edson Jessop has never been upheld by the church congregation as president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Common consent is required by the church," Knudson wrote in an affidavit.  Knudson is the church's registered agent.  Four other people considered Jeffs loyalists, including his brother Lyle Jeffs, also filed affidavits with the department in support of Jeffs' presidency.  Jessop, 41, took over the church Monday after filing papers with the department.  Knudson now seeks to reinstate Jeffs as president, which sets up a potential legal battle as the two vie for control.  Jeffs, 55, remains jailed in Texas while awaiting trial on bigamy and sexual assault charges.  Commerce spokeswoman Jennifer Bolton said Tuesday that if Jeffs mounted a challenge to Jessop, the department's Division of Corporations would place a "hold" on Jessop's papers and grant both sides up to 30 days to prove their right to the presidency.  If it can't be resolved, the state will ask the courts to settle the matter.  A legal loss for Jessop would mean the church's presidency reverts back to Jeffs.  Rod Parker, an attorney who represents the FLDS church in civil matters, declined to comment Thursday.     Read more
 

Video Courtesy of KSL.com

 
 
Control of polygamous sect appears headed to court
By JENNIFER DOBNER
The Associated Press
Atlanta Journal Constitution - Atlanta, Georgia
Originally published April 5, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah state officials are blocking any further attempts by rival church leaders to seize control of Warren Jeffs' polygamous sect, which likely means a judge will decide.  The commerce department's Division of Corporations has placed an administrative hold on the two legal entities that comprise the Hildale, Utah-based Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  The hold is in place until May 2, according to a memo from the division's director, Kathy Berg.  Last week, church elder William E. Jessop, 41, filed to take over the church presidency from Jeffs, who is currently in a Texas jail awaiting trials on criminal charges of bigamy and sexual assault of a minor.  Days later, Jeffs loyalist Boyd Knudsen shot back with a counter-filing that removed Jessop and reinstated Jeffs.  Knudsen, the registered agent for the church corporation, also claimed in twin affidavits that Jessop had falsely claimed any authority in the church.  In a second set of affidavits filed Monday, Knudsen claimed some 4,000 members unanimously voted Sunday to support Jeffs' presidency.  The papers also say the same group renounced Jessop as "not a part of said church."  It's not clear from the filing where the "general assembly" of church members occurred.  The papers say church members stood to "raise their hands and voices" in Jeffs' favor.  Utah Department of Commerce spokeswoman Jennifer Bolton said Tuesday she could not say which person is now recognized by the state as the FLDS president.  "We would not comment or weigh in with an answer," she said in an email to The Associated Press.  "The division is just the receiver of filings in good faith."  When disputes arise in corporations, commerce officials grant the parties up to 30 days to settle the matter, or look to the courts to settle the dispute.  If no resolution is reached by the May 2 deadline — whether by a judge or outside of court — the department would recognize those church principals in place prior to Jessops' filing, Bolton said.     Read more
 
 
UPDATES: William Jessop files to lead FLDS
By Matthew Waller
San Angelo Standard-Times
Originally published April 10, 2011

SAN ANGELO, Texas — The question of who is in charge of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints remains.  Many FLDS members still adhere to the leadership of Warren Jeffs, who is in jail in Big Lake awaiting trials for charges of sexual assault of a child and bigamy.  However, William E. Jessop filed papers on March 28 with the Utah Division of Corporations and Commercial Code asking to be made the president and presiding bishop of the FLDS corporation in Utah.  These came after Jeffs had been made president and presiding bishop in February.  Boyd Knudson filed affidavits with the Utah division that argued Jeffs is the only president and presiding bishop, and he attached the testimony of several other FLDS members.  "William Edson Jessop has filed false documents," one affidavit from Knudson states.  According to another affidavit from Knudson, not only is Jessop not the leader of the church, he is not a member.  A group of more than 4,000 FLDS members came together and voted that Jeffs is the leader of the church and that Jessop is not a member, the affidavit says.  "I sat before a General Assembly of over 4,000 Church members and witnessed them individually and together as a congregation ... unanimously stand and raise their hands and voices in favor of sustaining Warren Steed Jeffs," the filing states. "I witnessed this same General Assembly of over 4,000 Church members unanimously uphold the declaration that William E. Jessop is not a part of said Church."  The Utah Division of Corporations has put the corporation of the president and the corporation of the presiding bishop of the FLDS on administrative hold for changes until May 2, giving the FLDS members time to work out a solution.  Jennifer Bolton, a spokeswoman for the Utah Division of Corporations, has said that if the parties can't resolve the matter, the case will need to go to court.
 
 
Order returns land trust to polygamous church
The Associated Press
News Story
Freedom Forum Online
The First Amendment Center, at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee
Originally published April 12, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge in Utah handed control of a $114 million communal land trust back to the leaders of Warren Jeffs' polygamous church last week, but a state judge yesterday moved to stop any handover of records related to the trust.  In an interim preliminary injunction order signed April 7, U.S. District Judge Dee Benson said church leaders, not the state of Utah, should manage the more than $110 million in assets held by the United Effort Plan Trust.  The trust holds most of the property and homes in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., two nearby communities dominated by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  There is also property in Bountiful, British Columbia.  Yesterday, however, Utah 3rd District Judge Denise Lindberg said a court-appointed accountant should not follow the federal court order to turn over records for the trust.  She issued an order prohibiting Bruce Wisan from following the federal court directive.  Lindberg says handing off the records would be premature because appeals are still pending.  Utah's courts took control of property holdings for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 2005 amid allegations of mismanagement.  In February, U.S. District Judge Dee Benson said Utah's actions violated the religious rights of the FLDS.  He issued an order reinstating church leaders as the trust managers.  Appeals are pending before the Utah Supreme Court and the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.  Utah state courts seized control of the trust in 2005 after state attorneys said Jeffs and other church leaders had used it for their own benefit and left property holdings vulnerable to liquidation through default judgments in civil lawsuits.  The next year, a state judge allowed the trust to be stripped of its religious tenets and opened its class of beneficiaries to former church members.  Some 6,000 of the church's 10,000 members then sued in federal court.     Read more
 
 
Federal judge: State judge should be held in contempt
By Dennis Romboy
KSL 5 TV
Originally published Friday, April 15, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge has now issued an order requiring a state judge to show why she should not be held in contempt of court for failing to follow his ruling regarding management of a polygamous church's finances.  U.S. District Judge Dee Benson scheduled a courtroom showdown at high noon next Monday when he expects 3rd District Judge Denise Lindberg to make her case.  Benson initially wanted Lindberg to appear before him on Friday.  But Lindberg is in Arizona attending an uncle's funeral.  When informed of her plans, Benson threatened to send federal marshals to force Lindberg to show up before rescheduling the hearing for Monday, court documents state.  Calling a recent Benson ruling in the ongoing intra-court battle over the case an "immediate crisis," Lindberg — who has been overseeing the management of the Fundamentalist LDS Church's $110 million trust fund — is turning to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for help.  But Benson in his order filed late Thursday noted that a motion to appeal has not been filed in his court.  "Rather than seek any such legal remedy from this court, Judge Lindberg has declared that she will resist and disobey this court's lawfully entered order," Benson wrote.  In his order, Benson refers to the state judge as "defendant Lindberg."  Late Thursday, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals confirmed it is taking Lindberg's emergency motion for a stay of Benson's preliminary injunction under consideration.  Two appeals court judges are assigned to rule on the issue, court documents show.     Read more
 
 
Appeals court halts polygamy land trust stay
By JENNIFER DOBNER
Associated Press
Miami Herald
Originally published April 15, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY -- A federal appeals court on Friday temporarily halted a ruling that would return control of a $114 million land trust to Warren Jeffs' polygamous church.  The stay issued by Denver's 10th Circuit Court of Appeals blocks a preliminary injunction issued by a federal judge in Utah.  It also stops a hearing set for Monday in U.S. District Judge Dee Benson's Salt Lake City courtroom.  The state of Utah took over the trust in 2005 amid allegations of mismanagement.  The move has been challenged in state and federal courts.  In its stay order Friday, the appeals court set an April 22 deadline for the parties to file written arguments regarding the case.
 
 
FLDS leadership challenger arrested for trespassing
Ben Winslow
FOX 13 News
KSTU-TV
Originally broadcast April 18, 2011

COLORADO CITY, Arizona — The man challenging Warren Jeffs for leadership of Utah's largest polygamous church has been arrested for trespassing.  William E. Jessop, 41, was cited late last week for trespassing at a home in Colorado City, Ariz.  Fox 13 obtained a copy of the citation for the class 1 offense.  Sources said that Jessop was visiting a residence where one of his wives lived when the police were called.  The land is technically under the control of the Utah State Courts, but the person residing on the land made the trespassing complaint.  The court-appointed fiduciary of the United Effort Plan Trust had no immediate comment on the citation.  Jessop has been involved in a leadership dispute over control of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  From his jail cell in Texas, Warren Jeffs has reasserted control of the polygamous sect and ousted a number of top members.  Jessop filed papers with the Utah Department of Commerce claiming he was president of the FLDS Church.  Jeffs, through a follower, has filed papers maintaining his presidency.  Ultimately, a court may have to decide.  Meanwhile, authorities were said to be investigating reports of a book burning at a library being built by volunteers in Colorado City.  Residents told Fox 13 that someone broke into the library building, piled books outside and set them on fire.  Damage is estimated at more than $15,000.  The incident was reported to the Colorado City Town Marshal's Office and the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.  The library was created to replace the one that was rumored to have been shut down under orders from Jeffs.  Volunteers donated books for residents in the community.  A spokesman for the Utah Attorney General's Office, who was involved in the book drive, expressed outrage and sadness upon hearing of the alleged book burning.
 
 
Read the trespassing citation issued to William E. (Timpson) Jessop on April 14, 2011 by the Colorado City police
 
 
FLDS woman alleges eviction over loyalty dispute
By Jennifer Dobner
AP Writer
KSL 5 TV
Originally published April 21, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Two brothers of jailed polygamous church leader Warren Jeffs are being sought by Arizona police after allegedly evicting a sect woman from a home because she refused to leave her husband.  Ruth Steed is married to William E. Jessop, who last month sought to take legal control from Jeffs of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Steed claims in Arizona justice court papers she was asked about her loyalty to the church prophet by his brothers, Lyle Jeffs and Alan Jeffs.  When Steed refused to renounce her husband for the church, court papers say she was told to leave her Colorado City, Ariz., residence.  The dispute led to an April 14 confrontation between Jessop and Alan Jeffs that ended with Jessop's arrest for trespassing.     See photos
 
 
Police seek 2 brothers of Warren Jeffs in FLDS eviction dispute
By Jennifer Dobner
The Associated Press
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, April 21, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — Two brothers of jailed polygamous church leader Warren Jeffs are being sought by Arizona police after allegedly evicting a leadership rival's wife who refused to renounce her husband, authorities confirmed Thursday.  Mohave County Sheriff's Sgt. Mike Hoggard in Arizona said that he is seeking to serve Alan Jeffs, 61, with a protective order, and Lyle Jeffs, 51, with an injunction against harassment.  Ruth Steed, 26, is married to William E. Jessop, who last month sought to take legal control of the Fundamentalist LDS Church from Warren Jeffs.  Court records show Steed sought the court protection after her loyalties to the church were challenged and she refused to leave her husband.  Court papers said she was then told to leave her residence in Colorado City, Ariz.  "This eviction began with a requested interview by Lyle, who asked me my loyalty," Steed wrote in the April 15 petitions.  "Upon my commitment to stay with my husband, an eviction was ordered by Lyle to Alan Jeffs ..."  Police reports showed Steed and her children had been living in a basement room of a home occupied by Alan Jeffs for about four months.  Steed called her husband to the home when she was threatened with eviction.  Jeffs then called police and had him arrested for trespassing, officers said.  The documents also said that Steed returned from the court to find all of her belongings in the yard.     Read more
 
 
Read Ruth Steed's Order of Protection issued on April 18, 2011 by the Moccasin Justice Court
 
 
New commerce filings support Jeffs presidency
By Jennifer Dobner
Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published April 22, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — Loyalists who support jailed polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs continue to file papers with Utah's Commerce Department claiming he is still in charge of the church.  An April 11 filing claims more than 2,000 church men — referred to as "Priesthood bearers" in the documents — unanimously swore their allegiance to Jeffs at an April 10 church meeting.  The presidency of the corporation that is the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has been in dispute since March when Jeffs rival William E. Jessop tried to execute a takeover.  Days later, a subsequent filing removed Jessop and reinstated Jeffs.  Commerce officials have since halted the tug of war and set a May 2 deadline for the parties to resolve the dispute.  A judge may ultimately decide the issue.  Should the May deadline pass without a clear resolution or a judge's order, the state would recognize those church principals in place prior to Jessop's' filing, commerce department spokeswoman Jennifer Bolton has said.  It's not clear how the sides might resolve the dispute.  Neither has yet asked the courts to address the issue.  A message left for church spokesman Willie Jessop, who is not related to William E. Jessop, was not immediately returned Friday and an attorney who represents the church, Rod Parker, declined comment.  The most recent documents filed by the church's registered agent Boyd Knudsen is supported by affidavits from four other church leaders, including Jeffs' brother, Lyle Jeffs, who is identified as a special counselor to the president and a church bishop.  The others are church patriarch Vaughan E. Taylor and bishop's counselors John M. Barlow and Ray M. Barlow.  In a telephone call with The Associated Press late Thursday, Taylor said he could not comment on the documents or the meetings.     Read more
 
 
Documents claim Warren Jeffs threatening FLDS Church members
JENNIFER DOBNER
Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published April 28, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — New filings with the Utah Department of Commerce claim officers in Warren Jeffs' polygamous church are using intimidation and lies to ensure members keep supporting the jailed leader.  The allegations are part of a declaration filed Thursday by William E. Jessop to support his challenge to Jeffs' presidency.  "If members of the church act inconsistent with the instructions of Warren S. Jeffs, they are subject to being immediately cast out of the church," Jessop wrote in the declaration.  Male members of the church who hold the priesthood may have their priesthood removed, and non-compliant members may be evicted from their homes and have their belongings removed, the documents state.  Salt Lake City attorney Rod Parker, who represents the faith in civil court matters, declined comment.  The filings are the latest round in a month-long tug-of-war for control of the southern Utah-based Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Jeffs, 55, has been the faith's leader since 2002, taking over the post after the death of his father, Rulon Jeffs.  He is currently jailed in Texas awaiting trials on charges of bigamy and aggravated sexual assault stemming from allegations that he had sex with underage sect girls.  A court has entered not guilty pleas on his behalf.  Jessop filed papers with the state in March to remove Jeffs as the faith's leader and take over.  Mark James, an attorney representing Jessop declined to comment on the latest documents.  State officials have set a May 2 deadline for resolving the dispute.  The state courts could be asked to decide the issue.  Should the May deadline pass without a clear resolution or a judge's order, the state would recognize those church principals in place prior to the filing by Jessop, commerce department spokeswoman Jennifer Bolton has said.  Jeffs loyalists have filed a flurry of documents in recent weeks claiming that as many as 4,000 church members have voted by common consent to support a Jeffs presidency at church meetings on April 3 and April 11.  The documents claim the votes were cast in accordance with church rules.  In his filing Thursday, Jessop claims those church leaders — hand selected by Jeffs — are not being honest.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs challenger makes new claim as FLDS president
By Emiley Morgan
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, April 28, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — A man vying with Warren Jeffs for leadership of a polygamous sect asserted his right to the position Thursday using statements made by Jeffs himself.  In the document filed with the Utah Division of Corporations and Commerce, William E. Jessop also cites intimidation tactics used by those close to Jeffs as a source of Jeffs' power.  Jessop is in an ongoing dispute with Jeffs over who is the rightful president of the Utah-based Fundamental LDS Church.  "If members of the church act inconsistent with the instructions of Warren S. Jeffs, they are subject to being immediately cast out of the church, male members of the church who hold their priesthood may have their priesthood removed, and non-compliant members may be evicted from their homes and have their belongings removed," Jessop wrote.  Jessop, who said he has served as the bishop of the FLDS Church since 2004, said his recent attempt to assume the presidency fulfills a 2007 directive from Jeffs himself.  He quotes numerous conversations he has had with Jeffs, who was then incarcerated, in which Jeffs told Jessop he was to be the "key holder" or leader of the church.  "I (Jeffs) am not the prophet," Jessop quotes Jeffs as saying.  "I was never the prophet. And I have been deceived by the powers of evil. And brother William E. Jessop has been the prophet, since father passed — since the passing of my father."  He states that Jeffs also told him that he was "immoral" and therefore unworthy to hold the keys of a president of the FLDS Church.  The presidency of the church corporation has been in question since Jeffs — who is currently in jail in Texas where he is facing charges of bigamy and sexual assault of a minor — recently tried to formally reclaim the post.  Jeffs, 55, had been the president and ecclesiastical head of the church since 2002, but there was some question as to whether he had temporarily turned the position over to Jessop after Jeffs was convicted of rape as an accomplice in Utah in 2007.  Jeffs told his family and other church leaders that Jessop was the new leader, but Jessop never took the position and the whole incident was later characterized as a test for the FLDS faithful.     Read more
 
 
Polygamous church dispute may head to Utah court
By Jennifer Dobner
Associated Press
The Boston Globe
Originally published May 1, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — An internal tug-of-war over control of jailed polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs' southern Utah-based church may force Utah courts to walk a constitutional tightrope that experts say could tread a little too close to separation of church and state.  The presidency of the 10,000-member Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has been in question since March 28, when church bishop William E. Jessop filed papers with the Utah Department of Commerce seeking to unseat Jeffs as president of the church corporation.  Under state law, the move automatically put Jessop in power.  That set into motion a flurry of filings from Jeffs loyalists removing Jessop and claiming that some 4,000 church members have pledged their loyalty to their incarcerated leader.  Monday marks the deadline set by commerce officials for both parties to resolve the dispute or a legal showdown might be set in motion since, if no agreement is reached, the state says power will revert back to Jeffs.  "The last thing a judge wants to do in a nation committed to the separation of church and state is to become the arbiter of questions of faith," George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said.  One huge hitch for the courts could be the fact that throughout the church's history, its president has also served as its prophet.  "To the extent that the question is legitimizing one prophet over another, that will run against the grain for the court," Turley said.  Neither side has yet begun the process of filing action with the courts, but a move is being considered.  "We're not rushing into court over this," said Mark James, Jessop's attorney.  "It's important to understand that this is not William E. Jessop's attempt at some sort of overthrow of the church. This is a guy who believes very strongly that he was the person designated to be the president."  Jessop, 41, claims he was ordained to the post by the church's previous prophet, Warren Jeffs' father, Rulon Jeffs.  The contention is seemingly proved in recordings of 2007 telephone calls made by Jeffs from a Utah jail.  In the conversations -- with Jessop, Jeffs' wives and other church leaders -- Jeffs states that he "never was the Prophet" and that "Brother William E. Jessop has been the Prophet since father's passing."  Jeffs, 55, later recanted the statements and has maintained since 2002 that his father called him to lead the church.     Read more
 
 
State deadline looms in fight over polygamous sect
By JENNIFER DOBNER
Associated Press
ABC 4 News
Originally published May 2, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Control of Warren Jeffs' polygamous church remains in limbo despite a looming deadline imposed by Utah commerce officials to resolve the internal struggle.  The state Division of Corporations set a 6 p.m. Monday deadline for the parties to resolve the dispute over the presidency of the corporation that is the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  The office has been in dispute since March when church bishop William E. Jessop filed papers seizing control from Jeffs, who is jailed in Texas on bigamy and aggravated sexual assault charges.  A Jeffs loyalist filed a counterclaim on his behalf, triggering an unprecedented public fight over the church.  Commerce spokeswoman Jennifer Bolton says the agency is still deciding which person will be legally recognized by the state as church president.     See photo
 
 
Deadline passes, polygamous sect spat unresolved
By Jennifer Dobner
Associated Press
Stamford Advocate - Stamford, Connecticut
Originally published Monday, May 2, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Control of Warren Jeffs' polygamous church remains in limbo after a deadline imposed by Utah commerce officials passed without a resolution of the internal struggle.  The state Division of Corporations set a 6 p.m. Monday deadline for the parties to resolve the dispute over the presidency of the corporation that is the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Commerce Department spokeswoman Jennifer Bolton said Monday evening the agency is still deciding which person will be legally recognized by the state as church president.  Previously the department had said that if the parties hadn't resolved the issue themselves, the division would default to recognizing those church officers whose names were on file with the state prior to March 28 when the dispute began.  "The default position was kind of the textbook example, but it's hard to say whether this is a textbook situation," said Bolton.  "So there has to be an evaluation of all the documents."  It's not clear how soon the department would issue a decision, she said.  The office has been in dispute since March when church bishop William E. Jessop filed papers seizing control from Jeffs, who is jailed in Texas on bigamy and aggravated sexual assault charges.  A Jeffs loyalist filed a counterclaim on his behalf, triggering an unprecedented public fight over the church.  A Utah court could be asked to resolve the issue, but neither Jeffs nor Jessop has moved in that direction.  Mark James, an attorney who represents Jessop, has said he has no immediate plans to involve the courts.  Rod Parker, an attorney who represents the FLDS in civil court matters declined comment Monday and has said he has not been directly involved with the leadership dispute.  Neither side filed new documents with the state on Monday.  Over the past month, however each side has submitted multiple filings, each trying to legitimize its right to claim the presidency.     Read more
 
 
Deadline Passes, Polygamous Sect Spat Unresolved
By Jennifer Dobner
Associated Press
FOX 10 Phoenix
Originally published Tuesday, 03 May 2011

SALT LAKE CITY - Control of Warren Jeffs' polygamous church remains in limbo after a deadline imposed by Utah commerce officials passed without a resolution of the internal struggle.  The state Division of Corporations set a 6 p.m. Monday deadline for the parties to resolve the dispute over the presidency of the corporation that is the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Commerce Department spokeswoman Jennifer Bolton said Monday evening the agency is still deciding which person will be legally recognized by the state as church president.  Previously the department had said that if the parties hadn't resolved the issue themselves, the division would default to recognizing those church officers whose names were on file with the state prior to March 28 when the dispute began.  "The default position was kind of the textbook example, but it's hard to say whether this is a textbook situation," said Bolton.  "So there has to be an evaluation of all the documents."  It's not clear how soon the department would issue a decision, she said.  The office has been in dispute since March when church bishop William E. Jessop filed papers seizing control from Jeffs, who is jailed in Texas on bigamy and aggravated sexual assault charges.  A Jeffs loyalist filed a counterclaim on his behalf, triggering an unprecedented public fight over the church.  A Utah court could be asked to resolve the issue, but neither Jeffs nor Jessop has moved in that direction.  Mark James, an attorney who represents Jessop, has said he has no immediate plans to involve the courts.  Rod Parker, an attorney who represents the FLDS in civil court matters declined comment Monday and has said he has not been directly involved with the leadership dispute.  Neither side filed new documents with the state on Monday.  Over the past month, however each side has submitted multiple filings, each trying to legitimize its right to claim the presidency.     Read more
 

Deadline Passes, Polygamous Sect Spat Unresolved: MyFoxPHOENIX.com

 
 
