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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Polygamy in America: Cult or Calling?

Aired September 01, 2006 - 23:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: ...Cult or Calling?" Reporting from New York, Anderson Cooper.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The massive manhunt for polygamist leader Warren Jeffs is finally over. In the next hour we'll show you the power that Jeffs had on estimated 10,000 followers. Some have called his sect the Taliban of America.

Tonight, we'll also look at who may try to take over for Jeffs now that he's behind bars.

The fugitive who was on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list for months and someone we've profiled numerous times on 360 was arrested just outside Las Vegas. It wasn't a dramatic standoff that brought the self-proclaimed prophet of God to justice, it was a routine traffic stop.

CNN's Ted Rowlands was the first journalist to talk with the trooper who pulled Jeffs over and has this exclusive report on his capture.


TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The FBI's manhunt for the prophet Warren Jeffs came to an end Monday night just north of Las Vegas when State Trooper Eddie Dutchover pulled over this burgundy 2007 Cadillac's Escalade.

EDDIE DUTCHOVER, LAS VEGAS STATE TROOOPER: The vehicle didn't have no plates on it, and had a temporary registration.

ROWLANDS: Jeffs, according to Trooper Dutchover, was in the back seat. His brother, Isaac Jeffs, was driving. In the far back, sitting alone was one of Jeffs' wives, Naomi.

DUTCHOVER: Naomi didn't say much of anything. She was just kind of being quiet.

ROWLANDS: Trooper Dutchover says he immediately noticed both brothers were nervous. He said Warren Jeffs was looking down, eating a salad, but his neck artery was pumping so long hard, the trooper said he knew something was wrong.

DUTCHOVER: I noticed Warren was extremely nervous. He was sitting in there behind the right front passenger side, and wouldn't make eye contact with me. ROWLANDS: Trooper Dutchover separated the brothers and questioned them. Isaac Jeffs told him they were headed to Utah. Warren Jeffs said they were going to Denver, Colorado.

DUTCHOVER: There was a major discrepancy between their stories.

ROWLANDS: At that point the trooper called for backup. They searched the SUV. The troopers found three wigs, three iPods, several pairs of sunglasses and more than $54,000 in cash, tucked inside the lining of a suitcase. They also found cell phones, computers, a bible, and letters addressed to the Prophet Warren Jeffs.

DUTCHOVER: Guys on my team said that that looks like him. I think we got him. I think that might be, that might be Warren. I think that, you know, after they removed his hat, they said I think this is him.

ROWLANDS: Asked for identification, Jeffs only offered a contact lens receipt from another state that identified him as someone else, authorities said. Isaac Jeffs told troopers his brother's name was John Finley. But when the FBI showed up, according to Trooper Dutchover, and asked Jeffs his name, he told them the truth.

DUTCHOVER: And he said his full name, Warren Steed Jeffs, and just kind of like, you know, sighed and that was that. The agent looked at me and we both looked at each other, and it was a happy moment.

ROWLANDS: Ted Rowlands, CNN, Las Vegas.


COOPER: Warren Jeffs spent 115 days on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list.

Here is the raw data on the FBI's program. Jeffs is the 453rd person on the list to be captured. Since the "Ten Most Wanted" program began in March of 1950, there have been 482 fugitives on the list, 147 of those caught have been found with help from private citizens; while the rest, like in the case of Jeffs, have been caught by law enforcement.

Even behind bars, Warren Jeffs is still a very elusive figure. The outside world has only seen glimpses of him. But what we've watched and heard says much about his mysterious and very powerful life.


COOPER (voice-over): To his thousands of followers, Warren Jeffs is the chosen one, a prophet who speaks for God on earth. To others who studied his sect, is he pure evil.

JON KRAKAUER, AUTHOR, "UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN": He has the kind of pathology that would put him on par with Joseph Stalin or Saddam Hussein. He's raped and sodomized many, many children, girls, women. And he's created this culture that is damaging in its own right.

COOPER: Jeffs rules over the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, known as the FLDS. The group shuns the outside world, live a kind of twilight zone existence in sealed off communities in Utah, Texas, Arizona, and British Columbia, building churches and waiting for judgment day.

