Authorities load members of the FLDS onto buses as they search their Texas ranch for clues of abuse.
Texas authorties used the bus in the background to transport children from an FLDS compound Friday.
Authorities are continuing to search the living quarters of FLDS members, seen in an aerial view from last year.
The children are being kept at a temporary shelter at historic Fort Concho in nearby San Angelo while authorities investigate whether a child bride gave birth on the ranch at age 15.
The children in state custody are joined at the shelter by 133 women, most of them mothers, who were taken during the past few days from the sprawling Yearning for Zion ranch, said Marleigh Meisner, a spokeswoman for the state's Child Protective Services agency.
The women are free to return to the 1,900-acre compound, officials said, but many have chosen to remain. At this point, officials said, the children's fathers are not permitted to see them. See buses take girls from compound »
Court proceedings began Monday to determine whether there is enough evidence to remove the children from their homes on the ranch, which is near Eldorado, Meisner said. A hearing is scheduled April 17.
The children will be appointed lawyers and legal guardians in about two weeks, she added.
Meisner said the temporary shelter is filling up quickly, and officials are facing a "critical shortage" of foster homes. Officials will try to keep siblings together, she added.
Law enforcement officials would not provide many details of their investigation, but Meisner said the 401 court affidavits being filed Monday should shed some light on the alleged abuse.
The investigation, which began Thursday night, is continuing and authorities remain on the property to search for evidence and other children, said Tela Mange of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
One man has been arrested, allegedly for interfering with investigators. He faces a misdemeanor charge, authorities said.
Investigators said they believe more children will be found at the ranch, but Mange stopped short of saying they were being hidden. See why police want every child removed »
Authorities would not say whether they have located or identified the teen tipster whose call prompted the raid.
On March 31, a 16-year-old called and reported physical and sexual abuse on the ranch, authorities said. She said she was married to a 50-year-old man. Authorities are looking for evidence the girl had a child at the age of 15.
It remains unclear whether the girl who reported being abused is among the children being interviewed -- or was whisked away from the compound under a different name before authorities arrived.
"I am confident that this girl does indeed exist," Meisner said earlier. "I am confident that the allegations that she brought forth are accurate."
One issue compounding an already difficult and sensitive investigation is the difficulty pinning down exact names and ages of the people being interviewed -- as well as of the people being sought.
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints bought the ranch four years ago and began erecting dormitories and a large, white temple. Hundreds of Jeffs' followers moved from Arizona and Utah as authorities there stepped up their investigations.
The name is taken from one of Jeffs' spiritual songs, "Yearning for Zion."
Authorities began blocking roads to the YFZ ranch Thursday, then raided the compound and began busing women and children off the property. Most were girls, and most wore hand-sewn prairie dresses. Watch Eldorado residents react to the removals »
Officers entered the compound with a search warrant for 50-year-old Dale Evans Barlow, who they believed was married to the 16-year-old tipster. The search warrant authorized law enforcement to seize any evidence of a marriage between the two including CDs, DVDs and a computer hard drive, The Associated Press reported.
Barlow was sentenced to jail last year after pleading no contest to conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor, the AP said.
Barlow was ordered to register as a sex offender for three years while on probation, the wire service reported. Barlow's probation officer, Bill Loader, told The Salt Lake Tribune in Utah that he was in Arizona and did not know his accuser.
It remained unclear, the spokeswomen said, whether that was the same Dale Barlow named in their warrant. They acknowledged the man they are seeking might not be in Texas, but said they had no other details about his whereabouts.
CNN's previous visits to the ranch revealed the compound was guarded by armed men equipped with night-vision gear and other high-tech surveillance tools.
Authorities would not say Monday whether they had found any weapons.
Jeffs remains jailed in Kingman, Arizona, where he awaits trial on four counts of incest and sexual conduct with a minor stemming from two arranged marriages between teenage girls and their older male relatives.
Jeffs was sentenced in November to two terms of 5 years to life for being an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year-old girl who said she was forced to marry her cousin.
Rulon T. Jeffs (December 6, 1909 – September 8, 2002) (known to church members as Uncle Rulon) was the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a Mormon fundamentalist organization based in of Colorado City, Arizona.
Jeffs was a follower of FLDS Church leader Leroy S. Johnson, who died in 1986. Jeffs assumed the prophetic leadership of the FLDS Church after Johnson's death.
It was reported that at the time of Jeffs' death at age 92 that he had 75 wives and 65 children. Shortly after his death, Rulon's son Warren Jeffs proclaimed himself the new prophet of the FLDS Church and married all but two of his father's wives, effectively making himself his own stepfather.
Warren Steed Jeffs (born December 3, 1955, in San Francisco, California) was, and possibly may still be, the leader of a controversial Mormon fundamentalist polygamist sect known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church) from 2002 to 2007. Jeffs' position in this organization was reportedly that of absolute ruler.
Jeffs gained international notoriety in May 2006 when he was placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution on Utah state charges related to his alleged arrangement of extralegal marriages between his adult male followers and underage girls. He was arrested in August 2006 in Nevada, and agreed to be taken to Utah for trial. In May and July of 2007 the State of Arizona charged him with eight additional counts—including sexual conduct with minors and incest—in two separate cases. His trial, begun early in September of 2007 in St. George, Utah, lasted less than a month, and on September 25 the verdict was read declaring him guilty of two counts of rape as an accomplice. On November 20, 2007 he was sentenced to imprisonment for 10 years to life and has begun serving his sentence at the Utah State Prison.
Jeffs reportedly resigned from the presidency of the FLDS Church on the day he was sentenced, but due to this narrowly crafted statement by his attorneys: "Mr. Jeffs resigned as President of the Corporation of the President of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Inc., on November 20, 2007." it is possible that Warren Jeffs is still heading the FLDS church, as the statement does not report that he stepped down as prophet of the church. Alternately, there are reports that Warren Jeffs admitted his position of prophet in the FLDS church was false in a conversation to William E. Jessop, and declared that "Brother William E. Jessop has been the prophet since [my] Father's passing" in a conversation to his brother Nephi Jeffs, though Warren Jeffs' attorneys have claimed he misspoke.
