Warren Jeffs new head of fundamentalist church

Associated Press/November 28, 2002

Colorado City, Ariz. -- Warren Jeffs will succeed his late father, Rulon Jeffs, as president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, according to people connected with the polygamous sect.

"Warren will continue his father's work," said Dan Barlow, the mayor of Colorado City, where many of the church members live.

Rulon Jeffs died Sept. 8 after serving as the sect's president since 1986. His death prompted speculation about a succession fight in the secretive church between the younger Jeffs and 95-year-old Bishop Fred Jessop.

The Deseret News of Salt Lake City reported last week that Warren Jeffs, 46, will take over.

"I don't see any changes coming at all in the church," said Rod Parker, an attorney for the sect, which split from mainstream Mormonism after the broader church renounced polygamy more than a century ago.

Most of the Fundamentalist church members live in the border area of Hildale , Utah and Colorado City , Ariz., and in Canada near the Idaho border.

Leaders of the church rarely grant interviews and the exact number of members is not known. Estimates range from 6,000 to 12,000. Followers have been accused of welfare abuse and forced marriages of young teen girls.

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