Wanted: Armed and Dangerous

Page 9 of 9

No one knows, except Warren Jeffs, whether the FLDS intends to pay the delinquent taxes. But there is little doubt that the church has the money.

"I have determined that there is definitely money available, but that money is going outside of the community," says Bruce Wisan, a Salt Lake City CPA appointed by a Utah state court to oversee the liquidation of the trust that controls the FLDS property.

(The liquidation was ordered when Warren Jeffs did not show up in court to answer claims in lawsuits brought by Brent Jeffs and other young men ousted from Colorado City-Hildale because they were seen as a threat to polygamist elders' stake in the community's young women.)

The failure to pay the property taxes comes as FLDS members in Colorado City continue to receive more than $20 million a year in state and federal aid for welfare, food stamps, public education, state-shared revenue to towns, and indigent health-care insurance premiums.

Colorado City phone records from April through July, obtained under the Arizona Public Records Law, show dozens of phone calls from the Colorado City town hall and the Colorado City Marshal's Office (the local police department) to two of Warren Jeffs' top aides in Canada -- Mac Blackmore (ousted FLDS bishop Winston Blackmore's brother) and James Oler.

The high volume of phone calls raises the possibility that Colorado City officials and police were coordinating with FLDS members in Canada to provide protection to Warren Jeffs.

Winston Blackmore says he believes Warren Jeffs occasionally stays with Mac Blackmore, and Oler, now the FLDS bishop in the area, for short periods of time before moving to other locations.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the U.S. Border Patrol say agents are on constant lookout for Jeffs.

"If he's in Canada, he's here illegally [and would] be arrested for [illegally entering Canada] and held for an immigration hearing," says RCMP Sergeant Mark Fisher.

This is in the event that Canadian Mounties can find the elusive Jeffs. He seems to have slipped in and out of various FLDS outposts without the knowledge of authorities in Canada or the United States.

It is extremely unlikely that Jeffs would risk crossing the border between Canada and the U.S. at legal entry points when he can easily traverse the dividing line between the two countries along miles of unpatrolled border.

The FLDS Canadian enclave is less than a mile from the border. A lightly traveled dirt road connects the FLDS compound to the border, where a dilapidated wire fence is all that separates the two nations.

A quick, five-minute walk across a farm field would allow a fugitive like Jeffs to easily reach a nearby country lane, jump into an awaiting vehicle, and slip undetected into the United States.

As alluring as Canada may be as a temporary refuge, the YFZ ranch in Texas is where law enforcement and most FLDS observers believe Warren Jeffs will sooner or later hole up. It is widely anticipated that he will formally dedicate the temple when it is completed in the next few months.

If and when Jeffs shows up back in the Lone Star State -- and is known by investigators to be inside the compound -- the question remaining is whether he will attempt to martyr himself and his followers by forcing a showdown or whether he will call off his bodyguards and go peacefully into custody.

Those who know Warren Steed Jeffs are betting on the former.

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John Dougherty
Contact: John Dougherty