Role as leader of the FLDS
Warren Jeffs' official title in the FLDS Church was "President and Prophet, Seer and Revelator". He also held the title of "President of the Priesthood". Jeffs was a counselor to his father Rulon Jeffs when the elder Jeffs held these leadership positions; upon the death of Rulon Jeffs in 2002, Warren Jeffs succeeded him and became FLDS Church leader. One of Jeffs' statements after his father's death was directed at high-ranking officials in the church: "I won't say much, but I will say this—hands off my father's wives." Then addressing the recent widows, he said, "You women will live as if father is still alive and in the next room." Within a week, Warren had married all but two of his father's several dozen wives. After this, he continued to marry more women, many of whom were close relatives. Because of his claimed descent from Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith, Jeffs has taught that his marriages are necessary to preserve sacred bloodlines.
Jeffs was the sole individual in the church who could perform marriages, was responsible for assigning wives to husbands. Jeffs also had the ability to punish men by "reassigning their wives, children and homes to another man." Moreover, the FLDS Church owns essentially all of the homes and real estate in the areas where its members reside.
In 2000, the Colorado City Unified School District had more than 1200 students enrolled. When Jeffs ordered FLDS Church members to remove their children from public schools, the enrollment decreased to around 250. He did not order the FLDS Church members who made up the majority of the school district's administrators to quit their positions.
Until courts in Utah intervened, Jeffs controlled almost all of the land in Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, which was part of a church trust, the United Effort Plan (UEP). The land has been estimated to be worth over $100 million. Currently, all UEP assets are in the custody of the Utah court system pending further litigation. In January 2004, Jeffs expelled a group of 20 men from Colorado City, including the mayor, and reassigned their wives and children to other men. Jeffs teaches that a man has to have at least three wives in order to get into heaven, and the more wives a man has, the closer he is to heaven. Former church members claim that Jeffs himself has seventy wives (Egan, 2005).
Before his 2006 arrest, Jeffs had last been seen on January 1, 2005, near Eldorado, Texas, at the dedication ceremony of the foundation of a large and elaborate new FLDS temple on an area of land called the YFZ Ranch. The ranch, which Jeffs' church reportedly planned to designate as its new home base, came into the public eye when Texas authorities took legal custody of 401 children on April 7, 2008 when a 16-yr old called and reported abuse. She said she was married to a 50-yr old man and had given birth to his child at age 15. 
On June 10, 2006, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard told the Deseret Morning News that he had heard from several sources that Jeffs had returned to Arizona, and had performed marriage ceremonies in a mobile home that was being used as a wedding chapel.
On March 27, 2007, the Deseret Morning News reported that Jeffs had renounced his role as prophet of the FLDS Church in a conversation with his brother Nephi. Nephi quoted him as saying he was "the greatest of all sinners" and that God never called him to be Prophet. This statement was reportedly given to his brother Nephi and Jeffs and his defense team had no comment on it. Some suggested it was a lie from his brother Nephi, trying to assume his brother's role, while others said he must step down as prophet so a new man may perform marriages and continue adding wives to the men of the community. An unnamed source said that he retracted this statement. However the veracity of that source was called into question when Jeffs presented a handwritten note to the judge at the end of trial on March 27 saying that he was not a prophet of the FLDS Church.
On November 7, 2007, the Washington County Attorney's Office released video of jailhouse conversations between Nephi and Warren Jeffs. In the videos Warren renounces his prophethood, claiming that God had told him that if he revealed that he was not the rightful prophet, and was a "wicked man", he would still gain a place in the telestial kingdom. Jeffs also admits to what he calls, "immoral actions with a sister and a daughter" when he was 20 years old. Other records show that while incarcerated, Jeffs tried to commit suicide by banging his head against the walls and trying to hang himself.
Jeffs purportedly resigned as president of the FLDS Church effective November 20, 2007. In an email to the Deseret Morning News, Jeffs' attorneys made the following statements: "Mr. Jeffs has asked that the following statement be released to the media and to members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints," ... "Mr. Jeffs resigned as President of the Corporation of the President of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Inc." The statement does not address his ecclesiastical position as prophet of the FLDS Church, and many in the FLDS communities still regard him as the prophet and their current leader."
Opinions on race
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center published the following statements of Jeffs:
- "The black race is the people through which the devil has always been able to bring evil unto the earth."
- "[Cain was] cursed with a black skin and he is the father of the Negro people. He has great power, can appear and disappear. He is used by the devil, as a mortal man, to do great evils."
- "Today you can see a black man with a white woman, et cetera. A great evil has happened on this land because the devil knows that if all the people have Negro blood, there will be nobody worthy to have the priesthood."
- "If you marry a person who has connections with a Negro, you would become cursed."
Sex crime allegations and FBI's Most Wanted
In July 2004, Warren Jeffs' nephew, Brent Jeffs, filed a lawsuit against him alleging that in the late 1980s his uncle sodomized him in the Salt Lake Valley compound then owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). Brent Jeffs said he was five or six years old at the time, and that Warren Jeffs' brothers, also named in the lawsuit, watched and participated in the abuse. Two of Warren Jeffs' other nephews also made similar abuse claims against him. One of the alleged victims, Clayne Jeffs, committed suicide with a firearm after accusing Warren Jeffs of sexually assaulting him as a child.