Court could decide FLDS leadership dispute
Ben Winslow
FOX 13 News
KSTU-TV
Originally broadcast May 5, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — A dispute over who leads the southern Utah-based Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints may ultimately end up in a court.  The Utah Department of Commerce said in a statement to Fox 13 on Thursday that "it will never determine who is president of the FLDS Church."  "The Division is only seeking to establish who has authority to make changes to the principals on either of the two corporations sole belonging to the FLDS church," the department said in the statement.  On one of the corporate disputes, the agency sided with jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, who is being challenged for the church presidency by an ousted member, William E. Jessop.  "William Jessop did not provide any response to the question of whether he was authorized to make changes to the principals of that corporation. Therefore, with the deadline passed, the corporation sole has been returned to active status with the changes presented on 15 February 2011 showing Warren Jeffs as authority and Boyd Knudsen as registered agent," the department said.  The other corporation, however, remains in dispute.  The Division of Corporations is requiring more documentation to decide who is president of that corporate entity.  The Utah Department of Commerce set an Aug. 3 deadline, meaning that it will likely end up in court.  Jeffs, 54, remains jailed in Texas where he is facing criminal charges related to underage marriages.     See photo
 
 
Partial ruling made in fight over FLDS polygamous sect
By Jennifer Dobner
Associated Press
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, May 5, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah commerce officials issued a partial ruling Thursday in the dispute over control of Warren Jeffs' Utah-based polygamous church.  The Division of Corporations said Jeffs will remain president of the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop, the legal entity that holds the business and property assets of the Fundamentalist LDS Church.  But the agency made no decision on who is considered the head of the Corporation of the President, a separate entity embodied by the faith's religious leader, who is considered a prophet.  Jeffs has held both offices since 2002, but in March church Bishop William E. Jessop filed papers with the state agency seeking to take over the church from the jailed Jeffs.  Commerce officials said they will never determine who is president of the church but still must determine who has the authority to make changes to the principals for either church corporation.  State officials say letters have been sent to Jeffs and Jessop asking them to resolve the matter by obtaining a court order or jointly submitting a signed and notarized document stating an agreement.  The state officials set an Aug. 3 deadline for receiving the information.  Church attorney Rod Parker, who represents the church in civil matters, declined to comment and said he had not been directly involved with the leadership dispute.  Jessop's primary concern is a resolution that reflects the will of the FLDS people, numbering some 10,000, said his attorney Mark James.  "Ultimately we would hope there would be an agreement acknowledging William E. Jessop as the rightful president of both" corporations, said James, who is considering taking the issue to court.     Read more
 
Read the Utah Division of Corporations Statement on FLDS filing status regarding the battle over who runs the FLDS church, issued May 5, 2011
 
 
Half-brother sues polygamist leader
U.S. News
United Press International
Originally published July 13, 2011

ST. GEORGE, Utah, July 13 (UPI) -- A half-brother of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs has filed a Utah lawsuit saying he fears his teenage daughters will be forced into polygamous marriages.  Wallace Jeffs, in court papers filed Tuesday in St. George, said he has been kept from his children since he was expelled from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 2004, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.  He wants custody of seven girls and two boys who now range in age from 8 to 16.  Warren Jeffs has been convicted in Utah of forcing a 14-year-old girl into a marriage with her 19-year-old cousin.  He is awaiting trial in Texas on similar charges.  In the lawsuit, Wallace Jeffs accuses Warren Jeffs and other leaders of conspiring to defraud members and of expelling boys from the church so they would not be in competition for wives, and grown men so their wives and children could be given to others, KTVX-TV, Salt Lake City, said.  Warren is allegedly planning to pass his leadership position to another brother, Lyle Jeffs.  "Our intelligence is that Warren Jeffs is attempting to pass his priesthood keys to Lyle Jeffs so he can continue celestial marriages, and once that is done marriages will happen fast and furious," Wallace Jeffs' lawyer, Roger Hoole, told the Tribune.     See photo
 
 
 
 
Colorado City still FLDS stronghold
Clandestine FLDS reasserts control in 2 remote communities
by Dennis Wagner
The Arizona Republic
Originally published Jul. 31, 2011

COLORADO CITY - Joseph Jessop, a patriarch of polygamy, grunts as his hoe uproots weeds from a tomato patch in the heart of this religious commune along the Arizona Strip.  The 89-year-old allows that much has changed in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints since 2002, when authorities launched an enforcement campaign to stop child marriages and other crimes.  More than a dozen churchmen have been imprisoned for taking teenage brides, and their prophet, Warren Jeffs, is on trial in Texas on charges of bigamy and sexual assault of two underage children he allegedly married.  Most of the town's homes, businesses and properties, once held by a church-controlled trust, are now overseen by a court-appointed fiduciary.  A half-dozen local police officers were stripped of law-enforcement authority because they pledged allegiance to the church rather than to the law.  Public schools, once operated by an FLDS board, were taken over by the state.  Turmoil even reached inside the clandestine church: Jeffs at one point renounced himself as a prophet, then abruptly reassumed the mantle.  Scores of former FLDS elders have been excommunicated, stripped of wives and banished from their homes.  Yet amid all the change, the twin towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, remain a sanctuary for plural marriages, celebrated by the FLDS as a key to eternal salvation.  Jeffs continues to issue edicts from behind bars.  Women still wear ankle-length dresses in a place that seems frozen in the early 1900s.  Jessop grumbles about persecution as he cultivates the flower-fringed fields, removing weeds as if they are metaphors for evil.  "I'm still here, still gardening," the old-timer says.  "They've put us through an awful lot of inconvenience. But we refuse to die. We're still who we are and will always be."     Read more
 
 
 
 
Timeline of events affecting FLDS sect
The Arizona Republic
Originally published Jul. 31, 2011

Key events affecting Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, since attorneys general in the two states began investigating accusations of child sexual assault, fraud, tax evasion, civil-rights violations and other alleged crimes in 2002 by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints:

2003: Warren Jeffs, the church prophet, delivers a sermon in Colorado City claiming God told him there is no such thing as underage marriage and that evil government will attempt to intervene as young girls are wed to older men. The FLDS Church buys land in Schleicher County, Texas, and begins relocating members to Yearning for Zion Ranch.

2004: Jeffs excommunicates about 20 FLDS men, stripping them of wives and homes.

2005: Jeffs is among at least 10 FLDS men indicted in Arizona and Utah. He is charged with sexual misconduct with a minor and rape as an accomplice after orchestrating the marriage of a 14-year-old girl to her adult cousin. Several men are convicted. Jeffs flees and is placed on the FBI's most-wanted list.

- In connection with lawsuits over church-controlled properties, a Utah court appoints a fiduciary to oversee the United Effort Plan, a $110 million trust that owns most of the land, homes and businesses in Colorado City-Hildale.

- Texas prosecutors say Jeffs marries two 12-year-old girls at the Texas ranch.

2006: Jeffs is captured in Las Vegas.     Read more
 
 
Decision looms in FLDS church leadership dispute
The Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published Aug. 3, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — An internal struggle for control of Warren Jeffs' polygamous church could soon be settled by Utah commerce officials.  In April, William E. Jessop filed papers with the state ousting Jeffs as president of the corporations that comprise the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  A tug of war began when Jeffs loyalists filed a counterclaim, saying Jessop was not a member of the church.  Wednesday is the deadline set by the Utah Department of Commerce for the sides to provide a resolution, or a court order settling the dispute.  Department spokeswoman Jennifer Bolton said the agency will recognize Jeffs as the corporation president if no solution is presented by the close of the business day Wednesday.  Two legal entities form the church — the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop, which holds business and property assets, and the Corporation of the President, a separate entity embodied by the faith's religious leader who is considered a prophet.  Jessop filed papers to remove Jeffs from both offices.  But commerce officials in May said the former church bishop had failed to prove he had the right to do that.  In a split ruling, the agency said it would continue to recognize Jeffs as the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop office holder.  The agency also said it could never determine who is president of the church, although it must still determine who has the authority to make changes to the principals for either church corporation.  On Tuesday, an attorney for Jessop said he had no plans to file any documents with commerce before the deadline and indicated that a dispute over church leadership remains active.  Mark James said the commerce department has no real authority to decide the dispute and the deadline holds no legal significance.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs to remain president of FLDS Church, commerce officials say
Ben Winslow
Fox13Now.com
KSTU-TV
SALT LAKE CITY — Regardless of whether or not he is convicted in Texas, Warren Jeffs will remain in charge of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  A deadline over who is in control of the corporate entity of the polygamous sect came and went Wednesday, with no new filings or a court order settling the dispute.  A former member, William E. Jessop, has challenged Jeffs for the presidency of the Corporation of the President of the FLDS Church.  He claims Jeffs relinquished the presidency of the FLDS Church while incarcerated in Utah and awaiting trial on criminal charges here back in 2007.  Utah Dept. of Commerce spokeswoman Jennifer Bolton told Fox 13 on Wednesday that since nothing new had been filed as of 6 p.m., control of the corporation reverts back to Jeffs.  Jeffs is currently facing trial in Texas where he is accused of sexually assaulting two girls who were married to him in polygamous unions.  "If Warren is convicted, it doesn't change that status," Bolton said.  Bolton said new filings could be considered in the future.
 
 
Jeffs regains leadership of FLDS church in Utah
CBS News
Originally published August 3, 2011

(AP) SALT LAKE CITY — Warren Jeffs regained control of his polygamous church on Wednesday after a four-month internal struggle for the presidency of the corporations that comprise the entity.  The development came on the deadline set by the Utah Department of Commerce for both sides to provide a resolution, or a court order settling the dispute.  Commerce spokeswoman Jennifer Bolton said Wednesday evening the department hadn't received any new filings, so the agency would now recognize Jeffs again as the corporation president.  In April, William E. Jessop filed papers with the state ousting Jeffs as president of the corporations that make up the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  A tug of war began when Jeffs loyalists filed a counterclaim, saying Jessop was not a member of the church.  Two legal entities form the church — the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop, which holds business and property assets, and the Corporation of the President, a separate entity embodied by the faith's religious leader who is considered a prophet.  Jessop filed papers to remove Jeffs from both offices.  But commerce officials in May said the former church bishop had failed to prove he had the right to do that.  In a split ruling, the agency said it would continue to recognize Jeffs as the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop office holder.  The agency also said it could never determine who is president of the church, although it must still determine who has the authority to make changes to the principals for either church corporation.  On Tuesday, an attorney for Jessop said he had no plans to file any documents with commerce before the deadline and indicated that a dispute over church leadership remains active.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs' control over polygamous church likely to remain
JENNIFER DOBNER
Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published August 10, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — Polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs, to his followers a prophet who speaks directly with God, is likely to continue to lead his church from behind bars after being sentenced to life in prison on child sex assault charges.   The vast majority are just not going to leave," Atlanta-based polygamy historian and writer Ken Driggs said.  "They've got family ties and marriage ties and a culture deeply rooted in their faith."  Followers of Jeffs' Utah-based Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are likely to still revere him as a prophet, despite evidence presented in the Texas case that he had sex with girls from the sect as young as 12, former church members and experts say.  Jeffs, 55, was sentenced by a Texas jury Tuesday and will not be eligible for parole until he is at least 100 years old.  There was no mass exodus in 2007 after Jeffs' conviction on Utah sex assault charges.  Most members remained loyal.  As he spent almost five years in various jails, Jeffs continued to spiritually direct the faith, counsel followers and lead Sunday services by phone.  His legal grip on the church also remains strong.  Last week, the Utah Department of Commerce reaffirmed Jeffs as the head of the corporations that make up the FLDS after a church bishop unsuccessfully sought to seize control.  Commerce officials said William E. Jessop ultimately failed to prove he was ordained by the previous prophet to control the church.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs' life sentence raises questions about future of breakaway sect
By David Fitzpatrick and Jessica Ravitz
CNN Belief Blog
CNN
Originally published August 10, 2011

(CNN) - As he begins serving a life sentence in the Texas State Prison system, Warren Jeffs still maintains titular control over his estimated 10,000 fundamentalist followers in Arizona, Utah and Texas.  But how long that control will endure is anyone's guess.  Jeffs was convicted by a jury in San Angelo, Texas last week on two counts of sexually assaulting children.  On Tuesday, he was sentenced to life in prison on one count and 20 years in jail on the other.  He was shaved bald and will be processed into the prison system in the next 10 days, according to a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.  Even while awaiting trial in two small county jails in Texas, authorities said Jeffs was able to effectively remain in charge of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints by using jail telephones to communicate with followers.  Sheriffs in both counties told CNN that Jeffs had spent up to $3,000 a month in phone cards purchased by his acolytes.  Officials who monitored the calls said Jeffs would preach lengthy Sunday sermons, excommunicating those who failed to follow his instructions.  But as a convicted sex offender, Jeffs will be able to telephone only 10 people a month, and those people must be pre-registered on a visitors' list, according to Jason Clark, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.  Clark says those calls will be limited to 15 minutes each - or a total of 240 minutes per month.  As for who might take his place as head of the breakaway Mormon sect, experts who have followed Jeffs for years say it's unclear.     Read more
 
 
Change for polygamist sect could come slowly after trial
By Jim Forsyth
Reuters
KERA Channel 13 - Dallas, Texas
Originally published August 11, 2011

SAN ANGELO, Texas (Reuters) - If church elder Willie Jessop has his way, members of his polygamist sect will never again marry underage girls at a reclusive Texas ranch, and gates at the compound's entrance will not lock people in.  But it's anyone's guess how much power Jessop has.  Even in the wake of a trial exposing child sexual assault by church leader Warren Jeffs, there are no guarantees his followers will drop their faith in their self-proclaimed prophet.  "This is a crisis for every single member of the church, and everybody has to come to grips with it," said Jessop, a former staunch supporter of Jeffs who split with him earlier this year but remains a church elder, based in Utah.  "Any abuse, underage marriages or any such acts cannot be tolerated within the church," Jessop said, adding that church members had known about Jeffs' behavior.  "Those gates will protect those people, not keep them enslaved."  Jeffs, who has so far retained his position at the helm of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, was sentenced to life in prison on Tuesday for sexually assaulting two girls he wed as spiritual brides when they were 12 and 14 years old.  Former church members and law enforcement officials say change in the church, estimated to have 10,000 members across North America, may be slow in coming.  They say Jeffs may try to govern the sect through surrogates from jail, and was expected to appeal the conviction.  Any challenge to his leadership could produce splits in the church, which has been condemned by the mainstream Mormon Church and is accused of promoting marriages between older men and girls.     Read more
 
 
Renewed battle for control of FLDS
Reported by: Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast August 17, 2011

HILDALE, Utah (ABC 4 News) - Now that convicted pedophile Warren Jeffs is settling into a Texas prison for the rest of his life, the fight is heating up for control of the 10-thousand strong FLDS polygamist group.  William E. Jessop, the same man who earlier this year claimed he was the rightful president of the group, has sent an open letter to Warren's full brother, Lyle Jeffs, who is now apparently in command.  "Please take this as a matter of life or death." the letter begins.  "You all have had five long years and numerous opportunities to clean this immoral mess up, and you have not."  It continues, "You condoned the immorality ... by believing you can sit in the halls of the court and turn off the evidence and deny the abominations of Warren Jeffs."  Lyle was present in the San Angelo, Texas courtroom during part of his brother's trial.  But when the prosecution was presenting witnesses and evidence, Lyle would wait in the hallway.  The letter ends with the challenge to "come clean."  The letter was delivered to all of the post office boxes in twin towns of Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah.  Although it took more than four years to act on it, William E. Jessop does have a claim to leadership that was validated by Warren Jeffs himself.  While in the Washington County jail in January of 2007, Jeffs called William E. Jessop telling him to take over the group.  Here is a quote from that conversation recorded and released by jail officials:  Warren Jeffs: Okay. I have this message ... I know of your ordination, that you are the key holder and I have sent a note with my signature verifying it so that there is no question. And then to say this to you. I am one of the most wicked men on the face of the earth since the days of father Adam."     Read more
 
 
Read Willie E. Jessop and Willie R. Jessop's letter to Brother Lyle Jeffs and all FLDS mailed August 10, 2011
 
 
Warren Jeffs challenger sends letter to FLDS people
Ben Winslow
Fox 13 News
KSTU-TV
Originally broadcast August 18, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — New developments in the power struggle over Utah's largest polygamous church.  A letter has been sent to faithful members of the Fundamentalist LDS Church in the border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., in an effort to persuade them to renounce Warren Jeffs.  "Please take this as a matter of life and death," the letter, obtained by Fox 13, reads.  "This is a warning, as a brother and a friend."  The letter attempts to tell the FLDS people that Warren Jeffs has committed "immoral behavior" and is not a prophet of God.  Jeffs, 55, was recently convicted in Texas of child sex assault related to a pair of underage marriages.  He is currently serving a life sentence in a Texas prison.  Some who live in Hildale and Colorado City said the FLDS members were instructed not to pay attention to Jeffs' trial.  The letter is signed by William E. Jessop, who has challenged Jeffs for presidency of the 10,000 member FLDS Church.  It is also signed by Willie Jessop, Jeffs' former spokesman.  The letter was distributed to all PO Boxes within the towns of Hildale and Colorado City.  However, Fox 13 is told that Lyle Jeffs reportedly sent a text to faithful members telling them to "pay no heed."     Read more
 
 
Schism, New Indictments Follow Polygamist Leader's Conviction
by Howard Berkes
National Public Radio
Originally published August 18, 2011

A letter sent by email and snail mail urges the followers of polygamist leader and convicted pedophile Warren Jeffs to "come clean ... or you are going down with the wicked and the damned."  It's signed by two former leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS, including former Jeffs spokesman Willie Jessop and William E. Jessop (no relation to Willie), who some consider the rightful successor to Jeffs.  The message is the first visible sign of a possible schism in the polygamist faith in the wake of Jeffs' conviction in Texas for sexual assault of "wives" 12 and 15.  Also this week, criminal indictments were announced for two FLDS members who are public officials in Colorado City, Ariz., where the FLDS Church is based.  The two are charged with misusing public funds and participating in "a criminal syndicate."  The letter directly addresses FLDS members in general and Lyle Jeffs, in particular.  Jeffs is the brother of the convicted FLDS prophet and is believed to be running the day-to-day affairs of the group while Warren Jeffs serves a life sentence in Texas.  "There is responsibility to see to it there is no iniquity in the church, and to protect the virtue, and values of our church," the letter says.  "You all have had five long years and numerous opportunities to clean this immoral mess up, and you have not!" Lyle Jeffs' phone number in the FLDS stronghold of Hildale, Utah, is now disconnected.     Read more
 
 
FALL OF A 'PROPHET': Jeffs maintains control, but time may be limited
Ranch leadership said to be in upheaval
By Matthew Waller
San Angelo Standard-Times
Originally published August 20, 2011

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Dozers and dump trucks line up just inside the gates of the sprawling Yearning for Zion Ranch near Eldorado. A white temple gleams two miles north of the gates, and a construction crane looms over other buildings on the ranch.  A video camera in a protective bubble serves as a security eye of what's going on at the entrance of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints compound.  Over the intercom, a man fields a request to speak with the bishop of the polygamist sect's ranch about coming onto the property to talk to FLDS members.  "I don't think he would be interested," the voice crackles over the speakers.  Days earlier, a Tom Green County jury had convicted Warren Jeffs — the self-appointed prophet of the FLDS church — of sexually assaulting girls 12 and 15 years old, based largely on evidence collected during an April 2008 raid of the YFZ Ranch.  Jeffs is serving life plus 20 years in prison.  The ranch remains isolated from the outside world — an order issued by Jeffs to all FLDS members to block coverage of his fate in a San Angelo courtroom.  Local leadership at the YFZ Ranch is in upheaval, with bishops at the isolated compound coming and going.  "They now rotate out weekly," said Willie R. Jessop, an FLDS member and advocate for YFZ Ranch residents.     Read more
 
 
Polygamy Cult's Civil War
With Warren Jeffs in prison for life, a new "prophet" is trying to seize control of the cult from his family. Carol McKinley on the nasty battle, which includes threats, spies — and the FBI.
Carol McKinley
U.S. News
The Daily Beast
Originally published Aug 22, 2011

Two weeks after cult leader Warren Jeffs was convicted on two counts of child rape, members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) find themselves torn between dueling prophets trying to wrest control of America's largest polygamy movement.  The common sentiment inside the cult's Short Creek compound, on the Arizona-Utah border, remains that "Uncle Warren" was framed, according to insiders, despite heaps of damning evidence presented by prosecutors during his bizarre two-week trial.  Meanwhile, Jeffs has told his followers that he's in jail for life because they were unwilling to repent.  Into this confusion, another so-called prophet, William Edson Jessop, is making a power play.  Jessop has been holding alternative Sunday services, and the day after Jeffs was effectively muzzled, arriving at a prison in Huntsville, Texas, on Aug. 10, Jessop sent a typed message to 1,800 FLDS families in Short Creek.  "This is a letter as a brother and a friend," it begins, and warns Jeffs's followers that if they don't "come clean," they will "be going down with the wicked and be damned."  While Jeffs claims to be above the law, Jessop says he will not ignore the "laws of the land."  In other words, no underage marriages on his watch.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs hospitalization raises questions about successor
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
CNN
Originally published August 30, 2011

News that polygamist leader Warren Jeffs has landed in the hospital and is in critical condition raises the question of who will lead his breakaway Mormon sect when Jeffs dies or if he becomes incapacitated.  It turns out that Jeffs, 55 and serving a life-plus-20-year prison sentence, is likely to be replaced as head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) in the relative near term, even if he survives for decades to come.  Jeffs had succeeded in leading his church from jail in Texas in the leadup to his trial on sexual assault charges this summer, but prison is much more restrictive.  Before his trial, Jeffs had spent thousands on phone calls in which he'd deliver sermons, conduct excommunications and conduct other church business with his followers, who are believed to number about 10,000, with most based in Arizona, Texas and Utah.  But as a Texas prisoner, he is able to telephone only 10 people a month, and those people must be pre-registered on a visitors' list, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.  Jeffs was convicted in early August of the aggravated sexual assaults of a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl who he claimed were his "spiritual wives."  He fell ill Sunday while fasting, Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark said.  Jeffs remained in critical condition in a Texas hospital on Tuesday but was not in a coma - as was previously reported - and is expected to recover, state prison officials said.  Experts say the jockeying to replace Jeffs as FLDS head, or prophet, is already under way.     Read more
 
 
 
 
'Dr. Phil' mediates showdown among FLDS and critics
By John Hollenhorst
KSL 5 TV
Originally broadcast September 28, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — There have been harsh words and angry fireworks the last couple of days on the Dr. Phil Show, where they've been airing out the dirty laundry of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs.  The showdown highlights the awkward position Willie Jessop is in since Warren Jeffs was sent to prison.  As convicted rapists' former bodyguard, Jessop is out of power now, angling to reclaim it, and alternately apologizing for Jeffs but defending the faith.  On the show, Jessop acknowledged Warren Jeffs' immoral acts but claimed he didn't know about them at the time.  "I was part of a regime that hurt people really, really bad; and I have to live with it every day," Jessop said.  "You were so close to him, and his body guard, how can you not know the slightest what was going on?" said Brent Jeffs, who has accused Warren Jeffs of raping him.  "The evidence I've seen, there was people that you accused that weren't even in the church, that you accused, that had nothing to do with this," Jessop told Brent Jeffs.  "That has nothing to do with this," Brent Jeffs replied.  "If the government would have believed you, they would have filed a case," Jessop said.  "That's all I can say."  "If Warren was not guilty, why did he take off and run?" private investigator Sam Brower said.  "I mean, that doesn't make sense. Innocent people don't run."  "What I don't want to do is sound like I'm defending Warren," Jessop told Dr. Phil at one point in the interview.  Dr. Phil then cut him off, saying, "Then stop defending him!"  "I'm trying to defend a system," Jessop countered.     Read more
 
