- (Photo: Reuters/Steve Marcus, Las Vegas Sun)
Warren Jeffs, the polygamist leader convicted of sexual assault in Aug. 2011, is reportedly still commanding his breakaway Mormon sect from behind bars in Texas and is preparing them for the end of the world.
The 55-year-old spiritual leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) was convicted of aggravated child sexual assault for sexual misconduct with girls aged 12 and 14, and is serving life in prison.
During the trial, Jeffs cited freedom of religion and tried to defend what he insisted was his right to practice plural marriage. He also called himself a living prophet of God and warned that those who opposed him would be humbled by sickness and death.
According to his sect, which reportedly numbers 10,000 people in North America, the pathway to heaven is through plural marriage.
Jeffs fasted and fell into a medically-induced coma after he was sentenced and sent to jail in Palestine, Texas, six months ago. But now the church leader is restored and telling his flock to prepare for doomsday, a report by Time.com revealed.
He is apparently ordering his followers to give away their money, and is even taking away children's toys and bicycles to build a massive, amphitheater-like structure on the sect's West Texas ranch. Although he is allowed limited access to the outside world, Jeffs is still allotted 240 minutes a month on the phone – with that time, he communicates with his "lieutenants," whom he instructs to prepare for cleansing the church in preparation of a coming apocalypse.
Jeffs has also sent out warnings to numerous federal, state and local officials, threatening them that unless he and other FLDS members are released from prison, the world will be plagued by earthquakes, tidal waves and huge fires.
The church has posted ads in a number of major newspapers, such as The New York Times and The Washington Post titled "Revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ Given to President Warren S. Jeffs," promising a "humbling" for all people soon. Readers can fill out a form, paying between $2 and $10, depending on how many copies of Jeffs' revelations they want sent to them.
Sam Brower, a Cedar City, Utah, private investigator and author who is a longtime observer and expert on the FLDS church, explained that Jeffs is preparing for the end of the world and dividing his church members into elites and repentance groups who are competing to show their loyalty to the church – each person must give $5,000 toward the proposed doomsday building.
"He has removed any joy in the life of those people," Brower revealed. "He has taken away toys. There are no sports, no radio, no TV, no Internet. He has removed any diversions so they can focus on his revelations and the end of the world."
"The reason he does it is because he can," the investigator continued. "He's a really sick human being."
According to Brower, Jeffs is not even focused so much on getting out of the Texas prison – the image of a God-fearing martyr in jail is helping him affirm his status as a special leader.