In June 2005, Jeffs was charged with sexual assault on a minor and with conspiracy to commit sexual misconduct with a minor for allegedly arranging, in 2002, a marriage between a 14-year-old girl and a 19-year-old man who was already married. The girl, known as "Jane Doe IV" (Elissa Wall) testified that she begged "Uncle Rulon" to let her wait until she was older, or choose another man for her. Rulon Jeffs was apparently "sympathetic", but Warren Jeffs was not, and she was forced to go through with the marriage. The man that she was to marry was apparently her first cousin. The 14-year-old alleged that her new husband raped her repeatedly, starting on their wedding night. She eventually left her husband and is now married to another man. Jeffs faced the above charges in Mohave County, Arizona. In July 2005, the Arizona Attorney General's office distributed wanted posters offering $10,000 for information leading to Jeffs' arrest and conviction.
In late 2005, Jeffs was put on the FBI's most wanted fugitive list, offering $60,000 for information leading to his arrest. Shortly after being placed on the FBI list, Jeffs was featured on the television program America's Most Wanted.
Around this time, Warren Jeffs' brother, Seth, was arrested under suspicion of harboring a fugitive. During a routine traffic stop on October 28, 2005, in Pueblo County, Colorado, police found nearly $142,000 in cash, about $7,000 worth of prepaid debit cards, and Warren Jeffs' personal records. During Seth Jeffs' court case, FBI agent Andrew Stearns testified Jeffs had told him that he did not know where his older brother was and that he would not reveal his whereabouts if he did. He was convicted of harboring a fugitive on May 1, 2006. On July 14, 2006, he was sentenced to three years' probation and a $2500 fine.
On April 5, 2006, the state of Utah issued an arrest warrant for Jeffs on felony charges of accomplice rape of a teenage girl between 14 and 18 years old. Shortly after, on May 6, 2006 the FBI placed Jeffs on its Top Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list. He was the the 482nd fugitive listed on that list. In addition, the bounty on his head was raised to $100,000, and the public was warned that "Jeffs may travel with a number of loyal and armed bodyguards".
The updated posters warned that Jeffs had ties to Utah, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, South Dakota, British Columbia, Canada, and Quintana Roo, Mexico. There was also information that he had ties to some rural farms run by some of his followers near Pioche, Nevada, as well as construction companies in Mesquite, Nevada.
On May 27, 2006 Bruce Wisan, the court-appointed accountant in charge of the FLDS' trust fund, filed civil suits against Jeffs. Wisan claimed that Jeffs is responsible for "fleecing trust assets". Along with church leaders, former trustees Truman Barlow, Leroy Jeffs, James Zitting, and William Jessop were also named as defendants. "We feel that they’ve taken things from the trust," Wisan said. "Their actions have caused harm to the trust."
On June 8, 2006 Jeffs returned to Colorado City to perform more "child bride" marriages. Nearby citizens pointed out a mobile home where the weddings had allegedly taken place.
Arrest, trial and conviction
On August 28, 2006 around 9 p.m. Pacific time Jeffs was pulled over on Interstate 15 in Clark County, Nevada, by Nevada Highway Trooper Eddie Dutchover because Jeffs' red 2007 Cadillac Escalade's temporary license plates were not visible. One of Jeffs' wives, Naomi, and his brother, Issac, were with him, and Jeffs had four computers, 16 cell phones, disguises (including three wigs and twelve pairs of sunglasses), and more than $55,000 in cash.
In a Nevada court hearing on August 31, 2006 Jeffs waived extradition and agreed to return to Utah to face two first-degree felony charges of accomplice rape. Each charge carries an indeterminate penalty of five years to life in prison. Arizona prosecutors are next in line to try Jeffs. He was held in the Washington County, Utah, jail pending an April 23, 2007, trial on two counts of rape as an accomplice for his role in arranging a 2002 marriage between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.
Jeffs was believed to be leading his group from jail, and a Utah state board expressed dissatisfaction in dealing with Hildale police, believing that many had ties to Jeffs, and as such, did not cooperate. In May and July of 2007, he was indicted in Arizona on eight counts, including sexual conduct with a minor and incest.
Jeffs' trial ran from September 11 to September 25, 2007. The trial was held in St. George, Utah, with judge James L. Shumate presiding. Jeffs was housed in Utah's Purgatory Correctional Facility in solitary confinement for the duration. At the culmination of the trial, Jeffs was found guilty of two counts of being an accomplice to rape on September 25, 2007. He was sentenced to imprisonment for 10 years to life and has begun serving his sentence at the Utah State Prison.
Following his Utah trial, Jeffs will also be tried in Arizona. Jeffs entered a not guilty plea February 27, 2008 to sex charges stemming from the arranged marriages of three teenage girls to older men.
In 2003, Under the Banner of Heaven was published, a book written by Jon Krakauer, documenting the history of both the LDS church and its spin-off sects, focusing largely on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The book describes illegal activity in the (Fundamentalist) Church, mainly polygyny and statutory rape.
In 2006, Tom Elliott and Pawel Gula produced the documentary feature "Damned to Heaven". The film premiered in Europe at the Krakow Film Festival in Poland. In September 2007, it premiered in the U.S. at the Temecula Valley International Film Festival, where it received honors in the Best Documentary category. The film investigates the practice of plural marriage, and includes 20 minutes of Warren Jeffs' original teachings. Janusz Kaminski said, after seeing the documentary, "This film is shocking. As a society, we are obligated to see it."
The documentary film "Banking on Heaven" was released in 2006. It documents Warren Jeffs and the FLDS in Colorado City, Arizona.
On July 19, 2006, Britain's Channel 4 ran the documentary "The Man with 80 Wives." The program featured presenter Sanjiv Bhattacharya searching for Warren Jeffs, unsuccessfully, in Colorado, Utah and Texas. Filmed before Jeffs was put on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list, the documentary features interviews with one of Jeffs' brothers as well as with several excommunicated FLDS members.
In Canada on October 23, 2006, Global ran an hour-long documentary on "Global Currents", which followed the lives of excommunicated members and featured their hardships.
