FLDS First Family Update

Warren Jeffs' nephew caught en route to Texas; possibly "The Prophet" is here?

The strange saga of self-proclaimed "prophet" Warren Jeffs, fugitive leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a polygamous, breakaway sect of the Mormon church, took yet another disturbing twist last week when authorities in southern Colorado arrested Jeffs' brother, Seth Jeffs, and nephew, Nathaniel Steed Allred, on charges of prostitution and solicitation of prostitution. According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Pueblo County sheriff's deputies stopped Allred and Jeffs on I-25 on Oct. 28 on suspicion of drunk driving. Allred quickly told police that Jeffs was the vehicle owner and had paid him $5,000 to provide Jeffs with "sexual services."

Armed with a warrant (obtained with the cops' description of Jeffs and Allred's "suspicious actions"), cops searched the car and reportedly found several hundred sealed envelopes addressed to "The Prophet" or to "Warren Jeffs," along with several cell phones, some $140,000 in cash, several thousand dollars in prepaid phone cards and credit cards, and a glass jar affixed with a picture of Warren Jeffs and labeled "Pennies for the Prophet." The cops soon realized that the "prophet" in question was Warren Jeffs, wanted in Arizona on two felony counts in connection with arranging a marriage between a 16-year-old girl and an older, married man, as well as a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Jeffs has been on the lam for most of the year and has not been publicly sighted since January 2004, when author Jon Krakauer snapped a picture of him at the FLDS compound in Eldorado, Texas, just south of San Angelo. Jeffs was consecrating the site where the FLDS' massive, first-ever temple now stands.

After his arrest, Seth Jeffs reportedly told authorities that he was an FLDS "messenger" and was traveling from the FLDS stronghold in the twin cities of Hilldale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., to deliver the envelopes and money to an FLDS bishop at the compound in Eldorado. That information has sparked widespread rumors that Warren Jeffs may be back in hiding on the gated grounds. (Randy Mankin, publisher of the weekly Eldorado Success – the newspaper that broke the news that the FLDS had purchased a chunk of ranchland just outside the city limits for use as church members' end-time paradise – says he's been unable to determine whether Jeffs is in town.) Pueblo law enforcers quickly contacted the FBI and the feds are now seeking to file federal charges against Seth Jeffs for concealing his brother's whereabouts. According to an affidavit filed by FBI Special Agent J. Andrew Stearns, Seth Jeffs denied knowledge of his older brother's whereabouts, but said that no FLDS member would ever help the feds locate their prophet – "the prophets are often persecuted," Jeffs allegedly told investigators.

On Oct. 31, a federal magistrate in Denver gave the feds the go-ahead to pursue their case against Jeffs but denied their bid to deny Seth Jeffs' bail, reports the Tribune. "I'm not convinced that this is a case where detention is warranted," U.S. Magistrate Craig Shaffer ruled. (For more on Jeffs and the FLDS, see "Meet the New Neighbors,"Aug. 29.)

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