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July 9th, 2008
12:23 PM ET

A prophet on death's bed?

File photo of jailed polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs was taken to a hospital in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

File photo of jailed polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs was taken to a hospital in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

Update from Gary Tuchman: Warren Jeffs has been released from Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas. He will likely be heading back to the Mojave County Jail.

Gary Tuchman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Warren Jeffs is in the hospital.

We don't yet know his condition. But the local sheriff says it's serious enough that he was choppered 100 miles from jail in Kingman, Arizona to Las Vegas.

There are closer hospitals. So this self-proclaimed "prophet" of a 10,000-member polygamist sect clearly needs some special level of care in a big-city facility.

Jeff's followers in the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, for the most part, still consider him a prophet and leader of their church.

If he were to die, it's anybody's guess what would happen to the FLDS... But this has to be another wrenching turn for the sect already under investigation on allegations of marriage and abuse of underage girls.

Jeffs has been awaiting trial on 10 felony charges in Arizona - five counts of sexual conduct with a minor, four counts of incest and one count of conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor.

Last November, he was sentenced to two consecutive terms of five years to life in Utah after being convicted on two charges of being an accomplice to rape in connection with a 2001 marriage he performed between a 14-year-old girl and her 19-year-old cousin.

Court documents show Jeffs refused food and drink for a month and developed ulcers on his knees from kneeling in prayer for hours as he awaited trial.

In January last year, he tried to hang himself in his cell, and afterward repeatedly banged his head and threw himself against a wall.

Jeffs has been in custody since 2006, when he was arrested during a routine traffic stop after spending several months on the FBI's 10 most wanted fugitives list. He was in a new SUV, carrying tens of thousands of dollars in cash, several cellphones, and computers - even though sect members are forbidden such modern toys.

This year, in April, Texas authorities removed more than 400 children from the FLDS's "Yearning for Zion" ranch. Child protection officials said they found a "pervasive pattern" of sexual abuse on the ranch through forced marriages between underage girls and older men.

But the Texas Supreme Court ruled the state didn't have enough evidence to remove the children, and they were returned to their families.

UPDATE:
Warren Jeffs is now awaiting trial on four charges of being an accomplice to sexual conduct with a minor. Other previous charges have been dismissed.


Filed under: Crime & Punishment • Gary Tuchman
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Alex

    Hi Gary,
    I just wanted to let you know that as a regular viewer of CNN, I applaud your work which is always outstanding. As to Mr Jeffs, this guys is nothing more than a conman and a crook. He's no more a prophet than I am and the man deserves the jail cell he currently inhabits. Child Molestors like Jeffs enjoy the power they have over their victims more so than the self sexual gratification. Yet what sets Mr. Jeffs apart from other Child Molestors, is that he uses the ploy of some superior religious position which is pure bunk. I do respect, though do not agree with, some of the practices of members of the FLDS Church. But Jeffs is nothing more than a detriment and abomination to that religious group.

    July 10, 2008 at 9:33 am |
  2. phil

    Before I condem this man for murder, i would like to know if the dead robbers have prior arrest records.

    If they are have arrest records for other crimes, Mr Horn saved
    tax-payers a lot of $$$.

    These people would continue to rob and steal until they killed someone and were incarcerated. We all end up paying the bills while they learn to become better and better criminals.

    Now, if someone shoots an INNOCENT PERSON like a paper boy just because they THINK they are being burlarized – they should be charged with murder.

    You gotta get this one right and in Mr Horn's case he shot "actual robbers" or "bad guys".and got it right.

    Nothing wrong with shooting the bad guys these days is there?

    July 10, 2008 at 3:10 am |
  3. Jim

    Jesus said there would be many false prophets Deciving many people. Prophecies like that are fullfilled before the eyes of the world & yet how very few can read the signs of our time.

    July 9, 2008 at 11:57 pm |
  4. C. Cooper

    If this guy is going to try and kill himself let him do it. He's going to starve himself to death. Let him do it. The humane thing to do is to give him food and water, change it out when it is considered too old to eat and continue to do this until he passes away. I can imagine if this man was on death row. Someone wants to keep him alive so that they can kill him. There goes taxpayers money, taking him to the hospital and everything that goes with that. Is this ridiculous or what?

    July 9, 2008 at 11:55 pm |
  5. Kathi Z. Greensburg PA

    I never cease to wonder why disillusioned people believe these clowns, like Warren Jeffs, are prophets. And they allow these pedafiles to rape their own children. I love the way they use God as a mask for their hideous crimes. The mothers of these children are more at fault than Warren Jeffs.

    July 9, 2008 at 11:36 pm |
  6. Jack from California

    How can you call a child molester a prophet?

    He needs to be sent back to jail and wait his turn for medical treatment like all other child molesters!

    July 9, 2008 at 10:56 pm |
  7. vern from philly

    SORRY im not dIsrespecting anyones religion because I dont want mine fringed upon, but would a TRUE PROPHET try and kill themselves?.......NO...... WHO IS THIS GUY?

