CRESTON, British Columbia — A U.S. polygamist on the FBI’s most wanted list is probably in Canada, his Canadian rival said Tuesday.
But at a news conference on his lawn Tuesday, Blackmore didn’t say whether he knew where Jeffs was.
Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was indicted in June on an Arizona charge of arranging a marriage between a 16-year-old girl and a married man and on a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. He was also recently charged in Utah with two first-degree felony counts of rape as an accomplice, for allegedly arranging the marriage of a teenage girl to an older man in Nevada.
The FLDS Church, which embraces polygamy as one of its beliefs, is based in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., and has a ranch in Eldorado, Texas. It split from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when the mainstream Mormon Church disavowed plural marriage more than 100 years ago.
Jeffs excommunicated Blackmore several years ago and the Bountiful community is now divided almost down the middle between Blackmore followers and Jeffs followers.
Blackmore characterized their split Tuesday as something akin to a family feud.
“If he was in a vehicle, I’d look the other way. We are extended family,” he said
He added, “The fact that he’s a federal fugitive, my apologies to the FBI, is not our problem.”
Blackmore said the $100,000 reward announced earlier this month will likely have results, especially if the FBI keeps increasing it.
“There’s a Judas in every crowd,” he said.
Blackmore told a newspaper columnist last week that he expected to face charges himself within days. That hasn’t happened yet, but he said scrutiny on his community has increased, likely because of the hunt for Jeffs.
Leah Barlow, one of the Blackmore’s many wives, runs a midwifery clinic in the community. She said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police have paid particular attention to the records her clinic keeps.
She said investigators came to the clinic with a search warrant and had gone through all the records to look at the ages of wives and the ages of the women delivering babies at the clinic.
Officers asked some intensely personal questions, she said.
“We don’t even share some of the things they asked with each other,” she said.