FLDS in chaos, short on food; Warren Jeffs sends brother on ‘repentance mission’

ST. GEORGE — Members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are in “serious chaos” and undergoing an “extreme food shortage” since leader Lyle Jeffs fled federal authorities, an attorney for a polygamous sect leader said in federal court Monday during the latest hearing in a multimillion-dollar food stamp fraud case.

During Monday’s detention hearings for top-ranking FLDS leaders John Wayman and Seth Jeffs, U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart heard arguments about whether the two men should be released from jail again after they allegedly violated their supervised release.

John Wayman and Seth Jeffs, leaders in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have been arrested for allegedly violating the terms of their pretrial release from jail in a multimillion dollar food stamp fraud and money laundering case, Washington County, Utah, August 2016 | Photos courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News
John Wayman and Seth Jeffs, leaders in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have been arrested for allegedly violating the terms of their pretrial release from jail in a multimillion dollar food stamp fraud and money laundering case, Washington County, Utah, August 2016 | Photos courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Defense attorneys for John Wayman and Seth Jeffs conceded Monday that their clients met on four occasions in late July at the direction of religious leaders; but they also argued that the men can still be trusted because the meetings weren’t held to talk about the case or devise an escape plan.

Instead, the men were making phone calls to a list of religious followers for a church meeting designed to bring stability to a group undergoing a major crisis, said Wayman’s attorney Jim Bradshaw, according to The Associated Press.

“They can have their religion,” Bradshaw said. “The government can’t stop that.”

During the hearings, Stewart said it appears as though Wayman and Seth Jeffs are “rationalizing” their actions based on their religion, making him worry about what else they will rationalize, the AP reported.

“He was told not to do it. He knew he would be discovered. Yet, he did it because he is motivated by a higher cause,” Stewart said of Wayman. “How is this court to believe he will not be motivated by a higher cause to flee?”

Stewart said he would be issuing a written ruling on whether Wayman and Seth Jeffs will be ordered to remain in custody until trial.

Warren Jeffs still calls the shots from prison

From inside a Texas prison cell, polygamous leader Warren Jeffs is ordering a complete reorganization of leadership within the FLDS church – sending his fugitive brother on a “repentance mission” and ordering members to be rebaptized, according to documents filed Aug. 8 in federal court.

The twin cities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona, collectively known as Short Creek, straddle the Utah-Arizona border and are home base to thousands of FLDS members who consider Warren Jeffs to be the church’s prophet and mouthpiece of God on earth.

“My church order are out of order,” Warren Jeffs wrote to his followers in a June 3 letter in which he strips his fugitive brother, Lyle Jeffs, of “priesthood authority” after what he refers to as “a short revelation.”

Excerpt from Warren Jeffs letters:

Excerpt from Warren Jeffs letter 1

Excerpt from Warren Jeffs letter 2

Warren Jeffs, who is serving a sentence of life plus 20 years since his 2011 conviction on crimes related to marrying and sexually abusing underage girls he considered brides, continues to dictate the actions of the polygamous sect’s adherents, either through fear or loyalty, prosecutors allege in a court filing seeking to keep Wayman and Seth Jeffs behind bars as they await trial in the food stamp fraud case.

Former FLDS bishop Lyle Jeffs is a federal fugitive from those charges, after he fled home confinement in mid-June in order to carry out the dictates of Warren Jeffs, assistant U.S. Attorney Rob Lund wrote in the motion.

Warren Jeffs has since named a new bishop of Short Creek, replacing one brother, Lyle Jeffs, with another, Nephi Jeffs.

Warren Jeffs calls for United Order members to be rebaptized

Warren jeffs new mug shot, releasing rape tapes unethical
Warren Jeffs booking photo | Photo courtesy of Texas Department of Criminal Justice, St. George News

The imprisoned prophet has also placed his followers on “restoral status,” meaning they must renew their commitment to the FLDS church. And, Warren Jeffs wrote in a 10-page letter dated June 3, anyone who doesn’t follow his orders will be banished and sent “far away.”

Court documents filed Aug. 8 reveal that Warren Jeffs recently disbanded the polygamous sect’s United Order – traditionally known as an elite echelon established under Lyle Jeffs in which members are assured a spot in heaven in return for loyalty, faithfulness and obedience to restrictions on diet, mainstream media and other lifestyle choices.