    July 9, 2008 at 10:56 pm |
  8. Eugenia - San Francisco

    You can't call something Karma if it is self induced. His internal organs are shutting down due to lack of food & water. If he has not done too much damage, they will repair him and he will start the cycle all over again. Good use of our tax dollars!

    July 9, 2008 at 7:59 pm |
  9. Sabrina in Los Angeles

    I find it funny, he is "going in to Sin City."

    Did he get slipped something?

    July 9, 2008 at 7:49 pm |
  10. Diane N.

    Part of the shame here is that he's getting better medical treatment than most on the outside of prison.

    July 9, 2008 at 4:41 pm |
  11. TB

    You people watch too much "Earl." People get sick, people die, good and bad. Are these the same people who felt badly for Kennedy and his brain tumor after leaving that girl to die in wrecked up car. I don't like Warren Jeffs, but if you believe in Karma, believe in Karma, not just when it is convenient for you.

    July 9, 2008 at 4:37 pm |
  12. Ruby Coria, LA. CA.

    Gary, another religion story.. sex in the name of GOD, war in the name of GOD, politicis & the president in the name of GOD..humm more like in the name of evil..but to each it's own..Gary I enjoy your reports*

    July 9, 2008 at 4:00 pm |
  13. Kent Fitzsimmons,Kewanee, IL

    Jeffs wants to die so another can take over as prophet. Let him die............eventually, he will succeed anyway.........just let him do it.

    July 9, 2008 at 3:51 pm |
  14. Jacqueline Lapham

    Warren Jeffs on his deathbed is far better than Warren Jeffs on the ceremonial bed found in his church.

    Authorities better bar the hospital doors to keep those wacko parents from bringing in their babies for a last chance romp into heaven.

    July 9, 2008 at 3:46 pm |
  15. marcy

    Welcome Back! You were missed!

    July 9, 2008 at 3:36 pm |
  16. Michael Lane

    I hope the roles are reversed, and he is now the object of some older, bigger man's affections!

    July 9, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  17. Kristen- Philadelphia, PA

    Um...if this man is a prophet then why is he trying to commit suicide. Isn't that a sin in the bible?

    While I don' like wishing anyone ill, child molesters I have no tolerance for. I would rather see tax dollars be spent saving someone’s life not a child predator. And I agree with the others you reap what you sow and he has sewn some nasty seeds.

    July 9, 2008 at 3:11 pm |
  18. Michelle Fonthill Ont,Canada

    Hi Gary
    This is like a plot out of a soap opera I agree. What goes around comes around not a moment too soon.It so sad that all the pain he caused .

    July 9, 2008 at 3:04 pm |
  19. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    I vote we give him 2 aspirins and let God decide his fate.

    July 9, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  20. Nadine Buchko (Pittsburgh, PA)

    I am surprised GOD can't cure him!

    Isn't that the religious way – PRAY TO GOD, JEFF and he will answer your prayers!

    July 9, 2008 at 2:54 pm |
  21. Chris

    It's called Karma ... he's getting a payback for his evil ways.

    July 9, 2008 at 2:11 pm |
  22. meredith, SLC

    Hi Gary, I am a huge fan of your reporting on the FLDS. In my opinion, if Warren were to become so ill he expired while in custody it would cement his role as a martyr and prophet for the FLDS. The parallel to Joseph Smith would be a powerful image for most FLDS followers. As far as a future of the sect I am positive someone now is already being groomed to follow his footsteps. In fact, I would imagine that particular person is probably already basically in control of what is happening with the group. I do wonder if you might see a power struggle from those outside of Warren's family but would not count on it. I for one hope he leads a long and healthy life behind bars...that is much preferable to giving others in his family the power and clout his martyrdom would inevitably provide.

    July 9, 2008 at 1:23 pm |
  23. GF, Los Angeles

    Where's his God now?

    July 9, 2008 at 1:08 pm |
  24. Annie Kate

    Hi Gary

    So you get polygamy duty again?? You know this is starting to sound like a bad soap opera. It just goes on and on and on....

    If Jeff dies then who is next in line for head prophet?

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 9, 2008 at 1:03 pm |
  25. Annie T

    If Warren thinks it's OK for 14-year-olds to marry, why don't we let some 14-year-olds treat him at the hosipital?

    July 9, 2008 at 12:53 pm |
  26. EJ (USA)

    funny Betty Ann 🙂

    July 9, 2008 at 12:50 pm |
  27. Cindy

    Gary,
    Great hearing from you! Well if they choppered him that far to the hospital then he must be bad off. Probably tried to kill himself since he can't talk his way put of jail! What goes around comes around I say! You always pay for what you do...good or bad.

    Cindy...Ga.

    July 9, 2008 at 12:35 pm |
  28. TS

    I sure hope he bet on the religion with the best outcome.

    July 9, 2008 at 12:35 pm |
  29. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

    Hello Gary,
    Sometimes karma is hell to pay. Boo~hoo, hoo!

    July 9, 2008 at 12:26 pm |