Utah Targets Polyg Prophet

While Arizona authorities languish, the Utah Attorney General's Office focuses on the leader of the fundamentalist Mormon Church

Warren Jeffs was not alive during the raid and moved to Hildale from Salt Lake City in the late 1990s. He did not attend the July 26 dedication. Jeffs assumed the role of prophet last September after his father Rulon's death.

For the past 10 months, Jeffs and members of the Barlow family have quietly engaged in a power struggle for control of the FLDS community. The Barlows, who handle nearly all of the civic duties in Colorado City, also have a natural claim to religious power.

They are descendants of former FLDS founder and Prophet John Y. Barlow, who died in 1949. In recent months, the Barlows have been holding religious meetings outside of Jeffs' direction.

Rand Carlson
Ruth Stubbs testified before Judge G. Rand Beachum that she routinely had sex with her "spiritual" husband, a police officer, while she was underage.
Nick Adams,The Spectrum
Ruth Stubbs testified before Judge G. Rand Beachum that she routinely had sex with her "spiritual" husband, a police officer, while she was underage.

The Barlows' quiet insurrection, along with the erection of the museum and monument, not only angered Jeffs, it apparently did not sit well with God either. Jeffs told his congregation that the holy spirit had delivered a revelation to him the day after the dedication expressing outrage.

In his sermon, Jeffs gave worshipers the following account of God's thunderous message:

"Verily, I say unto you, my servant Warren, my people have sinned a very grievous sin before me in that they have raised up monuments to man and have not glorified it to me. For it is by my almighty arm that my people have been preserved and shall be preserved if they are worthy. I use men as instruments to perform my work."

The revelation continues for another 10 minutes, with Jeffs relaying that the Almighty issued a warning through him to the FLDS members who erected the monument that they must repent and make retributions.

Quoting the Lord, he said, "And if you do not, I shall bring a scourge upon my people to purge the ungodly from among you. And those that are righteous shall suffer with the wicked."

Jeffs told the congregation that God wants FLDS faithful to remove the artifacts from the museum and to "wreck [the monument] to pieces [and] scatter the pieces in to the hills where they cannot to be found . . ."

"And he told me to say in the name of the Lord that he now removes from this people the privilege of receiving the ordinances of the house of God until restitution is made unto him. Sacraments, baptism, the laying on of the hands for the gift of the holy ghost, receiving priesthood, priesthood marriage."

Just to make sure the congregation got the message, Jeffs said the Lord had canceled all church meetings, to boot.

"The Lord wants me to say to this people that, as of now, and until further notice, all priesthood planned meetings will be canceled. Priesthood meetings, general meetings on Sundays, Monday morning meetings."

Jeffs' commands were taken to heart.

The Leroy S. Johnson Meeting Hall parking lot was empty August 17 at a time when it normally would have been jammed with cars. "There wasn't so much as a yellow dog at the meeting house," recounted Deloy Bateman.

The monument that triggered Jeffs' (not to mention the Lord's) wrath has since been removed.

Mayor Barlow declined to talk with New Times during a visit to Colorado City on August 13. But town clerk Kevin Barlow confirmed that the monument is gone.

"It came and it went," Kevin Barlow said, before adding that no state or city funds were used to pay for it.

If cancellation of the services is a prelude to Jeffs fleeing to avoid prosecution, the tactic will not save him, AG Shurtleff said.

If Utah decides to indict Jeffs and he has fled the area -- perhaps moving to Mexico or Canada, where he has polygamous supporters -- Utah will seek his extradition.

"We would issue a warrant, and when we get him, we get him," Shurtleff said.

Meanwhile, Shurtleff said, Jeffs' action is welcome news because it means that no more underage marriages will be performed, at least in the short run. Jeffs is charged with performing all FLDS marriage ceremonies.

The prospect that a member of the Barlow clan may want to assume control of the church, however, is not a comforting thought, said Shurtleff, himself a mainstream Mormon.

"The Barlows aren't pretty either. It's like dealing with the devil."

Rodney Holm's conviction has put the spotlight on whether disciplinary action should be taken against other members of the nine-man Colorado City police department for ignoring Holm's sexual relationship with a minor.

Sidney Groll, Utah's Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) director, noted that the department has already lost its right to perform law enforcement duties in the state because members failed to keep up with continuing education requirements. Groll said he will now ask the Utah Attorney General's Office whether a formal investigation should be launched against the department.

AG Shurtleff told New Times he eagerly awaits Groll's request for advice. He said he has no confidence in the Colorado City police force in the wake of the Holm verdicts.

Because of his felony convictions, Holm obviously is unlikely ever to regain his peace-officer certification, but Shurtleff said, "The rest of [the members of the police department also] ought to be done, decertified."

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