In 2007, Living Hope Ministries released a documentary entitled Lifting the Veil of Polygamy which includes interviews with former members of Warren Jeffs' fundamentalist sect.
In September 2007, the Australian current affairs program A Current Affair sent reporter Amanda Patterson to Utah on a number of occasions to report on the sect. While filming in Colorado City, her crew was persistently harassed and stalked by a number of local men in their pickup trucks. She also attempted to interview a number of men, who saw nothing wrong with what they were doing, and with women, who refused to talk on air.
In Canada in 2007, CBC's news show The Fifth Estate aired an episode called "Bust Up in Bountiful" focusing on Jeffs's one-time rival, Winston Blackmore, and Blackmore's belief that Jeffs was not only responsible for the split in Bountiful, British Columbia's community, but is also a dangerous man.
Escape by Carolyn Jessop is a personal account of the deterioration of human rights (especially women's and children's rights) and institutionalized abuse in the FLDS organization under Warren Jeffs' leadership.
On January 23, 2007, CTV aired a made-for-TV movie titled "In God's Country" which tells a fictionalized tale that alludes to FLDS and their behaviors and beliefs.
In 2007, the television show Law & Order:SVU ran an episode featuring a cult leader who claimed to be a descendant of Jesus Christ. This character was wanted for abuse of a minor, polygamy, and performing child marriages. Though the end of the episode does not mirror the manner in which Warren Jeffs was captured, the character in the show was clearly based on Jeffs.
The HBO show "Big Love" contains a scene where the leader of a fictional fundamental and polygynist sect observes Warren Jeffs being arrested. He refers to him as a pervert and worries that he will ruin things for other polygamist sects.
The Season 3, Episode 12 "Nine Wives" of Numb3rs was based on the Fundamentalist Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), of which Warren Steed Jeffs was the leader. The episode follows the FBI's search for a pedophilic polygamist fugitive.
- ^ BBC NEWS | World | Americas | US polygamy sect leader sentenced
- ^ FindLaw: Felony Rape as an Accomplice Charges Against Warren Steed Jeffs, the FLDS Sect Leader and Polygamist
- ^ Although news reports have circulated that Warren Jeffs had formally resigned as the president of the FLDS Church, the statement released by his attorneys reads as follows: "Mr. Jeffs resigned as President of the Corporation of the President of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Inc., on November 20, 2007." It is possible that Warren Jeffs is still heading the FLDS church, as the narrowly crafted statement by his attorneys does not state that he stepped down as prophet of the church.
- ^ The FLDS Church was founded in the early twentieth century when the founders deemed the position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the issue of plural marriage to be apostate. There is no official connection between the FLDS Church and the LDS Church.
- ^ Sect leader indicted on sexual conduct with minor, incest charges
- ^ Jeffs Found Guilty on Both Counts 25 September 2007]
- ^ a b Winslow, B. (2007, November 22). Jeffs is now an inmate at Utah State Prison. Deseret Morning News. Retrieved November 29, 2007, from http://deseretnews.com/article/1,5143,695229917,00.html
- ^ a b Nancy Perkins, "Warren Jeffs resigns as leader of the FLDS Church", Deseret Morning News, 2007-12-05.
- ^ http://blogs.sltrib.com/plurallife/labels/William%20E.%20Jessop.htm
- ^ mormonfundamentalism.com: The FLDS Church (Fundamentalist LDS Church) and CBC: Timeline: History of polygamy
- ^ Warren Jeffs at Notable Names Database
- ^ Warren Jeffs and the FLDS. May 3, 2005. NPR.
- ^ Fischer, Howard: "State officials prepare to seize control of Colorado City school district"; Arizonia Daily Star. August 11, 2005
- ^ Several postes on Anderson Cooper Blog 360° (CNN)
- ^ CNN: Texas takes legal custody of 401 sect children
- ^ Associated Press: Ariz. AG: Fugitive Polygamist Has Returned
- ^ Winslow, Ben. "A prophet no more? Jeffs called himself a 'sinner' in jailhouse conversation," Deseret Morning News. March 27, 2007
- ^ Adams, Brooke "Mystery note: Warren Jeffs may have abdicated polygamist prophet role," Salt Lake Tribune April 5, 2007
- ^ Winslow, Ben; Nancy Perkins. Released video shows emotional Jeffs in jail. Deseret Morning News. Retrieved on 2007-11-11.
- ^ Johnson, Kirk. In Recordings From Jail, Polygamist Had Doubts. New York Times. Retrieved on 2007-11-11.
- ^ Polygamist Jeffs tried to hang himself in jail, documents say. CNN. Retrieved on 2007-11-11.
- ^ Intelligence Report at Southern Poverty Law Center, webpage, retrieved, July 15, 2006
- ^ Insider accounts put sect leader on the run May 16, 2006
- ^ Warren Jeffs Gets 5 Years to Life - TIME
- ^ Good Morning America Interview October 1, 2007
- ^ "Polygamist's Brother Pleads Guilty to Harboring a Fugitive". Associated Press. May 1st, 2006
- ^ "Seth Steed Jeffs Sentenced for Harboring Fugitive Brother". United States Attorney's Office District of Colorado. July 14, 2006.
- ^ a b "Polygamist Charged With Felony Accomplice Rape of a Minor" Findlaw.com. April 5, 2006
- ^ HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MAN? FBI Announces New Top Tenner, FBI Headline Archives, 05/06/06
- ^ Warren Jeffs at the FBI Web site
- ^ Hollenhorst, John. "Warren Jeffs' Money May Have Ties to Mesquite". KSL.com May 8, 2005.
- ^ "New Lawsuit Filed Against Warren Jeffs". May 27, 2006. Associated PRess.
- ^ Winslow, Ben. "Jeffs seen in Arizona?" Deseret Morning News. June 10, 2006.
- ^ "Fugitive Polygamist Sect Leader Arrested in Las Vegas". August 29, 2006. Associated Press.