GARY ENGLES, INVESTIGATOR: These chosen people believe that they'll be lifted up while God sweeps the earth clean of the wicked people and then they'll be set back down to rebuild the earth.

COOPER: Those who left the FLDS describe chilling accounts of Warren Jeffs. He's all-powerful, believed to have dozen of wives himself and picks what women church elders should take.

In a rare audio recording made by a disgruntled member and obtained by a local radio station, Jeffs preached about first time brides and obedience. Listen.

WARREN JEFFS, POLYGAMIST LEADER: Many young men, when they receive their first wife, they're just so untrained. And the woman, if she's not careful, will be overbearing and always ask permission for what she wants. And ladies, build up your husband by being submissive. That's how you will give your children the success. You will want your children to be obedient and submissive to righteous living.

COOPER: Jeffs also spews hate, warning his believers of a wicked world.

W. JEFFS: You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, or rude and filthy, uncomely, disagreeable, and low in their habits, wild and seemingly deprived of nearly all of the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind.

COOPER: Brent Jeffs is the nephew of Warren Jeffs. Here's how he describes his uncle.

BRENT JEFFS, NEPHEW OF WARREN JEFFS: He puts on a front like he's a very nice man, a very giving man, very happy, but underneath all that he's very dark and very evil.


COOPER (on camera): Let's get more insight now on Jeffs from his oldest sister, Elaine. She actually left the church and speaks out against it in a new documentary, "Banking on Heaven." Earlier I spoke with Elaine Jeffs and Laurie Allen, the film's producer and a former polygamist wife.


COOPER: Elaine, let me start off with you. What went through your mind when you heard that your brother had been arrested?

ELAINE JEFFS, WARREN JEFFS' OLDEST SISTER: Oh, I was, at first I thought I wonder if it really is him. I wondered if they were going to positively I.D. him. But then I was just very relieved, like a lot of other people, very relieved.

COOPER: You know, when you see those pictures of him, when you hear those sermons of his, does it feel like, I mean do you say to yourself, that's my brother?

E. JEFFS: Yes, I say that's my brother and that's him and not me.

COOPER: Does it, I mean do you understand what he's doing? Do you understand what he's become?

E. JEFFS: Yes, I think I do. He's trying to build a perfect people, and he's aiming for perfection.

COOPER: What was he like as a child?

E. JEFFS: Well, he was just my snot-nosed little brother.

COOPER: And how many siblings did you have?

E. JEFFS: I'm the oldest of 65.


E. JEFFS: Yes.


E. JEFFS: Yes.

COOPER: Laurie, why do you think it's important that Jeffs has been captured?

LAURIE ALLEN, PRODUCER, "BANKING ON HEAVEN": I think it's important because I think that he's hurting a lot of lives, a lot of American families, and I think that he and other folks like him, other leaders of some of these groups that, like the Kingston groups, these are men that are very narcissistic. They think that they're, you know, God's chosen, and they're hurting families and they're hurting children. And we really need to get it stopped.

COOPER: Let's talk about how they're hurting. I want to play a clip from your documentary, "Banking on Heaven," about some of the abuses that you say go on. Let's listen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And then you grow up also going to bed every night and laying awake for hours, waiting to hear the footsteps coming down the hall.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what does that mean?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That usually meant your dad was coming to your bed.

COOPER: The implication obviously being molestation. I mean, is that prevalent in your opinion within the FLDS?

ALLEN: Well, it is, Anderson, because when you take away a man's control over his own life, and control over his finances, control over his family, whether or not he can keep a wife or be given a wife or whatever, men, you know, do things like molest their children because that, it openly leads to that's the only thing left they have to control. And this is a problem and this is not -- it's not across the board with all of the men in these fundamentalist cults, but it is common and especially in Colorado City. That was one of the things that surprised me the most in the process of making this film is that how many -- everybody I interviewed had been molested. It's just, I couldn't believe it.

COOPER: Elaine, are you angry at your brother? Do you feel sorry for him? What is the feeling?