As bishop, Lyle Jeffs had conducted frequent interviews with FLDS members in Short Creek to determine who was worthy of the United Order.

In a June 7 letter, Warren Jeffs directs Lyle Jeffs to convert all of the United Order members back to “Restoral Order status” and for them to be reinterviewed, rebaptized and reconfirmed into the United Order.

Warren Jeffs sends brother on repentance mission

Booking photo of Lyle Jeffs, Weber County Sheriff's Office, Utah, 2016 | Photo courtesy of the FBI Salt Lake City Division; St. George News
Lyle Jeffs booking photo | Photo courtesy of the FBI Salt Lake City Division; St. George News

In an audio recording transcript documenting a June 25 prison visit by two Jeffs wives, Warren Jeffs sends a message to Lyle Jeffs reminding him that he only possesses the authority that Warren Jeffs grants him. Warren Jeffs threatens to excommunicate Lyle Jeffs and send him away if he doesn’t do as Warren Jeffs commands.

Shortly thereafter, in a letter dated July 7 to Nephi Jeffs, Warren Jeffs dismisses Lyle Jeffs as bishop, strips him of all priesthood power and sends him away on a repentance mission.

In his lengthy instructions to Nephi Jeffs, Warren Jeffs noted that each of Short Creek’s recent bishops had failed: “Each one has had the great sin of finding comfort in women’s attention,” Warren Jeffs said, warning: “Do not gossip with the family of Warren Jeffs.”

Nearly a month after Lyle Jeffs fled federal custody, he wrote a letter to Warren Jeffs dated July 16. In it he said:

I seek yours and the Lord’s forgiveness for the hesitation and any fear that was a part of me and pray that it will never show its ugly head again. I do feel the gentle peace of the sweet Spirit seeking to continually increase in becoming like God in everything I do, that is be of and by Him, through you dear father. You are my Priesthood head and have the right to rule in my life, and I love to have it so. Please continue to teach and correct me where necessary in polishing me into the likeness of God which I see and feel in you.

The letter also includes lines indicating unrest within the FLDS community.

“The devil is raging in the hearts of the youth, many leaving,” Lyle Jeffs wrote. “Groups of females on their own going out in the world to get jobs cleaning motels, no checking in and giving into the world.”

Twelve members of the polygamous sect were arrested and indicted in February on charges of diverting at least $12 million worth of federal benefits. All the defendants have pleaded not guilty to fraud and money laundering charges.

Prosecutors allege sect leaders instructed followers to buy items with their food stamp cards and give them to a church warehouse where leaders decided how to distribute products to followers. Food stamps were also allegedly cashed at sect-owned stores without the users getting anything in return. The money was then diverted to companies and used to pay thousands of dollars for a tractor, truck and other items, prosecutors said.

Members of the FLDS sect believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven. The group is an offshoot of mainstream Mormonism, which disavowed polygamy more than 100 years ago.

Email: kscott@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

34 Comments

  • ladybugavenger August 23, 2016 at 9:55 am

    Escape plygs Escape. You are brainwashed and children are being molested under the umbrella of religion! Your so called prophet is a convicted child molester.

    • .... August 23, 2016 at 2:35 pm

      Hiya Ladybug. Yep ! that’s what he is. those pictures of him are creepy

      • ladybugavenger August 23, 2016 at 4:16 pm

        Helloooooo there. I feel like I’ve been delivered from Egypt.

  • Real Life August 23, 2016 at 10:10 am

    FLDS is not a religion, it is a disease. And the wreckage that these pedophile “prophets” are leaving behind, will no doubtetly be around a while for us to clean up.

    • RealMcCoy August 23, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      FLDS is the original LDS doctrine. Don’t forget that part.

      • .... August 23, 2016 at 2:28 pm

        Yes .how soon they forget eh ?

