Producer's Notebook: 'Life after Jeffs'
August 29th, 2011
07:01 PM ET

Producer's Notebook: 'Life after Jeffs'

Ismael Estrada
AC360° Producer
@IshEstradaCNN on Twitter

Today, I’m writing this blog from a small hotel room not far from the FLDS community of Colorado City, AZ. Gary Tuchman, photojournalist Steve Coppin and I flew into Las Vegas last night and took a 2 -hour drive north to St. George, Utah where we stayed the night before driving another hour to Colorado City, AZ., home to the FLDS, which practices polygamy.

We came here to interview former and current members of the community about the conviction of their prophet, Warren Jeffs last week in Texas. Jeffs was convicted of 2 counts of sexual assault of 2 girls, 12 and 15 and sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years. We wanted to find out what the community here thought of the trial and what their reaction was to the news that Jeffs would be in prison for the rest of his life.

What we learned was not very many people here know the details of what happened in trial. Former high-ranking members of the church, who were kicked out recently, told us that news of the proceedings was prohibited here. They say the events over the past few weeks will only make Jeffs stronger in their community and feel he has a firm grip on his church.

As we drove around the community, we saw business as usual. FLDS members were shopping in grocery stores, working, and buying gas at the local gas station. As we approached many people, they chose not to talk and didn’t want to say whether they knew what happened or not. Some went out of their way to avoid us, a couple of women on horseback were headed to the post office and chose to keep going when they saw us there interviewing some other church members.

As we interviewed a man about his thoughts on what life would be like after the sentencing of Warren Jeffs, he said he felt the government trumped up all the charges against him. He says he feels Jeffs was persecuted.

We headed out of the area to put our story together in our hotel for tonight’s 8pm show. As we pulled away it struck me how much of a hold Jeffs has on a place he will never see again. Watch AC360 tonight for more details on our finding.

Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Ismael Estrada
soundoff (One Response)
  1. Gloria, Brooklyn, NY

    Can't wait!

    August 18, 2011 at 7:45 pm |