FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs named to FBI’s Top Ten Fugitive List
“Warren Jeffs needs to surrender himself now, while he still can,” Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran told The Success this week. “He is rapidly running out of time.”
Doran’s urgent plea came two days after the FBI had named the fugitive prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) to its Top Ten Fugitive List.
Doran said that he and Chief Deputy George Arispe met Monday with Merrill Jessop, an ardent Jeffs follower and the man presently in charge of the 1,691-acre YFZ Ranch. He says he told Jessop that Jeffs’ situation “can only get worse” if he fails to turn himself over to law enforcement authorities.
“This thing started out two years ago like a little pebble rolling down a hill,” Doran added. “Now it’s grown into a great big boulder that is gaining momentum every day.”
The Sheriff said he used the pebble and boulder analogy to explain to Jessop that the FBI’s involvement in the Warren Jeffs case means that more and more intense scrutiny will be placed on the YFZ Ranch and the members of the FLDS church who live there.
Convicted polygamist police officer loses constitutional challenge in Utah court
FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs may be on the FBI’s Top Ten Fugitives List, but so far, at least, he has managed to elude authorities and vex the legal systems in Arizona and Utah. Jeffs’ celebrity has certainly grown as dozens of TV programs and hundreds of newspapers have featured the polygamous prophet. But, some of his followers aren’t faring so well.
One of those is former Colorado City, AZ police officer Rodney Holm.
It was Holm’s 2003 conviction on bigamy and sex charges that prompted Jeffs and his FLDS faithful to begin looking for places to hide outside their traditional home on the Utah/Arizona border. That’s when, almost simultaneously, the group purchased the YFZ Ranch here in Schleicher County, as well as secluded parcels of land near Mancos, CO, and Pringle, SD.
On Monday the Utah Supreme Court rejected Holm’s argument that polygamy should be decriminalized.
Some 15 months in the making, the ruling stated that Holm’s behavior “falls squarely within the realm of behavior criminalized by our state’s bigamy statute.”
Long-time FLDS attorney Rodney Parker argued the case before the high court on Holm’s behalf. He said that polygamists should be able to have a legal marriage with a first wife, then enter into religious unions with other women as a way to reach the highest realm of heaven.
If Moctezuma could only see us now!
Imagine, if you will, that a long-lost tribe of Native Americans has been discovered living in a remote area near the Grand Canyon. The group, it turns out, still practices human sacrifice, much the same as the Aztecs and Mayans did a few short centuries ago. And...from time to time, as dictated by their Shaman, the group also practices cannibalism.
Then, just for the sake of argument, let’s pretend that tribal leaders within the group recognize that modern America is a pretty neat place to live and they decide to adopt certain parts of our culture while still holding on to their heritage and their ancient religious beliefs.
For example, they decide that the welfare system is a much more efficient way of feeding their people than stalking the dwindling supply of wildlife. And, they choose to build a Casino in order to provide them with spending money.
What would happen the first time this tribe decided to sacrifice a 14-year-old virgin to the gods in order to guarantee a bountiful harvest? Would state and federal authorities step in? Or, would the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) intervene on behalf of the tribe and argue that they are only practicing their religion as it has been revealed to them by their holy man?
Jeffs still a no show
The elusive FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs remains at large this week despite the increased attention from state, federal and local law enforcement agencies. Jeffs was named to the FBI’s Top Ten Fugitive List two weeks ago.
Sheriff David Doran reports that there is still no reason to believe that Jeffs is at the YFZ Ranch, some four miles north-northeast of Eldorado.
However, lawmen seem to be focusing there attention here, just in case.
Doran said a representative from the Texas Attorney General’s office met at his office last week with lawmen from the FBI, Texas Rangers, Texas DPS Special Crimes Unit, as well as Doran and Chief Deputy George Arispe.
Another lawsuit filed against Jeffs and his FLDS church
FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs and four of his closest lieutenants stand accused this week of lining their pockets while at the same time failing to protect the interests of a charitable trust they supervised as trustees. A lawsuit named the men as defendants along with the FLDS Church.
The men once served as trustees of the United Effort Plan Trust, a tax exempt organization established in 1942 to oversee properties given to the FLDS church. But last year, all of them were removed from their positions of authority over the UEP by a Utah district judge. The judge then appointed Bruce Wisan, a Salt Lake City accountant, to act as Special Fiduciary on behalf of the trust and its beneficiaries. And, it was Wisan who brought the latest lawsuit.
In the lawsuit Wisan accuses Warren Jeffs, Truman I. Barlow, Leroy S. Jeffs, James K. Zitting and William E. Timpson of wrongful taking and conversion of trust property, unjust enrichment, interference with contractual relations and prospective economic advantage and civil conspiracy. The former trustees also are accused of breach of trust, breach of fiduciary duty and profits arising from administration of the trust.
The suit claims damages of $1 million plus other unspecified damages. In it, Wisan alleges the trustees failed for years to place donations of money, property and services donated to the UEP into the charitable trust. The men allegedly transferred trust property to third parties for “little or no consideration” after two lawsuits were filed in 2004 by young men known as “Lost Boys” who claimed they were wrongly expelled from the community.
Investigators look to DNA for proof of polygamous and under-aged marriages
Could it be that saliva samples, together with birth records and marriage certificates, serve to prove allegations that some members of the FLDS Church entered polygamous unions with young girls and then fathered their children? Arizona prosecutors apparently believe they will.
Eight followers of FLDS Prophet Warren Jeffs were indicted last year on charges of conspiracy and sexual conduct with a minor. A series of search warrants served May 24 at the homes of four of the men sought saliva samples for DNA comparison. If they were actually obtained, the samples could once and for all “establish the paternity and maternity of the child and would tend to prove the existence of a sexual relationship,” court documents claim.
Police won’t say if the warrants they served simultaneously on the homes of Dale Barlow, Donald Barlow, David Batemen and Vergel Jessop, netted any DNA samples. However, court records detailing the items taken from each of the four homes list genealogical records, family pictures, tax returns, bank statements, bills and personal journals.
Despite a fanatical insistence on privacy, Warren Jeffs and his FLDS church find themselves in the eye of a mass media hurricane, especially since Jeffs was named to the FBI’s Top Ten Fugitives List. There is presently a $100,000 reward being offered for information leading to Jeffs’ arrest and conviction on a bevy of state and federal charges, all of them stemming from the marriage of under aged girls to older men.