- ^ Arrest Warrants and Affidavits August 30, 2006
- ^ McCabe, Francis. "POLYGAMIST LEADER: Jeffs bound for Utah". Review Journal. August 31, 2006
- ^ Police academies consider future of officers in polygamist towns
- ^ Associated Press: Authorities concerned about Jeffs' ties to border officers; Thursday, December 7, 2006
- ^ Sect leader indicted on sexual conduct with minor, incest charges
- ^ Polygamist Leader Convicted in Utah: Polygamist Leader in Utah Convicted of Sex Charges in Arranged Marriage September 25, 2007
- ^ CNN.com, Polygamist prophet is now a criminal defendant
- ^ Polygamist 'Prophet' pleads not guilty in Arizona child bride case
- ^ Damned to Heaven
- ^ http://www.liftingtheveilofpolygamy.com
- ^ In God's Country at the Internet Movie Database
- Audio clips reveal FLDS leader's racist teachings
- America's Most Wanted Television Show
- Full Coverage at America's Most Wanted
- Warren Jeffs waives extradition, will face rape charges in Utah CourtTVnews.com, Las Vegas, August 31, 2006.
- Quotations of the Prophet Warren Jeffs in The Austin Chronicle by Jordan Smith on July.
- Sex claims hit US polygamy sect by BBC News on June
- Press Release - Warren Jeffs Indicted – Shurtleff Applauds Mohave County's Investigation by the office of the Attorney General of the State of Utah, June.
- Tapes Reveal Some of Polygamist Leader's Teachings by KSL Television & Radio, Salt Lake City UT by John Hollenhorst on April 5, 2005
- Leader of FLDS named in abuse suit by Pamela Manson in The Salt Lake Tribune on July.
- Suit accuses polygamist of sex abuse, cover-up in The Arizona Republic by Joseph A. Reaves on July.
- The Man Behind the Curtain in Phoenix New Times By John Dougherty on January.
- The Polygamy Diaries azfamily.com
- NPR - Article on Rulon & Warren Jeffs May 3, 2005
- CBC's documentary on Warren Jeffs and the FLDS. January 25, 2006
- Channel 4 (UK) Documentary July 2006
- CNN – Anderson Cooper 360 transcript May 17, 2006
- Utah's Felony Charges of Accomplice Rape April 5, 2006
- Audio clips reveal FLDS leader's racist teachings 2006?
- Rick Ross Institute Section dozens of news entries on Jeffs c. 2000-2007
- Most Recent Pictures of FLDS Compound featuring updated pictures of the FLDS compound near Eldorado, Texas
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church) is one of the largestMormon fundamentalist denominations and one of America's largest practitioners of plural marriage. The FLDS Church emerged in the 1930s as an offshoot of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church); the split occurred largely because of the LDS Church's continued renunciation of polygamy and its decision to excommunicate practitioners of plural marriage in southern Utah and northern Arizona. There is no official connection between the FLDS Church and the LDS Church; they are distinct and separate denominations.
Since its inception, the headquarters of the FLDS Church have been in Hildale, Utah, which is a twin city with Colorado City, Arizona. However, news reports since 2004 have suggested a possible shift of the church's headquarters to Eldorado, Texas, where a temple has been built by FLDS Church members. As of 2007, the church was being led by Warren Jeffs, who succeeded his father Rulon Jeffs in 2002. For nearly two years, Warren Jeffs had been wanted on sex-crimes charges; and from May 2004 until his arrest in August 2006 he was on the FBI's Ten Most-Wanted List. On September 25, 2007, Jeffs was found guilty of two counts of being an accomplice to rape and was sentenced to ten years to life in prison.
Although news reports have circulated that Warren Jeffs had formally resigned as the president of the FLDS Church, the statement released by his attorneys reads as follows: "Mr. Jeffs resigned as President of the Corporation of the President of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Inc., on November 20, 2007." It is possible that Warren Jeffs is still heading the FLDS church, as the narrowly crafted statement by his attorneys does not state that he stepped down as prophet of the church. William E. Jessop, Jeffs' first counselor in the FLDS church presidency, was named by Jeffs as his successor - even going as far as stating that Jeffs never was the leader of the FLDS, but this has not necessarily been accepted by Jeffs followers, many of which claim Jeffs is still leading the church.
Membership and headquarters
The exact number of members of the FLDS Church is unknown due to the relatively closed nature of the organization; however, their population has been estimated at between 6000 to 10,000 in the twin communities of Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah. After purchasing land now called the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas, there appears to be a shift in the headquarters of the church along with a large exodus of the "most faithful" church members. The church also has a colony in Bountiful, British Columbia. In the British Columbia town, the church is the primary influence and reason for being.
The residents in the area of Hildale and Colorado City have had a long history of practicing plural marriage, dating to the mid-nineteenth century. LDS Church president Brigham Young once visited the area and stated, "This will someday be the head and not the tail of the church." The twin cities were once known as Short Creek, officially founded in 1913 as a ranching community.
The FLDS Church, although officially claiming roots back to John Taylor and the LDS Church, can trace their inception back to a schism from the LDS Church after many prominent members in and around the community of Short Creek were excommunicated in the late 1920s and early 1930s. After the LDS Church falsely claimed that it formally abandoned plural marriage in 1890 (it stopped the practice of new plural marriages in about 1906, and stopped the practice of polygamy after the old polygamists died off), many members continued to practice it and enter into new plural marriages. After the Second Manifesto renouncing polygamy was issued in 1904, the LDS Church began excommunicating those who continued to solemnize or enter into new plural marriages in 1906. Those who had entered into polygamist marriages prior to that date continued to live as polygamists as active members of the LDS church until they died.
