Cedar residence surrounded after ‘credible’ sighting
CEDAR CITY – Acting on a tip, an Iron County SWAT team surrounded a home in Cedar City on Friday afternoon where someone claimed they saw Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints who recently made the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List.
Cedar City Police Lt. David Holm said police got the tip and used the SWAT team because of information on the FBI bulletin that states Jeffs travels with loyal and armed bodyguards.
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Holm said the Cedar City police took the tip as “credible.” Private investigator Sam Brower, who has worked with police in the past on the Jeffs case, said the home, located at 2444 W. Pachea Trail in the Blackrock subdivision, is owned by Willy Jessop, a bodyguard of Jeffs.
Although police were at the home for more than four hours, no arrests were made. However, a man and a woman were taken in for questioning, Salt Lake City FBI media coordinator Patrick Kiernan said.
“Apparently when they were questioned, they gave conflicting stories – enough so that it raised concerns of law enforcement even more,” Kiernan said.
Permission to search the home was not initially granted, but police later were given limited consent to search.
While Jeffs was not found at the residence, indications of either Jeffs’ presence or FLDS connections prompted police to get a state warrant. Kiernan said he did not know the result of that search nor did he have the names of the occupants of the home.
Kiernan said because it was a state warrant, he did not have information on what, if anything, was obtained in the search and referred inquiries to Cedar City police.
But Holm said the FBI was handling the case, did not mention the search warrant and referred additional inquires to the FBI.
While law enforcement was closed-mouthed about the events that unfolded Friday about 2 p.m., residents in the subdivision located on state Highway 56 had plenty to say.
Dave Bolton, a neighbor and witness to the events, said everything started unfolding around 2 p.m. when police surrounded the home.
“Every cop in Cedar showed up,” Bolton said. “One got on a megaphone and demanded for the inhabitants to ‘come out with your hands up.'”
Another resident, Holly Shumway, said she saw the family come out of the house single file, all with their hands up.
“I was shocked!” Shumway said. “You don’t usually come home and see a bunch of police with their guns.”
Bolton said he was startled when he saw the guns come out and said it was “a little bit surreal.”
Bolton also said that the house had been vacant for two months and some “polygamists” have been renting it.
Jeffs was indicted on two Class Six felony charges in Mohave County last year, which include sexual conduct with a minor and conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor.
The charges are based on Jeffs, according to police records, setting up a marriage between a 28-year-old man and a 16-year-old girl. The alleged crime occurred on or between March 28, 2002, and June 30, 2002, in the vicinity of Colorado City.
Jeffs also faces charges in Utah after the Washington County Attorney’s Office filed two counts of rape as an accomplice in April 2006.
Jeffs’ followers predominately live in the twin cities of Hildale and Colorado City, Ariz.
Many residents of the border towns formerly known as Short Creek are members of the FLDS church and practice polygamy as one of their tenets.
Daily News reporters Ryann Rasmussen and Ryan Dionne contributed to this story.