On the EDge: A tale of two bishops

L-R: Lyle Jeffs, Warren Jeffs | Composite image, St. George News

OPINION – When the law finally caught up with Warren Jeffs, he was riding high in the back of a new Cadillac Escalade with his favorite wife at his side and one of his brothers behind the wheel.

He had four computers, 16 cell phones, three wigs, 12 pairs of sunglasses, was dressed in tourist’s clothes and carrying a wad of $55,000 in cash.

When his brother Lyle Jeffs was picked up by the cops last Wednesday near the Lewis & Clark Marina in Yankton, South Dakota, he was alone and living in a silver Ford F-150 pickup truck. He had just pawned two Leathermen tools for $37 and was several hundred miles from an FLDS compound in Pringle, South Dakota.

When Warren Jeffs was on the run, he had safe houses, deep pockets and a network of true believers willing to risk all to keep him from capture.

Lyle Jeffs?

On the lam for almost a year, Lyle was down on his luck, running out of money and had few options, according to reports.

Thomas Jeffs, Lyle’s oldest child, said it was a grim existence.

“He had nobody. He had nothing. He became a desperate man,” Thomas said of his father during an interview with KUTV.

The former bishop of Short Creek was on his own, cast out from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints by his brother Warren shortly after making his escape from house arrest near Salt Lake a year ago.

Lyle Jeffs’ legal woes are legion.

Besides the federal fraud and money laundering charges he faces for food stamp violations and such, he has also been found in default of payments decreed by the courts for his role in the use of unpaid, underage workers assigned to gathering pecans at a local farm.

While it is no surprise that this chapter of the FLDS saga is closed, it does offer a remarkable study in cult mind control, the kind of brainwashing that allows a man who has been sentenced to a life-plus sentence in a Texas prison for unspeakable crimes against young girls to still run a church that has played the system for years and thumbed its nose at the law for even longer.

That it was accomplished in Utah is a prime factor, where the fundamentalist view of Mormonism is still a hush-hush part of the culture; where despite revelations and directives to the contrary, the old ways are still a part of a church that has had conflicting and, at times, contradicting, doctrine over the years.

There is a part of me that was surprised that Lyle Jeffs was found alive because there are still some odd things going on between the various polygamous cults in Utah, and there was something eerie about Lyle’s attorney telling a judge, when appearing in court after Lyle escaped from his ankle monitor and house arrest, that perhaps he was part of “The Rapture.”

Knowing about Lyle’s past, I seriously doubt he would be lifted up with the righteous and, well, if you look around, we still have some fairly decent souls among us who would certainly hold a ticket for a seat on that bus.

There won’t be many tears shed for Lyle Jeffs, at least not from this corner.

From what I have been told, he was no different than his brother in the way he ran the FLDS community.

He was just as ill-spirited in his judgments as Warren, ripping families apart and reassigning wives and children if he was displeased and continuing the fraudulent practices of food stamp and government assistance ripoffs that he and 10 other church members were arrested and charged with in 2016.

The others all got off with a slap on the wrist. None was sentenced to jail time, ordered to have court supervision or required to make restitution.

The court will most assuredly not be so lenient with Lyle Jeffs.

He was always the principal target of the investigation and, his year on the run will surely add other charges that will see him spending time in a federal lockup.

Recently, the FBI issued a statement that they believed Lyle was receiving little support from the FLDS community, that his standing was diminished as a result of a falling out with his brother Warren, who stripped him of his position as bishop of Short Creek.

The reason for the falling out was never revealed, but the word from those close to the community is that Lyle got a little too greedy – there is reportedly a lot of cash lying around – and that he also became too power hungry and may have had some unkind words about his brother Warren.

You don’t dis the prophet and hold onto your standing, not in the FLDS church, which is why most I have talked to have said they believe Lyle was stripped of his authority.

There has been a lot of speculation about what this all means.

Probably not much.

While it is true a number of FLDS families have left the Short Creek area, that does not mean the number of FLDS faithful has diminished.

In fact, now that there are two martyrs in the system, it could solidify long-standing faith and beliefs.