 
 
 
Warrant issued for former Warren Jeffs bodyguard
Kevin Jenkins
The Spectrum
Originally published September 28, 2011

ST. GEORGE – A 5th District Court judge issued a warrant today for the arrest of a Hildale man who once worked as bodyguard for Warren Jeffs, the leader of the polygamous church based in the twin state-line communities of Hildale and Colorado City who is serving a life sentence in prison for child sexual assault.  William R. Jessop, 42, is being sought by the court after his failure to appear for two hearings to schedule payments he owes private investigator Samuel Brower after Brower won a claim that Jessop subjected him to a frivolous court filing, which required Brower to incur legal expenses he wants Jessop to pay.  One of Jessop's three attorneys, Blaine Hofeling, told Judge G. Rand Beacham today that Jessop is out of the country on unknown business and could not be present for the hearing.  "Yesterday, I called to check," Hofeling said.  "And he ended up in Switzerland."  Beacham issued the $15,000 warrant and scheduled a new hearing on the matter for Nov. 23.  Hofeling said he and Brower's attorney, Willard Bishop, may reach a settlement on payment of Brower's legal expenses before November, but Beacham said he still wants to see Jessop in court.  "As you can imagine, I don't take well to people not showing up - especially not showing up twice. I'd like to hear why his appearance is optional when everyone else's is mandatory," Beacham said.  "Whether he should be sanctioned or not, I don't know."     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs' former bodyguard wanted
Kevin Jenkins
The Spectrum
Originally published September 29, 2011

ST. GEORGE - A 5th District Court judge authorized a warrant Wednesday for the arrest of a Hildale man who once worked as bodyguard for Warren Jeffs, the polygamous church leader who is serving a life sentence in prison for sexually assaulting a child.  William R. Jessop, 42, is being sought by the court after his failure to appear for two hearings to schedule payments he owes private investigator Samuel Brower.  Brower won a claim that Jessop subjected him to a frivolous court filing, which required Brower to incur legal expenses he wants Jessop to pay.  One of Jessop's three attorneys, Blaine Hofeling, told Judge G. Rand Beacham that Jessop is out of the country on unknown business and could not be present for Wednesday's hearing.  "Yesterday, I called to check (with Jessop)," Hofeling said.  "And he ended up in Switzerland."  Beacham issued the $15,000 warrant and scheduled a new hearing on the matter for Nov. 23.  Hofeling said he and Brower's attorney, Willard Bishop, may reach a settlement on payment of Brower's legal expenses before November, but Beacham said he still wants to see Jessop in court.  "As you can imagine, I don't take well to people not showing up - especially not showing up twice. I'd like to hear why his appearance is optional when everyone else's is mandatory," Beacham said.  "Whether he should be sanctioned or not, I don't know."     Read more
 
 
Warrant issued for former bodyguard of Warren Jeffs
Associated Press
Deseret News
Originally published Friday, Sept. 30, 2011

ST. GEORGE — A judge issued an arrest warrant Wednesday for a man who once worked as a bodyguard for polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs.  William R. Jessop, 42, failed to appear Wednesday for hearings to schedule payments he owes private investigator Samuel Brower, The Spectrum of St. George reported.  Brower won a claim that Jessop subjected him to a frivolous court filing and legal expenses.  Jessop's attorney said Wednesday his client is in Switzerland on business.  Although Jessop did not appear in court, he and Brower were featured this week on the "Dr. Phil" show.  The court case between the men arose when Brower was in Texas to assist in a case related to another prominent member of Jeffs' polygamous church.  Jessop sought a restraining order, claiming Brower trespassed on Jessop's property and frightened family members in his bid to work with members of the northern Utah media.  Brower denied the claims, and the court eventually ruled Jessop did not have sufficient evidence to support a restraining order.  Brower then sued for payment of legal expenses and won.  Fifth District Judge G. Rand Beacham in St. George issued the warrant after noting Jessop missed two court appearances.  He set another hearing for Nov. 23.
 
 
Arrest warrant issued for Jessop
Ex-spokesman of sect failed to appear in court
By Matthew Waller
San Angelo Standard-Times
Originally published September 30, 2011

SAN ANGELO, Texas — A former spokesman for a polygamist sect has a warrant out for his arrest after not appearing in court.  Willie Jessop was scheduled for a Wednesday hearing about a civil suit that he filed against Sam Brower, said 5th District Court staff in Utah.  Brower is a private investigator who has done research digging up information about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Jessop had been a spokesman for the sect.  Jessop owed Brower legal expenses after the court said Jessop had subjected Brower to frivolous court filings, according to The Spectrum, a newspaper in St. George, Utah.  The record was made to reflect that Jessop had failed to appear twice on the matter and the arrest warrant was issued from the bench.  Jessop was in Switzerland at the time of the hearing.  Another hearing for Jessop has been set for Nov. 23, clerk staff said.  Jessop wasn't in the courtroom with Brower, but he has been on television with him this week on the "Dr. Phil" program. On the program,  Jessop tried to distance himself from Warren Jeffs, the head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.     Read more
 
 
Will the Wife Who Fled Warren Jeffs' Fiefdom Become a Pawn in the FLDS Power Struggle?
By Torie Bosch
XX factor
Slate - New York, N.Y.
Originally published Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011

When I first read the headlines about a 25-year-old wife of imprisoned FLDS leader Warren Jeffs escaping — barefoot! — from her life in the abusive polygamist sect, I cheered.  None of Jeffs' dozens of wives has ever before been reported to have abandoned her prophet; perhaps, I hoped, this was a sign that the deeply insular community is beginning to open up to the world.  But unfortunately, I no longer think that's quite the case.  Rather, this woman's escape may be part of the internecine battle for control of the FLDS, which has been in crisis — with some members leaving voluntarily and a new self-proclaimed prophet competing with an ailing Jeffs for followers — in the wake of Jeffs' conviction for sexually abusing two underage wives. The details on this story are sketchy; the Associated Press reports that it hasn't even been able to confirm that the 25-year-old woman was one of Jeffs' wives.  One common factor in all of the reports I've seen so far: Willie Jessop.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs predicts death and destruction to the U.S. from prison
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Monday, Nov. 14, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — Apparent prophecies from imprisoned FLDS Church leader Warren Jeffs warning of the destruction of America were delivered to the Utah Attorney General's Office on Monday.  In one of the five separate "revelations," Jeffs writes that Jesus Christ will make his coming known with a "great tsunami of the sea" on the East Coast; earthquakes and volcanoes in "populated places" in Utah and Arizona; a tidal wave in Seattle; and melting in Idaho "to cleanse my land of all evil."  "But surprisingly nothing going on in Texas," quipped Paul Murphy, Utah Attorney General's Office spokesman.  Jeffs, 55, was sentenced to life in prison in Texas earlier this year after being convicted of sexually assaulting two girls he wed as spiritual brides when they were 12 and 14 years old.  In addition to the two- and three-page revelations, the attorney general received a more than 200-page "proclamation" that contains writings about his Jeffs' father, Rulon Jeffs, past FLDS leaders and and Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith, Murphy said. The packet also includes an order form for new and old Jeffs' revelations that can be bought over the Internet for $1 to $8.     Read more
 
 
 
 
Imprisoned Warren Jeffs Speaks Out Through Prophecies Of Doom
Reported by: Heidi Hatch
KUTV
Originally broadcast Monday, November 14 2011

(KUTV) TEXAS - The last time we heard from Warren Jeffs, he was in a Texas courtroom defending himself on charges of sexually assaulting two young girls.  But today, the inprisoned prophet is speaking out from behind bars with revelations he penned during his trial and as recently as October 28th.  The revelations are signed and dated to ensure the warnings are taken seriously.  Here's what Jeffs says will happen because of his imprisonment.  First - that Seattle will be obliterated by earthquakes and a tidal wave.  "Idaho shall be as a melting fire," he says.  Utah will face "tempests, earthquakes, war and famine."  Phoenix will suffer much of the same, but along with Utah "can expect volcanos".  The south and midwest are spared, but the east coast should prepare for tsunamis.  The nation's capitol should prepare for attacks by an invading power.  The prophecies go on to include Libya, and NATO, who likely got a packet in the mail too.  If your mailbox was empty you can purchase the prophecies at flds.org.  The AG's office believes Jeffs to be sincere - as he was in 2002 when he proclaimed Utah would be destroyed during the 2002 Olympics.  Apparently we were spared because his followers in Hilldale and Colorado City were not righteous enough.
 
 
Imprisoned polygamous sect leader Jeffs releases apocalyptic predictions from behind bars
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Republic - Columbus, Indiana
Originally published November 15, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — Imprisoned polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs has released a series of so-called revelations in which he says a succession of natural disasters will strike the U.S.  The 55-year-old Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison this year for sexually assaulting two girls whom he took as wives when they were 12 and 14 years old.  He released his apocalyptic predictions to the Utah attorney general's office on Monday.  Jeffs' apparent prophecies included tsunamis on the East Coast and in Seattle and earthquakes and volcanoes in Utah and Arizona.  He also says that Idaho "shall be as a melting fire."  Attorney general's spokesman Paul Murphy says Jeffs is suggesting the calamities are God's revenge for putting the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints leader behind bars.  Jeffs has made predictions of doom before, including the end of the world, but none have come true.
 
 
Utah State Legislature gets apocalyptic mailing from Warren Jeffs
Ben Winslow
Fox 13
KSTU-TV
Originally broadcast November 17, 2011

SALT LAKE CITY — Members of the Utah State Legislature tell FOX 13 they have received apocalyptic revelations from imprisoned FLDS leader Warren Jeffs.  The revelations have been arriving in lawmakers' mailboxes all week. The mailings are similar to what Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff reported receiving earlier this week.  They threaten God's wrath upon Utah and other places.  The mailings say that Utah and Arizona will be destroyed in an earthquake and a volcano; Idaho will be destroyed by fire; Seattle will be destroyed by a tidal wave; and the east coast will be wiped out by a tsunami -- if Jeffs is not released from prison.  The polygamist leader has frequently made end of the world predictions.  Jeffs is currently serving a life, plus 20-year sentence in Texas for child sex assault related to underage marriages.  Utah prosecutors recently dropped rape as an accomplice charges after the state supreme court overturned his conviction.  Lawmakers told FOX 13 they did not feel threatened by the mailings, which are believed to have been sent by Jeffs' followers, but did term them "interesting."     See mug shot
 
 
Purported Warren Jeffs manuscript dropped off at Judges' offices
District Judge Sid Harle considers writings more strange than threatening
Matt Rivers
KSAT San Antonio
Originally broadcast November 17, 2011

SAN ANTONIO - Several district judges at the Bexar County Courthouse received a special delivery Wednesday.  It was a manuscript of sorts, sent by Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned leader of a fundamentalist sect that split away from the Mormon church years ago.  There are dozens of pages, all supposedly written by Warren Jeffs, in the manuscript.  He was convicted of sexually abusing children months ago, and apparently has done a lot of writing in prison.  Judge Sid Harle of the 226th District got the package Wednesday morning and briefly scanned the contents.  "Specific things I saw were (about) tidal waves in Seattle, earthquakes in Arizona," said Judge Harle.  "I've never seen anything to this extent or this expense."  So while the manuscript might be unique, officials like Harle get threats all the time.  He told KSAT that it's just part of the job.  If the threats are serious, the sheriff's office gets called in right away.  Fortunately for Harle, he hasn't had to do that yet.  "Most of the time the threats I get are from people already in the penitentiary, or that I don't consider them to be a credible threat," Harle said.  He considered the Jeffs writings more strange than threatening, but said it definitely won't be the last odd item to pop up in the office mailbox.
 
 
Jeffs sends doomsday prophecies to local legislators
Billy Hesterman
Daily Herald - Provo, Utah
Originally published Friday, November 18, 2011

Polygamous leader and convicted child rapist Warren Jeffs is trying to get the attention of Utah's elected officials -- through prophecy.  Throughout the week Gov. Gary Herbert's office, Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's office and many in the state Legislature received a package from the leader of the FLDS church that contained his prophecies and proclamations that declare the end of the of the world.  According to Paul Murphy, spokesman for Attorney General's office, the package from Jeffs included 16 pages of revelations and a 248-page proclamation.  The revelations from Jeffs warn that a cleansing of the earth will soon take place in preparation for the end of the world.  Jeffs's revelations predict an earthquake to take place on the capital city of Arizona and warns of volcanoes and earthquakes to take place in many large populated places in Utah.  The revelations go on to predict the rising up of the country of Turkey to be an international power and states that NATO has lost credibility in the world.  It didn't make much of an impression, given that many of Utah County's lawmakers opted to discard the package.  "I glanced over it and gave it to the round file," Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, said.  Sen. Margaret Dayton, R-Orem, said she had to sign for the package and once she realized who it was from and what it was, she opted to throw the items away.     Read more
 
 
Judge says 'Proclamation' sent to intimidate
By Chris Paschenko
Galveston County Daily News
Originally published November 18, 2011

GALVESTON — A book called "Proclamation," containing scripture-like passages from the polygamist sect leader Warren Steed Jeffs, arrived in a Galveston judge's mail this week, prompting an investigation.  Judge Susan Criss, of Galveston's 212th District Court, posted the experience to her Facebook page and learned other Texas judges received the book.  Criss skimmed some of the 200-plus pages before giving the book to the sheriff's office to investigate.  "It's meant to intimidate," Criss said.  "It's about how we shouldn't persecute Warren Jeffs and the godly right of celestial union marriages."  A Texas jury in August convicted Jeffs, 55, the head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and sentenced him to life in prison for having sex with underage girls.  Other judges across the state, including at least one in Houston and others in Dallas, also received the book, Criss said.  After receiving the book in the courthouse mail Monday, Criss posted passages on her Facebook account.  "Release my servant Warren Jeffs and his brethren from imprisonment," and "Let my people be no longer persecuted nor prosecuted."  The book also reads, "Hear my message of warning" and "let my celestial law of eternal union of plural marriage now be protected by government power."  The sheriff's office was considering asking a member of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force to review the book, sheriff's office Capt. Barry Cook said.  It was mailed from Colorado City, Ariz.     Read more
 
 
Galveston judge receives polygamist's prophesies
By HARVEY RICE
HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Originally published November 18, 2011

GALVESTON - Galveston officials are pondering what action to take after a district judge received a book containing the apocalyptic prophesies of polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs, serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting a child bride.  "We're examining the material and will be conferring as needed with the Joint FBI Task Force (on terrorism) to see what else may be required," said Galveston County sheriff's spokesman Maj. Ray Tuttoilmondo.  Judge Susan Criss said she received a 240-page book in the mail Monday.  "I looked at this and thought, either they sent this to every judge or I got some bad stuff coming my way," Criss said.  Criss said she posted a photo of the book on her Facebook page and got replies from judges in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio saying they also received copies of the book.  Although she does not feel threatened, she believes it's an effort at intimidation.  Glancing randomly at passages in the 247-page book, which contains writings by other authors as well as Jeffs, she found, "a warning to release my servant Warren Jeffs and his brethren from imprisonment; let my people be no longer persecuted or prosecuted; hear my message of warning."     Read more
 
 
Jeffs sends book of doom to area judges
Harvey Rice
Houston Chronicle
San Antonio Express-News
Originally published Saturday, November 19, 2011

GALVESTON — What District Judge Susan Criss thought was a law book in her mail this week turned out to be a thick paperback containing the apocalyptic prophesies of imprisoned cult leader Warren Jeffs.  The "revelations" predict instability in the United States and a withering of its power, tidal waves on the East Coast and Seattle, earthquakes in Arizona and Utah and melting fire in Idaho.  "I looked at this and thought, either they sent this to every judge or I got some bad stuff coming my way," said Criss, whose court is in Galveston County.  The 247-page book with writings by Jeffs and other members of his Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints also arrived Monday in the mail of several judges in San Antonio and other Texas cities, as well as the Utah attorney general's office.  During a meeting of Bexar County's civil state district court judges earlier this week, everyone in attendance seemed to mention receiving a packet, said Judge Sol Casseb III.  "I can't believe these people spent all this money to get them out to everybody," Casseb said Friday evening after offering his copy of the proclamation to a reporter.  "I don't think any of the judges are paying any attention to them."     Read more
 
 
Former FLDS agent guilty
Jessop convicted of contempt of court
Kevin Jenkins
The Spectrum
Originally published November 24, 2011

ST. GEORGE - A Hildale resident who once served as an unofficial spokesman for the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was found guilty of contempt of court Wednesday in 5th District Court.  William "Willie" R. Jessop, 43, failed to appear at two hearings to provide information about his ability to pay court-ordered costs, and Judge G. Rand Beacham approved a $15,000 warrant in September for Jessop's arrest.  Jessop, who testified he was in Europe for speaking engagements at the time of the September hearing and had not received advance notice about it, paid the $15,000 due before the warrant was served and appeared free on his own recognizance in court Wednesday.  His attorney, Adam Caldwell, told Beacham Jessop is willing to pay private investigator Samuel Brower's costs related to a lawsuit Jessop filed in 2008, which was instead awarded in Brower's favor earlier this year.  Beacham did not declare a penalty for the contempt finding or set a sentencing date for Jessop related to the finding.     Read more
 
 
Ex-polygamous sect spokesman Willie Jessop convicted of contempt
The Associated Press
Deseret News
Originally published Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011

ST. GEORGE, Utah — A southern Utah judge has found the former spokesman for the polygamous sect led by Warren Jeffs guilty of a contempt of court charge for failing to show up for a pair of hearings.  Fifth District Court Judge G. Rand Beacham issued the ruling against William "Willie" R. Jessop on Wednesday, The Spectrum of St. George reported.  Beacham had previously issued a $15,000 warrant for Jessop's arrest.  Jessop had paid the fine prior to Wednesday's hearing, however, and remains free.  In court, Jessop told Beacham he had been in Europe for speaking engagements and was not aware of a September court date.  Jessop also missed a hearing in June.  The contempt charge was specifically related to the June hearing.  Beacham set no date for sentencing, nor indicate what punishment might be imposed.  The missed hearings were to settle financial issues related to a 2008 legal dispute between Jessop and Cedar City private investigator Sam Brower, who has worked on several cases tied to the prosecution of Jeffs, who is head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.     Read more
 
 
B.C court rules against polygamy
By QMI Agency
London Free Press - London, Ontario
Originally published November 26, 2011

The lawyer who argued to decriminalize polygamy says he plans to appeal a ruling Wednesday that upheld the 120-year-old anti-law.  Lawyer George Macintosh said he would likely appeal the ruling within the next 30 days, perhaps directly to the Supreme Court of Canada.  "The issue wouldn’t be whether the conduct complained of is harmful because much of the conduct clearly is harmful," said Macintosh, who said he would not contest the judge’s findings of fact.  "The issue instead is the constitutionality of this section and whether this section is the right way to go about it to deal with these harms."  On Wednesday, B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman found the prohibition of polygamy prevents harm to women, children and society, and is consistent with Canada’s international human rights obligations.  He acknowledged the law infringes on freedom of religion and may encourage polygamists to seek isolation, but he said it was justified as even fundamentalist Mormons can choose monogamy without sacrificing their religious beliefs, and Muslims are not mandated to have multiple wives.  He said the law is meant to advance monogamous marriage as a fundamental value of Western society.  He also ruled the law was unconstitutional when used to prosecute children under the age of 18.
 
 
Report news; don't hold an agenda
Opinion
The Spectrum
Originally published November 29, 2011

I was shocked and disappointed to read Thursday's article "Former FLDS agent guilty."  Although I participated in this hearing as Mr. Jessop's attorney and found the hearing to be uneventful, The Spectrum managed to turn a mundane hearing into a sensational and action-packed event, using bold descriptions such as "guilty" and "convicted," even though the hearing was civil in nature - not criminal.  I believe the article was irresponsible for several reasons.  If readers were to merely glance at the title and subtitle of the article, they would take away that Mr. Jessop was convicted and found guilty of some crime.  However, if one were to thoroughly scour Title 76 of the Utah Criminal Code, Mr. Jessop's offense is not found, in that there was no criminal offense.  Perhaps more outrageous is the statement that no "sentencing date" had yet been set.  Of course no sentencing date has been set because there's not going to be a sentencing date.  If there's no crime, there's no need for a sentencing date.  The article wrongly states that the judge "did not declare a penalty."  In June, Mr. Jessop inadvertently missed a hearing in this matter, by going to the wrong courtroom.  By the time Mr. Jessop realized he was in the wrong courtroom, he had missed his hearing, which by private investigator Sam Brower's own account lasted less than 60 seconds.  Thus, Mr. Jessop's penalty for his error is to pay some of Mr. Brower's attorney's fees incurred, which Mr. Jessop believes to be a fair resolution to this matter.     Read more
 
 
Purge of nonbelievers under way in FLDS towns
By John Hollenhorst
Deseret News
Originally published Monday, Dec. 5 2011

HILDALE, Utah — A new crackdown on followers of Warren Jeffs by his own lieutenants and a ban on everyday items such as children's toys have triggered turmoil in the FLDS community.  Former members of the group say a large-scale purge is under way in the twin towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  Many followers of the imprisoned polygamist leader are being forced out, and many others are said to be leaving voluntarily because they're disturbed by what's going on.  "A lot of people are scared. A lot of people are just getting tired," said former FLDS member Isaac Wyler.  Among the new edicts, according to Wyler, is a ban on children's toys.  "Also, they have been told to get rid of their bicycles and trampolines," he said.  Observers say it's part of a program to cleanse and purify FLDS members before a Dec. 31 deadline.  FLDS faithful reportedly have to profess their loyalty to Jeffs and to show they're obeying his moral edicts.  If they don't do so by the end of the year, they're out.  Attempts to reach FLDS leaders for a statement were unsuccessful.  Jeffs, who was sentenced in November to seven years in prison for bigamy and child sex assault, reportedly is still pulling the strings from his cell in Texas.  Former members say his edicts are passed on through phone calls to FLDS leaders.  His brother, Lyle Jeffs, appears to be the most powerful FLDS leader outside of prison.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs increases demands on followers
Members told to give up toys, pets, ATVs
By Matthew Waller
San Angelo Standard-Times
Originally published December 6, 2011

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Warren Jeffs is tightening his grip on the polygamist group he leads as "prophet" while he is in prison, demanding people abandon amenities such as toys, pets and recreational vehicles to give more money to their church, possibly to support the sect's massive ranch in Texas, a sect member said.  Members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the twin border cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., are being threatened with excommunication, potentially losing their family and property, if they do not follow through.  "Because of the lack of resources in Texas, he is trying to mandate other communities turn in their resources," said Willie Jessop, an FLDS member who is not loyal to Jeffs.  Jeffs is in a Texas prison serving a sentence of life plus 20 years in prison for sexually assaulting two girls ages 12 and 15.  That fact isn't known to the vast majority of Jeffs' followers, Jessop said.  "The greatest part of the cover-up is no access to any outside communication to expose their minds to what they're sustaining," Jessop said.  "Ninety-eight percent don't know what he was actually sentenced to prison for doing."  FLDS members aren't being allowed to have things like bicycles, ATVs, trampolines or toys.  There is no Internet access for faithful followers of Jeffs, and pets, or any animals that don't bring monetary gain, are forbidden, Jessop said.     Read more
 
