Wanted: Armed and Dangerous

As the FBI chases polygamist Prophet Warren Jeffs, work continues 24/7 on his religion's foreboding new Texas capital

In addition, deputies found a glass container fashioned into a donation jar. Affixed to the container was a photograph of Warren Jeffs and the words "Pennies for the Prophet." The photo is identical to the one on the FBI's most-wanted poster for the Prophet.

After changing his story several times, Seth Jeffs told federal agents that he was an FLDS "messenger" and that he was delivering the cash and materials from Colorado City to a bishop at YFZ. Seth Jeffs told police he had been living in Longmont, Colorado, for the past three months.

Seth Jeffs refused to disclose where his brother might be hiding. He also told federal agents that neither he nor any other FLDS member would ever assist law enforcement in locating Warren Jeffs.

Construction on the FLDS temple goes on 24 hours a day.
Mark Folkerson
Construction on the FLDS temple goes on 24 hours a day.
Colorado City employee Elmer Johnson worked on an FLDS project in Canada on city time.
John Dougherty
Colorado City employee Elmer Johnson worked on an FLDS project in Canada on city time.

"It would be stupid to tell anyone where he is because he would get caught," Seth Jeffs is quoted in an FBI affidavit as saying. The letters addressed to Warren Jeffs could prove useful to authorities because some may contain financial payments intended for Jeffs and the names of FLDS contributors.

"These people will be very concerned," says excommunicated bishop Blackmore. "Particularly if they put in money. That implicates them in a crime."

Such information could give police sufficient evidence to bring charges of providing assistance to a federal fugitive to all of the FLDS members involved.

"There's a lot of very valuable information in addition to the 700 letters," says Arizona AG Goddard. "We got a lucky break."

Seth Jeffs was charged with a federal felony of concealing a wanted person from arrest and was released November 7 from a Denver detention facility on a $25,000 property bond.

In a November 3 detention hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Philip Brimmer urged U.S. Magistrate Craig Shaffer to deny Seth Jeffs bail. Brimmer argued that if Warren Jeffs has the ability to evade authorities with help from church members, so could Seth Jeffs.

But Shaffer agreed with public defender Edward Pluss, who said Seth Jeffs should not be compared to his brother. Pluss said Seth has no criminal record, and even if convicted of the charges against him, would serve no more than 10 months in prison.

"There's no real evidence that he himself is a flight risk," Pluss maintained.

While Seth Jeffs has been released from federal custody for the time being (an arraignment hearing is scheduled November 17), his troubles with the FLDS community may have only just begun.

The younger Jeffs and his traveling companion, Nathaniel Allred, were cited by the Pueblo County Sheriff's Office with solicitation of a prostitute and prostitution, respectively. Allred, who is Seth and Warren Jeffs' nephew, told police he was paid $5,000 by Seth Jeffs for "sexual companionship."

Allred was "shaking uncontrollably and sweating" after deputies pulled over the vehicle he was driving that had just exited Interstate 25 and was traveling westbound on U.S. 50, according to police reports. Seth Jeffs was in the back of the vehicle reclining on a mattress.

Seth Jeffs refused deputies' request to search the vehicle. The deputy then called out a narcotics dog. Seth Jeffs then told deputies "he did not want us to go inside the vehicle because he had a lot of money inside the vehicle and did not want it to get stolen."

Seth Jeffs said he had given Nathaniel Allred $5,000 for computer work Allred had done for him.

But when deputies interviewed Allred, he denied being paid the money for any computer work.

"I asked Nathaniel what kind of relationship he had with Seth and he put his head down," the deputy's report states. "I asked him if he had a sexual relationship with Seth and he said, 'Yes.'"

Seth Jeffs denied he was having sex with Allred, but Nathaniel assured deputies he was telling the truth.

The gay sex scandal is rocking the FLDS community. Men may have multiple wives, but homosexuality is forbidden by the church. In fact, Seth Jeffs has at least three wives.

"This is the biggest scandal that's come down the pike in a long time," says former FLDS member and longtime Colorado City resident Isaac Wyler.

If the prostitution allegations are true, Seth Jeffs would be stripped of his wives and children and be kicked out of the FLDS under church doctrine. That is, unless his brother weighs in and somehow saves him. Warren could claim, for instance, that the charges are trumped up in an attempt to discredit him with church faithful.

The misdemeanor prostitution citation against Seth comes 16 months after Warren Jeffs was named a defendant in a lawsuit filed in Salt Lake City by nephew Brent Jeffs, who alleged that Warren and two other uncles repeatedly sodomized him when he was a young boy.

Warren Jeffs, on the lam by then, never appeared in court to answer the civil charges. His failure to appear stunned his excommunicated rival, Winston Blackmore.

"What would have been wrong with [Warren Jeffs'] standing up to the Brent Jeffs allegation and saying, 'I didn't do that'?" Blackmore asks.

Of course, Blackmore says, this would only have been possible if Warren had not committed the assaults.

Unlike Warren Jeffs, who has long refused to meet with the press on any issue, Blackmore is more approachable. In the recent interview, Blackmore appeared relaxed and exhibited a wry sense of humor. He asked when New Times was going to do a story about polygamists in France.

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