Short Creek soon became a gathering place for polygamist members of the LDS Church. In 1935, the LDS Church excommunicated the Mormon residents of Short Creek who refused to sign an oath renouncing polygamy. Following this event, John Y. Barlow began to lead a group of Mormon fundamentalists who were dedicated to preserving the practice of plural marriage. The location on the Utah–Arizona border was thought to be ideal for the group because it allowed them to avoid raids by one state by moving across the state line to the other.
Many prominent men in the LDS Church were excommunicated and would become leaders of the fundamentalist movement, including Lorin C. Woolley, J. Leslie Broadbent, John Y. Barlow, Charles Zitting, Joseph White Musser, LeGrand Wooley, and Louis A. Kelsch. In 1932, some of these leaders created the organization known as the Council of Friends, a group of seven high priests that was said to be the governing priesthood body on the earth. The Council of Friends became the governing ecclesiastical body over the Mormon fundamentalists at Short Creek.
The early years of the movement were contentious and saw many differing interpretations and opinions among leaders as to how plural marriage should be practiced. These contentions eventually lead to the subsequent schisms that created the multiple Mormon fundamentalist organizations that now exist, including the FLDS Church. It is commonly believed by all of these sects that the early leaders of the fundamentalist movement received revelations from God commanding that plural marriage should not cease.
The FLDS Church has been led by a succession of prophets, many of whom have claimed to have been called of God to lead the fundamentalists. The first leader of the FLDS Church was John Y. Barlow, who led the community of Short Creek until his death on December 29, 1949. He was succeeded by Joseph White Musser who was the leader during the Short Creek raid, in which all of the FLDS Church members of Short Creek were arrested, including 236 children.
Musser led the community until a contentious appointment of Rulon Allred to a high position of authority in 1951 angered some members of the Short Creek community. Musser had appointed Allred to be his successor, but Allred was not accepted by the Short Creek community as such. This led to a schism among the followers, with many breaking off and following Allred; this offshoot became known as the Apostolic United Brethren. The core faithful in the Short Creek area instead followed Charles Zitting as their leader. This schism may be seen as the point at which the FLDS Church became a distinct organization within the greater Mormon fundamentalist movement.
Zitting died in 1954 and Leroy S. Johnson was chosen to lead the church in Short Creek. Johnson led the FLDS Church until his death in 1986. He was succeeded by Rulon Jeffs, who assumed the position of prophet, a title his predecessor refused to use. In Jeffs' later years, his poor health led to his son Warren serving as leader of the church in his stead, and upon Rulon's death in September of 2002, Warren Jeffs essentially proclaimed himself prophet and leader of the FLDS Church. Warren Jeffs reportedly resigned his leadership of the FLDS Church, immediately after being convicted of being an accomplice to rape by the state of Utah, though the narrowly crafted language used by his attorneys in his statement of resignation leaves open the possibility that he is still the prophet of the FLDS church.
Since no public statements have been made by officials of the church indicating a successor to Warren Jeffs, it is now unknown who may be leading the FLDS church. There are private statements that have been recorded by Warren Jeffs that indicate that William E. Jessop was to be his successor, or possibly that Jeffs was never the prophet of the FLDS church at all and Jessop had been rightful prophet since Rulon Jeffs' passing, but these statements have not been accepted by the FLDS community, and have also been contested by Warren Jeffs' attorneys as misstatements.
Legal trouble and leadership struggles
In 2003, the church received increased attention from the state of Utah when police officer Rodney Holm, a member of the church, was convicted of unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year-old and one count of bigamy for his marriage to and impregnation of plural wife Ruth Stubbs. The conviction was the first legal action against a member of the FLDS Church since the Short Creek raid.
In November 2003, church member David Allred purchased "as a hunting retreat" the 1,371 acre (5.5 km²) Isaacs Ranch 4 miles northeast of Eldorado, Texas on Schleicher County Road 300 and sent 30 to 40 construction workers from Colorado City–Hildale to begin work on the property. Improvements soon included three 3-story houses—each 8,000 to 10,000 square feet (740 to 930 m²), a concrete plant and a plowed field. After seeing high-profile FLDS Church critic Flora Jessop on the ABC television program Primetime Live on March 4, 2004, concerned Eldorado residents contacted Jessop. She investigated and on March 25, 2004, Jessop held a press conference in Eldorado confirming that the new neighbors were FLDS Church adherents. On May 18, 2004, Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran and his Chief Deputy visited Colorado City, and the FLDS Church officially acknowledged that the Schleicher County property would be a new base for the church. It has been reported in the media that the church is building a temple at the YFZ Ranch, which has been supported by evidence including aerial photographs of a large stone structure (approximately 88 feet wide) being built. Recent pictures now show the temple in a state of relative completion. A local newspaper, the Eldorado Success, reported that the temple foundation was dedicated January 1, 2005 by Warren Jeffs.
On January 10, 2004, the church suffered major upheaval when Dan Barlow, the mayor of Colorado City, and about 20 men were excommunicated from the church and stripped of their wives and children (who would be reassigned to other men), and the right to live in the town. As a result, a few teenage women reportedly fled the towns with the aid of activists who advocate the escape of plural wives from polygamy. Two of the young women, Fawn Broadbent and Fawn Holm, soon found themselves in a broadly publicized dispute over their freedom and custody. They fled state custody together on February 15, and have been on the run in multiple states since.
In October 2004, disaffected members of the church reported that David Allred purchased a 60-acre (240,000 m²) parcel of land near Mancos, Colorado (midway between Cortez and Durango) about the same time he bought the Schleicher County property. Allred told authorities the parcel is to be used as a hunting retreat.
In July 2005 eight men of the church were indicted for sexual contact with minors. At least some of them surrendered to police in Kingman, Arizona.
On July 29, 2005, Brent Jeffs filed suit accusing three of his uncles, including Warren Jeffs, of sexually assaulting him when he was a child. The suit also named the FLDS Church as a defendant. On August 10, former FLDS Church member Shem Fischer, Dan Fischer's brother, added the church and Warren Jeffs as defendants to a 2002 lawsuit claiming he was illegally fired because he no longer adhered to the faith. Fischer, who was a salesman for a wooden cabinetry business in Hildale, claims church officials interfered with his relationship with his employer and blacklisted him.