 
County commissioners receive FLDS letters warning of destruction
By Matthew Waller
San Angelo Standard-Times
Originally published December 6, 2011

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Tom Green County Precinct 1 County Commissioner Ralph Hoelscher just finished an hourlong Commissioners Court meeting — listening to road construction reports and a property and safety disagreement among a few neighbors — when he read a letter about the destruction of the United States.  The letter came from the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a purported revelation from God to the FLDS leader and "prophet" Warren Jeffs.  Jeffs is in prison in Palestine, Texas, serving a sentence of life plus 20 years for sexually assaulting girls ages 12 and 15 years old.  "There shall be a complete besom of destructive power come forth," the letter states.  The letter details that the sea will be heaving beyond its bounds, burying and washing away cities, shaking the earth.  The cleansing will allow God to carry out his work in North and South America, the letter purports.  "We'll just have to wait and see," Hoelscher said.  Commissioners received three letters, dated Oct. 31, Nov. 1 and Nov. 12.  The Nov. 12 states that the "most heinous crime" is the "murder of unborn children."     Read more
 
 
More letters from FLDS received
By Matthew Waller
San Angelo Standard-Times
Originally published December 13, 2011

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Tom Green County commissioners have received a second set of documents in the mail from the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Two documents came in a single letter to Precinct 2 Commissioner Aubrey DeCordova.  Precinct 3 Commissioner Steve Floyd said he received more letters a couple of days ago.  One document purports to be a revelation from Jesus Christ to FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, who is in prison for life plus 20 years for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl.  The letter is dated Nov. 13.  It is labeled as a "Full Warning" to national leaders and the people of the United States.  The letter warns of judgment with sickness and war and mountains covering wicked cities.  "Let United States of America leaders repent of their most wicked unholy ways, most of immoral personal way," the letter states.  Another document is labeled "Jesus Christ, God Over All, Sendeth a Final Warning to Peoples of Every Land on Earth, to be Heeded Now by All Peoples."  The letter warns of judgment and specifically asks for the release of Jeffs and "Merril Jessop," the former FLDS bishop Fredrick Merril Jessop, who has been sentenced to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for performing an underage marriage.  The letter also condemns an "apostate witness" who testified in trials against FLDS members, and contains general judgment for all the world.     Read more
 
 
Read Warren Jeffs' "Revelations" from prison warning of the destruction of the United States, sent to some Texas Commissioners' offices in early December, 2011
 
 
Read Warren Jeffs' "Revelations" from prison warning of the destruction of the United States, received in Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's office December 12, 2011
 
 
FLDS Imprisoned Leader Warren Jeffs Issues A "Do It Or Else" Edict
Reported by: Stella Thurkill
KUTV 2News
Originally broadcast Tuesday, December 27 2011

(KUTV) TEXAS - FLDS members have been warned by their imprisoned prophet - Warren Jeffs - that they have four days left to make some major changes or be destroyed.  Jeffs - through revelations in prison and subsequent phone calls - has taken away almost all his followers earthly possessions in recent weeks.  Now he says if they don't comply with God's latest commands it's over.  2News reporter Stella Thurkill talked with Willy Jessop this evening.  Former members of Warren Jeffs' FLDS Church say the imprisoned prophet is sending a type of "do it or else" message to his followers.  That edict apparently was delivered from a prison cell sometime over the holiday weekend.  His followers allegedly must comply by the end of the year or face being -- what Jeffs calls -- destroyed.  According to Willie Jessop, who is no longer a Jeffs' follower, compliance is a multi-step process.  Most importantly. "You have to go through a total commitment process. All of your allegiance - totally committed to Warren Jeffs," he said.  And then once that happens...  "If you then pass that portion, they ask you a whole bunch of questions about your worthiness and whether you're able to abstain from any sort of relations with your family or your wife," he said.  Those relationships reportedly cannot happen until Jeffs is released from prison.  To hear more, watch 2News at 10pm!
 
 
FLDS must be 'chosen' by year's end or be destroyed, Jeffs says
By John Hollenhorst
KSL-TV
Originally broadcast December 27th, 2011

HILDALE -- A "frenzy" of activity has erupted among a polygamist community in southern Utah as imprisoned leader Warren Jeffs has told his followers that they must be "chosen" by the end of the year or be destroyed.  According to outside observers, there has been a flurry of church meetings almost daily, a set of mysterious construction projects and widespread re-baptism as thousands of followers react to apparent prophesies of doom from their imprisoned leader.  "These people honestly believe that the end is here and that everybody's going to be destroyed within the next few days," said Isaac Wyler, former member of the FLDS church and resident of Colorado City.  Observers have growing concerns that Jeffs, acting from prison in Texas, is preparing the FLDS faithful for a dramatic new phase.  Some believe the renewed fervor and emphasis on loyalty is a prelude to an exodus of the faithful to an FLDS outpost in another state.  "Right now, Warren is prophesying that the end is nigh, that the world's coming to an end at any moment," said Sam Brower, a Cedar City private investigator who has spent years probing the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  "They're trying to live up to Warren's predictions and prophesies and trying to prove to him that they're obedient and that they're going to follow his instructions, do whatever he tells them."  There have also been concerns that large numbers of people will be kicked out or will leave the group voluntarily, putting stress on social service capabilities in southern Utah.     Read more
 
 
 
'Prophet' Warren Jeffs May Lose Privileges For Preaching From Prison Pulpit
Cathy Scott
Crime
Forbes - New York, NY
Originally published December 29, 2011

Warren Jeffs, inmate number 08888382 and a self-proclaimed prophet, has been manipulating, controlling and terrorizing a polygamist sect from behind prison walls.  But his antics may soon end if a state probe finds his actions to be illegal.  Jeffs has given members of the polygamist sect of the FLDS, a fringe Mormon group, an end-of-year deadline to prove their loyalty to him — or else.  And this from a man who is serving out a life sentence at the Powledge Unit maximum-security prison near Palestine, Texas, for sexually assaulting two underage girls at an FLDS compound in Texas.  How was he able to pull it off?  Apparently, via telephone calls.  "We went through the phone records and did determine that [Jeffs] made two calls to a family member on Christmas Day," said Michelle Lyons, spokesperson for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.  "We're determining whether the person put that phone call on speaker."  Jeffs' surprise sermon was delivered from prison during a First Ward church meeting in the small, rural Arizona town of Colorado City near the Utah state line.  In his sermon, Jeffs ordered that his followers be "chosen" by December 31 or be destroyed.  Jeffs' latest do-or-die edict has sent the FLDS community into a frenzy and launched the state inspection general into investigation mode.  Jeffs' errant behavior, Lyons said, "is something we take seriously."     Read more
 
 
Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs might have preached from prison
By Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Houston
Los Angeles Times
Originally published December 29, 2011

Texas prison officials are investigating whether jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs preached to his flock from prison on Christmas Day in violation of prison rules, officials told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday.  Jeffs, 56, is serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting two girls he married as "spiritual brides" when they were 12 and 14 years old at his breakaway Mormon sect's West Texas ranch.  "We have confirmed that Jeffs made two phone calls on Christmas Day to a relative," Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark told the Times.  "At this point, we're investigating whether he may have circumvented policy and may have spoken to his congregation."  If so, Jeffs could be trying to maintain control over his sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which claims 10,000 followers in North America and teaches that a man should have at least three wives.  The sect has been condemned by the mainstream Mormon Church for promoting marriages with underage girls.  Clark wouldn't say what sparked the investigation.  He said the department's Office of Inspector General was investigating and that Jeffs could face internal punishment, including the loss of telephone privileges.  Earlier this year, Jeffs was hospitalized for nearly a month after a fast that former sect members described as a bid to persuade followers across North America to sacrifice on his behalf.     Read more
 
 
Marriages dissolved, sexual relationships banned among FLDS faithful
By John Hollenhorst
KSL-TV
Originally broadcast December 30th, 2011

HILDALE — As the year comes to an end and the followers of Warren Jeffs await the apocalypse he has predicted, they're living under a challenging edict: they're forbidden to have sex until Jeffs is sprung from a Texas prison.  "He has predicted that the walls in the prison where he's at will fall and crumble," said Joni Holm, who has many relatives in the polygamous FLDS faith.  According to Holm, Fundamentalist LDS Church members also face their faith's most severe punishment, excommunication, if they conceive a child.  It's one of the strangest edicts in a season full of them.  Jeffs has issued a stream of revelations, prophecies and orders to his congregation in the border community of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  The recent edicts from Jeffs' prison cell seem to be having two contradictory effects: Many are leaving the FLDS faith in disgust, and those who stay are reported to be increasingly devoted to a man who is serving a lifetime sentence for raping underage girls.  According to numerous critics and outside observers, the imprisoned FLDS leader has sometimes acted through his brother Lyle and other times has spoken directly to his congregation over the phone from prison.  He recently banned many of the things his followers enjoy: bicycles, ATVs, trampolines, even children's toys.  But the sex edict reaches into the bedrooms of all his devoted followers.     Read more
 
 
 
Apocalypse Now? Warren Jeffs' New Years deadline approaches
Members reportedly ordered to be 'rebaptized,' some may be disappearing
Ben Winslow
Reporter Fox 13
KSTU-TV
Originally broadcast December 31, 2011

HILDALE, Utah - A deadline set by Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs for his members to reaffirm their commitment to the faith is prompting some people to walk away from the polygamous church on the Utah-Arizona border.  Other FLDS members are simply vanishing once they are re-committed to the faith, ex-members and observers told FOX 13.  Jeffs, who is imprisoned in Texas for child sex assault related to underage marriages, has ordered his followers to be questioned by FLDS leaders.  They've had to fill out questionnaires, confess their sins and be re-baptized into the faith, only after church elders deem them worthy, ex-members said.  Jeffs has reportedly set down new restrictions, including demanding his followers give up any forms of entertainment; children have been told to give up toys and bicycles, and husbands and their wives have been forbidden to have sexual relationships unless it is for procreation (and only then with the approval of Jeffs), ex-members have said.  "They've been going into the meetings, the big meetings every single day since Saturday," said ex-FLDS member James Barlow.  Outside the FLDS Church's meeting hall and at a local school, the parking lots are packed.  FLDS faithful were photographed scurrying in and out of the buildings.  If members don't recommit to the church, they will be excommunicated, Barlow said.  He walked away from the church last month.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs voids marriages, bans sex
By CNN
KMVT - Twin Falls, Idaho
Originally broadcast January 1, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (CNN) Many remaining followers of Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned FDLS leader say they are disgusted. Jeffs just announced marriages of his followers have all been voided.  While Jeffs is in a Texas prison, his brother, Lyle, broke the news to residents of Colorado City and Hildale.  A relative of FDLS members says a lot of the faithful members are meeting almost daily and being re-baptized.  They won't be considered married until Jeffs gets out of prison to personally reseal them.  "Right now they have all been told that they are not to live as husband and wife. They can live in the same house but they are not to have sexual relationships until warren comes out and reseals them," says Joni Holm, a relative of FLDS members.  Jeffs is serving a life sentence for raping underage girls.
 
 
As many as 1,000 may be exiled from the FLDS Church
Ben Winslow
fox13now.com
KSTU-TV
Originally broadcast January 2, 2012

HILDALE, Utah - As many as a thousand people may have been exiled by the Fundamentalist LDS Church under an edict by imprisoned polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.  From his prison cell in Texas, Jeffs reportedly set a New Year's deadline for his faithful followers to be re-baptized into the faith or face excommunication.  Over the weekend, hundreds of vehicles were seen parked at a meeting hall as well as schools in the community.  Ex-members of the church and observers said it appeared it was where they learned if they remained in the church or were exiled.  "What's happened is Warren Jeffs has divided the community into at least two different groups, probably three," said private investigator Sam Brower, who works for attorneys suing the FLDS Church.  He photographed hundreds of people going into the meetings.  The majority remained in the FLDS Church, ex-member Isaac Wyler told FOX 13.  Another group, believed to be comprised of nearly 1,000 individuals were told they must atone by "yearning for Zion," but were not allowed to attend church services.  "They were told to repent," Wyler said, adding that they could still tithe to the church.  Others were excommunicated from the church entirely.  Brower said that in some cases, entire families were split apart.  "I talked to one guy that was kicked out," he said.  "The church officials showed up at his door at three o'clock in the morning, removed his wife and ten children. To say it was heartbreaking was an understatement."     Read more
 
 
Column: Cult leader Warren Jeffs acting a lot like Jim Jones
By DeWayne Wickham
USA TODAY
Originally published January 2, 2012

The terrorist who worries me most in this New Year is not an avowed enemy being stalked by American forces abroad.  It is Warren Jeffs, the homegrown cult leader and imprisoned pedophile.  From his Texas prison cell, Jeffs - who is serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl and a consecutive 20-year sentence for raping a 15-year-old girl - is demanding even sheep-like behavior from members of his 10,000-member fundamentalist church.  And he is, apparently, getting it.  Jeffs has banned his followers from having sex until he is released, Joni Holm, who has relatives in the cult, told the Salt Lake City Deseret News.  That's not likely to happen anytime soon since Jeffs, 56, must serve at least 45 years before he can be paroled.  Still, Jeffs has ordered his followers to reaffirm their faith (and loyalty to him) by handing over control of most of their worldly possessions to his lieutenants.  Children must give up their toys, girls under 18 aren't allowed to work or have a cellphone, and access to media outlets and the Internet is banned, the Deseret News also reported.  Many of Jeffs' followers were told to give his cult $5,000 by New Year's Eve or face expulsion from his Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which is a breakaway faction of the Mormon Church.  Jeffs' edicts would be laughable - especially his ban on sex in a cult where men are allowed to take multiple wives - if it were not the product of a twisted mind that is capable of much worse.     Read more
 
 
From prison, Warren Jeffs allegedly banning sex, marriage by FLDS church members
By God Discussion Reporter
God Discussion
Originally published January 3, 2012

Even though he is not supposed to be doing so, polygamist Warren Jeffs appears to be issuing edicts to members of the FLDS (Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints) church members.  An investigation is underway after FLDS church members came forward saying Jeffs sent orders to his followers from behind bars.  Jeffs is in prison in Texas, after being convicted of having sex with under-aged girls who he married.  He was sentenced in August to life in prison plus 20 years for assault.  According to his followers in Utah, he recently banned bicycles, ATVs, trampolines and even children's toys.  In his latest move, Jeffs has voided all marriages in the sect.  In his edict, he said that couples can live together but cannot have sex until he is released from prison.  A former sect member came forward after he was excommunicated from the 10,000-member church for having sex with his wife.  Newsy reports that according to the Salt Lake Tribune, "... dozens of men have been cast out of the polygamous sect this year by leaders loyal to Warren Jeffs ... Jeffs gained perhaps his greatest ability to communicate in years when he was transferred to a Texas jail where he had access to a payphone. Former members and jail staff said he used the phone to preach to the FLDS congregation over a loudspeaker."     Read more
 
 
 
 
Texas officials suspend Warren Jeffs' phone privileges
By Dave Alsup
CNN
Originally published Tue January 3, 2012

(CNN) -- Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs' phone privileges have been suspended, as investigators look into whether he preached from prison, authorities said Tuesday.  The Texas Department of Criminal Justice announced last week that it had initiated an investigation into claims that Jeffs used the phone to preach to his congregation on Christmas Day.  Records show that Jeffs made two phone calls on Christmas Day, said Jason Clark, a Criminal Justice Department spokesman, who declined to identify the people who lost their phone privileges with Jeffs.  "It would be a violation of the rules if the person called were to place the call on speaker phone or record the conversation. The Office of Inspector General has asked us to suspend the accounts of certain individuals on his calling list while they continue to investigate," said Clark.  Texas inmates are allowed to call as many as 10 people who have registered with the offender phone system vendor.  Calls can be up to 15 minutes in length, and offenders are limited to 240 minutes of phone time per month.  All calls are recorded and monitored except those between an inmate and his attorney.  Jeffs remains isolated in protective custody in the state's Powledge Unit prison facility near Palestine, Texas.  "He has no cellmate. No prison job. And the only time he leaves it (his cell) is for a shower and recreation," Clark said.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs' prison phone privileges disconnected
Ben Winslow
FOX 13 News
KSTU-TV
Originally broadcast January 3, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY - Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs' phone privileges have been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation into whether he violated Texas prison rules by delivering a Christmas Day sermon over a speakerphone from his cell.  Texas prison officials confirmed the decision to FOX 13 late Tuesday night.  The move basically shuts off one of Jeffs' biggest ways of communicating with his followers.  He is kept in isolation for 23 hours a day at a prison in Palestine, Texas, since he was sentenced to life plus 20 years for child sex assault, stemming from his polygamous marriages to a 12-year-old and a 15-year-old girl.  Jeffs, 56, recently handed down strict new rules for members of the Utah-based Fundamentalist LDS Church.  Ex-members of the FLDS Church said followers were told to give more to the church, children were ordered to give up their toys and husbands were forbidden from sexual relations with their wives unless it was with approval from church elders and for the purposes of a child.  As FOX 13 first reported on Monday, Jeffs exiled more than 1,000 people from the polygamous sect under orders that they confess their sins and be re-baptized or face excommunicated.  The majority of those people were told to continue to "yearn for Zion," but others were told they were excommunicated entirely.  Church observers told FOX 13 entire families were split apart.     See photo
 
 
Warren Jeffs' sect casts out 1,500 members
United Press International
Middle East North Africa Financial Network - Amman, Jordan
Originally published Wednesday, January 04, 2012

COLORADO CITY, Ariz., Jan. 4, 2012 (UPI via COMTEX) -- The polygamist sect led by the jailed Warren Jeffs cast out about a quarter of his followers, members of the Colorado City community said Wednesday.  The estimated 1,500 members cast out during the weekend were told they were "unworthy" by Jeffs' brother Lyle, who interviewed followers individually.  Some families were divided by the judgments, with some wives being told they were worthy and others being told to repent.  Lyle Jeffs held each follower's hand to see if that person was lying as he questioned them, asking things like: "Are you saying your prayers in all that you do?" and "Do you think only pure thoughts?"  Ezra Draper, a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, told The Salt Lake Tribune people were asked to "renew their covenants."  Roughly 6,000 people are estimated to live within the community.  Followers have not been asked to leave their families or homes, but rather barred from access to the community meeting house and told to worship elsewhere.  No one has been formally excommunicated.
 
 
Warren Jeffs phone use suspended
MICHAEL GRACZYK
Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published January 4, 2012

HOUSTON — Texas prison officials have suspended indefinitely the phone privileges of convicted polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs while they investigate whether he violated rules with improper telephone calls on Christmas Day.  Officials believe the calls Jeffs made to two approved people on his phone list were broadcast on a speakerphone to his congregation, a violation of the prison phone rules.  "At this point, he's unable to make phone calls pending the outcome of the investigation," Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark said Wednesday.  He said the inquiry would likely wrap up within the next week or so.  Authorities aren't saying how they found out Jeffs may have been preaching over the phone, but have noted that except for calls to their lawyers, calls made through the inmate telephone system are monitored and recorded.  Jeffs, 56, is serving a life sentence plus 20 years at an East Texas prison for sexually assaulting two of his underage brides.  The charges followed a raid in 2008 on a West Texas ranch that's home to followers of his Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Each of the Christmas Day calls lasted 15 minutes, the maximum duration before calls are cut off.  Clark said the two people Jeffs called have been suspended from his call list, which can contain up to 10 names.  They were not identified.  Names on inmates' phone lists are not a matter of public record, he said.     Read more
 
 
Division in FLDS after deadline
Followers had until Dec. 31 to prove loyalty
By Matthew Waller
San Angelo Standard-Times
Originally published January 5, 2012

SAN ANGELO, Texas — The New Year's deadline given to followers to prove their faithfulness to imprisoned polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs came and went, and the dust has yet to settle.  Members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints had until Dec. 31 to show they were completely loyal to Jeffs, 56, who is in prison for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl.  Jeffs retains control over the sect through his brothers and members still loyal to him.  "The fallout is extremely far reaching as far as the social aspect," said Willie Jessop, who once acted as a spokesman for the sect but now opposes Jeffs' leadership.  Between 1,000 and 1,500 people have been kicked out of the sect in the latest round of excommunications, according to those close to the FLDS and social organizations that offer help to those who try to leave the sect behind.  The sect is estimated to have had about 10,000 members in the United States and Canada.  To show loyalty, FLDS members were told to get rid of pets and toys, to abstain from sex and to give $5,000 per month to the church.  "The problem is, they had to turn in their assets to qualify," Jessop said.  "Now, with the realization that they were swindled out of everything including their religion, it's an overwhelming social issue."     Read more
 
 
Brent Hunsaker - An open letter to Warren Jeffs
Reported by: Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4 News
Originally published January 6, 2012

Dear Warren Jeffs:

I know you have a lot of time on your hands these days. You spend all but one hour a day in your Texas prison cell. I hear that you've been doing a lot of writing and allegedly a lot of talking with your god.

Your "conversations" have been printed up by your followers and mass mailed to all sorts of folks ... except me.

What? You lost my address?

Fortunately, others (thank you, Chris and Paul) have been kind enough to share with me your writings.

You call them revelations. But I got to tell you, I don't buy it.

Your stuff just doesn't make a lick of sense. The only thing I can make out of all those run-on sentences is that you want out of prison and if you don't get what you want, all "h-e-double-toothpicks" is going to break loose.

With no due respect, Warren, you're no Moses.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs loses prison phone privileges for 90 days
MICHAEL GRACZYK
Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published January 9, 2012

HOUSTON - Texas corrections officials said Monday that imprisoned polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs will be without phone privileges for 90 days as punishment for making calls that were put on speakerphone - presumably so he could preach to his followers.  Jeffs, 56, was found to have broken the rules multiple times with calls used for conferencing, Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons said.  Prison officials had said last week that his phone use was suspended indefinitely while they investigated.  "I don't know how far back it went," Lyons said.  "The investigation stemmed from reports on Christmas Day he used the phone system to deliver sermons. He made at least two calls that day."  Authorities didn't say how they found out about the improper calls, but have said previously that except for calls between inmates and their lawyers, calls made through the inmate telephone system are monitored and recorded.  Jeffs is serving a life sentence plus 20 years for sexually assaulting two of his underage brides.  The charges followed a 2008 raid on a West Texas ranch where followers of his Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints live.  Former church members have said since his conviction last year that Jeffs would continue to try to lead his Utah-based church from prison, since followers revere him.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs' phone privileges revoked
Prison phone use revoked, authorities say
By Matthew Waller
San Angelo Standard-Times
Originally published January 9, 2012

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs has had his phone privileges revoked for 90 days after prison authorities concluded he broke rules concerning prison phone use.  The Texas Department of Criminal Justice determined that on Christmas Day, Jeffs gave a telephone conference directed at multiple people, which is against the rules for Texas prisons, TDCJ spokeswoman Michelle Lyons said.  "It was apparent in reviewing the phone calls that he was talking to a group," Lyons said.  Lyons said she didn't have specifics on what was said in the calls but that the calls were each 15 minutes long, the maximum length allowed for a single phone call.  Prisoners get 240 phone call minutes each month.  Two people had been stricken from the list of people Jeffs was allowed to call during the investigation, Lyons said.  Their identities are not public record, she said.  Jeffs, 56, is serving a sentence of life plus 20 years in prison for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl and fathering a child with a 15-year-old girl.  According to former and present members, Jeffs has exercised command of the sect through his brothers.     Read more
 
 
Brown County commissioners inundated with letters from sect leader Warren Jeffs
By Scott Waltman
swaltman@aberdeennews.com
Aberdeen News - Aberdeen, South Dakota
Originally published January 10, 2012

Brown County commissioners are among the elected officials in South Dakota getting letters from an imprisoned sect leader and his supporters.  Commissioners said at their Tuesday meeting said that they're regularly getting letters and packages from Warren Jeffs, head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Jeffs is serving a life term, plus 20 years, in a Texas prison for sexually assaulting two young girls he claimed as his wives.  A group affiliated with Jeffs owns land in Custer County.  Brown County commissioners are ignoring his letters.  Jeffs' Arizona-based church has also been sending piles of letters to other counties in the state.  The letters mention a series of prophecies and warn leaders against wicked ways.  In some, Jeffs claims "keyholding power of authority on Earth."
 