Short Creek, which is home to the twin cities on the state line – Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona – is not the only place where the FLDS has a community. There are several in Colorado, there is the Pringle compound in South Dakota, a few sites in northern Utah and also a couple of communities in western Canada where they could make new homes.

So while the Southern Utah group may seem diminished or changing somewhat, it does not, by any means, indicate the collapse of the FLDS church or its polygamous community.

And, as we have seen, Warren Jeffs will remain in firm control of its destiny.

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist for St. George News. The opinions stated in this article are his own and may not be representative of St. George News.

No bad days!

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2017, all rights reserved.

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  • Utahguns June 20, 2017 at 9:55 am

    It’s true a number of FLDS families have left the Short Creek area. That’s because the “heat” has been turned up by the Feds, not the Mormon laced state government. These cult members have retreated to their other safe havens to continue their warped practice of plural marriages and child abuse.

    Ed mentions that, “There are still some odd things going on between the various polygamous cults in Utah.”
    Why? Because the mormon influenced Utah authority is just turning a blind eye to the FLDS. (Reminds me of someone putting their fingers in their ears and saying, “la la la la , I can’t hear you….”). In reality, Utah just “enables” this cult to exist.

    Take a look of how Texas reacted to the crimes of tax evasion, plural marriages and child perversion; so practiced by this cult:
    Texas officials said they found a “pervasive pattern” of sexual abuse on the YFZ ranch through forced marriages between underage girls and older men. They also quickly found evidence of various other forms of child abuse.
    So, in August 2011, a Texas jury found Warren Jeffs guilty of sexual assault against two girls, ages 12 and 15. Now he serves a life sentence.
    Way to go Texas! Yet, in comparison Utah supported a measly $110 fine on the FLDS leaders for food stamp violations.

    There’s another question to be answered; such as, If Jeffs was sentenced to a life term for child abuse, then why aren’t other men in this cult given the same treatment? Their doctrines are to “follow their leaders and mimic the leader’s ways”.

    Ed, you state that “the fundamentalist view of Mormonism is still a hush-hush part of the culture; where despite revelations and directives to the contrary, the old ways are still a part of a church that has had conflicting and, at times, contradicting, doctrine over the years”.

    I think it more simpler than that: Texas did not stand for the crimes that were committed by Jeffs…Utah did.

    • Utahguns June 20, 2017 at 10:39 am

      One thought I failed to mention…
      Ed did write a good article. Thanks.

    • comments June 20, 2017 at 12:01 pm

      Well said, guns. Couldn’t have said it better. FLDS is able to do what they do in Utah because the LDS mormon church allows it and enables it. That’s why I ask you mormons who pay the full cash allotment to that organization to consider what your money is really supporting. If warren jeffs had not decided to defile little girls in texas and kept it to Utah, more than likely he’d still be free and raping many many little children, and the LDS mormon power structure of this state would still allow it to continue. Your LDS organization IS RESPONSIBLE… Boils my blood I tell ya. bastards.

    • lakers0881 June 20, 2017 at 4:40 pm

      “So, in August 2011, a Texas jury found Warren Jeffs guilty of sexual assault against two girls, ages 12 and 15. Now he serves a life sentence.
      Way to go Texas! Yet, in comparison Utah supported a measly $110 fine on the FLDS leaders for food stamp violations.”

      Did you really just compare sexual assault against two girls, ages 12 and 15 with food stamp violations? While I agree they should have gotten a stiffer penalty, I don’t think you can compare the two. Maybe compare it with Utah finding Warren Jeffs guilty on two counts of conspiracy to commit rape. Yes an appeals victory required him be retried, but decided against spending tax payer money and continuing a circus that Warren Jeffs welcomes when he is going to be spending life in prison anyway on the Texas convictions.

  • Who June 20, 2017 at 10:12 am

    That was a good article, Ed. (Finally!)

  • !!! June 20, 2017 at 10:51 am

    Ed, I wouldn’t waste my time on one of your articles if it were the only one on here.

    • Proud Rebel June 20, 2017 at 7:55 pm

      Did you decide this before, or after you read the article? smh

  • Paul June 20, 2017 at 12:52 pm

    Seems I remember the day in 2007 when Warren Jeffs was convicted on two counts of rape as an accomplice right here in St George, so to say that the State of Utah stands by and does nothing is a lie.