      • aviatormh August 23, 2016 at 8:59 pm

        Whoa easy there cupcake. I would agree with you that it was the same when they split from the LDS Church but did you already forget what you just read? United Order? “restoral status,” how many times has the FLDS doctrine been modified to meet the needs of Warren Jeff’s or since they left the LDS Church? As for young girls being married, the Catholic Church had such a big problem with young girls getting married that the church had to issue a proclamation on marriage in which he stated that girls must be at least 12 years old before they could be married and 7 before they could be betrothed. Just take 30 seconds and Google “Decretum Gratiani”. Now if I’m wrong I’m sure someone will let me know.

        • Rose2017 August 24, 2016 at 9:57 am

          Yes, the modifications are so many. I am not surprised if people are leaving. If I were a girl of 18 who had been brought up to want and have babies and marry and looked after lots of siblings since I was little and now I was not allowed to marry or have children at all I would be wanting to leave. I think there are few children under 4 now due to the madness of Warren Jeffs.

          Roman law was age 12 for girls so about 1000 years ago the Catholic church would have had much the same rule as you say. The Code of Canon law (Ropman Catholic) today is age 14 or the age permitted in the state where you live (eg 16 UK).

          • aviatormh August 24, 2016 at 2:26 pm

            Thanks rose2017. I looked for a current Catholic rule on that but could only find the one I mentioned. I always appreciate correct info.

        • RealMcCoy August 25, 2016 at 11:19 am

          Well, Cupcake, how many times has the LDS doctrine been modified to meet the needs of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, or even the changing times?
          See radioviking’s post below.
          It sums up the facts very succinctly.

    • Henry August 23, 2016 at 7:17 pm

      Your comment could also be used to describe fundamental Islam.

      • aviatormh August 24, 2016 at 2:58 pm

        Yes it could. That’s because the Qur’an condones pedophilia. EXAMPLE “And (as for) those of your women who have despaired of menstruation, if you have a doubt, their prescribed time shall be three months, and of those too who have not had their courses; and (as for) the pregnant women, their prescribed time is that they lay down their burden; and whoever is careful of (his duty to) Allah He will make easy for him his affair.
        Qur’an 65:4” Now I have read the Book of Mormon and unless I missed it I never read anything like that in it, contrary to what a lot of non mormons will tell you mormons don’t have more than one wife, they don’t marry children, they don’t have horns, nobody tells you that you can’t come to church unless you pay 10%, home teachers are not spies and of course my favorite, mormons do not think they are perfect or better than everyone else , in fact the reason that Sunday service was organized in the first place and remains to this day is so that we imperfect children of God could partake of the sacrament and ask for forgiveness for the sins we ALL commit on a daily basis. So to say mormons think they are perfect is to admit you have no idea why we go to church.

        • Henry August 24, 2016 at 6:28 pm

          Google “Man Love Thursday” to read about the activities in Afghanistan on the day prior to the Muslim sabbath. It was truly repugnant to witness men walking hand-in-hand with adolescent boys, but “it’s part of their culture”.

  • SteveSGU August 23, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    When are they going to stop Warren Jeffs from mandating illegal actions and hurting people from behind bars? Certainly, a prison has the right to limit communications in certain cases.

    • anybody home August 23, 2016 at 2:30 pm

      But you can’t beat these guys for providing great entertainment and a guaranteed laugh track. All that quasi-Biblical language and righteousness is a kick and a half.

    • .... August 23, 2016 at 2:32 pm

      You would think that they would have the ability to control his contact of the ( outside world ) but its doesn’t seem that way. my biggest concern is the children in that environment.

  • DB August 23, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    Sorry, I’ve only lived here seven years, not a lifetime. What’s the difference between FLDS and a cult?

    • RealMcCoy August 23, 2016 at 5:00 pm

      Mormons don’t want to admit their religion is a breakaway from a cult.

    • ladybugavenger August 23, 2016 at 5:30 pm

      FLDS and LDS are cults. hope that clears it up 🙂

  • CaliGirl August 23, 2016 at 5:03 pm

    A system of religious veneration and devotion directed toward a particular figure or object (i.e., Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Jim Jones, Warren Jeffs, etc…). A group of people having religious beliefs or practices regarded by others as strange or sinister. People who have twisted biblical doctrine to suit their – more often than not – demented and evil desires.

    • Rose2017 August 24, 2016 at 9:58 am

      Yes, that leads to problems. It is one reason one man rule in any group is never a good idea. Having a group is much better as you have checks and balances. Even Jesus had 12 apostles.

