Lyle Jeffs' letter to imprisoned brother Warren "playing out" as expected, says son
(KUTV) Polygamous leader Warren Jeffs may be sitting behind bars in a Texas prison, but he's still running the affairs of the FLDS faith.
That's according to federal prosecutors, who have a filed several pieces of evidence in a court motion showing Jeffs is still very much involved with running the Short Creek community from within prison walls.
Among the evidence, they say, is a letter from brother Lyle Jeffs, who is still on the run from police after escaping from his ankle monitor back in June.
"He's playing it out exactly as I said it would,” said Thomas Jeffs, Lyle’s son who has since left the FLDS faith. "I knew the second he was out he was going to send some type of communication to Warren."
The letter, which was posted to Facebook on Friday by private investigator Sam Brower, praises Warren Jeffs for being “the Lord’s Mouthpiece on the earth today” and his “likeness” to God.
The letter is dated July 16, 2016, nearly a month after Lyle Jeffs’ fled federal custody while awaiting trial in massive food-stamp fraud case.
The letter reads as a testimony to God and Warren Jeffs himself but also includes lines indicating unrest within the FLDS community.
“The devil is raging in the hearts of the youth, many leaving,” Lyle Jeffs writes. Groups of females on their own going out in the world to get jobs cleaning motels, no checking in and giving into the world.”
The letter ends with a list of “recommended” names, listing children and adults. The full letter, posted below, has been redacted to protect the identities of those named by Jeffs.
According to federal prosecutors, this and other evidence is a clear indication that Warren Jeff’s is still calling the shots in the polygamous faith.
"He needs to be stopped,” said Thomas. "He's done more damage to the people since he's been in prison than he ever did out."
Thomas isn't the only one who believes that. So does Brower, who has long been involved with investigations into the FLDS church and authored the book “Prophet’s Prey,” which was adapted into a documentary by the same name.
"He's not just running the church, he is micro-managing the church," Brower said. "He's still committing crime behind bars. It's a really good illustration of the depth of people's devotion to this crazy man sitting in a Texas prison. It's scary."
Jeffs, who has been leading polygamist communities in Hildale and Colorado City, is one of 11 members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints facing charges of conspiracy to commit Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering, according to the U.S. Attorney in the District of Utah.
The indictment, unsealed Feb. 23, 2016, alleges that FLDS church leaders used SNAP proceeds from authorized beneficiaries for "unapproved purposes."
A large percentage of those living in Short Creek -- the area on the Utah and Arizona boarder made up of mostly FLDS members -- receive SNAP benefits amounting to millions of dollars each year, according to the Department of Justice.
Anyone with information about Jeffs' whereasbout is asked to call the FBI's Salt Lake field office at 801-579-1400.