Manhunt for Jeffs Is over
The Spectrum [Utah]
August 30, 2006
A sigh of relief can be aired by some members of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the FBI and legal teams of Utah and Arizona with the capture of Warren Steed Jeffs.
The 50-year-old polygamist leader has been on the run since Jan. 2005 to evade charges of sexual misconduct in both states for allegedly arranging marriages between underage girls and older men. In May, the fugitive was put on the FBI's Top 10 Most Wanted List with a $100,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
He was apprehended Monday night after a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper pulled over a red 2007 Cadillac Escalade traveling on Interstate 15 just north of Las Vegas. Jeffs was aboard and in the company of one of his wives, Naomi Jeffs, 32, and his brother, Issac Steed Jeffs, also 32.
In his possession were cell phones, laptop computers, wigs and more than $50,000 in cash. He seemed more than prepared to keep on fleeing with his tail between his legs, in disguise, completely the contrary to a religious leader's conviction of honesty.
But this isn't about Jeffs' religious beliefs. It's all about the allegations of abuse, which anyone would face, regardless of religious affiliation. He should have turned himself in months ago to spare his followers the added scrutiny and the skepticism that has abounded regarding his real intentions after taking the helm of the FLDS church in 2002.
The self-proclaimed prophet has been said to have broken-up families and banished young men from the border towns of Hildale and Colorado City to enable the young girls to be married to the older men in the polygamous sects. He has preached about "bleeding the beast," which is a reference to taking everything possible from the government through welfare, tax evasion and fraud.
This shameless disregard for the law makes Jeffs a flight risk, and therefore, he should be held without bail. Though Naomi and Issac were questioned and released, authorities have yet to explain why they were not charged with harboring a fugitive.
The exhale of elation that Jeffs has finally been caught will probably be followed with the holding of breaths to see how the next chain of events will play out in the courts and the polygamous communities of Hildale and Colorado City where, hopefully, little girls will not have to endure sexual abuse; young men will not have to fear being ostracized; and families can remain intact and not be separated at the whim of a man who clams to be a "messenger of God."
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