Polygamous Prophet Update

With brother doing battle in court, Warren Jeffs is still on the lam

In an attempt to entice reticent tipsters, the FBI is now offering $50,000 in reward money for information leading to the arrest and conviction of fugitive fundamentalist Mormon "prophet" Warren Jeffs, leader of polygamist breakaway Mormon sect the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jeffs has been on the lam for over six months, dodging Arizona state felony charges in connection with arranging marriages between teen girls and older, married men, and a federal count of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Between the federal booty and state reward offerings, there is now a total of $60K in reward money being offered for Jeffs' capture.

Meanwhile, last month federal authorities took a trip to the twin towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah – which, for nearly 100 years, have been the de facto headquarters for the church – to deliver subpoenas to various church members whom they believe may have information regarding Jeffs' whereabouts. According to Utah's KSL-TV, the subpoenas are apparently based on information found last year after authorities arrested Jeffs' brother, Seth Jeffs, in Colorado. Jeffs was pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving, but was then charged with solicitation of prostitution after his nephew, Nathaniel Steed Allred, told the cops that Jeffs had paid him $5,000 for "sexual services." Once the Colorado authorities realized who Jeffs was, they got a warrant to search the car the pair were riding in and found, among other things, some $140,000 in cash, a cache of letters addressed to Warren Jeffs, and a glass jar affixed with Jeffs' picture and labeled "Pennies for the Prophet." Seth said he was just a "messenger" traveling to the FLDS' gated compound in the West Texas town of Eldorado to deliver the booty to an FLDS bishop there. (See "Meet the New Neighbors," July 29.) Authorities apparently weren't buying Jeffs' explanation, however, and in November a federal grand jury in Denver indicted him for harboring a fugitive, for allegedly helping big bro Warren evade capture.

On Jan. 20, Seth Jeffs was back before federal District Judge Bob Blackburn, asking that the government return several items taken in his October arrest. He wants a global positioning system, a laptop computer, and a handful of cell phones returned because the items were not subjected to a "forensic search" as required by the warrant police used to seize the items, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. He's also asking the judge to suppress all statements he made to authorities upon his arrest, and to bar the use of any of the property seized, arguing that both the property and statements were obtained in violation of his Fourth Amendment right to be free of unlawful search and seizure, the Tribune reports. Blackburn is scheduled to consider the arguments at a Feb. 21 hearing in Denver.

  • More of the Story

  • Naked City

    Headlines and Happenings from Austin and Beyond

    Trash Talk

    New rules for state garbage
  • Texas Left Holding Short HUD Hurricane Aid Stick

    State gets a sliver of total it requested from Congress

    Weed Watch

    California votes in favor of bill that would legalize industrial hemp farming; and bill that would legalize medi-pot for seriously ill patients moves forward in New Mexico

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle