Warren Jeffs, self-described “prophet” of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), sits behind bars in a state prison in the east Texas city of Palestine.
But even though he’s serving a 120-year sentence for sexually abusing minors, Jeffs, critics say, still manages to run an isolated community of more than 6,000 people that straddles the Utah-Arizona border.
It’s a place unlike any other in America because, dissidents charge, it operates under a veritable theocratic form of government.
Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., known collectively as the Short Creek community, are home to a radical polygamist splinter group of the Mormon church. Members of the FLDS live in what is widely considered to be their stronghold in the desert.
For years, little was known about the secretive religious group. Members shunned publicity and planned their community on a border so they could move from one state to another if trouble arose.
But now Short Creek finds itself targeted by a national spotlight - and what’s being uncovered isn’t pretty.
Last year at this time, self-described prophet Warren Jeffs was predicting the end of the world. According to eight revelations he issued from a jail cell at the beginning of December 2012, divine vengeance was slated to fall upon a nation “fully ripening in iniquity.” Earthquakes were to rock Arizona, and “melting fire” was supposed to roll out across Idaho.
This year? Jeffs is predicting the same demise, only this time compliments of the geysers at Yellowstone National Park. Once they blow their tops, it’s the end for all humankind.
“By December 23rd, [the world is] going to have ended,” former FLDS member Isaac Wyler, who has seen the revelation, told KUTV in Salt Lake City. Jeffs told his followers to prepare grey or blue backpacks, of a certain size, and pack them with essentials to be ready to go when God calls them, Wyler said.
Jeffs, 56, is the imprisoned head of a sizeable Mormon breakaway polygamous sect called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). He became a fugitive in 2005, after he was charged with conspiracy to commit rape for arranging a marriage between an unwilling 14-year-old girl and her 17-year-old cousin, and then pressuring the girl to have sex with the young man. He was arrested more than a year later, and convicted of two rape conspiracy charges, drawing two terms of five years to life in prison.
Then, in a separate trial last year, he was convicted of raping his 12-year-old “spiritual bride,” as well as sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl. Evidence of those attacks turned up in 2008, when Texas authorities raided an FLDS compound in the town of El Dorado, and included a document in which the supposed prophet of God wrote, “If the world knew what I was doing, they would hang me from the highest tree.” He was sentenced to two life terms in that case.
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.
Now that he has a whole lot of time on his hands, self-described prophet Warren Jeffs is claiming to be the “mouthpiece” of an angry God. And judging from the sound of things, there’s going to hell to pay for daring to lock up the racist cult leader for raping a 12-year-old “celestial” child bride and other crimes.
In a series of eight biblically themed “revelations,” written between Aug. 18 and Nov. 12, Jeffs predicts widespread catastrophe and divine vengeance for a nation “fully ripening in iniquity.” Earthquakes will rock Arizona, tidal waves will smack Seattle, “melting fire” will roll across Idaho, and devastating storms will wreak havoc everywhere else, the convicted sex criminal predicts.
“I have named many places that shall be cleansed entire, and as you witness this, a memory of my word shall hearken in your souls that thy God reigneth,” Jeffs wrote in one overweening prediction on Sept. 25 from Tennessee Colony, Texas, where he was being held at the time.
And why would all of this damnation suddenly befall the world—especially considering Jeffs is a little late to the party predicting an end of times? From Jeff’s perspective, it’s because of the legal system locked up the Lord’s “mouthpiece.”
“My warning voice has sounded,” Jeffs wrote, speaking in the alleged voice of God and referring to himself in the third person. “My servant is in bondage.”
Jeffs, the leader of a sizeable Mormon breakaway sect called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), initially became a fugitive in 2005, after he was charged with conspiracy to commit rape for arranging a marriage between an unwilling 14-year-old girl and her 17-year-old cousin, and then pressuring the girl to have sex with the young man. Jeffs was finally arrested more than a year later, and ultimately convicted of two rape conspiracy charges, drawing two terms of five years to life in prison.
Earlier this year, in a separate trial, he also was convicted of raping his own 12-year-old “spiritual bride,” as well as sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl. Evidence of those attacks turned up in 2008, when Texas authorities raided an FLDS compound in the town of El Dorado, and included a document, part of the evidence put before the jury, in which the supposed prophet of God wrote, “If the world knew what I was doing, they would hang me from the highest tree.” He was sentenced to two life terms in that case.
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.”
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - Jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs was in critical condition on Monday after he was hospitalized for dehydration, Texas prison officials told Reuters.