 
Imprisoned polygamist leader Warren Jeffs calls himself LDS Church president
By Dennis Romboy
Deseret News
Originally published Tuesday, Jan. 10 2012

SALT LAKE CITY — Imprisoned polygamist leader Warren Jeffs gave himself a new title on one of his latest pronouncements.  At the end of a one-paragraph, handwritten revelation he writes "President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" under his signature.  Jeffs is not president of the LDS Church.  His church is formally known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, commonly referred to as FLDS.  It is based in the twin towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hilldale, Utah.  It is not affiliated with the LDS Church, based in Salt Lake City.  Over the past few months, Jeffs has mailed dozens of revelations from his prison cell in Palestine, Texas, to public agencies, schools and libraries throughout the country.  In the latest round, he predicts the downfall of the president of the United States.  Jeffs, 56, is serving a life sentence plus 20 years for sexually assaulting two of his underage brides.  The charges followed a 2008 raid on a West Texas ranch where some of his followers live.  Former church members have said since his conviction last year that Jeffs would continue to try to lead his Utah-based church from prison.

— Dennis Romboy
Twitter: dennisromboy     See photo
 
 
Read Warren Jeffs' December 2011 Revelations from prison received by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on January 10, 2012
 
 
Got junk mail from Jeffs?
JOYCE EDLEFSEN
Rexburg Standard Journal - Rexburg, Idaho
Originally published Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mailings by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints filled with revelations by imprisoned Warren Jeffs are going unopened in Madison and Fremont counties.  The polygamist sect, led by Jeffs, has included officials in the two counties on its mailing list.  Using scripture-like language, the letters and packets of information proclaim Jeffs' teachings and encourage recipients to buy books and other materials. Some of Jeffs' revelations mentioned in the letters include messages that God will "send a full tidal wave of tsunami judgement," and decries the sin of "outward abuse of women."  The letter also warns the President of the United States saying he "heedeth not the God over all."  Fremont County Commission Chairman Skip Hurt says county officials have been receiving the documents, some via Priority Mail packaging, for several weeks.  Most of the packages have been thrown away without being opened, with the last batch arriving on the commissioners' desks Monday.  Hurt says he twice called a phone number listed in one of letters for Fundamentalist Patriarch Vaugh Taylor, but didn't get any response.  Hurt says his intention in calling the number was to tell the organization to stop sending county officials "junk mail."     Read more
 
 
Imprisoned Jeffs imposes change on polygamous sect
JENNIFER DOBNER
Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published January 15, 2012

Salt Lake City - Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs may be serving a life-plus-20-year sentence in a Texas prison, but his grip on most of his 10,000 followers doesn't appear to be lessening and some former insiders say he's imposing even more rigid requirements that are roiling the church and splitting its members.  The edicts from Jeffs, head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, form the basis for what he's called the "Holy United Order."  An estimated 1,500 men, women and children church members failed to meet the stringent standards by a Jan. 1 deadline, said Willie Jessop, a former FLDS spokesman who no longer reveres Jeffs.  Whether those members were excommunicated outright or have been put on probationary status until they can prove they meet the standards remains unclear, Jessop and others said.  Some marriages have been dissolved and families split up as Jeffs works from his prison cell to reshape his church.  Since about mid-November, Jeffs' brother, Lyle Jeffs, has been conducting personal interviews with members to determine their worthiness under the new order, the former church members say.  "There are eight questions, but before they get there, they ask, 'Do you accept Warren Jeffs as God's mouthpiece and your prophet,' and if you believe he can rule in all the affairs of your life," said Jessop.     Read more
 
 
Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs purging disloyal members of his cult from within prison
  • Latest accusation to be made against the convicted rapist
  • Imposing more rigid requirements on church members
  • Brother is said to be conducting interviews on Jeffs' behalf to determine members' worthiness
By Daily Mail Reporter
Daily Mail - London, England
Originally published 15th January 2012

Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs may be serving a life-plus-20-year sentence in a Texas prison, but his grip on most of his 10,000 followers doesn't appear to be lessening.  Some former insiders say he's imposing even more rigid requirements on church members.  A number of marriages have been dissolved and families split up as Jeffs works from his prison cell to reshape his Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, according to Willie Jessop, a former FLDS spokesman.  Since about mid-November, Jeffs' brother, Lyle Jeffs, has been conducting personal interviews with members to determine their worthiness under the stringent new orders.  The inquiries range from whether members are saying daily prayers to whether they have carnal desires or 'dwell in the wickedness of evil dross of this generation.'  Jeffs recently lost his phone privileges at his prison in East Texas after it was discovered he preached to his followers from behind bars on Christmas Day, in violation of prison rules.  He is currently serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting two girls he wed as spiritual brides when they were 12 and 14 years old at his sect's Texas ranch.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs: Polygamous Leader Manipulates Sect From Prison as FLDS Splinters
By Melanie Jones
International Business Times - New York, New York
Originally published January 16, 2012

Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs may be serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for sexual assault, but the former head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) continues to control his radical off-branch of the Mormon Church behind bars.  According to an insider within the radical Mormon sect, Warren Jeffs has been purging disloyal members and continuing to run the FLDS Church since around mid-November 2011.  But his attempts to keep control of the Church, as borderline illegal as they might be, only seem to be driving his followers away from him, in what may be the biggest split within the fundamentalist Mormon sect since its creation.

'Members were going to be destroyed'

Willie Jessop, a former FLDS Church spokesman, said something close to 1,500 men, women and children failed to meet stringent new requirements that Jeffs has been passing down through his brother Lyle, who personally interviews families to test their loyalty.  Those families who fail to meet Jeffs' standards are either excommunicated outright or put on probationary status from the Church.  Jessop reports that some marriages have been dissolved and families split apart since Jeffs first began to pass down the new edicts, which form the basis of the leader's "Holy United Order," from within his jail cell.     Read more
 
 
I-Team: FLDS Raising Money for Jeffs
By Nathan Baca, Investigative Reporter
By Alex Brauer, Photojournalist
KLAS-TV 8 News NOW - Las Vegas, Nevada
Originally broadcast January 20, 2012

LAS VEGAS -- Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs is making what former members of his church call a "last ditch" effort to raise money as he serves time in prison.  An advertisement appeared in Friday's Review-Journal which gives southern Nevadans the opportunity to buy church proclamations ranging in price from $3 to $10.  Leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, known as FLDS, did not return 8 News NOW calls.  Church membership is estimated to be between 10,000 and 15,000 members.  The I-Team talked to a member of the Child Protection Project who was a child bride in the FLDS church before leaving.  "I believe he's gearing his people up. Several of the revelations where he does a call to his people that God will soon call his army forth to avenge him and things like that. I think this is his last ditch effort before he does that final call asking for God's army to stand up and go after everybody he feels persecuted him," Flora Jessop said.  The FLDS church states they are sending the writings, purchased through the ads, to leaders all around the world.     Read more
 
 
Polygamist sect advertising Warren Jeffs revelations
The Associated Press
Top Nation/World Headlines - Nation
San Luis Obispo Tribune - San Luis Obispo, California
Originally published January 20, 2012

Faithful followers of imprisoned polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs are making his apocalyptic writings available to the public through advertisements placed in newspapers nationwide.  The ads appear in Friday editions of The Washington Post, The New York Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, The Salt Lake Tribune and other newspapers.  A Washington Post ad sales representative tells The Associated Press a quarter-page ad in the newspaper costs about $10,000.  The 56-year-old Jeffs has been sect president since 2002 and has long predicted natural disasters and the destruction of the world.  Threats have increased since his 2010 conviction in Texas on sexual assault charges.  He's serving a prison sentence of more than 20 years.  A message left for FLDS patriarch Vaughan Taylor was not returned Friday.
 
 
Star Tribune accepts ad from convicted sex-assaulter's Mormon sect
By David Brauer
BrauBlog
MinnPost - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Originally published Fri, Jan 20 2012

Would you accept an ad from a religious sect touting a divine revelation given to a convicted sex abuser of two girls under 16?  That's what the Star Tribune did Friday morning, running two ads from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. One (on page A5 of my Minneapolis edition), simply says, "Jesus Christ, Son Ahman."  The second, on A6, proclaimes "Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ Given to President Warren Jeffs," and offers serveral writings for sale.  Jeffs, the president of the polygamist sect, was convicted in 2011 of molesting two "child brides" aged 12 and 15.  He is serving life plus 20 years in a Texas prison.  I sent an email Friday morning to publisher Mike Klingensmith and sales V.P. Jeff Griffing seeking an explanation.  I'll update this item as soon as I get one.  [Update: a Strib spokesman is sticking with their policy, below, about not discussion advertiser relations publicly.]  The Strib has rejected religion-based advertising — just seven months ago, they blocked an ad other newspapers ran from the Presbyterian Lay Committee, which opposed gay ordinations in that denomination.  At the time, a Strib spokesman refused to explain why, saying, "We consider the ad acceptance process a private business transaction between us and the advertiser — which we do not discuss publicly."     Read more
 
 
What's up with those 'Jesus Christ, Son Ahman' ads? They showed up in newspapers nationwide Friday
Statesman staff
News > Life > Religion
The Idaho Statesman - Boise, Idaho
Originally published January 21, 2012

Faithful followers of imprisoned polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs are making his apocalyptic writings available to the public through the ads, The Associated Press reported.  Where did they appear?  In Friday editions of The Washington Post, The New York Times, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, The Salt Lake Tribune and other newspapers, including the Idaho Statesman.  The ads will run again in the Statesman on Sunday.  Why publish them?  "We did not make the decision to run this ad lightly, but we do support and believe in free speech and freedom of religion," said Travis Quast, Statesman sales and marketing vice president.  "While we may not all agree with this group and what they believe, we found nothing offensive in their ad that would have kept us from publishing it."  How did readers respond?  A dozen called or emailed the Statesman with concerns about the ad; two canceled their subscriptions.  Who is Warren Jeffs?  The 56-year-old has headed The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints since 2002 and has long predicted natural disasters and destruction of the world.  He was convicted in 2010 in Texas on sexual assault charges and is serving a prison sentence of more than 20 years.  A message left for FLDS patriarch Vaughan Taylor was not returned Friday.
 
 
Read Warren Jeffs' "Revelation" newspaper ad printed in the Washington Post on Sunday, January 22, 2012
 
 
Warren Jeffs claims to channel Christ in print ads
By Annysa Johnson
Faith Watch
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Originally published January 23, 2012

While evangelicals debate whether Mormons are Christian, Jesus Christ Himself apparently is speaking through a disgraced fundamentalist Mormon leader, or so he says.  Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who's been mailing bizarre prophesies to public officials and media in recent months (I got a few), is now taking out quarter-page ads touting a revelation from Jesus Christ in newspapers around the country — including Milwaukee.  The local ad appeared in two parts, on pages 8A and 9A in Sunday's Journal Sentinel, the latter under the jump of a story on the South Carolina primary, featuring a photo of Mormon presidential candidate Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.  (And, no, he's not FLDS.)  The revelation says, in part, "Repent ye; now be full of humbling; all peoples shall be humbled in full way; as I send full judgments."  And it's signed by two top leaders of the FLDS.  The ads have appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune, Minneapolis Star Tribune and other papers around the country.     Read more
 
 
Imprisoned sect leader Warren Jeffs spends thousands on ads
By Bob Smietana
The Tennessean
USA Today
Originally published January 24, 2012

Jesus has a message for America, say leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Let Warren Jeffs go.  That claim is made in published copies of the polygamist sect leader's jailhouse revelations, being sold by his followers for $1 to $10.  Jeffs' followers are promoting the message through tens of thousands of dollars of paid ads placed in national and regional newspapers.  Students of charismatic leaders like Jeffs said it's not unusual for them to claim God will rescue them after they get in trouble with the law.  The ads claim that Jesus is coming back soon to judge America for its sins, including abortion and persecuting Jeffs, who is serving a life sentence plus 20 years in a Texas prison for sexually assaulting two young girls.  "Cease thy wicked attack, ye government authorities in the United States of America, against my people and my church," reads a revelation Jeffs claims to have received on Dec. 12.  According to The Tennessean's rate card, the ads that ran in the paper Friday and Sunday cost $6,903.23. A similar ad in The Washington Post costs about $10,000.  Kathleen Flake, associate professor of American religious history at Vanderbilt University, said the ads are aimed at reassuring Jeffs' flock that he is still a legitimate prophet.  "The audience for the ads isn't the readers of the newspapers," Flake said.  "The audience is the people placing the ads."     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs goes on a media blitz
Ben Winslow
FOX 13 News
KSTU-TV
Originally broadcast January 24, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY - The stacks of letters and books addressed to Utah lawmakers clutters a desk on Capitol Hill.  "Thus Saith Son Ahman, Even Your Lord Jesus Christ, My Own Will to All Nations on Earth of Full Power to be Fulfilled, Unto All Knowing I, God, Have Spoken Eternal Power Upon All Nations," one book is titled.  They are revelations from imprisoned polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, sent out like junk mailings to politicians, schools, libraries, and community leaders all over the United States warning about the end of times -- unless the Fundamentalist LDS Church leader is freed.  "They ramble," said Rep. Brian Doughty, D-Salt Lake City.  "It's really hard to follow what he's trying to say. I think the gist of what he's trying to say is the end is near and sinners need to be ready."  Doughty said he's received 20 or 30 of the revelations within the past year.  His fellow lawmakers have also received the revelations.  Many have simply tossed them in the trash.  "I joked that I wish I had stock in their printer," he said in an interview Monday with FOX 13.  One dated Jan. 1, is less about the destruction of the world and more about peace.  Those who subject themselves to God's will will be rewarded with "Celestial love-power."     Read more
 
 
 
The Latter-day Saints have come marching into Denver, but some are hipper than others
Denver Westword News
Originally published Tuesday, Jan 24 2012

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has gotten off to a rousing start in 2012 — the year of the alleged Apocalypse.  County officials across Colorado report receiving numerous mailings from the FLDS, otherwise known as that crazy Mormon sect led by super-creepy imprisoned polygamist Warren Jeffs.  The mailings — sent priority mail, United States Postal Service, for about $6 each — come from Vaughan Taylor, who's with Jeffs's FLDS Church in Colorado City, Arizona; within each mailer are individual envelopes addressed to each county commissioner, the county attorney and the sheriff.  Most are a couple of pages of "revelation" given to Jeffs; "Thus Saith Jesus Christ to the Leaders in Governing Powers, Also to All Peoples of the Nation of United States of America, My Own Word of Full Power Soon to Take Full Way of Cleansing Power Upon All in This Nation if You Repent Not" was one recent title.  Some have a theme — abortion; don't ask, don't tell — while others are just general calls to awakening.  But the last was a book that's 149 pages long, one county manager reports.  And the mailers conveniently include a price list if a county wants to order reprints.  Still, the FLDS would have to sell a lot of reprints to cover the cost of the large advertisements that appeared in the Denver Post and half a dozen other major newspapers around the country this past weekend, warning that the Lord is coming very soon.  In those ads, the FLDS appears to report that Christ revealed his impending arrival to Jeffs on December 27 in Palestine, Texas, where Jeffs is serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting two of his underage brides.     Read more
 
 
FLDS starts media blitz
Revelations' said to be from God via Jeffs
By Matthew Waller
San Angelo Standard-Times
Originally published January 26, 2012

SAN ANGELO, Texas — A polygamist sect has launched an international media blitz, with ads claiming to be God's revelations running in papers across the United States and Canada.  The ads purport to be revelations from God through Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Having been convicted of the sexual assault of a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl, Jeffs is serving a sentence of life plus 20 years in a prison in Palestine.  The alleged revelations were written from Palestine, according to the ads.  "Now repent, so I may own and bless all who come unto me," several of the ads say.  The ads have appeared in papers such as The Washington Post, The New York Times and the Salt Lake Tribune.  In Canada, the ads have run in the Vancouver Sun, according to staff in the advertising department, and the Saskatoon StarPhoenix, according to the paper's website records.  The ads may have cost thousands of dollars, even between $10,000 and $12,000 for the Washington Post ad, said Marc Rosenberg, an advertising manager at the Washington Post.  The ads include instructions on how to buy more revelations of God written through Warren Jeffs.  The other revelations cost between $2 and $10.     Read more
 
 
Polygamous leader says he took out $25,000 to prepare for end of the world
By: Terri Theodore
The Canadian Press
National Breaking News
Brandon Sun - Brandon, Manitoba
Originally published January 27, 2012

VANCOUVER - B.C. polygamous leader Winston Blackmore says he took out a $25,000 from the bank to prepare for the end of the world.  During testimony in the Tax Court of Canada on Thursday, Blackmore said he was directed by a patriarch in the community to get the money to "prepare for the worst."  The cash was to be used to gather supplies for the religious sect in southeast B.C., near the Canada-U.S. border, he said.  But it wasn't meant to be.  "Another deadline for the end of the world has come and gone. Some 15 deadlines have passed," Blackmore's self-published online newsletter later said in March 2004.  "Did you write that?" federal government lawyer Lynn Burch asked Blackmore.  "I could have wrote it," he said.  He acknowledged there had been at least 15 predictions for the end of the world from the prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS.  "Perhaps many more," he added.  Burch asked if the predictions for the destruction of the world were part of the belief system of the FLDS faith, a splinter from the Mormon church.  "I don't think they're part of the tenet, but they certainly are part of the practice," he replied.  Blackmore is testifying as he fights allegations that he made an extra $1.5 million above what he claimed on his taxes from 2000 to 2004 and in 2006.     Read more
 
 
From the public editor: Readers correct to question print ad
Sylvia Stead — Public Editor
The Globe and Mail blog - Toronto, Ontario
Originally published Friday, January 27, 2012

In Friday's paper we ran an ad with the words "Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ Given to President Warren S. Jeffs".  Some readers wondered why such an ad appeared in The Globe and Mail.  We do review ads, but unfortunately this one was not caught.  Mr. Jeffs, as you may know, is a polygamist sect leader in the United States who was convicted last year of sexually assaulting two children, one of whom was one of his child brides.  The ad, which was due to run again, has been cancelled.  According to the Salt Lake Tribune, the ad has appeared in several newspapers across the United States.  We thank the readers who drew this to our attention.
 
 
FLDS Advertising
By: KLST News
KLST - San Angelo, Texas
Originally broadcast January 28, 2012

Members of the polygamous FLDS church have advertisements running in newspapers in Canada and some parts of the United States this week.  Members of the group who live on the Arizona/Utah border reportedly bought the ads to run some of imprisoned prophet Warren Jeffs' revelations.  They also direct readers to the "FLDS-dot-org" website to order some of Jeffs' revelations priced from one to ten dollars.  Former spokesman willie Jessop -- who no longer supports Jeffs -- said today the mass advertising is a "fraud".  Jessop said Jeffs does not allow followers -- including those at the Schleicher County YFZ -- to have written copies of any of his revelations.  Jessop sees the move as an act of desperation.
 