    • comments June 20, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      What I wonder is how many personal meetings did Orrin Hatch have with Warren Jeffs… These polygamist serial pedophiles are far more politically connected in this state than one would assume.

    • comments June 20, 2017 at 2:29 pm

      This from wikipedia. Orders probably came from high within the LDS church that they wanted Jeffs set free. Utah’s political elite made it happen. Maybe he called in a favor with Orrin. Fact is the LDS have shielded from justice for a very long time. That type of bs may work out in AZ and UT which both have heavy LDS political presence; didn’t work out so well in TX.

      “On July 27, 2010, the Utah Supreme Court, citing deficient jury instructions, reversed Jeffs’ convictions and ordered a new trial. The court found that the trial judge should have told the jury that Jeffs could not be convicted unless he intended for Elissa’s husband to engage in nonconsensual sex with her.”

    • Proud Rebel June 20, 2017 at 7:58 pm

      Well Paul, what was the final outcome of this guilty verdict?
      The state does a whole lot of posturing, but when it comes down to it, they roll over and play dead.

      • comments June 21, 2017 at 11:22 am

        Apparently he did serve some time, but then Utah Supreme court turned him loose on a technicality.

  • Brian June 20, 2017 at 3:59 pm

    It never ceases to amaze me that idiots on here think the LDS church is some how protecting and sheltering the FLDS church. To what end?

    What I personally protect and defend is the Constitution. It’s pretty clear on what the authorities can and can’t do. When there is evidence of child abuse, they can step in. When there is evidence of corruption, they can step in. When you have a closed community where there are rumors (probably accurate, but rumors nonetheless) of these things, what are the authorities supposed to do? Kick in all the doors? Send in jack-booted thugs? When the entire community supports the local leaders, including the local elected law enforcement, what is the state supposed to do THAT IS CONSTITUTIONAL? Largely they’ve done what they could.

    I’m glad its unraveling out there. I hope it leads to better lives for the women and children there. It has definitely been way too long in coming, but I’d rather that outcome than another Ruby Ridge or Waco, which is apparently what the liberals here want.

    • comments June 20, 2017 at 7:27 pm

      I think you have an amount of trust and faith in that organization to the point of being naive. I’d actually like to know more about orrin hatch’s visits to short creek and meetings with prophet warren jeffs, but I don’t think those secrets will ever come out. Orrin is very very well connected within the LDS church. Your church is very good at keeping secrets, brian (LOL I actually just typed brina on the first try hahahah 😉 .)

      • comments June 20, 2017 at 10:28 pm

        thats only funny cuz i used to know this girl Brina back in the day 😉 Brought back some memories. Never even noticed how similar the two names are 😉 haha

    • Proud Rebel June 20, 2017 at 8:02 pm

      Well, for appearances, it would appear that the FLDS does have “protection” from something. Differentiating between the “church” and the state government here in Utah is little more than splitting hairs.
      How can any reasonable person, look at the history of FLDS actions that are blatantly against the law, see what the state government has done about it, and then claim there is no correlation. Only someone who is either simple, or totally brainwashed, could make that claim.

      • comments June 20, 2017 at 10:34 pm

        see rebel, I think ur onto something here. i mean we have the same idea. I don’t have the time, resources, or ambition etc to go and actively investigate the ties that these organizations have (LDS &FLDS), but it would be amazing if someone actually did. I think there’s probably a lifetime supply of skeletons hidden in that closet. just too many secrets.

  • utahdiablo June 20, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    12 Million in US taxpayer welfare fund fraud, they ( the FLDS ) need to have 100% of there welfare cut….and lock them …* up for that crime
    Ed. ellipsis: …*

    • comments June 21, 2017 at 11:23 am

      Seems in Utah they are rewarded for their crimes.

  • hoaganp June 20, 2017 at 11:08 pm

    Regarding any future trial of Lyle Jeffs, I vote for a change of venue to the great state of Texas. They seem to know how to deal with monsters like the Jeffs better than the state of Utah does. Well done Mr. Kociela.

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