Warren Jeffs Indicted in Arizona

Warren Jeffs Indicted in Arizona

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Alex Cabrero ReportingThe Mohave County Attorney in Arizona has a message for polygamists who live along his state's border with Utah.

Matthew Smith, Mohave County, Arizona Attorney: “Twenty-eight year olds cannot have sexual intercourse with 16-year olds in the state of Arizona.”

He's filed criminal charges against Polygamous leader Warren Jeffs for arranging a plural marriage with a 16-year old girl. A lot of people have been wondering if this day would ever come. Now that it has, it's just a matter of finding Warren Jeffs.

Arizona wants him, so does Utah. All this started because a victim in Jeff's polygamous group was willing to come forward to Arizona authorities. That's what Utah needs in order to go forward with charges of its own, but as we know, charging Jeffs is one thing, finding him is something else.

Mark Shurtleff, Attorney General of Utah: "It's gonna be difficult because he's elusive. He hides. He has a lot of loyal people around him to keep him safe."

Any state attorney general can probably tell you one case that's always bugged them. For Utah's Mark Shurtleff that one case just might be Warren Jeffs.

Mark Shurtleff: "I want to charge him, but in law enforcement, we just don't charge people because we want to. We have to have a case we think we can prove, and that requires a witness."

And a witness is exactly what came forward to authorities in Arizona. A 16-year old girl in Colorado City told police Jeffs arranged a marriage between her and a 28-year old man. For that, Mohave County district attorney Matthew Smith filed charges on the girl’s behalf, and today a grand jury indicted him.

Matthew Smith: “Matthew Smith, Mohave County, Arizona Attorney: “Twenty-eight year olds cannot have sexual intercourse with 16-year olds in the state of Arizona.”

Now there are warrants for Jeffs’ arrest. But, as Shurtleff can probably tell Arizona officials, you have to find him to arrest him.

Mark Shurtleff: "He's got all the money in the world, a private aircraft. So in order to locate him, we're going to have to have somebody come out and say we know where he is."

Popular thinking is that Jeffs is in his newly-built temple in El Dorado, Texas. Utah officials went there to serve him civil papers, but were turned away. Because this case Arizona has is a criminal case, they have a bit more power to go in.

So just who is Warren Jeffs and what do we know about his church?

He took over the helm of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in September of 2002 when his father, Rulon Jeffs, died at the age of 92. Warren Jeffs took much tighter control of the group, leading to several lawsuits.

In 2004 six so-called "Lost Boys", former members of the group banished by Jeffs, filed suit, accusing him of trying to get rid of surplus boys and men.

This year Warren Jeffs moved much of his group to El Dorado, Texas where they've built a temple. Hundreds gathered there this past April, but a purported Jeffs prediction that the world would end on the sixth didn't pan out.

Most recently a Utah court froze the assets of the FLDS church's trust fund, rumored to be worth 100 million dollars. The action followed reports that Jeffs had started to divest the fund and wasn't acting in the best interests of all church members.

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