E. JEFFS: I just feel -- I feel pretty detached mostly. I do feel sorry for him, but I know he really, really believes in what he's doing.

COOPER: Do you think he's really trying to do -- I mean, because there are those who have painted him as a monster, really, as someone who is arbitrarily taking wives from one man and reassigning a wife to another man. Do you think his intentions are good?

E. JEFFS: I think he thinks his intentions are good. I think I don't. I think it's just terribly wrong. And that isn't the way my father did it.

COOPER: How was your father different? Your father, Rulon, became the leader of the FLDS.

E. JEFFS: He was much milder and he really believed in keeping families together. If someone was unhappy with their situation, he would encourage them to stick with it.

COOPER: What do you think should happen to your brother, Elaine?

E. JEFFS: I think he needs to face the justice system, and get a fair trial for what he's accused of. And we'll see how it turns out.

COOPER: Elaine Jeffs, Laurie Allen, thank you very much.

ALLEN: Thank you.

E. JEFFS: Thank you very much.


COOPER: Warren Jeffs' kingdom is vast and his followers don't like all the publicity they've gotten over the past few months.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And you can you see there are some angry people here who don't want the camera. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No cameras allowed here.

TUCHMAN: Say again?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry, this is private property. No, cameras allowed.


COOPER: Coming up, we go around those shut doors and give you a look at his empire.

Plus more insight on what life was like for members under Jeffs' brutal control. One woman tells a story of her daring escape from his sect.

And polygamy's so-called "Lost Boys." They either left on their own or were forced out. Either way, the transformation into mainstream society isn't easy. You're watching a special edition of 360, "Polygamy in America: Cult or Calling?"



W. JEFFS: Dear wives, realizing happiness is only being a part and a strength to your husband. Get close to him, confide in him, don't let your former family be your total confidence, it should be your new husband. Turn to him with a full heart, and give him the opportunity to lead you right.


COOPER: That is Warren Jeffs giving a sermon to his followers. Since 2002 he has had god-like control over his kingdom.

But now he's behind bars, accused of turning young girls into brides and charged with rape as an accomplice.

Regardless, Jeffs' believers have obeyed his every command while living in shuttered homes in five U.S. states, as well as British Columbia and Mexico. Here's a look at Jeffs' vast empire.


COOPER (voice-over): Warren Jeffs is preparing his followers for the kingdom of heaven, but his kingdom here on earth is shrinking by the day.

For the last 50 years, Colorado City, Arizona and the neighboring town of Hilldale, Utah, have been home to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the FLDS, a polygamist sect now controlled by Warren Jeffs.

Before Jeffs ran the FLDS, his father, Rulon Jeffs, owned most of the property and controlled virtually the entire population here of polygamists.

When Rulon died in 2002, Warren took total control over the sect, insisting his followers cut themselves off from the outside world.

As CNN's Gary Tuchman found out in Colorado City, most people here want nothing to do with the outsiders.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is the center of commerce here in Colorado City. This is the food town. This is where the families come to get their groceries. They won't allow us inside with a camera, but we can tell you it is very busy, as you might expect. There are many households -- and you can see there are some angry people here who don't want the camera to be...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No cameras allowed here.

TUCHMAN: Say again?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry, this is private property. No cameras allowed.

COOPER: It didn't matter where Gary Tuchman went, his presence was unwelcome.

TUCHMAN: So now we're off the property where legally we're allowed to shoot.

We can tell you that according to local authorities, the district attorney's office which pays visits here with our investigators, 99 percent of the families here are polygamist families, most of those families...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to have to ask you to not video by our store. Please don't point that at me.

COOPER: Jeffs also has followers in Canada, in a place that used to be called Creston, but was renamed by the church as Bountiful.

Facing lawsuits and prosecution, he and hundreds of his followers have settled on nearly 2,000 acres of land in west Texas. This is the new home for the FLDS, a sprawling compound in the town of El Dorado. A locked fence seals it off, but that doesn't mean those inside aren't watching.

RANDY MANKIN, EDITOR, "EL DORADO'S SUCCESS": We were there on the county road using some night vision surveillance look in toward the ranch. And to see them looking back at us with night vision surveillance was kind of eerie.