The 55-year-old Jeffs, serving a 130-year sentence for sexually assaulting two underage girls, had been refusing to eat properly and is being treated for weakness and related conditions, said Jason Clark, a Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman.
Jeffs was reportedly fasting, but not on a hunger strike, Clark said.
“Warren Jeffs was transported last night to East Texas Medical Center in Tyler,” Clark said Monday. “He is listed in critical but stable condition. Jeffs had not been eating and drinking as much as we would like.
Jeffs’ prison unit is not air conditioned, but officials didn’t know if that had anything to do with his condition.
Temperatures across Texas have been in the triple digits for several days.
(Edited by Karen Brooks and Jerry Norton)
Check out Jeffs’ photo in the news story; what a creep! He’s now where he and all child molesters belong. The niece’s heart-wrenching story:
Jerusha, who grew up in the FLDS church, revealed in court for the first time that Jeffs raped her when she was a 7-year-old, second-grade student in the Utah elementary school where he served as principal.
“Warren told me to come sit on his lap and I didn’t know why,” she tearfully recalled to ABC News. “He said, ‘You’re a special girl’ and that he would help me to go heaven. And he had a certain way of making me feel like I was special and he told me I’ll go to heaven if I, for sure, just don’t tell anybody.”
The pattern of abuse she suffered, manipulation and praise along with the rape, is what she told the jury about during the sentencing phase of Jeffs’ trial.
“I just wish everybody could feel the feeling that I felt you know, all the people that he’s hurt,” she said. “I wish they could feel that same feeling.”
Jerusha, now in her 20s and living in the Salt Lake City area, kept her story a secret for nearly two decades while her uncle went free and continued to lead his nearly 10,000 FLDS followers who consider him a prophet who serves as God’s spokesman on Earth.
“All of his rules were to be obeyed,” Jerusha said. “Nothing that he did was wrong, ever.”
It was only when Jerusha watched the documentary “Sons of Perdition” about boys trying to escape the FLDS church, a radical offshoot of the mainstream Mormon Church, that her memories began to flood back.
Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs has been sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting two underage followers he took as brides.
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints leader was handed the maximum sentence possible.
Last Thursday, the 55-year-old was found guilty of forcing two girls into “spiritual marriages” and fathering a child with one of them.
The charges followed a raid on a remote west Texas ranch in 2008.
Jeffs stood quietly in a Texas court on Tuesday as the jury’s decision, which only took 30 minutes, was read.
Jeffs had referred to himself as a prophet, and the Mormon breakaway sect he leads believes polygamy is the path to heaven.
During the trial, prosecutors presented DNA evidence to show Jeffs had fathered a child with a 15-year-old girl, and an audio recording of him sexually assaulting a 12-year-old.
Throughout the trial, prosecuting lawyers played other tapes during which Jeffs was heard instructing his young wives on how to satisfy him sexually, which he said would please God.
Jeffs, who insisted on acting as his own legal defence during the earlier part of the trial, argued he had been prosecuted because of his religious beliefs.
The sect leader refused to speak during the sentencing portion of the trial, with a defence lawyer telling the judge his client had instructed his legal team not to speak for him.
Jeffs, who stood expressionless and silent before the jury for nearly half hour during his closing arguments, called only one defence witness to the stand - a man who read from Mormon scripture.
Prosecutors said the religious head had spent years travelling around North America and avoiding arrest, ultimately landing on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list.
An FBI agent said during the trial that fathers who handed over their daughters to Jeffs were rewarded with young brides of their own.
“If the world knew what I was doing, they would hang me from the highest tree,” Jeffs wrote in notes, seized from his Texas ranch.
When police raided the Texas ranch they found women dressed in frontier-style dresses and underage girls who were clearly pregnant.
The 10,000-strong sect, which dominates the towns of Colorado City in Arizona, and Hildale, Utah, split from the mainstream Mormon church more than a century ago.
A half-brother of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs has filed a lawsuit claiming that the sect has his daughters and is readying to marry them to older men.
Wallace Jeffs is seeking custody of seven of his daughters and two of his sons; he fathered the children, ranging in age from 8 to 16, with two women.
In the lawsuit filed Tuesday in state court in St. George, Wallace Jeffs says he has not been allowed to see his children. He fears his daughters, three of whom are teenagers, are in imminent risk of being married.
“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,” said Wallace Jeffs’ attorney, Roger Hoole.
Lyle Jeffs is another half-brother to Wallace Jeffs.
It will be like cats and dogs sleeping together…
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.”