In July 2005, a half-dozen lost boys who say they were cast out of their homes on the Utah–Arizona border to reduce competition for wives filed suit against the FLDS Church. "The [boys] have been excommunicated pursuant to that policy and practice and have been cut off from family, friends, benefits, business and employment relationships, and purportedly condemned to eternal damnation," their suit says. "They have become 'lost boys' in the world outside the FLDS community."
On May 7, 2006, the FBI named Warren Jeffs to their Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list on charges of sexual misconduct with minors.
The mayor of Colorado City, Terrill C. Johnson, was arrested on May 26, 2006 for eight fraudulent vehicle registration charges (providing false registration and title papers eight separate times)—a felony. He was booked in to Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane, Utah and was released after paying the $5,000 bail in cash.
On August 28, 2006, Warren Jeffs was captured on Interstate 15 just north of Las Vegas, Nevada, after a routine traffic stop. He was captured with his brother, Isaac Steve Jeffs, and one of his wives, Naomi Jeffs, both 32. Isaac and Naomi were both released. Jeffs was tried in St. George, Utah and was found guilty by a jury of two counts of being an accomplice to rape.
April 2008 raid
Beginning April 4, 2008, troopers and child welfare officials arrived at the church's YFZ Ranch and removed over 400 children, placing 18 girls in temporary custody of the state, after responding to the alleged sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl by a 50-year-old man. On the following day, Judge Barbara Walther of the 51st District Court issued an order instructing officials to bring all children, including boys under age 18, out of the compound. 401 children and 133 women were being held and questioned 40 miles away
Plural marriage and the law of placing
The FLDS Church teaches the doctrine of plural marriage, which states that a man having multiple wives is ordained by God and is a requirement for a man to receive the highest form of salvation. It is generally believed in the church that a man should have a minimum of three wives to fulfill this requirement. Connected with this doctrine is the concept that wives are required to be subordinate to their husbands.
The church currently practices the law of placing, whereby a young woman of marriageable age is assigned a husband by revelation from God to the leader of the church, who is regarded as a prophet. The prophet elects to take and give wives to and from men according to their worthiness. Wives may be taken from one man and reassigned to men that are more worthy.
All members of the church are required to abide by a strict dress code. In general, women are forbidden to wear makeup, trousers or any skirt above the knees or to cut their hair. Men are usually seen wearing plain clothing, usually a collared shirt and trousers. Men and women do not have any tattoos or body piercings. Women and girls usually wear homemade dresses and long stockings, keeping their hair coiffed.
The FLDS Church also prevents its members from owning real estate and other property. The land and houses occupied by the FLDS Church are owned by the United Effort Plan (UEP), a subsidiary organization of the church. The UEP also owns most businesses that are controlled by FLDS Church members. The church views this "United Order" as a means of living the traditional Latter Day Saint doctrine of the "Law of Consecration". The Attorney General of Utah has filed a lawsuit in an attempt to protect the holdings of the UEP for the current residents of Colorado City and Hildale. The Attorney General is seeking to have the assets of the UEP reassigned to the FLDS Church members. The UEP has been frozen by court order pending a resolution of the lawsuit.
In 2000, the Colorado City Unified School District had more than 1200 students. When Jeffs ordered FLDS Church members to pull their children out of public schools, the number declined to around 250.
The FLDS Church is the fifth Latter Day Saint denomination to have built a temple.
Criticisms of the church
At the time of his death, church leader Rulon Jeffs was confirmed to have married 22 women and fathered more than 60 children, although some have suggested that he had close to 75 wives. Current estimates also state that Warren Jeffs may have upwards of 60 wives. Critics of this lifestyle say that its practice inevitably leads to bride shortages and likely to child marriages, incest, and child abuse.
It has been reported that the FLDS Church has recently excommunicated over 400 teenage boys, some as young as 13, for offenses such as dating and listening to rock music. Former members claim that the real reason for these excommunications is that there are not enough women for each male to receive three or more wives. Six such teenage boys have filed a conspiracy lawsuit against Jeffs and Sam Barlow, a former Mohave County deputy sheriff and close associate of Jeffs, for a "systematic excommunication" of young men to reduce competition for wives.
Critics claim that some members of the church are violating laws (because polygamy is illegal in the United States) when they participate in polygamy. Critics claim that incest and sexual abuse of children are prevalent among church members.
In its Spring 2005 "Intelligence Report," the Southern Poverty Law Center named the FLDS Church to its "hate group" listing because of the church's teachings on race, which include a fierce condemnation of interracial relationships. Warren Jeffs has said, "the black race is the people through which the devil has always been able to bring evil unto the earth."
Former FLDS Church member Robert Richter reported to the Phoenix New Times that Warren Jeffs has repeatedly alluded to the nineteenth century Mormon teaching of "blood atonement" in church sermons. Under the doctrine of blood atonement, certain serious sins can only be atoned for by the sinner's death. Richter also claims that he was asked to design a thermostat for a high-temperature furnace that would be capable of destroying DNA evidence if such "atonements" were to take place.
The Colorado City/Hildale area has the world's highest incidence of fumarase deficiency, an extremely rare genetic condition which causes severe mental retardation. Geneticists attribute this to the prevalence of cousin marriage between descendants of two of the town's founders, Joseph Smith Jessup and John Yeates Barlow; one local historian reports that 75–80 percent of the double-communities' roughly 10,000 inhabitants are descended from one or both of these men.
Allegations of welfare fraud, militant organizations, incest, statutory rape, physical, emotional and psychological abuse—all of which are hidden by a veil of secrecy, isolation, and deprivation in Colorado City–Hildale—have been widely reported in American media.