 
Polygamists and Scientologists in The Post
By Patrick B. Pexton
Washington Post
Originally published February 1, 2012

Readers were upset that The Post recently ran a print advertisement from followers of Warren S. Jeffs, the imprisoned polygamist and leader of a sect that broke away from the Mormons.  They also didn't like online ads from the Church of Scientology.  The Jeffs-inspired ad, less than a quarter-page, appeared on page A13 of The Post's Jan. 22 edition.  In its hard-to-decipher language, it proclaimed divine revelations to Jeffs, president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and advertised how to send for Jeffs's books.  The Jeffs ad appeared the same day as an Associated Press article on page A7 about how the sect leader was still managing to lead his flock from prison.  Readers didn't like running ads from a group whose leader was convicted of sexual assault against underage girls whom he took as wives.  Darrel Salisbury, of Lorton, Va., wrote this to me: "On page A7, 22 January 2012, there is an article about Warren S. Jeffs, convicted child molester, still ruling the bunch of pedophiles known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, while serving life plus 20 years in prison.  On page A13, there is a fund-raising advertisement for that same organization.  So, now we know how low The Washington Post will stoop to make a buck?"     Read more
 
 
Polygamist prophent Warren Jeffs controlling sect from behind bars
by Mike Watkiss
KTVK - AZ Family
Originally broadcast February 2, 2012

Colorado City, Ariz -- It has been six months since polygamous prophet Warren Jeffs was sentenced to life in a Texas prison for sexually assaulting underage girls.  Now, six months down the road, it's clear Jeffs continues to pull the strings, call the shots and rule with an iron fist in the twin border towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz.  In recent weeks, Jeffs has issued, from behind bars, a series of harsh and punitive edicts aimed his faithful followers -- forbidding sex, forbidding most forms of children's play, demanding more money and demanding that each and every man, woman and child undergo bizarre "worthiness tests."  Those who fail are being booted out of the community.  According to unnamed sources, 1,000 to 2,000 people have been affected by this latest purge -- with the net effect being lives ruined and families torn apart.  As he has so often in the past, Jeffs is also predicting the end of the world.  But this time he is laying out his "fire and brimstone" in mass-mailers being sent to leaders throughout the country.  Jeffs' Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) church is also spending a lot of money these days on major newspaper ads predicting doom and destruction from New York to Vancouver.     Read more
 
 
 
Former FLDS members testify young children are fleeing So. Utah towns
By John Hollenhorst
KSL TV
Originally broadcast February 2nd, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY — At a hearing in Colorado City Thursday, a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said there's a social crisis going on in the area, with children as young as 5 years old fleeing the new order being imposed.  "What is going on is so wrong and (is) ripping families apart," said Dan Wayman, a former member of the FLDS Church.  Wayman has seen plenty of heartache in the FLDS community.  He grew up in it and lived it, married to FLDS Church leader Warren Jeffs' sister, until Jeffs kicked him out in 2004.  But lately, Wayman says, it's worse.  "Families are being separated right in their own homes," he said.  Since Jeffs went to prison for life last summer, his followers have been under tremendous pressure to show allegiance.  Strict new rules have banned everything from toys and bicycles to sex.  Intense loyalty tests recently resulted in more than 1,000 members being declared unworthy for Jeffs' new United Order.  "They cannot even talk to other members of their family that have not qualified for this new 'Order,'" Wayman said.     Read more
 
 
Jim Ketchum: It's getting harder to be profitable prophet
Opinion
Port Huron Times Herald - Port Huron, Michigan
Originally published February 4, 2012

Jesus wants you to shape up and get your spiritual act together because he's coming back soon.  By the way, he also wants Warren Jeffs freed from prison.  All of this is according to Warren Jeffs.  Jeffs, you might remember, is the self-appointed head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The 8,000-member sect, which has no connection to the similarly named church to which Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and several million people worldwide belong, got in trouble with polygamy.  Jeffs is doing a stretch of life plus 20 years in a Texas prison after a jury convicted him of sexually assaulting two young girls.  His followers say their leader is ill and should be freed for that reason alone - aside from the fact that he's innocent.  Prisons are full of innocent people.  Just ask them.  But I digress.  On Dec. 12, Jeffs claims to have had a visitation from Jesus in which he said he's scheduling the Second Coming very soon.  "Cease thy wicked attack, ye government authorities in the United States of America, against my people and my church," Jeffs said Jesus told him.  I'm surprised Jesus still speaks in King James English.  I thought he updated his dialect when believers started using the Revised Standard Version of the Bible back in the 1950s.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs' ex-bodyguard files $100m lawsuit against him
Ben Winslow
FOX 13 News
KSTU-TV
Originally broadcast February 9, 2012

ST. GEORGE, Utah - The former bodyguard of polygamist leader Warren Jeffs has filed a $100 million lawsuit against him, accusing Jeffs of excommunicating him and ordering FLDS leaders to burglarize his business.  Willie Jessop filed the lawsuit Wednesday inSt. George's 5th District Court.  In the lawsuit Jessop claims he refused to falsify records about underage marriages within the Fundamentalist LDS Church.  In retaliation, Jessop's lawyers claim FLDS leaders ordered a nighttime raid on his business in an effort to get files on Jeffs.  Employees who are members of the FLDS Church were also told to quit, which they did en masse.  No court hearings have been scheduled in the case.     See photo
 
 
Ex-bodyguard for Warren Jeffs sues FLDS leaders
Kevin Jenkins
The Spectrum
Originally published February 10, 2012

ST. GEORGE - A former bodyguard for Warren Jeffs filed a multi-million-dollar lawsuit Wednesday against the leaders of the polygamous church that proclaims Jeffs as its prophet, alleging the church leaders ruined the man's Hildale-area businesses as retaliation for his disaffection with Jeffs.  Attorneys for William "Willie" Jessop, 43, filed the lawsuit against the leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in 5th District Court, seeking more than $57 million in damages as well as at least $25 million in punitive damages.  The lawsuit names Jeffs, his brother Lyle Jeffs, his brother-in-law John Wayman and two dozen other people or entities who have allegedly worked with the Jeffs brothers to take property from Jessop's excavation business and ranch, and to drive away Jessop's employees and harass his family.  Mark James, who is representing Jessop, said there are three separate sets of claims represented in the lawsuit.  "The principal claim would be the one made by R&W Excavation," James said.  "Because of the conduct by the defendants, including trespassing and taking computers ... our allegation is they have effectively destroyed the business of R&W. ... Obviously, a company can't exist for very long when it's computerized and its files are taken."  The second primary claim relates to property the defendants allegedly took from BMG Ranch, which Jessop owns as a limited liability company.     Read more
 
 
Ex-bodyguard for polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs sues FLDS leaders, claims retaliation
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The Republic - Columbus, Indiana
Originally published February 10, 2012

ST. GEORGE, Utah — A former bodyguard and spokesman for polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs has filed a multi-million-dollar lawsuit, claiming church leaders ruined his business after he had a falling-out with Jeffs.  Attorneys for William "Willie" Jessop, 43, filed a lawsuit Wednesday seeking more than $57 million in damages and at least $25 million in punitive damages from leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The lawsuit names imprisoned sect leader Jeffs, his brother Lyle Jeffs, his brother-in-law John Wayman and two dozen other people or organizations who allegedly worked to arrange a burglary at Jessop's Hildale-area excavation business and ranch.  The suit also claims church leaders have harassed his family and kept them under 24-hour surveillance, and expelled his children from FLDS schools.  Jessop attorney Mark James tells The Spectrum that as of Thursday, defendants had not yet been served the lawsuit that was filed in 5th District Court in Cedar City, Utah.  Media calls to FLDS leaders were not returned Thursday, and phone numbers for the church are not listed publicly.  The lawsuit states Jessop had supported Jeffs until he became convinced of claims that Jeffs was having affairs with other men's wives, and had renounced his role as the faith's prophet.     Read more
 
 
$100 million lawsuit filed against polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs
By Ashley Powers
Los Angeles Times
Daily Camera - Boulder, Colorado
Originally published February 10, 2012

LAS VEGAS -- The onetime spokesman for Warren Jeffs has filed a $100 million lawsuit against the polygamous sect leader, saying Jeffs asked him to falsify church records and arranged a break-in at his excavating business when he refused.  The lawsuit offers a window into the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the reportedly vicious politics of Jeffs, who was recently sentenced to life in prison in Texas for sexually assaulting two young girls who he said were his spiritual brides.  Former sect spokesman Willie Jessop said in court papers that Jeffs asked him last year to put a letter containing false information in church records, which the sect considers sacred, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.  The letter was intended to cast doubt on allegations that Jeffs had married two different underage girls in Texas.  Jessop said he knew the information in the letter was false and refused to add it to the records, according to the lawsuit.  In response, Jeffs had him excommunicated and demanded he leave the sect's enclave, which straddles the Utah-Arizona border.  Jessop wouldn't budge.     Read more
 
 
Read Willie Jessop's Complaint suing Warren Jeffs, Lyle Jeffs and John Wayman, filed in Utah Fifth District Court on February 9, 2012
 
 
What are they plotting? Mysterious stadium at Warren Jeffs' Church compound sparks fears that paedophile Mormon's followers are planning 'Jim Jones-style' mass suicide
By Daily Mail Reporter
Daily Mail - London, England
Originally published 11th February 2012

Photos of a stadium being built on the site of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - led by convicted paedophile Warren Jeffs - have emerged, raising concerns about its purpose.  The pictures, taken by a local resident in Eldorado, Texas, have sparked fears that the concrete building could be used for a mass suicide, like that led by Jim Jones of the Peoples Temple in 1978.  Another theory is that the concrete building - measuring 30 feet high and 289 feet across - will house a large statue of polygamist leader Jeffs, who is serving a life sentence for raping two underage girls.  Judge Jimmy Doyle, who captured the pictures from his aircraft, told Time magazine that the greatest fear among locals was that 'there will be a Jim Jones-like thing out there'.  Jones led a mass suicide in 1978 at the Peoples Temple in Guyana.  In total, 913 followers died, including 200 children who were forced to swallow poison by the group's leaders.  Although suicide is not permitted in the FLDS, Sam Brower, a Utah private investigator, told Time that Jeffs has disregarded other taboos in the past, such as marrying his father's wives.  'He has done other things that were against their beliefs and culture - he's famous for that,' Brower told the magazine, adding that he may wish to exercise his power over his followers' deaths.     Read more
 
 
Another FLDS purge coming?
Ben Winslow
Reporter Fox 13
KSTU
Originally broadcast February 26, 2012

HILDALE, Utah - More people may soon be kicked out of Warren Jeffs' polygamous church.  The imprisoned polygamist leader has reportedly set a new deadline to purge more people he has declared to be "unfaithful" from the Fundamentalist LDS Church, according to non-profit groups who work with those inside the closed societies.  "There was a proclamation made last week asking that any non-believing parties need to be removed from the community by February 29," said Nicole Nystrom with the group Holding Out Help.  "I don't know what the magic number is about February 29, but I assume it's just the end of the month and they're trying to clean out."  From his prison cell in Texas, Warren Jeffs exiled more than a thousand people on New Year's Day for various "sins."  Entire families have been separated.  Some have been told to "repent from afar" and been cast out of the communities.  Groups like Holding Out Help are trying to deal with the impact, setting up "host homes" for people who leave the FLDS communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., with nothing but the clothes on their backs.  "It's just coming to a head like that where it's just going to make a definite split now of the people who are kind of 'wishy-washy' followers, they're going to be out," said Nystrom.  "And the ones that are to it, with it to a T, they're going to be the ones that are sticking with it."  Ex-FLDS members said the community is being destroyed from within.  "Humanitarian Holocaust. That's a good word for it," said Wallace Jeffs, who was excommunicated from the FLDS Church by his half-brother.  "It's destroying people. It's destroying children. The children are the innocent ones that are suffering for this."     Read more
 
 
 
News of the Weird for March 18
Latest religious messages
Utah Lifestyles and living
Provo Daily Herald
Originally published March 18, 2012

Prophet Warren Jeffs, of a breakaway polygamous cult, is serving life (plus 20 years) in a Texas prison for raping two underage parishioners, but insists that his power has not been diminished.  He was disciplined in December for making a phone call to his congregation announcing several decrees, including barring marriages from taking place until he can return to "seal" them and prohibiting everyone from having sex.  (Since Jeffs retains his "messiah" status among many church members, and since life-plus-20 is a long time to wait, and since the cult is reclusive, it is difficult for outsiders to assess the level of sexual frustration in the compound.)
 
 
Texas jury convicts former polygamist sect leader of bigamy
By Matthew Waller
MIDLAND, Texas
Reuters
Originally published Wed Mar 28, 2012

(Reuters) - A Texas jury found a former leader of a breakaway Mormon polygamist sect guilty of being married to at least three women at the same time, including marrying two of them on the same day.  After about an hour and a half of deliberations, the jury in a Midland, Texas, trial convicted Wendell Loy Nielsen, 71, of three counts of the rarely-prosecuted crime of bigamy.  Nielsen is a former president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a breakaway sect of the Mormon church.  He was accused of marrying three women when they were 43, 58 and 65 years old.  Defense attorney David Botsford argued that Texas bigamy laws do not apply to the marriages practiced by the sect, which teaches that for a man to be among the select in heaven, he must have at least three wives.  The Mormon church has condemned the sect, which has an estimated 10,000 followers in North America.  He said that the women were placed with Nielsen in order to secure their salvation and that the unions were never intended to be legal.  "Without a head of the household, she cannot go to heaven," Botsford said.  But special prosecutor Eric Nichols said the unions were common-law marriages.  "What you're dealing with here are multiple marriages that look like marriage, talk like marriage, walk like marriages," Nichols said.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs' appeal denied; another sect leader is convicted of bigamy
By Greg Botelho
CNN
Originally published Thu March 29, 2012

(CNN) -- A Texas judge denied the appeal of fundamentalist sect leader Warren Jeffs on Thursday, the same day a jury considered testimony to determine how to sentence a key figure in his church after his own bigamy conviction.  The leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Jeffs is serving a life-plus-20-year term in Texas for sexual assault.  He was convicted in August of the aggravated sexual assaults of a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl, who Jeffs had claimed were his "spiritual wives."  On Thursday, Chief Justice J. Woodfin Jones of Texas' Third District Court of Appeals ruled against Jeffs' appeal of that conviction.  In his ruling, Jones noted Jeffs, who represented himself during part of his trial, missed several deadlines related to his appeal.  Specifically, he did not file "a written designation specifying the matters to be included in the clerk's record nor (make) arrangements for payment of the record with the clerk's office."  "We informed Jeffs that his appeal may be dismissed for want of prosecution if he did not make arrangements for payment of the record and submit a status report regarding this appeal on or before January 23, 2012," Jones wrote.  "To date, Jeffs has not responded."     Read more
 
 
Texas polygamist sect leader given 10-year bigamy sentence
By Matthew Waller
Reuters
KFOR - NewsChannel 4 - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Originally published March 30, 2012

MIDLAND, Texas (Reuters) - A jury handed a former leader of a breakaway Mormon polygamist sect a 10-year prison sentence on Friday for three counts of the rarely prosecuted crime of bigamy, though prosecutors said he had 34 wives in all.  Wendell Loy Nielsen, 71, of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints led by imprisoned leader Warren Jeffs, showed little reaction when Texas District Judge Robert Moore read the sentence.  Moore did not comment on the sentence, and Nielsen was marched out of the courtroom by sheriff's deputies.  He was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine.  The same West Texas jury heard eight days of testimony and deliberated less than two hours before convicting Nielsen on Wednesday of felony bigamy, a crime that legal scholars say is rarely prosecuted in the United States.  Prosecutor Eric Nichols said Nielsen had 34 wives of his own, and officiated at or witnessed 326 unlawful marriages.  Fifty of those marriages were to girls under age 18 and included 12- and 13-year-old girls.  The sect Nielsen belongs to teaches that for a man to be among the select in heaven, he must have at least three wives.  The Mormon church has renounced its polygamist past and condemned the sect, which has an estimated 10,000 followers in North America.  The prosecution also presented evidence that Nielsen played a part in breaking up families, did not seek medical help for an underage teenager's pregnancy complications, and hid sect leader Jeffs from police while Jeffs was on the FBI's most wanted list.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs Biography
Biography Channel
A+E Television Networks, LLC
Originally broadcast April 16, 2012

Synopsis

Warren Jeffs was born on December 3, 1955, in Sacramento, California. He is the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), a polygamist sect based in Utah and Arizona. Jeffs first gained notoriety in 2006, when the FBI placed him on its Ten Most Wanted List for arranging marriages between his followers and under-age girls. In 2006, he was arrested, and in 2007, he was convicted, but the sentence was later overturned. A 2008 raid on the FLDS compound in Texas resulted in evidence of the assault of underage girls, which later led to Jeffs' conviction in 2011.

Early Life

One of the 21st century's most infamous religious leaders, Warren Jeffs grew up within the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) community. This religious sect is an offshoot from Mormonism, but it is not recognized by or affiliated with the mainstream Mormon church. The FLDS carries on one tradition that the Mormons abandoned in the 1890s: polygamy, or plural marriage.

The practice of polygamy goes back for generations in Jeffs' family. His father, Rulon, had at least 50 wives and dozens of children during his lifetime. Warren was his 14th child. He was born more than two months prematurely, and his survival led him to be seen as a golden child. From the beginning, he had a special relationship with his father. He grew up outside Salt Lake City, UT, and for more than 20 years, Warren Jeffs served as the principal of Alta Academy, an FLDS private school in the area. He was known for being a stickler for the rules and for discipline.     Read more
 
 
 
 
Brother-in-law says Jeffs seems to have 'lost his mind'
By Andrew Adams
KSL NewsRadio
Originally broadcast April 26, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY -- A brother-in-law to Warren Jeffs says it appears the deposed polygamist leader "has lost his mind."  It's in reaction to the latest legal filing in Texas from Jeffs, where three purported revelations from Jesus Christ call on Texas courts to free Jeffs and several other FLDS polygamists.  "I'm absolutely appalled at the lack of coherent expressions," said Dan Wayman, who was booted from the sect 8 years ago.  "It appears that he has just totally lost all judgment and reasoning."  The revelations are in a petition for discretionary review filed Tuesday before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.  "I, Jesus Christ, even son Ahman, speak to Supreme Court of Texas," one revelation begins.  Another reads, "If you do well, reverse ruling of lower courts, and let my servant Warren Jeffs go free. Amen."  Jeffs was convicted and sentenced last year to life in prison plus 20 years for sexually assaulting two underage girls.  The revelations call Texas judge Barbara Walther "unjust" and claim she tried to "destroy the family relationship of pure children."  The filing also calls on the state to free Merril Jessop, among other Jeffs contemporaries.     Read more
 
 
Read Warren Jeffs' Revelations from prison filed in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on April 24, 2012
 
 
F.L.D.S. Community Construction Puts People On Edge
KUTV 2News
Originally broadcast Friday, May 18 2012

(KUTV) Polygamist leader, Warren Jeffs, is serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting two underage girls whom he took as his wives.  Just this week the State of Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused to hear Warren Jeff's appeal.  Jeffs' remaining option, is the U.S. Supreme Court.  Warren Jeffs may be behind bars, but he is anything but silent.  Recently, Jeffs claimed the end was near and issued warnings with full page ads in newspapers nationwide about natural disasters and calamities to come.  His followers have elevated him to the status of martyr and still obey his commands from behind bars.  His followers who set up camp 9 years ago just outside El Dorado, Texas, are working on a massive concrete structure, thought to be an amphitheater.  This is suspected to be a result of an edict from the sect's imprisoned prophet, Warren Jeffs.  Now people in El Dorado, Texas, say they fear he may be telling his followers to do something drastic.  "All of a sudden we saw this work going on, started digging these ditches around, semicircles , and we couldn't figure out what it was," James Doyle, Schleicher County, Texas, Justice of the Peace.     Read more
 
 
Ex-FLDS spokesman wins $30 million judgment against church leaders
by Ben Winslow
Fox 13 News
KSTU TV
Originally broadcast June 7, 2012

ST. GEORGE — The former spokesman for Warren Jeffs' Fundamentalist LDS Church has won a $30 million default judgment against two top leaders of the polygamous church.  Willie Jessop sued Jeffs and other FLDS leaders after he was excommunicated, claiming he was blackmailed and pressured to lie for Jeffs, who faced charges related to underage marriages and child sex assault.  Jessop's lawsuit claimed FLDS leaders retaliated against him standing up to them by burglarizing his Hildale construction business and forcing his employees to quit.  A judge ruled in Jessop's favor after Lyle Jeffs, Warren Jeffs' brother, and John Wayman did not respond to the lawsuit.  In an interview with FOX 13 on Thursday, Jessop said it was no consolation for the "tragedy" unfolding in the fundamentalist communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  "There (are) people that are trying to survive the act of a religion that has been basically turned over to a cartel," he said.  "Religious leaders are excommunicating people to cover up the sexual assault of little children."     Read more
 
 
 
Read Willie Jessop's Default Judgement against Lyle Jeffs and John Wayman, filed in Utah Fifth District Court on June 4, 2012
 
 
Willie Jessop Wins Multi-Million Dollar Default Judgement Against FLDS Leaders
KCSG Television
Originally published June 7, 2012

(St. George, UT) - Former FLDS spokesman Willie Jessop has won a $29,493,000 default judgement against church leaders Lyle Jeffs and John Wayman who failed to respond to a lawsuit.  (Judgement)  Jessop sued after he was excommunicated, alledging he was blackmailed and pressured to lie for Warren Jeffs, who faced charges of under age marriages and child sexual assault.  The lawsuit said the FLDS leaders retaliated against him burglarizing his Hildale construction business and forcing his employees to quit.  Fifth District Court Judge Rand Beacham ruled in Jessop's favor Monday after Lyle Jeffs, Warren Jeffs' brother and John Wayman did not respond to the lawsuit.  Jessop told FOX 13 News that the judgement was no consolation for the "tragedy" unfolding in the fundamentalist communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona.  Jessop said "There (are) people that are trying to survive the act of a religion that has been basically turned over to a cartel. Religious leaders are excommunicating people to cover up the sexual assault of little children."  Jessop was a loyal defender of Jeffs, until he learned of the sexual assault of children in the aftermath of the raid on the FLDS Church's Yearning for Zion Ranch at Eldorado, Texas.  Jeffs is serving a life for child sex assault stemming from his 'spiritual marriages' to a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl.     Read more
 
 
Ex-FLDS spokesman wins case by default
Kevin Jenkins
The Spectrum
Originally published June 9, 2012

ST. GEORGE - A former spokesman for a polygamous church based on the Utah-Arizona state line, who was also once a bodyguard for its prophet leader, Warren Jeffs, won a multi-million-dollar court judgment this week stemming from his lawsuit against the church's leaders.  William "Willie" Jessop filed the lawsuit in 5th District Court in February, seeking more than $57 million in damages as well as at least $25 million in punitive damages against the leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints over claims they destroyed his business, took his property and harassed his family.  Monday's decision by Judge G. Rand Beacham found two of the defendants in the case liable for some damages because the men - Lyle Jeffs and John Wayman, who are leaders of the local FLDS community acting under Warren Jeffs' direction - failed to respond to the court summons and therefore lost the case by default.  Salt Lake City attorney Mark James, who is representing Jessop and his companies, R&W Excavation and Boulder Mountain Group Ranch, said the judgment means Jessop is now able to pursue the collection of nearly $30 million addressed specifically by the court.     Read more
 
 
Ex-FLDS bodyguard Willie Jessop wins case by default
The Associated Press
Deseret News
Originally published Saturday, June 9 2012

ST. GEORGE, Utah — A former bodyguard and spokesman for imprisoned polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs has won a multimillion-dollar judgment stemming from his lawsuit against church leaders.  William "Willie" Jessop, in his 5th District Court suit filed in February, claims leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ruined his business and harassed his family after he had a falling-out with Jeffs.  He seeks more than $57 million in damages and $25 million in punitive damages.  The complaint names imprisoned sect leader Jeffs, his brother Lyle Jeffs, his brother-in-law John Wayman and two dozen other people or organizations who allegedly worked to arrange a burglary at Jessop's Hildale-area excavation business and ranch.  The suit also claims church leaders have harassed his family and kept them under 24-hour surveillance, and expelled his children from FLDS schools.  Monday's ruling by Judge G. Rand Beacham found two of the defendants, Lyle Jeffs and Wayman, liable for some damages because they failed to respond to a court summons and therefore lost the case by default, The Spectrum of St. George reported.  Attorney Mark James, who represents Jessop and his R&W Excavation Inc. and Boulder Mountain Group Ranch companies, said the judgment allows him to pursue the collection from the two of nearly $30 million specifically addressed by the court.     Read more
 
 
Brent's blog - Warren Jeffs predicts war on American soil
Reported by: Brent Hunsaker
ABC 4
Originally published June 11, 2012

I just got the newest revelation from the pedophile prophet now doing time in the state prison in Palestine, Texas.

If he could speak or write English, he'd say, "America, get ready for a butt kicking." That's his point, but he takes way too many twists, turns and downright contortions to make it. So, allow me to present what I believe to be a few key (yet still rambling) verses from Jeffs' latest epistle. With a little guessing and a lot of reading between the lines we just might make some sense of it.
2. "Now know in United Sates of America a traitor shall cause enemy armies to come on land where he was of the causing armies of the nation to not be of a full ready order; even now doing this."
Translation, there's a traitor among us. This traitor apparently is in a position to weaken our military. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs?? A key member of Congress?? The President??? He doesn't say.

