Jailed Polygamist Leader Released From Hospital

Warren Jeffs is seen during his trial in September 2007. i

Warren Jeffs, seen during his trial in September 2007, is back in jail in Arizona after being released from a Las Vegas hospital. Douglas C. Piza/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Douglas C. Piza/Getty Images
Warren Jeffs is seen during his trial in September 2007.

Warren Jeffs, seen during his trial in September 2007, is back in jail in Arizona after being released from a Las Vegas hospital.

Douglas C. Piza/Getty Images

In Depth

The leader of the nation's largest polygamist group was released from a Las Vegas hospital Wednesday night and is back in jail in Arizona.

Warren Jeffs, 52, was escorted from the Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center by deputies from the Mohave County, Ariz., Sheriff's Office and taken to an airport, according to Las Vegas police. Jeffs was then flown to the Mohave County jail in Kingman, Ariz., according to Trish Carter, spokeswoman for the Mohave County Sheriff's Office.

Carter said she had no information on Jeffs' current condition or specific reasons for his hospitalization. Neither law enforcement nor hospital officials have disclosed a diagnosis.

Jeffs is the president and prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), and is awaiting trial in Arizona on charges of facilitating sexual misconduct with minors. Last year, Jeffs was convicted in Utah of being an accomplice to rape.

Jeffs was flown to a Las Vegas hospital Tuesday from Kingman, Ariz., after he "appeared to be lethargic and in a weakened state of health," Carter said. Guards and medical staff at the county jail had noted that Jeffs was feverish and "acting in a convulsive manner — shaking," she said.

Neither law enforcement nor hospital officials have disclosed a diagnosis.

Jeffs was incarcerated nearly two years ago after his arrest on state and federal charges. He had been on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.

The polygamist leader was hospitalized at least once before during his two years in jail. He was sent to a hospital near a Utah jail after attempting suicide there in January 2007.

Jeffs had also been treated in the Utah jail after a fast left him weak. He appeared gaunt and incoherent at times in court appearances in Utah. Jail authorities in Arizona placed Jeffs on a "suicide and medical watch" after his arrival there in February, according to Carter.

Jeffs is probably the world's most well-known polygamist. Alleged practices associated with his FLDS faith prompted a child welfare raid at the group's Texas ranch and temple in April. About 6,000 followers live in twin communities on the Utah-Arizona border, where the FLDS faith was founded in the early 1930s.

Jeffs' Utah conviction resulted in consecutive sentences of five years to life.

An Arizona grand jury indicted him on multiple counts of facilitating incest and sexual misconduct with minors. The incest charges later were dropped.

Both the Utah and Arizona cases involve an alleged FLDS practice of pairing underage girls with older men. Jeffs is accused of presiding over these so-called "spiritual marriages" and facilitating the sexual acts that followed. After the raid in Texas, an FLDS spokesman indicated that underage marriages would be discontinued.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.