The Man Behind the Curtain

Holm says he believes his downfall is based on inappropriate actions he took nearly 30 years ago when he left the church as a young man.

"I lost my interest in religion," he says.

Holm admits that he was unfaithful to a previous wife at the time.

Richard Holm attends a March 2003 Colorado City council meeting.
John Dougherty
Richard Holm attends a March 2003 Colorado City council meeting.

But in early 1976, Holm says, he had a reawakening and was accepted back into the religion.

"I got my life turned around," Holm says. "I have been faithful to my covenants until now."

Holm says he believes his brother was awarded his wives and children because he had recently given three of his own teenage daughters to Jeffs so they could be married to other men.

One of the daughters, Holm says, was 17.

Holm says Warren Jeffs performed the marriage ceremony for the underage girl, but he's not sure to whom she was married. Warren Jeffs is the only person in the FLDS who can conduct marriages, which are typically done in secret ceremonies with no witnesses outside the immediate family.

Holm is now engaged in a custody battle in Mohave County Superior Court with his former spiritual wife, Lorena, for their seven children. He and his second wife, Alice, have no children.

Holm says he still believes that his wives love him and he describes their polygamous marriage "as heaven on Earth." But the women, he says, are following the teachings of the FLDS and don't want to risk their eternal salvation by being married to a man outside the priesthood.

Holm says he expects Warren Jeffs to continue the excommunications, which he calls "executions," for some time. Jeffs' goal, according to Holm, is to find 500 men of "pure blood" along with their wives and children who will follow him to create the New Jerusalem and await the return of the Lord.

With the intense media scrutiny on Jeffs and Colorado City, Holm says he expects that Jeffs will soon flee the area, a situation that authorities also believe is likely. Holm says Jeffs has long talked about moving the FLDS to Jackson County, Missouri, which is where Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith said the new Zion will be built.

Holm, who still holds fast to his fundamentalist Mormon beliefs, says Warren Jeffs is a false prophet and unworthy to lead the FLDS faithful.

"[Jeffs] hasn't brought any blessing or any help to the people in the community," Holm says. "He's been a consumer, user and a taker, not a builder. He's brought nothing to the table. He's got the power to rip people apart. I expect him to ride it for all it's worth and then move on."

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