Let's try another verse:
4. "Military is of going where sent in land; and large area is now of the way to be weak on both the eastern, also southern shores of United States."
The attack will come where the military is the weakest. Jeffs said that could be anywhere from the North Atlantic seaboard all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico. (So we're safe in the West, right?)     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs chooses 15 to father future FLDS children, sources say
By John Hollenhorst
Deseret News
Originally published Tuesday, June 19 2012

HILDALE, Washington County — Rumors are flying about a new edict that sources say was issued from a Texas prison by polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs.  He has reportedly chosen 15 men to father all future children born to faithful members of his church.  Reports of Jeffs' new rules are second and third hand and remain unconfirmed by leaders of the Fundamentalist LDS Church.  The reports are coming from outside sources who, in the past, have generally provided reliable information on the inner-workings of the FLDS Church.  They acknowledge, however, that they have received only sketchy, unverified accounts.  Former FLDS member Isaac Wyler said he heard that the new rules were explained to lower ranking church members at a Sunday meeting two weeks ago.  "They said there had been 15 men delegated or designated by God to sire the new, special children," Wyler said.  If the reports are true, it's one of the most bizarre twists yet as Jeffs attempts to maintain control over nearly 10,000 followers, most of whom live in the twin border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  Late last year, Jeffs reportedly instructed his followers that sex was forbidden, even between married people, at least temporarily.  That's because existing marriages in the group were considered invalid and needed to be re-solemnized by Jeffs himself.  Jeffs, however, is serving a life prison sentence in Texas for child sexual assault stemming from two young followers he took as brides.  He won't be eligible for parole until he is at least 100 years old.     Read more
 
 
Polygamist Leader Warren Orders Only 15 Men To Father FLDS Kids
By ALYSSA NEWCOMB (@alyssanewcomb)
Nightline
ABC News
Originally published June 21, 2012

Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, who is serving a life sentence in prison, has ordered most of his followers to stop having sex except for 15 men -- and the women they men choose --- designated to father all future children for the sect.  The fundamentalist leader, who is still considered the head of the group, issued the edict from prison in Palestine, Texas, where he is serving out his prison sentence for child sex assault, ABC News' Salt Lake City affiliate reported.  The order effectively bans the church's members from having sex with the exception of the 15 chosen men and the church's female members.  "A lot of these revelations are a grab for attention," said Rick Ross, an expert on cults and the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter Day Saints.  "He is trying almost through the revelations to maintain the illusion that he is god's elect, he is the prophet. He's saying: 'Don't forget me.'"     Read more
 
 
Report: Jeffs bans sex for all in sect but 15 men, partners
By Michael Winter
USA TODAY
Originally published June 21, 2012

Planning for the future offspring for his sect, imprisoned polygamist leader Warren Jeffs has reportedly ordered all of his 10,000 followers to stop having sex except for 15 men and the women they choose, ABC News reports.  Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of the Latter-day Saints, a Mormon breakaway sect, is serving a life sentence in Texas for his 2011 conviction for bigamy and for having had sex with two girls, one 15 and the other 12.  DNA showed he fathered a child with the 15-year-old.  The sex ban was issued from prison and covers married couples, former members told ABC's Salt Lake City affiliate.  No FLDS woman can refuse if she is "called" by one of the elite 15, one former member said.  "Women have been reduced to nothing more than breeding stock," she said.  The station writes she "escaped the group years ago but still has loved ones who are members."  Most remaining members live in Hilldale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  Today, the Justice Department sued those towns, claiming that they discriminate against non-sect members and are enforcing edicts issued by Jeffs.  The Salt Lake Tribune has more.     See mug shot
 
 
U.S. sues polygamous towns
The Monterey County Herald - Monterey, California
Originally published June 21, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday sued two polygamous towns along the Utah-Arizona border, claiming religious discrimination against non-sect members.  The federal civil rights lawsuit was filed against the towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., where most residents are members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, run by the group's jailed leader Warren Jeffs.  Jeffs is serving a life sentence in Texas after convictions on child sex and bigamy charges, but he is said to still maintain control of the communities.  The lawsuit claims the two towns, the Colorado City/Hildale Marshal's Office and utility entities have and continue to violate the federal Fair Housing Act, depriving non-sect members of their constitutional rights.  The suit states that includes residents who were never FLDS members, those who left on their own and those who have been excommunicated from the sect.  It claims the defendants "have acted in concert with FLDS leadership to deny non-FLDS individuals housing, police protection, and access to public space and services."  "The Marshal's Office has inappropriately used its state-granted law enforcement authority to enforce the edicts of the FLDS, to the detriment of non-FLDS members," according to the lawsuit filed in federal court in Arizona.     Read more
 
 
DOJ claims cult running 2 southwestern towns
Lawsuit alleges residents' rights violated on Warren Jeffs orders
Michael F. Haverluck
WorldNetDaily
Originally published June 22, 2012

The U.S. Department of Justice has filed a lawsuit against two Arizona-Utah border towns alleging they violated the rights of residents by taking operating orders from Warren Jeffs, the imprisoned leader of the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  According to the DOJ, Jeffs and other FLDS leaders controlled the towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, through a campaign of intimidation targeting non-FLDS members, who composed a small minority in both cities.  The federal civil rights case filed in Arizona argues that city leaders and law enforcement officers followed Jeff's illicit orders, which included denying non-FLDS members housing and municipal services, as well as allowing individuals in the sect to damage their property and crops.  Last year, Jeffs was incarcerated after being convicted for the sexual assault of two of his 24 brides, all of whom were underage.  The trial came after Jeffs' FLDS Yearning for Zion Ranch was raided in April 2008, when some 400 children were seized at the isolated Texas compound that was built by members at the leader's command.  Each child was returned after the custody battle, which was one of the largest in U.S. history.  Jeffs and 10 prominent FLDS lieutenants were arrested and subsequently found guilty under bigamy and sexual assault charges.  The mainstream Mormon church did away with the practice of polygamy back in 1890 so that Utah could be granted statehood.  Even though Jeffs currently is serving a life prison sentence in Texas, it is reported that the convicted felon continues to rule the border towns from his jail cell.     Read more
 
 
Craig Zadan & Neil Meron Extend Longform Deal With Sony, Set Up Anna Nicole Smith & Warren Jeffs Movies, 'Bonnie & Clyde' Mini
By NELLIE ANDREEVA
Deadline Hollywood - Los Angeles, California
Originally published Thursday August 2, 2012

EXCLUSIVE: Storyline Entertainment's Craig Zadan and Neil Meron have signed a new two-year deal with Sony Pictures Television for TV movies and miniseries. The duo, who just closed a first-look deal with Universal TV and NBCUniversal International for series and specials, have set up several high-profile new longform projects: movies about Anna Nicole Smith and Warren Jeffs at Lifetime and a Bonnie & Clyde miniseries at History.

Sony's TV movie/mini EVP Helen Verno brought Zadan and Meron to the Sony TV fold nearly twenty years ago, making Zadan and Meron's partnership with the studio one of the longest in the TV movie/miniseries business. Their first collaboration was the award-winning 1994 movie Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story. Since then, Zadan, Meron and Sony TV have done more than a dozen movie and minis together, including new takes on titles from the Sony libraries like A Raisin In The Sun and Zadan and Meron's upcoming passion project, a Steel Magnolias remake for Lifetime starring Queen Latifah, Phylicia Rashad, Alfre Woodard. "(Sony TV president) Steve Mosko is a one of a kind executive and a true inspiration and supporter of our longform work, while others have walked away from the genre", Zadan and Meron said.     Read more
 
 
'Smash' Duo Developing Bonnie & Clyde, Anna Nicole Smith, Warren Jeffs Projects
The duo, who executive produce NBC's Broadway drama, recently closed a new two-year deal with Sony Pictures Television to develop telefilms and miniseries for the studio.
by Lesley Goldberg
The Hollywood Reporter - Los Angeles, California
Originally published August 2, 2012

Smash's Craig Zadan and Neil Meron are keeping extremely busy.  The uber-producers and their Storyline Entertainment shingle recently inked a new two-year overall deal with Sony Pictures Television to develop TV movies and miniseries and are readying two high-profile projects, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.  For History Channel, Zadan and Meron are readying a miniseries revolving around Bonnie & Clyde.  The network, which found record-setting ratings success and Emmy recognition for its Hatfields and McCoys miniseries, is developing a four-hour effort about the famed outlaws, with writing duo John Rice and Joe Batteer (Windtalkers).  Meanwhile, Rice and Batteer will pen an Anna Nicole Smith biopic for the duo at Lifetime, with Art Monterastelli on board to write a TV movie about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' jailed leader Warren Jeffs.  Judith Verno will executive produce both projects with the Zadan and Meron.  For Lifetime, the two TV pics continue their relationship with Zadan and Meron, who executive produce Drop Dead Diva and are developing a remake of Steel Magnolias for the female-skewing network.     Read more
 
 
Craig Zadan and Neil Meron Sign Deal With Sony; "Bonnie & Clyde" Miniseries, Anna Nicole Smith Biopic In the Works
By Michael Gioia and Kenneth Jones
Playbill - Woodside, New York
Originally published August 3, 2012

Storyline Entertainment's Craig Zadan and Neil Meron, executive producers of the NBC musical drama "Smash," have signed a new two-year deal with Sony Pictures Television for TV movies and miniseries.  In the works are a "Bonnie & Clyde" miniseries and Lifetime films about Anna Nicole Smith and Warren Jeffs, among others.  As previously reported, Zadan and Meron, producers of Hollywood's "Chicago" and "Hairspray" and Broadway's Promises, Promises and How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, have also signed a development deal with Universal Television and NBCUniversal International to give the studio a "first look at series and specials created" by the award-winning producers for U.S. and international television markets.  According to Deadline.com, Zadan and Meron have teamed with Judith Verno to executive produce the Smith and Jeffs biopics.  The Lifetime film documenting the life of late model and actress Smith is written by John Rice and Joe Batteer; Art Monterastelli pens the film based on Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) leader Jeffs, who was convicted of child sexual assault.  Also at the Lifetime network, Zadan and Meron are in early development stages on a film based on the true story of Constance McMillen, the lesbian teen who was denied access to her high school prom.  The project, previously with ABC Family, is written and directed by John Gray.     Read more
 
 
Utah AG ordered to pay for polygamous takeover
The Associated Press
San Angelo Standard-Times
Originally published August 3, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - The Utah Supreme Court has ordered the state to pay $5.5 million to court-appointed accountants overseeing the takeover of assets held by a polygamous sect on the Utah-Arizona border.  Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff engineered the 2005 takeover.  He says he will hand the bill to the Utah Legislature for payment.  Shurtleff hopes to recover the money from the sale of assets of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  The money is owed to Salt Lake City accountant Bruce Wisan, his attorneys and other firms hired to take over the trust fund holding a communal land trust once run by jailed polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs.  The trust holds the land and homes of FLDS members in the twin towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.
 
 
Warren Jeffs Flyer Found
ABC4 News
Originally published August 23, 2012

COLORADO CITY, AZ (ABC4 News) -- A flyer found in a school room along the Utah/Arizona border has residents and local police wondering where it came from.  It has pictures of imprisoned FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, asking where members' faith is to help set him free.  It reads as if it's targeting children in the FLDS community.  Officers say it's an indication Jeffs still dominates life in the area, even from behind bars.     See photo
 
 
Warren Jeffs
 
 
Warren Jeffs and the Tyranny at Bountiful, BC
Georgialee Lang
Canada.com
Originally published September 8, 2012

From his shaved head and striped jumpsuit to his withering limbs, Warren Jeffs no longer resembles the exalted man and self-declared prophet who ruled the polygamous sect known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, including Canada's FLDS community in Creston, British Columbia, called "Bountiful".  However, looks are deceiving because pedophile Jeffs, who is serving a life sentence, plus 20 years, and teeters between martyrdom and self-delusion, has maintained control over his followers despite his confinement.  Desperate to remain leader and prophet, Warren Jeffs' tactics are diverse.  In 2007 while imprisoned in Utah, a video surfaced that showed Jeffs in prison garb admitting he was a false prophet and had lied to his followers.  Yet several years later, he ordered his subordinates to spend thousands of dollars on newspaper ads across the United States which declared "Cease thy wicked attack ye government authorities against my people and my church", an ad clearly designed to buttress his tarnished image with his followers.  Reports of suicide attempts, head banging and food and water deprivation have been replaced by ranting revelations and errant edicts meant to solidify his control.     Read more
 
 
Appeals court overturns religious right ruling in FLDS trust case
By John Hollenhorst
KSL 5 TV
Originally broadcast November 5th, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal appeals court handed a big victory to the state of Utah Monday and delivered a big blow to imprisoned polygamist leader Warren Jeffs — and there may be a silver lining for Utah taxpayers.  The ruling breaks a legal logjam surrounding $100 million worth of property Warren Jeffs, former leader of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, once controlled.  In overturning U.S. District Judge Dee Benson's ruling, the three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in effect said FLDS leaders waited too long to assert their religious rights.  It all began in 2005, when the state of Utah seized the trust Warren Jeffs controlled: $110 million worth of land and houses in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  At first Jeffs didn't fight the seizure.  But after Texas Rangers raided the FLDS ranch in Eldorado, Texas, church leaders started fighting for the trust in Utah.  Jeffrey Shields is a lawyer for the court-appointed fiduciary who now runs the trust.  He has a theory about why the FLDS changed directions and started fighting.  "I think the plan was to vacate Hildale and Colorado City and move the elite to Texas," Shields said. "They didn't care what happened to the trust. But when they lost their plan in Texas, they decided, 'Well, we'd better care.' And they came back and started to fight."     Read more
 
 
 
Federal court upholds sale of FLDS assets
By Paul Foy
Associated Press
Deseret News
Originally published Monday, Nov. 5 2012

SALT LAKE CITY — A federal appeals court has ruled that a polygamist sect on the Utah/Arizona border waited too long to challenge a court-ordered takeover of its community finances.  The decision means a court-appointed accountant is free to redistribute assets held by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to residents of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  In Monday's decision, the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned U.S. District Judge Dee Benson in Salt Lake City.  Benson ruled nearly two years ago that Utah's takeover violated the faith's constitutional rights.  The Denver-based appeals court overruled Benson on procedural grounds, saying the FLDS waited too long — three years — to file action.  State authorities are now free to break up the church trust that owns homes, businesses and farms in the border towns.
 
 
 
Jailed 'Prophet' Warren Jeffs Continues His Polygamist Rule From Prison
By Debbie Emery - Radar Reporter
Radar Online - New York, NY
Originally published November 21, 2012

Even a life sentence for sexually assaulting children can't stop Warren Jeffs from sending out orders to his die-hard followers who still believe him to be their "prophet," RadarOnline.com is reporting.  It has been six years since the fundamental polygamist was first arrested, but the radical splinter group that he formed in a controversial split from the Mormon Church still remains in the desert town of Colorado City on the border between Arizona and Utah under the name of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  As RadarOnline.com previously reported, Jeffs is currently behind bars after being convicted of sexual assault of two girls, ages 12 and 14, whom he claims were his "spiritual brides," for which he is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison.  His life after incarceration is now the subject of an ABC report 20/20: Breaking Polygamy, which reveals how the convicted child rapist is still ruling the roost in his church.  "Anybody who thinks that Warren Jeffs' incarceration ended his rule in this community has no idea what they're talking about. He is in many ways more powerful because now he's martyred," said reporter Mike Watkiss, who has covered the community of 8,000 people for 25 years.  Jeffs was brought to justice following a 2008 raid on the group's Yearning for Zion compound in Eldorado, Texas, during which the authorities found a polygamous community filled with pregnant teen brides and controlling and domineering men.     Read more
 
 
Breaking Polygamy
"20/20" goes inside "the American Taliban"; watch Friday November 23, 2012 10 p.m.

 
 
Polygamist leader Warren Jeffs issues holiday edicts from prison
by Mike Watkiss
3 TV Phoenix
AZFamily.com
Originally published November 21, 2012

ANDERSON COUNTY, Texas -- It has become a well-established holiday tradition -- polygamous prophet and convicted child-rapist Warren Jeffs issuing bizarre edicts and doomsday proclamations from behind the walls of a Texas prison.  Jeffs, who was sentenced to life behind bar last year for raping two underage girls on his sprawling West Texas compound known as the YFZ Ranch, has managed to maintain an ironclad control over his thousands of followers.  Despite the fact that he has been incarcerated since 2006, he has been able to communicate his wishes to FLDS faithful, seemingly at will.  According to multiple sources, this year Jeffs has ordered his flock to stop eating all dairy products and processed foods.  Also on the prophet's forbidden foods list are oatmeal, corn and turnips.  Jeffs also is once again predicting the apocalypse and "a scourge of death" upon those who don't confess their sins.  To that end, he reportedly told his all his followers to "build a backpack" and be ready to leave at a moment's notice.  But certainly the most dramatic development along the Utah/Arizona border was Friday's sudden closure of the one and only grocery store in Colorado City, the CMC Food Town.  Also suddenly shuttered last weekend were the town's hardware store and the local Radio Shack.  "That kind of stuff doesn't happen without Warren's blessing" said one-time Jeffs follower and now vocal critic Isaac Wyler.
 
 
 
Jailed Polygamist Leader Warren Jeffs Issues Hundreds of Orders From Prison
By MURIEL PEARSON and JOSEPH DIAZ
ABC 20/20
Originally published November 21, 2012

Six years after Warren Jeffs was first arrested and later sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting children, it's almost as though the fundamentalist leader, whom the faithful call their "prophet," never left Colorado City.  Jeffs' followers, who live in the desert town nestled on the border between Arizona and Utah, are a radical splinter group of the mainstream Mormon church who call themselves the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  "Anybody who thinks that Warren Jeffs' incarceration ended his rule in this community has no idea what they're talking about. He is in many ways more powerful because now he's martyred," said reporter Mike Watkiss, who has covered the community of 8,000 people for 25 years.  A raid in 2008 on the group's Yearning for Zion compound in Eldorado, Texas, brought the FLDS community into the national spotlight.  Authorities found a polygamous community and pregnant child brides.  Pictures of women in pastel prairie clothes with tightly braided hairstyles and stories of the controlling, male-dominated environment offered the world a glimpse into the lives of the reclusive group.  "The prophet literally tells people where they will live, whom they will marry," Watkiss said.  "Warren buys the allegiance of these men because they can't get into heaven without him, because he needs to give them three wives. That's the only way you're going to get to heaven."  Despite the fact Jeffs spends his days in a Texas prison, his followers in Colorado City have not left him.  His presence is felt in homes, offices, on computers and even cell phones in Colorado City.     Read more
 
 
The shocking truth about life inside Warren Jeffs' FLDS: Members tell how they believe cult leader is U.S. President and 15 men are responsible for fathering ALL children
  • Cult leader Warren Jeffs is in jail, convicted of sexual abuse of young girls
  • His 8,000 followers continue to believe that he is a prophet and God who has wrongly imprisoned
  • Jeffs ordered married couples to stop having sex and handpicked 15 men to father all the FLDS children
  • He also ordered 500-600 followers to be banished from the compound
By Snejana Farberov and Alex Ward
Daily Mail - London, England
Originally published 24 November 2012

Cult leader Warren Jeffs has spent the past six years behind bars after being arrested and later convicted of sexual abuse of young girls, but that has not stopped him from continuing to exude complete control over his polygamous community.  A Friday expose on ABC's 20/20 has revealed the insulated world of The Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints Church where Jeffs' 8,000 followers continue to believe that he is a prophet and God who has been wrongly imprisoned.  'Anybody who thinks that Warren Jeffs' incarceration ended his rule in this community has no idea what they're talking about,' said reporter Mike Watkiss.  'He is in many ways more powerful because now he's martyred.'  A 2008 raid on Jeffs' FLDS stronghold in Eldorado, Texas, revealed the polygamous community which included pregnant child brides in pastel prairie dresses with elaborate braided hairdos.  The FLDS holds polygamy as a fundamental belief and its men take multiple wives in what are termed 'celestial marriages' each performed in a ceremony called a 'sealing'.  The Utah-based church believes polygamy brings exaltation in heaven and arranged marriages sometimes involve underage girls.  More than a year after his conviction of child sex abuse, it appears that little has changed in the remote Yearning for Zion compound in Colorado City housing the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, a radical wing of the Mormon Church.  Like in the past, Jeffs decides where people live, whom they marry and even what they eat and how they dress.     Read more
 
 
Polygamous Sect Members Warned Not To Attend Meeting
By Ladd Egan
KUTV 2News
Originally broadcast November 26, 2012

(KUTV)Members of Warren Jeffs' polygamous sect have been warned to stay away from an upcoming meeting with Utah and Arizona officials to discuss the future of a massive property trust, according to multiple residents.  "Automatic eviction from the church and excommunication," said Willie Jessop, a former FLDS member, about the consequences of members attending the meeting.  Jeffs, 56, is serving a life sentence in Texas on convictions of sexually assaulting two underage girls.  But even while behind bars he is said to control the church and frequently sends edicts from his prison cell.  "You've got a war raging within the community," Jessop said.  "They've dismissed all of the doctors. They've dismissed the nurses. They've dismissed people that had public education."  Jessop used to serve as a bodyguard for Jeffs but says he left the church once he discovered evidence of Jeffs sexually abusing young girls.  "It's just a non-stop abuse of power," Jessop said of Jeffs' leadership.  "It's all about power, power and money."  Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff plans to attend the meeting Friday evening to present ideas and answer questions about the fate of the United Effort Plan Trust.     Read more
 
 
State Seeks to Seize FLDS Compound
Abbott going after Jeffs' West Texas land
By Jordan Smith
Newsdesk
Austin Chronicle - Austin, Texas
Originally published November 28, 2012

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott this morning announced that his office has initiated proceedings to seize West Texas land owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, where the church built its first-ever temple back in 2005.  According to a lengthy affidavit filed on behalf of the state by AG's investigator Marcos Martinez, the FLDS purchased the roughly 1,700-acre property known as the Yearning for Zion ranch with ill-gotten gains and then used the property to run a polygamist community where children were systematically abused.  The FLDS moved to Texas in 2003 and lived in relative peace with the surrounding community of Eldorado until the state got a questionable phone tip claiming that children living at the compound were being sexually abused as part of the FLDS' participation in polygamy.  The state went in and removed all the children found there, though the courts later rebuked the state's actions and sent the children back to live with their parents.  Nonetheless, the AG subsequently pursued criminal charges against a dozen men living at the compound, including the FLDS' leader and prophet Warren Jeffs, who allegedly had among his many wives a 12-year-old girl.     Read more
 
 
Texas moves to seize Warren Jeffs' polygamist ranch compound
By Crimesider Staff
CBS News
Originally published November 29, 2012

(CBS/AP) AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas attorney general moved Wednesday to seize ownership of Warren Jeffs' ranch where the polygamist sect leader and his followers are accused of sexually assaulting dozens of children.  VIDEO: "48 Hours" takes a closer look at jailed FLDS leader Warren Jeffs  A judge will determine whether to grant the state control of the nearly 1,700-acre property owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints(FLDS).  Tax records put the land's value at over $33 million.  In their seizure case, prosecutors allege that Warren financed the property through money laundering.  The sect bought the land for about $1.1 million in 2003, according to an affidavit filed Wednesday.  Texas Rangers raided the ranch in April 2008 following a call to a domestic abuse hotline that turned out to be false, and took 439 children into state custody.  Last year, Jeffs was convicted of sexually assaulting two minors whom he described as his spiritual wives.  At trial, prosecutors presented DNA evidence to show he fathered a child with one of those girls, age 15.  Jeffs, 56, is serving a life prison term in Texas.  He has continued to try to lead his roughly 10,000 followers from behind bars.  The sect is a radical offshoot of mainstream Mormonism whose members believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven.     Read more
 
 
CNN's Wolf Blitzer   November 29th, 2012
KTVK investigative reporter Mike Watkiss: Texas was a bad move for FLDS

 
 
Warren Jeffs, Polygamist Sect Leader Accused of Sexual Abuse, Has Ranch Seized
By Kimberly Reeves
Crime
Houston Press
Originally published Thu., Nov. 29 2012

Attorney General Greg Abbott has moved to seize a 1,700-acre ranch in West Texas, the scene of a 2008 raid of a polygamous sect accused of rampant sexual abuse and underage marriage in the name of religion.  Warren Jeffs, the one-time prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, currently is serving a life sentence for sexual assault of children in an East Texas prison.  It's only the latest in a string of states that have wanted to prosecute Jeffs for his activities in Utah, Arizona and Texas.  Four years after the initial raid, the state has successfully prosecuted nine men in the sect, with convictions on both sex abuse and bigamy.  The seizure of the Yearning for Zion Ranch, however, would be a death blow in Texas for the church, which appears to have scattered to various other states where FLDS holds property.  "Based upon the evidence reviewed in this case, Affiant believes that the suspected place was designed, improved and adapted in such a manner as illicit schemes and criminal activity described in this affidavit avoid detection by law enforcement," Sgt. Mario Martinez wrote in the warrant.  "The isolation and security of this community also helped facilitate the identified criminal offenses and ensured said criminal conduct would not be reported to law enforcement."  What that means for the future of the women and children in the FLDS who might choose to stay in Texas -- the presumed victims -- is still unclear.  Reporter Steve Anderson, who has covered Jeffs extensively and attended the subsequent trials out of Marfa, says the search and seizure warrant indicates those on site can stay through the trial but will certainly be expected to leave if the state prevails.     Read more
 
 
ABC World News with Diane Sawyer   November 29, 2012
FLDS Leader Warren Jeffs Issues Harsh Edicts From Prison
Amy Robach has the latest on the infamous polygamous sect.

