Posted on July 30, 2013 at 12:48 PM
Wednesday, Jul 31 at 3:01 PM
COLORADO CITY, Ariz. -- It's been two years since that sweltering summer in San Angelo, Texas when a Lone Star State jury sentenced polygamous prophet Warren Jeffs to life in prison for the rape of two underage girls.
But hundreds of miles away along the Arizona-Utah border, Jeffs' iron-fisted control of his thousands of followers seems as heavy-handed as ever.
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"I believe he's still calling the shots here," said Mohave County Special Investigator Gary Engels who has spent much of the last decade focusing on sex abuse, child neglect and underage marriages in the FLDS controlled towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona.
"He's still passing on the information he wants out to his people."
From his Texas prison cell, Jeffs has clearly had plenty of information to pass on -- including thousands of pages of doomsday proclamations, threats mailed out to public officials around the world and countless edicts to his faithful followers that seem to have become more irrational and punitive with each passing month.
"There are a lot of rumors that fly around up here," said Colorado City resident Ross Chatwin, "unfortunately most of them are true."
Chatwin, who once followed Jeffs but now is a vocal critic, said the latest rumored edict from Jeffs allegedly directs all FLDS girls ages 12 and over to become impregnated by one of three designated FLDS men.
"People that are inside -- people that are believers don't want this to happen to their daughters," Chatwin explained. "They are aware of this and they are scared to death."
"We've heard those rumors for several weeks now," said Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan, whose deputies began full-time patrols of Colorado City last summer. "You don't know what to believe anymore but you have to take them very seriously."
This latest rumored edict from the so-called prophet comes after Jeffs had already prohibited all sex between married couples and almost all forms of play for FLDS children.
During the last two years Jeffs has also continued his long standing campaign to purge and excommunicate all but his most fervent followers.
At Jeffs' order, hundreds of people have been thrown out of the FLDS Church in recent years, many large families have been torn apart and women and children continue to be shuffled around like playing cards.
"It's a very complex project that we have here," says Sheriff Sheahan. "It's not going to end soon. It's a continual fight."
During a recent rainy weekend we traveled to the border. The attached television reports contain some of what we found.