- ^ Krakauer, Jon. Under the Banner of Heaven. New York:Random House, 2003. ISBN 1400032806
- ^ The church has an estimated 8000 members 
- ^ Principle Voices - Polygamist Census: LDS Splinter Groups Growing
- ^ The Eldorado Success
- ^ "Jeffs guilty on both counts", The Salt Lake Tribune, 2007-09-25. Retrieved on 2007-09-25.
- ^ "Leader of Utah Polygamist Sect Guilty in Rape Case", The Associated Press, 2007-09-25. Retrieved on 2007-09-25.
- ^ Polygamist 'prophet' to serve at least 10 years in prison - CNN.com
- ^ Nancy Perkins, "Warren Jeffs resigns as leader of the FLDS Church", Deseret Morning News, 2007-12-05.
- ^ http://www.census.gov/popest/cities/tables/SUB-EST2005-04-04.csv
- ^ http://www.census.gov/popest/cities/tables/SUB-EST2006-04-49.csv
- ^ Mormon polygyny in Canada
- ^ Polygamy: Throughout history
- ^ http://www.childbrides.org/history_SLTrib_plig_throughout_history.html
- ^ Polygamy's Odyssey
- ^ a b Polygamy's Odyssey
- ^ The Council of Friends
- ^ a b Most polygamists trace lineage to 1929 group
- ^ http://childbrides.org/PolygamyLeaders.pdf
- ^ "Jeffs dedicates FLDS temple site at YFZ Ranch", The Eldorado Success, 11 January 2005. Retrieved on 2008-04-24.
- ^ "FLDS town's mayor arrested", The Salt Lake Tribune, 27 May 2006. Retrieved on 2007-04-24.
- ^ "52 children taken during raid", The Eldorado Success, 4 April 2008. Retrieved on 2008-04-24.
- ^ "Update: Judge orders all children out of FLDS compound", The Salt Lake Tribune, 5 April 2008. Retrieved on 2008-04-05.
- ^ Three wives will guarantee you a place in paradise. The Taliban? No: welcome to the rebel Mormons - Telegraph
- ^ Sixth of Seven Wives
- ^ The polygamist women of Colorado City
- ^ State officials prepare to seize control of Colorado City school district
- ^ The other four are the Church of Christ, the LDS Church, the Community of Christ, and the Apostolic United Brethren.
- ^ a b "Warren Jeffs and the FLDS", NPR, 3 May 2005. Retrieved on 2007-04-24.
- ^ Lost Boys Found
- ^ FLDS church, leaders sued by 6 'lost boys', Deseret Morning News
- ^ Tracy, Kathleen (2001). The Secret Story of Polygamy. Sourcebooks. ISBN 1570717230.
- ^ Llewellyn, John R. (2006). Polygamy's Rape of Rachael Strong: Protected Environment for Predators. Agreka Books. ISBN 0977707210.
- ^ Daniels, April (1993). Paperdolls: A True Story of Childhood Sexual Abuse in Mormon Neighborhoods. Recovery Publications. ISBN 0941405273.
- ^ Moore-Emmett, Andrea (2004). God's Brothel: The Extortion of Sex for Salvation in Contemporary Mormon and Christian Fundamentalist Polygamy and the Stories of 18. Pince-Nez Press. ISBN 1930074131.
- ^ SPLCenter.org: Hate Groups Map
- ^ SPLCenter.org: In His Own Words
- ^ Phoenix - News - Wanted: Armed and Dangerous
- ^ Hollenhorst, John. "Birth defect is plaguing children in FLDS towns", Deseret Morning News, 2006-02-09. Retrieved on 2006-08-29.
- ^ Polygamist community faces rare genetic disorder. Yahoo! News. Accessed June 14, 2007.
- ^ Polygamy Puzzle
- Hales, Brian C. (2007), Modern Polygamy and Mormon Fundamentalism: The Generations After the Manifesto, Greg Kofford Books, ISBN 1-58958-035-4.
- Quinn, D. Michael (1998), "Plural marriage and Mormon fundamentalism", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 31 (2): 1–68, <http://content.lib.utah.edu/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/dialogue&CISOPTR=10335&REC=20>.
- Krakauer, Jon: Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith (July 15, 2003)
- Carolyn Jessop and Laura Palmer. Escape (book). Broadway Books, October 16 2007
Audio and video documents
- MSNBC New Article 534 women, children leave polygamist ranch MSNBC (07 Apr 2008)
- Doughery, John. "Polygamy in Arizona: A New Times Special Report", Phoenix New Times, 2005.
- Egan, Timothy. "Polygamous Community Defies State Crackdown", New York Times, October 25, 2005.
- "Meet the New Neighbors", The Austin Chronicle, July 29, 2005
- "The lost boys, thrown out of US sect so that older men can marry more wives", The Guardian, June 14, 2005
- "Sect's secrets contained within compound walls". Dallas Morning News, February 18, 2006
- "FLDS temple appears complete". Deseret Morning News, Salt Lake City, January 31, 2006
- "Birth defect is plaguing children in FLDS towns". Deseret Morning News, Salt Lake City, February 9, 2006
- "Property Tax Dispute Threatens Band of Polygamists".New York Times, April 21, 2006
- "Jeffs on FBI's Top Ten". Deseret Morning News, Salt Lake City, May 7, 2006
- "Warren Jeffs waives extradition, will face rape charges in Utah". CourtTVnews.com, Las Vegas, August 31, 2006
- "Escape from Polygamy"
- Southern Poverty Law Center: In His Own Words; Intelligence Report (Spring 2005)
- Dougherty, John: Wanted: Armed and Dangerous; Phoenix New Times (10 Nov. 2005)
-  and : Information on Utah Attorney General's Lawsuit against the United Effort Plan
The Fundamentalist Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Mormons who go too far? Whodhavethunkit?