Jailed polygamous leader Jeffs hospitalized in Las Vegas

Published July 9, 2008 8:50 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2008, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Polygamous sect leader Warren S. Jeffs remains in a Las Vegas hospital after being found in a weakened, lethargic state in his Arizona jail cell.

A Mohave County Sheriff's spokeswoman said medical staff at the county jail determined Tuesday that Jeffs was "acting in a convulsive manner, shaking and had a fever."

Spokeswoman Trish Carter added: "They didn't feel it was life threatening, but staff recommended he seek further medical attention."

Jeffs was taken to the Kingman Regional Medical Center around noon and transported by helicopter to Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center in Las Vegas, she said.

While his eating pattern has been erratic, Carter said she did not believe Jeffs was fasting before becoming ill.

Jeffs, 52, is the president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

The sect leader has been on medical/suicide watch at the Mohave County Jail since his arrival there Feb. 26. He is awaiting trial in Arizona on sexual misconduct charges related to two underage marriages he performed.

He was set to appear in court on Friday, where defense attorney Michael Piccarreta planned to argue the grand jury that indicted Jeffs was improperly screened for bias.

The hearing has been continued - but not because of Jeffs' medical condition. Mohave County Superior Court Judge Steven F. Conn asked for a delay because he is presiding over a jury trial that is taking longer than expected. A new hearing date has not been set.

Jeffs was convicted in Utah last September of rape based on a marriage he conducted in 2001 between Elissa Wall and Allen Steed. She was 14 at the time, while Steed was 19. Jeffs received two, five-to-life sentences.

Months before that trial, Jeffs was treated briefly at a St. George hospital. Court documents released later revealed Jeffs received medical treatment after he attempted to hang himself in his cell on Jan. 28, 2007, at the Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane.

The attempt came days after he told family and followers he had wrongfully seized leadership of the faith. Jail staff said Jeffs continued to engage in self-destructive behavior, which led to him being temporarily medicated.

The court documents also said Jeffs fasted periodically during his months of incarceration and had spent so much time praying he developed ulcers on his knees.

Jeffs was so emaciated and detached during a March 2007 court hearing that a Utah judge ordered him to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. The judge also allowed him to be visited by Lloyd H. Barlow, his personal physician.

A check of Jeffs' visitor log through June 16 shows only his mother, Merilyn Steed Jeffs, and wives have met with him recently at the Mohave County Jail. Among them: Naomie Jessop, who was with the sect leader when he was arrested in August 2006, and Annette Jeffs.

Annette Jeffs visited the jail May 25, just before a Texas judge returned children to their FLDS parents and barred the families from leaving the state.

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