FLDS: Lots of tips, but no sign of Warren Jeffs

ST. GEORGE – Since the announcement that Warren Steed Jeffs was placed on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list as well as being featured on America’s Most Wanted, the FBI has been busy following up on tips.

Supervisor special agent Pat Kiernan said the FBI has received a substantial number of tips, which have been keeping special agents busy.

“Every one (tip) is covered no matter how small or how far flung,” Kiernan said.

Jeffs, 50, is wanted on charges filed in both Arizona and Utah. Last year, he was charged by a grand jury in Arizona with two counts of sexual conduct with a minor, one count of conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution. Jeffs was also charged with rape as an accomplice in Utah in April. After Saturday’s announcement by the FBI, the reward for information leading to Jeffs’ arrest went up to $100,000.

Kiernan said Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is wanted on two federal charges for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution out of Utah and Arizona and, since Jeffs is a fugitive, that’s why the FBI is involved.

But just because the FBI receives a tip doesn’t mean the agency will be getting warrants to search certain locations. Kiernan said the information has to be specific before the FBI can take the information to a judge for a search warrant.


The FLDS is also considered to be a cult of Christianity. Sociologically,the group is a high-control cult.

“There has to be very specific information and there are all kinds of steps before we get a search warrant,” Kiernan said. “I’m not aware of any search warrants at this point.”

While tips should be called to the FBI, Kiernan said if Jeffs is sighted by an individual, that information should be called into local law enforcement.

Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith said Jeffs making the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list doesn’t change the role of his department at all.

“If there is a sighting in the area, we will investigate if it’s in our jurisdiction,” Smith said. “The only difference is this has been taken from a local issue to a national issue.”

Gary Engels, an investigator for the Mohave County Attorney, has spent the past 18 months in Colorado City and spent Saturday night in America’s Most Wanted studio. Engels said he believes the tips received were legitimate.

“As far as I could see, the tips were legitimate. If they are any good, that’s another story,” Engels said.

Despite the increased reward and Jeffs’ position on the FBI list, Engels said things have been quiet in the twin cities of Hildale and Colorado City.

“Other than a big flurry of news media and a whole lot more fences going up, things are still the same,” Engels said.

But Bruce Wisan, the special fiduciary for the United Effort Plan, the financial arm of the FLDS church, said he has been getting positive results the past few months.

Twelve people were sent notices to pay their property taxes or move out and all 12 paid – some for entire parcels and not just their own property.

Also, a grain elevator that disappeared Jan. 1 from the Four Square Mill, has reappeared and part of the Cozy Log Home building has been located on property owned by William Jessop in the Canaan Gap area.

“Every person who was sent a demand notice has paid and we are getting some people moved back in,” Wisan said. “It’s not downhill by any means but we are making some progress.”


(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
The Spectrum, USA
May 11, 2006
Patrice St. Germain
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Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday May 11, 2006.
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