Polygamist Prophet Sighting

Warren Jeffs spotted in FLDS stronghold Colorado City, Ariz.

Warren Jeffs
Warren Jeffs

Wanted man Warren Jeffs, fugitive leader of the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a breakaway sect of fundamentalist Mormons), has been spotted again, this time in the longtime FLDS stronghold of Colorado City, Ariz. Jeffs has been on the lam for nearly a year, fleeing state and federal charges connected to his arranging and performing marriages between teen girls and older, married men. Colorado City, on the state's northern border, and sister city Hildale, Utah, make up the twin-city duo that has been the de facto HQ for the FLDS for more than 80 years.

According to the Salt Lake City Deseret Morning News, Arizona officials believe fugitive Jeffs has been hangin' in Colorado City recently, carrying on with his duties as the church's prophet by performing more child-bride marriages inside a mobile-home-turned-wedding-chapel. "I've heard from a number of different sources who said he's been here," Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard told the daily. If Goddard's sources are correct, Jeffs has been able to (again) evade an investigative posse that's been trying to find him for months – including the FBI, which has added Jeffs to its Ten Most Wanted list (along with other notables as Osama bin Laden and Boston's James "Whitey" Bulger).

According to the daily, Jeffs' evasion frustrates Goddard, who told the paper that he's been unimpressed with the FBI's hunt for the fugitive prophet. While Utah and Arizona officials have been working well together during their joint investigation into the FLDS and their hunt for Jeffs, the FBI hasn't pulled its weight, he said – among other problems, Goddard told the paper, is that the FBI isn't using state and local investigators, who know the territory and "players" well, enough in the hunt. "I've seen too many examples where the lack of coordination has been a benefit to Mr. Jeffs and his efforts to stay on the lam," he said. (In contrast, officials with the Utah AG's office say they've had far more communication with FBI agents in the state's area field office.)

Jeffs was last spotted publicly early last year at the FLDS' Yearning for Zion ranch just outside the West Texas town of Eldorado, consecrating the site where the group's first-ever temple now stands. (For more, see "Meet the New Neighbors," News, July 29, 2005.)

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