Hunt for FLDS leader captures national interest
COLORADO CITY, ARIZ. – During the past few weeks, interest in the twin cities of Hildale and Colorado City has increased as crews from local to national news agencies and other media, including a team from the television show, “America’s Most Wanted,” have visited the polygamist communities.
Most of the interest revolves around Warren Jeffs, the head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Jeffs was indicted in June by the Mohave County Attorney’s Office on one count of sexual conduct with a minor and one count of conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor. The FBI joined the hunt when a federal warrant for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution was filed against Jeffs. Most recently, the Utah and Arizona Attorneys General banded together to offer a $10,000 reward for information leading to Jeffs’ arrest.
While “America’s Most Wanted” normally deals with more violent crimes, Alison Hemmingsen, a freelance producer for Morning Light Media, said the timing was right.
“I pitched the idea to ‘America’s Most Wanted’ several times, but I pitched it again and things have been happening,” Hemmingsen said. “I think part of the interest has to do with the kids being hurt.”
If convicted of the current charges against him, Jeffs would serve a maximum of four years in jail.
Hemmingsen said she isn’t sure when the segment on Jeffs will air, but said she hopes it’s soon.
Special Agent Rob Foster, with the FBI’s Flagstaff office, came here with the “America’s Most Wanted” team.
Foster said few tips have been received on Jeffs’ whereabouts. Foster said he hopes that changes following the airing of the segment on Jeffs on the popular television show.
“‘America’s Most Wanted’ generates a lot of tips,” Foster said. “I have dealt with them on another case. Although we have not caught the guy, we did receive a lot of tips.”
Private investigator Sam Brower said he thinks the show will bring more attention to the case. He said the television show has a pretty good success rate and, hopefully, will add to it with the capture of Jeffs.
Daniel Campbell, who pleaded guilty to the 2003 murder of St. George coin shop owner Jordan Allgood last week, was arrested following a segment that was aired about the crime on “America’s Most Wanted.”
News crews from CNN and CNBC have also been in the two communities and an ABC news team is expected soon, Gary Engels, an investigator for the Mohave County Attorney’s Office, said.