KINGMAN – Recent rumors suggest that fugitive Warren Jeffs, prophet and leader for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has been hiding out in a recently discovered enclave of the church in Custer County, South Dakota.
David Allred, president of Details Unlimited, Inc., purchased 100 acres worth of land near Pringle in southwest Custer County about two and a half years ago for approximately $135,000, according to a recent report in the Custer County Chronicle. Allred initially told authorities, according to a report written by Norma Najacht, editor of the Custer paper, that it was going to be a three-story log cabin to be used as a seasonal lodge for a corporate retreat.
However, in mid-March, it was discovered that the 100-acre parcel was actually an enclave for the FLDS group based in Colorado City and Hildale, Utah. While the remote location may have been seen as an asset, Najacht wrote, the one road in and out of the compound gave their neighbors ample opportunity to watch the comings and goings of the mysterious group.
After intense semi-truck traffic, always covered and always at night, raised questions from neighbors, an Internet search linked the land to the FLDS group. All of the trucks neighbors noticed driving by had Z-Trans written on the side, a company, they found, that has ties to the FLDS. Information garnered from Internet searches, books and the publishers of The Eldorado Success, who live just four miles from the YFZ Ranch in Texas, another FLDS compound, have raised concerns for the people living in South Dakota. ”Yes, they’re good neighbors,” they said. “They wave to us. They keep to themselves. They mind their own business. But what they do to these kids … I’m not sure that’s being a good neighbor.”
The first tip that the 2003 land purchase in Pringle was connected with FLDS was a tip given to the Eldorado newspaper. The tip gave them the information tying Allred to the purchase in South Dakota as well as the purchase of the 1,600-acre piece of land where the YFZ Ranch is currently being built.
The Internet provided neighbors with the rest of the connections, leading them to fear what was happening so close to their homes. “If only half of what you read on the Internet is true,” said one neighbor, “they are not to be taken lightly.”
“What really sets me off,” stated another neighbor to the Chronicle, “is ‘Keep sweet,’ their motto. But they take babies when they cry and hold them under cold water to teach them discipline. That’s sick and I thought something needs to be done.”
The neighbors first suspected that Jeffs had come to their town on July 1, 2005. A neighbor was riding his horse over a hill that overlooks the compound and noticed women tilling the garden, surrounded by children, all wearing long, purple robes and large straw hats. Heavy traffic, unusual for the area, included high-end SUVs, Cadillacs and Lincolns. He said he believed these signs pointed to Jeffs visiting.
Articles printed in papers around the country led these neighbors to believe they truly have something to worry about. Published in the Globe and Mail on June 16, 2005, was a statement, “The arrest warrant for Warren Jeffs, president of the FLDS, has raised fears of a violent showdown between authorities and the volatile, 49-year-old leader reminiscent of the deadly 1993 standoff in Waco, Texas.”
Similarly, an unnamed neighbor to the YFZ Ranch told the paper, “The whole thing nauseates me, that these children are not educated, that these women get married so young, that these men work 20 hours a day, and they are all so brainwashed that they don’t know any different.”
Flora Jessop, a woman who escaped from the Hildale community, said that the people in South Dakota have reason to be worried. She said that she wasn’t at all surprised to find out about the compound in South Dakota because the FLDS had been spreading out over North America for some time. She said that they were doing this to prepare for the second coming of Christ, when Christ will cleanse the earth and FLDS members will be the only ones left with a place in heaven.
The placement of Jeffs on the FBI’s most wanted list was warranted, according to Jessop, with Hitler being one of the leader’s idols. Jessop said that members take an oath to live and die for the prophet and are taught that law enforcement is “enemy No. 1.
“One day they will go to war with law enforcement and the streets will run red with the blood of the enemy,” she said. “We were taught that from the time we could walk.”
Jessop described the communities as well fortified and well armed, ready for the possibility of violence. She described Jeffs as David Koresh, Jim Jones and 9/11 wrapped into one.
Jeffs remains on FBI’s Most Wanted List and there has been a $60,000 reward offered for information leading to his arrest. The money is a combined effort of the FBI and the Arizona and Utah Attorneys General.