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Polygamous compound seems unaware of Jeffs verdict

Published August 4, 2011 10:13 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Hildale • In the polygamous communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., the Thursday verdict against sect leader Warren Jeffs seemed not even to cause a ripple in the daily activity as residents worked in their fields and yards and children rode their bikes and played.

Isaac Wyler, a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints who was kicked out of the church during a purge by Jeffs of more than 20 members in 2004, said he was "pretty happy" when he heard the news.

Wyler, who still lives in Colorado City, said he did not notice any unusual activity in the dual communities but was not surprised.

He thinks that most of the church's fundamentalist FLDS members probably did not know of the verdict.

He said getting news from the outside — be it by the Internet or newspapers — is forbidden. He believes most members will gather at the church where they all meet on Saturday and be given a "whitewashed version of the verdict" that will likely make it appear Jeffs is a victim of religious persecution.

"It [the verdict] may trickle down to a few people, but they will never get a true version," said Wyler.

He was impressed by the amount of evidence presented at Jeffs' trial and would like to see Utah and Arizona keep the heat on the sect. "But it is hard to prosecute if no one steps forward," he said.

He said he hopes Jeffs gets 100 years in prison and is not martyred by dying in custody.

Richard Holm, who left the church in 2003 and still maintains a house in Colorado City, also was pleased by the verdict.

"I thought it was right on and straightforward," said Holm. "Warren cooked his own goose. He had a fair trial and will now be sentenced. Justice has been served."

Holm said he originally liked Jeffs but lost respect for him as he learned more about his activities.

"Warren is a deceitful and cunning person," said Holm. "I respected him at first, but now it's below zero. He is a twisted piece of humanity."

mhavnes@sltrib.com