  • Harold S. August 23, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    “Members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are in “serious chaos” and undergoing an “extreme food shortage”
    Unbelievable statement. This is a no brainer….
    Take the money that you are earning by working and stop giving it to your church so that you can buy food to feed your families. Why should it be the government’s responsibility to feed your families for you. They don’t feed mine, I do.

  • digger August 24, 2016 at 8:07 am

    Why, I mean Really WHY! Does that sick Pedophile get to COMMUNICATE OUTSIDE THOSE TEXAS WALLS! HUG Turn OUT TO GENERAL POP so They Can POP HIM!!

  • digger August 24, 2016 at 8:08 am

    THIS IS STUPID NEWS. DISBAND SHORT CREEK PERIOD put an End to This.
    Think Of the Children, Its gotta start sometime.

    • .... August 24, 2016 at 2:19 pm

      Get some professional help you seem to have a adolescent anger issue ..have a nice day

  • Ron August 24, 2016 at 11:34 am

    “Short on food” ?!?!?!?! That’s a crock! Just last weekend while at Costco, I observed about 4-5 of “those” long dressed individuals pushing 3 (that’s THREE) flatbed carts stacked with provisions higher that they were tall. Struggling to push the carts up to the cashiers. As I was enjoying Costco’s fine dining food court, I saw these “ladies” with them sexy gowns, exit the store and proceed to the parking lot. I was done with the snack and followed to see them load all the provisions in two fairly new Ford Excursions, or were they Chevy Suburbans, anyways by the time they were done loading, the vehicles were jammed packed. Along with the 8 young’uns. It really didn’t look like these “ladies” were going to be lacking any food at their compounds…..I mean homes, any time soon. Warren Jeffs is alive and well in Texas, even at taxpayer expense.

    • Real Life August 24, 2016 at 2:05 pm

      Sick, sick, sick. And the locals just sit idly by. Why do you suppose that is?

    • .... August 24, 2016 at 2:32 pm

      I see them pushing those food carts out there all the time. we were there just not that long ago there were 6 of them and they both had 2 carts each and 4 children there were pushing another cart. and those carts were stuffed and stacked beyond belief.

      they show up at the farmers market in St George and have bread and home canned food for sale and you can see people avoid them like the plague
      I would never purchase anything from them just because of what they practice and do to women and children. I would never help support that

  • knobe August 24, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    “anyone who doesn’t follow his orders will be banished and sent “far away.” ”

    Sounds like the BEST possible gift they could ever get . . .
    Take the deal , make a run for it , live free of the perv scam man .
    Go now !

    !

  • .... August 24, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    Run and don’t look back !

  • radioviking August 24, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    The first 100 years of the LDS Church history = the FLDS today.
    Don’t believe me? Study the lives and teachings of the LDS prophets Joseph Smith and Brigham Young especially!
    Read from the official LDS Journal of Discourses and you see the doctrinal basis of the FLDS insanity.
    Teachings of Brigham Young (2nd prophet of the LDS) taught a man can NOT reach the highest heaven without living polygamy, etc. etc.

    . Better yet, study the LDS author, Richard Bushman’s book, Joseph Smith; Rough Stone Rolling! The author is not only an active LDS member but a patriarch of the LDS Church. He is professional and objective in his research and writing about the founder of the LDS Church. Read it for yourself!

    .I hope all Mormons would have the courage and guts to honestly dig into the origins of their religion. Wake up!
    Would God command a prophet to marry other men’s wives? 15 year old girls? 30+ women?
    Well, Joseph Smith did. Hmmmm. Where is God’s morality if chosen men of God would do the kinds of things LDS prophets and apostles did from 1830s to 1900s!!! Research for yourself.
    Be willing to see the truth.

  • SteveSGU August 24, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    Law enforcement, if parents won’t feed their children properly, we can certainly take the children away from abusive parents, right?

    • .... August 25, 2016 at 8:16 am

      Steve..yes in other states but here in Utah it’s based on religious preference . Back in the day when you filled out a job application in the state of Utah there was a place on the application that asked ( are you LDS ) and somebody got the feds involved and they put a stop that !

Leave a Reply