FBI puts polygamist Jeffs on most-wanted list

Arizona Republic/August 19, 2005
By Mark Shaffer

The FBI said Thursday that it has placed fugitive polygamous-sect leader Warren Jeffs on one of its most-wanted lists and that he and 30 of his followers could be in north-central Florida.

Deborah McCarley, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Phoenix, said the agency had received information that Jeffs and his followers in Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, were looking into buying property in the area of Leesburg, Fla.

The city of 16,000, located 45 miles northwest of Orlando, is situated among three scenic lakes and is popular among retirees, according to Leesburg's Web site.

"This is the first time he (Jeffs) has been on any of our most-wanted lists," McCarley said.

"There's no definitive proof that this information is true about Leesburg, but we wanted to put it out to make people aware in that area."

Jeffs was believed to have been at a ranch near Eldorado, Texas, owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sect, in June when he was indicted on sexual misconduct charges by a Mohave County grand jury.

Arizona and Utah authorities later offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

The FLDS sect, which has no connection with the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also owns property in southwestern Colorado, and a breakaway part of the sect is located in Bountiful, British Columbia.

State and federal officers had been tipped off that Jeffs would board an airplane at Salt Lake City International Airport late last month, but it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said.

The FLDS sect has about 10,000 adherents, most of whom live in the isolated Arizona-Utah border area north of the Grand Canyon.

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