Top Story #4 - The Hunt for Warren Jeffs

Top Story #4 - The Hunt for Warren Jeffs

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John Hollenhorst ReportingPolygamy and the growing legal battle surrounding it made news repeatedly throughout 2005, but no polygamist captured headlines more often or with more urgency than the elusive fugitive Warren Jeffs.

Warren Jeffs is revered as a prophet by the nation's largest polygamy group. His autocratic rule over the twin border towns of Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah made waves all year.

Top Story #4 - The Hunt for Warren Jeffs

Richard Holm: "There's been some recent ripping of families apart, and I believe it will continue. I believe that's what Warren thrives on. He's a sensationalist and an extremist."

2005 started with the last apparent photo of Jeffs, an aerial shot in Texas on New Years Day showed a man leading a prayer. An instant later his followers closed in to hide their leader.

On that exact spot, a temple quickly grew all year long on the Texas Prairie. It now appears to be Jeffs’ new headquarters, contradicting promises it would only be a church hunting retreat.

Randy Mankin, Owner-Editor, "The Eldorado Success", Feb. 17, 2005: “They lied to us about the purpose they were coming here for.”

Jeffs predicted a doomsday, which drew the attention of reporters and law enforcement.

Sheriff David Doran, Schleicher County, Texas: "No, I don't expect trouble. We’ve got good lines of communication with them, we're talking to them on a regular basis."

At the old home base authorities were closing in. Arizona officials seized the Jeffs-dominated public school. A Utah judge seized the hundred-million dollar financial trust that Jeffs controlled.

Richard Holm: “He’s absolutely raping the whole community.”

Investigators filed sex-abuse charges against Jeffs and a half-dozen followers, alleging illegal marriages with underage girls.

Gary Engels, Mohave County, Ariz. Investigator: “Everything he says and does, according to him, comes from God.”

Jeffs vanished, except for a flurry of possible sightings that started at Cabela's in Lehi.

Jim Branin: “They just couldn’t believe he was here.”

At year's end, his own brother and nephew exposed bitter family divisions and accused Warren Jeffs of sexually abusing young boys for years.

Ward Jeffs, Warren’s Brother: “We want the man stopped.”

Jeffs remains on the lam as one of the FBI's "Most Wanted".

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