Warren Steed Jeffs
Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely
Police say Warren Jeffs' father Rulon Jeffs (pictured on the right) groomed his son to take over the FLDS.
View LargerInvestigators say that Colorado City, Ariz. is a community that's been living in servitude and secrets. The Arizona Attorney General's Office and the FBI began investigating reports of child abuse, domestic violence, incest and polygamy that stem from a powerful congregation called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) and its leader, Warren Jeffs.
According to the FBI, Jeffs took control of Colorado City ten years ago and over time started similar communities in Utah, Texas, and Mexico. Mojave County Attorney General's Office investigators say that Jeffs' teachings and sermons were designed to keep his flock loyal, unquestioning, and living in fear of reprisals. For years, law enforcement officials were unable to move against Jeffs since his followers refused to testify against him.
Authorities say the main reason why Jeffs remained so powerful in Colorado City was his implementation of the one-man rule. This was a break from traditional Mormon doctrine in that, rather than a committee of appointed priests and bishops calling the shots, Jeffs was the absolute authority in the community.
"Ladies, build up your husband by being submissive. That's how you will give your children success." -- Warren Jeffs
Abuse, Polygamy And Corruption
Jeffs' own nephew accused him of sexual abuse.
View LargerInvestigators note that Warren Jeffs' single most powerful act was overseeing and performing the marriages of his followers, and therefore shaping the structure of each family in the community.
The Arizona Attorney General's Office found that many of these marriages are "plural marriages" often involving underage girls to be one of many wives to older male members of the FLDS community. Investigators say that Jeffs' followers consider him a prophet and are determined to do anything for him. Investigators even found that some children in Jeffs' congregation think he's the President of the United States.
The FBI adds that this devout allegiance raises possible comparisons to events like those in Jonestown or Waco, making Warren Jeffs a very dangerous man.
Arizona Attorney General Terry Godard's investigation initially discovered many instances of child abuse, polygamy, and corruption in the FLDS-controlled local government. In June 2005, a Mohave County grand jury indicted Jeffs on charges involving the marriage of a 16-year-old girl to a married man. Currently, there are ten to fifteen similar cases pending.
Lots Of Money And Hiding Places
Authorities say Warren Jeffs brainwashed his followers into believing that he's a prophet.
View LargerJeffs has been formally charged with Sexual Conduct with a Minor and Conspiracy to Conduct Sexual Conduct with a Minor. The FBI maintains that Jeffs has not been back to Colorado City in almost two years and may be hiding out at other polygamist communities in British Columbia, Texas, or Mexico.
According to the FBI, Warren Jeffs is a difficult man to catch because not only will his loyal followers keep him protected and his location a secret, but Jeffs also had control of a $200 million dollar trust, built from profits and tithes from the communities he controls. One of his accusers even says Jeffs required familys to give as much as $1,000 a month to FLDS.
Police say Jeffs hid out with his brother Seth Steed Jeffs' until recently, and could now be anywhere. The younger Jeffs brother was indicted in November 2005 for concealing a fugitive. He faces no more than six months in prison and will be sentenced later this summer.
While the state of Utah has frozen Jeffs' assets, the FBI believes that Jeffs had been funneling money out of the trust and using that money to keep one step ahead of the law.
Information valid as of last update.
Sexual Conduct with a Minor, Colorado City, AZ; Jun 2005
Conspiracy to Commit Sexual Conduct with a Minor, Colorado City, AZ; Jun 09, 2005