 
 
Shurtleff presents four options to FLDS
Brady McCombs
Associated Press
The Spectrum
Originally published December 1, 2012

State officials on Friday began the long-overdue process of formulating a plan to redistribute property and businesses on the Utah-Arizona border belonging to a polygamous sect led by Warren Jeffs.  The meeting comes seven years after the state of Utah first seized control of properties in Hilldale and Colorado City belonging to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints following allegations of financial mismanagement by Jeffs and other church leaders.  The Utah Attorney's General office presented four options to current and former church members: creating a board of trustees that can function with limited court involvement; dissolving the trust and letting the community decide how to redistribute the properties; dissolving the trust, auctioning off properties and giving people credits to buy them, and negotiating a new settlement.  Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, who arrived late due to travel delays, called it an opportunity for members, non-members and ex-members of the FLDS church to ensure they don't come away empty handed.  State officials stressed the options were merely ideas, not final proposals, though those at the meeting expressed the most support for the option allowing the community to decide on the property distribution.  Any plan must be approved by the 3rd District Court.     Read more
 
 
Officials work to redistribute land belonging to Jeffs-led sect
by Mike Watkiss
3TV Phoenix
Originally published December 1, 2012

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. -- It has been a busy couple of weeks in the sordid and ongoing saga of polygamous prophet Warren Jeffs and his FLDS church.  Earlier the week, law officers in Texas took the first steps toward seizing Jeffs' sprawling, 1700 acre, gated compound in West Texas, alleging the property is part of a extensive and complex "criminal enterprise."  On Friday night, a town meeting was held in Colorado City by Utah's Attorney General, focusing on FLDS land along the Utah-Arizona border.  That land is currently under the jurisdiction of a Utah judge, and at the town meeting a couple of hundred people discussed various proposals to get that land in the hands of people -- be they FLDS or non-FLDS -- who have legitimate claims to the land.  For years Warren Jeffs has used his control of the land as a powerful extortion tool, evicting and excommunicating anyone who displeases him or disobeys his edicts.  And for his part, Jeffs has also been busy in recent days, issuing a new round of bizarre edicts and directives and doomsday prophecies from his prison cell in Texas where he is serving a life sentence for raping two underage girls at his Texas gulag.  "Never know what Warren Jeffs is going to tell his followers," said Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan.     Read more
 
 
 
'I couldn't even breathe': Mormon sisters who escaped Warren Jeffs' polygamous sect reveal bizarre rules including ban on hair ribbons and constant surveillance
  • Warren Jeffs, who was sentenced to life in prison last year for child sex abuse, continued to issue orders from jail to followers
  • Young women now living in Nevada and looking for jobs
By Daily Mail Reporter
Daily Mail - London, England
Originally published 8 December 2012

Three women who escaped from Warren Jeffs' polygamous sect have revealed what life was like in a world controlled by the convicted pedophile's bizarre rules issued from prison.  Twins Heidi and Helen Holm, along with their friend Allie Steed, spent two years living in the claustrophobic world enforced by Warren Jeffs' brother Lyle until they could take no more and fled.  Jeffs tightened his regime and expelled many members, including the twins' father, from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Colorado City, Arizona.  Allie Holm, now 23, told the Salt Lake Tribune: 'It's like a cloud comes down around you. I couldn’t even breathe.'  In June, Warren Jeffs issued a command to his sect - the names of 15 men he has chosen to father all future children of his church.  He declared all marriages void until he can return and 'seal' them.  Jeffs, 56, last year was convicted of sexually assaulting two minors whom he described as his spiritual wives.  At trial, prosecutors presented DNA evidence to show he fathered a child with one of those girls, aged 15.  He is serving a life in a Texas prison.  Among the men that were banished was the twins' father Lorin Holm.  Lyle Jeffs told Mr Holm that in the eyes of God, he was no longer a father and husband to his family and that he had to leave.  Mr Holm left his wives and children to set up home in Nevada.     Read more
 
 
Police Presence Increases In Colorado City-Hildale
By Ladd Egan
KUTV 2News
Originally broadcast Monday, December 17 2012

(KUTV) More evidence of turmoil in the Polygamous towns of Colorado City and Hildale, signs if increased police presence from outside law enforcement has residents here on alert.  This comes as followers of imprisoned leader Warren Jeffs were told to prepare backpacks for the end of the world.  But this isn't the first time Jeffs has made a doomsday prophecy.  It seems to be a holiday tradition for the FLDS leader.  However, law enforcement sources say the mood in town seems to be more desperate--with intense pressure on the FLDS, as the government is now in firm control of their property trust.  Authorities are now looking to seize their ranch in Texas.  Residents say the anxiety is heightening--as followers of Jeffs prepare for the end.  "They are all supposed to make these grey or blue backpacks [and] pack them with essentials," says former FLDS member Isaac Wyler "Be ready to go at a moment's notice."  The latest published revelations from Jeffs warns of a disastrous cleansing--predicted to happen Dec. 23.  Still, Wyler says he's heard this before.  "It's just Warren whipping them up into another frenzy to gather money."  And when it doesn't come Wyler said Jeffs will still be right and blame his followers.     Read more
 
 
 
FLDS Prepare For End Of World This Sunday
By Ladd Egan
KUTV 2News
Originally broadcast Wednesday, December 19 2012

(KUTV) Followers of imprisoned polygamous sect leader Warren Jeffs have been told to prepare backpacks of necessities as part of a doomsday prophesy for this Sunday.  "By December 23rd it's going to have ended," said former FLDS member Isaac Wyler of the prediction.  "Warren was talking about the Yellowstone Nation Park blowing."  Jeffs, 56, is serving a life sentence in Texas on convictions of sexually assaulting two underage girls.  Behind prison bars he still issues edicts and leads the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  This is not the first time Jeffs has predicted the end of the world and this latest prophesy comes on the heels of a series of strict new rules issued this year.  The last published revelation from Warren Jeffs is dated November 12th, it warns followers to "be ready" for a "disastrous cleansing."  "They are all supposed to make these grey or blue backpacks, 2x2x1, pack them with essentials," Wyler said.  "Be ready to go at a moment's notice."  Wyler said he's heard it all before: "it's just Warren whipping them up into another frenzy to gather money."  And when the end doesn't come?  Wyler said Jeffs will still be right and blame his followers for not having enough faith for it to happen.     Read more
 
 
Will FLDS Leave Towns On Utah/Arizona Border?
By Ladd Egan
KUTV 2News
Originally broadcast Thursday, December 20 2012

(KUTV) Concerns over polygamous families being torn apart and a possible desertion of the fundamentalist sect's towns on the Utah/Arizona border have one outreach group asking for law enforcement to be on the lookout.  "We are very concerned because we are seeing that movement of children being separated from their parents," said Tonia Tewell, executive director of Holding Out HELP, a non-profit group that helps those seeking to leave polygamy.  Tewell traveled to Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah this past weekend to deliver food and supplies to residents now that the only grocery store in town is closed.  "We were told there were three to four buses that they had in the shop that they were getting ready to put the children on the buses to escort them out of town," Tewell said.  The destination could be Custer County, South Dakota where the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has a 140-acre compound.  Reports out of Texas indicate members of the church have been leaving the Yearning For Zion Ranch and heading for South Dakota.  Tewell fears that FLDS members in Utah and Arizona might be making a similar trek soon.  She said she saw evidence of that Sunday night when she witnessed children being loaded on a bus.  "We watched them drive down the street and load other children up," Tewell recalled "We definitely saw the pillows and did see the children trying to get into the storage compartment below the big bus."     Read more
 
 
So, the Mayans were wrong
Written by Todd Seifert
Slice of Life
The Spectrum
Originally published December 21, 2012

It's Dec. 21, 2012.  And if you're still alive to read this, then it appears the so-called Mayan calendar apocalypse didn't happen.  Sorry, that means you have to go to work, to school and you still have to pay your taxes.  Bummer, right?  The Mayan calendar drafted more than 1,200 years ago, ran out as of 4:12 a.m. today, marking the Winter Solstice.  Some people predicted this to be the date for the end of the world.  Predictions as to how life would end on Earth today ranged from solar flares to meteors to aliens arriving to kill us all.  One interesting idea that I hadn't heard of until this week came via a blog from Huffington Post, which stated we would be stricken with a magnetic phenomenon that would cause human pineal glands to release hallucinogens.  In other words, we'd all be high on an acid-like trip.  But alas, if you are reading this, the Mayan calendar was much ado about nothing.  I'm not so sure we should be surprised.  Most likely, the Mayans simply ran out of space on their calendars.  After all, putting more than a millennium of time onto stone tablets isn't easy.  At some point, the guy carving the stone had to get tired.  Besides, if the Mayans were so smart about the end of time, don't you think they would have foreseen their own demise, which came in the 16th century?  Or maybe they did see the end to their own society and decided to have a little fun at the expense of the people who would come later: sort of a "that will teach them" kind of approach.     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs mails book of revelations to Utah library
Reported by: Noah Bond
ABC 4 News
Originally broadcast December 21, 2012

SOUTH SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - FLDS leader Warren Jeffs has mailed a book of new revelations to a South Salt Lake City Library.  The book contains new self-proclaimed revelations from as recent as September 2012.  The nearly 900 page book is filled with warnings of death and destruction if Jeffs is not released from prison.  The cover of the book reads, "Jesus Christ Message to all Nations." T esting Engineers International Librarian Alona Macgregor received the book in the mail December 14.  ABC 4's Noah Bond pointed and the book and asked Macgregor, "What goes through your mind as you read over this I mean it looks like a nice book."  She replied, "It's a pretty book Frankly," said Testing Engineers International Librarian, Alona Macgregor.  The trained librarian estimates this book alone cost the FLDS people $100.  "I know that the people in his communities have been suffering greatly and all I could see there was expense," Macgregor said.  The book contains a warning to the United States of America.  Warren Jeffs wrote, "My warning voice has been sounded. I am the God of Creation which speaketh. My servant is in bondage. You yet hold him from my people. My Zion shall rise, and I shall intervene in a judgment that you shall soon feel, and it shall continue until opposition is removed."     Read more
 
 
 
Charity Warns Of Food Shortages In Polygamous Towns
By Ladd Egan
KUTV 2News
Originally broadcast Monday, December 24 2012

(KUTV) With the shuttering of the only grocery store in the polygamous towns on the Utah/Arizona border, one charity says the food situation is grim for some of those outside of the fundamentalist sect.  "This last trip was pretty heart wrenching," said Tonia Tewell, Executive Director of Holding Out HELP, a non-profit group that helps those seeking to leave polygamy.  Holding Out HELP recently delivered food to Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah.  "One of the mothers that came to use doesn't have electricity, does not have water," Tewell said.  "She has a brand new baby who is 6 months-old, plus another child in that home and she has no way to feed her family."  The lone grocery store serving the communities abruptly closed over a month ago.  It was operated by members of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  FLDS members are still able to get food through the church's bishop's storehouse.  "All members have a place to go but they have to put in a code in order to get in," Tewell said.  "So non-members are basically stuck with nothing."  "It's not exactly a secret bishop's storehouse," former FLDS member Isaac Wyler said.  "They've got great big old 15-foot-plus walls around there."  Wyler said the closing of the grocery store is just one more way for imprisoned FLDS leader Warren Jeffs to exert control over his followers.     Read more
 
 
Former child bride flees FLDS community
by Tamara Vaifanua
Fox13 News
KSTU TV
Originally broadcast January 23, 2013

A woman, who says she was forced into marriage as a child by polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs, has fled the Fundamentalist LDS Church.  Ruby Jessop, 26, was granted temporary custody of her six children after leaving the polygamist community in Northwest Arizona.  Jessop did not speak to the press about the ordeal, but her older sister, Flora, did.  She spoke about the conditions in the towns of Colorado City and Hildale and noted that people there are still very much under the control of Warren Jeffs.  Jessop was able to leave the group with the help of state and county officials.  Flora said that she could have left sooner, but law enforcement kept that from happening.  "If we would have had somebody up there that was legitimate law enforcement, she wouldn't have been 12 years in hell," said Flora Jessop.  Officials said they looked for Ruby years ago, but were unable to locate her.  "Ruby's sister, Flora Jessop, approached the attorney general's Office complaining that her sister Ruby, who was then 14, was being held against her will in homes in Colorado City and Hildale, Utah," said Tom Horne, Arizona attorney general.  "Arizona and Utah officials launched a major effort at that time to find Ruby, but she could not be found. Flora left the FLDS church in 1986 and has been working to tell Ruby's story to the public. It was only weeks ago that Ruby finally escaped Colorado City."     Read more
 
 
 
Incident puts FLDS back under microscope
Marshals, FLDS alleged to be in cahoots in Arizona town
By Dave Hawkins Special to the Standard-Times
San Angelo Standard-Times
Originally published January 25, 2013

KINGMAN, Ariz. — Details of a divorce case and a news conference in Phoenix shine new light on allegations of the sexual abuse of underage women and police and church corruption in the predominately polygamous Northern Arizona community of Colorado City.  Whether prosecution will result is unknown, but the information is being used to bolster renewed Arizona legislative efforts to dismantle the Town Marshal's Office that purportedly supports a polygamous faith in conflict with the law.  Colorado City and Hildale, Utah, straddling the border between the two states, are the largest enclave of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints followers in the country.  The polygamous sect, estimated to have 10,000 followers, also has members at the 1,700-acre Yearning for Zion Ranch 45 miles south of San Angelo in Schleicher County.  That ranch was the object of a state raid nearly five years ago that removed more than 400 children thought by the state to be at risk of child abuse.  The decision to seize the children later was overturned by an appellate court.  Jeff Matura, an attorney who represents Colorado City, countered the legislative actions by saying that facts and issues are being misrepresented.  He invited criminal prosecution if there's proof of misconduct and lawbreaking.  A 26-year-old mother of six, Ruby Jessop Barlow, filed for divorce and child custody in Mohave County Superior Court in Kingman on December 19.  The initial filing alleges that Ruby was 14-years-old when assigned to John Haven Barlow, 32, in an April, 2001 "celestial marriage" supported by the FLDS, before they were legally married in Nevada two days after she turned 16, in May of 2002.     Read more
 
 
Polygamous Prophet spreads the word
Posted by: Daphne Bramham
Think Tank
Vancouver Sun
Originally published February 12, 2013

Warren Jeffs, the jailed pedophile prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has published a 854-page tome (not including the pages left blank for notes).  Far from claiming to be the author, Jeffs describes himself as the mouthpiece of God with Jesus Christ as Author.  The book, which is laid out like the Bible, is bound in black and is called "Jesus Christ Message to All Nations."  It follows on an earlier series of letters and missives sent to political leaders (including US President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper), North American religious leaders and journalists.  The book arrived not with a press release, but with a revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ given to President Warren S. Jeffs in his prison cell in Palestine, Texas on Sept. 19, 2012.  The so-called revelation begins: "I, Jesus Christ, God over all world, do send my book of full warning to all legal order . . ." and goes on to say that Jeffs "lives pure way before all peoples," is "innocent" and outh to be freed so that he can continue preaching.  Among the many messages is one to China and Russia warning that they shall be "cleansed" (i.e. eliminated) if they use nuclear ("Luciferian") weapons.  France is decribed as "near full wicked order;" Liechtenstein is "corrupt total, worthy for full judgment;" Germany is "immoral order entire."     Read more
 
 
Jeffs In Control, Even From Behind Bars Says Former Confidant
KUTV 2News
Originally broadcast Saturday, February 16 2013

(KUTV) He was once a bodyguard and a confidante to infamous Polygamous leader Warren Jeffs.  Willie Jessop who was once a staunch defender of Jeffs is now a vocal critic.  Jessop says Jeffs still exhorts control of his followers, even from prison.  Willie Jessop, no longer a Jeffs' follower says this: "He controls who's the mayor. He controls who's on the water companies."  All from a Texas prison where Warren Jeffs is serving time for sexually assaulting under-aged girls.  Jessop says Jeffs has people in power in the boarder towns of Hildale and Colorado City to control his followers.  "From the police department, to the city managers, to the mayor --- everything dictates and bows to him."  How does Jeffs do it?  Jessops says Warren Jeffs has tightened control in another way -- by forcing followers to list everything they own -- including clothes pins and tooth brushes.  Jessop says Warren has consolidated business holdings under an FLDS umbrella.  Still, Jessop isn't leaving the community anytime soon.  "I'm still there, unfortunately for those against me, I'm still there and I intend to stay right there," he said.  Texas authorities were criticized after their raid of the FLDS, but that raid led to Warren Jeffs' convictions.
 
 
 
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Read Willie Jessop's Application for Writ of Execution directing the Washington County Sheriff to seize and sell Twin City's property to satisfy his court Judgements, filed in Utah Fifth District Court March 1, 2013
 

 
Read the State of Texas' Search and Seizure Warrant regarding forfeiture of the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado, Texas - filed November 28, 2012
 

 
Read the State of Texas' Notice of Seizure and Intended Forfeiture regarding the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado, Texas - filed November 28, 2012
 

 
Read the State of Texas' Affidavit for Search and Seizure Warrant regarding forfeiture of the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado, Texas - filed November 27, 2012
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' Revelation from prison dated November 12, 2012
 

 
Read the Federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals' Order to Vacate Federal Judge Dee Benson's order in the Utah Third District Court granting preliminary injunction and REMAND with directions to dismiss the claims filed by the FLDS Association as barred by res judicata - i.e. the FLDS waited too long to challenge the state's takeover of the United Effort Plan Trust - filed November 5, 2012
 

 
Read the U.S. Department of Justice's Motion to Transfer Related Case regarding Ron and Jinjer Cooke's discrimination lawsuit against the Town of Colorado City, filed in the U.S. District Court of Arizona July 12, 2011
 

 
Read the U.S. Department of Justice's Complaint against the Town of Colorado City, Arizona; City of Hildale, Utah; Twin City Power; and Twin City Water Authority, Inc., filed in the U.S. District Court of Arizona June 21, 2012
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' May 31, 2012 Revelation from prison received by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on June 19, 2012
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' Assortment of Revelations from prison received by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on June 12, 2012
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' May 19, 2012 Revelation from prison received by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on June 4, 2012
 

 
Read Willie Jessop's Default Judgement against Lyle Jeffs and John Wayman, filed in Utah Fifth District Court on June 4, 2012
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' May 13, 2012 Revelation from prison received by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on May 29, 2012
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' Assortment of Revelations from prison received by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on May 22, 2012
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' April 9, 2012 and April 24, 2012 Revelations from prison received by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on May 8, 2012
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' Revelations from prison filed in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on April 24, 2012
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' Assortment of January and February 2012 Revelations from prison received by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on April 24, 2012
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' March 6, 2012 Revelations from prison received by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on April 16, 2012
 

 
Read the Texas Third District Court of Appeals' Memorandum Opinion dismissing the appeal by Warren Jeffs, filed March 29, 2012
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' March 17, 2012 Revelations from prison
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' February 9, 12 & 19, 2012 Revelations from prison received by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on March 20, 2012
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' January 27 & 30, 2012 Revelations from prison received by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on February 24, 2012
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' January 16 & 17, 2012 Revelations from prison received by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on February 21, 2012
 

 
Read Willie Jessop's Complaint suing Warren Jeffs, Lyle Jeffs and John Wayman, filed in Utah Fifth District Court on February 9, 2012
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' "Revelation" newspaper ad printed in the Washington Post on Sunday, January 22, 2012
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' January 1, 2012 Revelations from prison received by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on January 17, 2012
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' December 2011 Revelations from prison received by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on January 10, 2012
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' December 2011 Revelations from prison received by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on January 4, 2012
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' October 2, 2011 Revelation from prison received by Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff on December 27, 2011
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' "Revelations" from prison warning of the destruction of the United States, received in Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's office December 12, 2011
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' "Revelations" from prison warning of the destruction of the United States, sent to some Texas Commissioners' offices in early December, 2011
 

 
Read Warren Jeffs' "Revelations" from prison warning of the destruction of the United States, sent to Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff's office November 14, 2011
 

 
Read Willie E. Jessop and Willie R. Jessop's letter to Brother Lyle Jeffs and all FLDS mailed August 10, 2011
 

 
Read the Utah Division of Corporation's Statement on FLDS filing status regarding the battle over who runs the FLDS church, issued May 5, 2011
 

 
Read the Sworn declaration of William Edson Jessop filed with the Utah Department of Commerce April 28, 2011 regarding his being the person appointed to be the Prophet of the FLDS church
 

 
Read Ruth Steed's Order of Protection issued against Alan Jeffs on April 18, 2011 by the Moccasin Justice Court
 

 
Read the trespassing citation issued to William E. (Timpson) Jessop on April 14, 2011 by the Colorado City police
 

 
Read Rod Parkers's Letter to Jeff Shields written on April 12, 2011 requesting that all UEP Trust documents be turned over to him
 

 
Read the FLDS church's Affidavit of Boyd L. Knudson filed with the Utah Department of Commerce April 11, 2011 "evidencing that Warren Steed Jeffs has been sustained as the President of the FLDS"
 

 
Read the FLDS church's Affidavit of Boyd L. Knudson filed with the Utah Department of Commerce April 11, 2011 "evidencing that Warren Steed Jeffs has been sustained as the Presiding Bishop of the FLDS"
 

 
Read Judge Denise Lindbergs's Ruling and Order Directing the Special Fiduciary to Retain UEP Trust Assests Pending Further Order of this Court regarding Federal Judge Dee Benson returning control of the United Effort Plan Trust to the FLDS, filed in the Utah Third District Court on April 11, 2011
 

 
Read Federal Judge Dee Benson's Preliminary Injunction Order returning control of the United Effort Plan Trust to the FLDS, filed in the US District Court for Utah April 8, 2011
 

 
Read the FLDS church's Affidavit of Boyd L. Knudson filed with the Utah Department of Commerce April 4, 2011 stating that on April 3, 2011 4000 church members declared Warren Jeffs as the President of the FLDS church and William E. Jessop is not part of the church
 

 
Read the FLDS church's Affidavit of Boyd L. Knudson filed with the Utah Department of Commerce April 4, 2011 stating that on April 3, 2011