Warren Jeffs expected to survive; coma medically induced

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There are conflicting reports as to the health status of Warren Jeffs, the 55-year-old head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

ABC News yesterday reported that Jeffs is in a coma is may not survive, but the Associated Press says an anonymous sources told them the coma was medically induced and that Jeffs is expected to survive:

It was not clear how long Jeffs — who has a history of refusing to eat while incarcerated — would remain in the coma or how long he would be hospitalized, the official said.

The official requested anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss the information publicly.

Doctors were not specific about why Jeffs was put into the coma.

Jeffs’ attorney Emily Detoto said her client “hasn’t been feeling well” and was taken to East Texas Medical Center in Tyler on Sunday night. She declined to elaborate.


Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons said Jeffs was in critical condition, but Lyons would not give specific details about his status. Lyons said Jeffs told corrections officers he’s fasted in the time since his conviction earlier this month, though it was not immediately clear how long he’d gone without food before being hospitalized. […]

Court documents show Jeffs tried to hang himself in January 2007 while awaiting trial on rape charges in Washington County, Utah. He also threw himself against the walls of his cell and banged his head, although he later told a mental health expert he really wasn’t trying to kill himself.

During a visit with a brother that same month that was videotaped by jail officials, Jeffs said he’d been fasting for three days and remained awake during the night. Days later, he was taken to a hospital and given medication for depression. The court documents said he’d lost 30 pounds, was dehydrated and suffering from sleep deprivation.

Jeffs also had to be temporarily force-fed in 2009 while in the Kingman, Ariz., jail.

Jason Clark, a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, told NBC News that while Jeffs was reportedly fasting, he was not on a hunger strike:

Clark said Jeffs has been suffering from a preexisting medical condition, though he wouldn’t elaborate, citing privacy rules.

Jeffs’ lack of proper nutrition in jail was not the result of a “declared hunger strike,” Clark said.
“When our officials talked to him he said he was ‘fasting,'” Clark said. “He was still eating and he was still drinking, but he was losing weight, and it affected his medical situation.”

FLDS Leadership battle

Jeffs’ medical condition may have an impact of the struggle for leadership of the FLDS:

Utah station KSL-TV says:

In recent months, a quiet battle has been unfolding for leadership. Former church spokesman Willie Jessop joined forces with William E. Jessop, also known as Will ‘Timpson’ Jessop. They’ve been holding their own Sunday services and recently distributed flyers demanding the faithful renounce Jeffs and his immorality.

“I think they’re going to continue to gain more converts,” Wyler said. “I understand they’re upwards of 250 already.”

But close to 10,000 members apparently remain loyal to Warren Jeffs and his brother Lyle.

“Lyle Jeffs is the next man in line,” Brower said. “But of course there’s no real rite of succession with the FLDS, and so it’s up for grabs. Anybody who wants it and is quick enough on their feet, and thinks they can drum up enough support from the FLDS people, is going to get it.”

If Warren Jeffs were to die, the betting would be on his brother Lyle. But a power struggle would be predictable; the fundamentalist movement has splintered many times.

“It’s going right now, it’s fracturing right now. If he dies, it will bring things to a head though,” Brower said

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This post was last updated: Nov. 22, 2013