Jeffs wrote decree telling followers to keep mouths shut

CNN/September 2, 2006
By Harriet Ryan

Las Vegas, Nevada (Court TV) -- When he was captured, fugitive polygamist leader Warren Jeffs was carrying a list of safe houses and a written decree banning members of his flock from disclosing his whereabouts, according to a Utah prosecutor.

"So I have to be hiding in my travels, not let anyone know. And when I come to a land of refuge, you must not reveal where I am in your phone calls and your letters," Jeffs wrote in the document, according to court papers filed this week in St. George.

A prosecutor in Washington County listed the statement as one of several reasons Jeffs, 50, should be held without bail when he is transported from Las Vegas, where he was apprehended, to Utah to face rape charges connected with allegedly arranging underage marriages.

Authorities in Utah and Arizona, where Jeffs faces statutory rape and conspiracy charges, are convinced Jeffs will go on the lam if released.

A district court judge ordered him held without bail Wednesday until a bond hearing is held. It is not clear when authorities will move Jeffs to Utah.

The approximately 10,000 members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe God speaks through Jeffs, who is known as the "The Prophet."

In the filing, Washington County Attorney Brock Belnap wrote that there was evidence "an enormous network" of FLDS faithful had helped Jeffs elude capture.

"These followers are committed to him because they view him as their religious leader, a 'prophet of God,' and are willing to do anything for him," Belnap wrote.

The prosecutor noted that FLDS members are in jail for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury in Arizona about the church.

He also alleged that Jeffs has access to large amounts of money, noting that he was found in possession of $53,000 and that his brother, Seth Jeffs, pleaded guilty to harboring a fugitive after he was found with $142,000 earmarked for the church leader.

Such things, Belnap wrote, are "clear evidence that no amount of bail would be sufficient to compel Jeffs' attendance at court."

Jeffs is to make his first appearance in court in St. George within 48 hours of his return to the state. Prosecutors have said a bail hearing will follow shortly thereafter.

Jeffs faces five years to life in prison if convicted of two counts of rape as an accomplice in Utah.

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