COOPER: Glimpses of the ranch, including this photograph of women and children working in the fields, reveal what some call a cult-like existence.

The pilot who flew over the ranch for us explains why Jeffs wants his followers in El Dorado. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... tells them that the end of the world is near and so many days after the last corner is set in the temple, and then after that, God is going to come and destroy the earth. They're going to be the only people left.

COOPER: Another FLDS compound has surfaced in South Dakota, where a silo, trailers and a three-story residence are visible. And whenever outsiders appear, women and children go into hiding. Some fear they may be forced to be there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have women and children who they can't leave, they really can't leave. This is a cult. It's not a religion and he's getting away with this stuff and the under the guise of being a religion.


COOPER (on camera): As you just saw, Jeffs had immense power over his community. And what you may not realize is he wasn't afraid to ex-communicate his own church leaders, including Winston Blackmore. Blackmore is another polygamist who has been trying to keep a low profile. He is accused of marrying underage women and now lives in exile in Canada.

CNN's Dan Simon went there and talked to Warren Jeffs' rival.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Winston Blackmore is considered one of the most powerful polygamist leaders in North America. With Warren Jeffs seemingly out of the picture, some believe Blackmore might be the man to take charge.

(On camera): You've heard some of the speculation that some people think that you're poised to take over the church.

WINSTON BLACKMORE, POLYGAMIST LEADER: Well, you'd have to have a will to do that, which, you know, I lack the will to do that.

SIMON (voice-over): Blackmore repeatedly told us he's not interested. Why? Blackmore says he loves living here in Canada, in a polygamist enclave called Bountiful, and has no desire to move his family to the church headquarters in Colorado City.

Blackmore refuses to give specifics, but it's estimated he has 20 wives and 100 children.

(On camera): You're not interested in any scenario, you're not interested?

BLACKMORE: I have no aspirations.

SIMON (voice-over): Blackmore has several hundred followers here, but even if he did want to take over the FLDS church, he might not be able to because Warren Jeffs ex-communicated him.

Now, Blackmore has no sympathy for Jeffs after his arrest, saying the Colorado City leader tore apart too many families.

BLACKMORE: And I think that if he even got one week for every day of heartache that he caused people, he'd be in there for a long, long, long time.

SIMON: Blackmore knows Jeffs as well as anybody. For nearly two decades, he led the thousand-member FLDS branch here. They talked often.

(On camera): Four years ago the two had a major falling out. Blackmore says it's because he criticized Jeffs for taking such tight control of the church.

When Jeffs stripped him of power, it caused a deep division here in Bountiful. Half remained loyal to Jeffs, the other to Blackmore.

Any chance that the people of Bountiful can get back together and be sort of a happy family again?

BLACKMORE: Oh, I don't think so. There's not any will on either side to do that.

SIMON (voice-over): Blackmore, like most people, was shocked over the way Jeffs got caught. But he says what surprised him the most is what Jeffs was wearing at the time of his arrest, because church doctrine says members must cover their bodies in public.

(On camera): We heard he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. You're shocked by that?

BLACKMORE: I am really shocked by it because all of his faithful followers over there in Bountiful are, you know, are holding onto his dress code just as hard and fast as they can.

SIMON (voice-over): Blackmore says the iPods, the computers and clothing exposed Jeffs as a hypocrite. The very things Jeffs made his followers shun.

Still, he doesn't expect Jeffs' faithful to stop believing in him, nor does he expect Jeffs to relinquish power even if he's locked up.

BLACKMORE: That organization has operated for at least the last year and a half like they didn't have a leader anyway. You know, no one had a clear understanding of who it was that was calling the shots.

SIMON: Whoever is calling the shots right now or in the future, may not be clear. But Blackmore says it won't be him.

Dan Simon, CNN, Bountiful, British Columbia.


COOPER: After years of believing in polygamy, many people eventually decide to break free and leave their polygamist communities.


CAROLYN JESSOP, LEFT FLDS SECT: It's like you can see something really bad's coming down, you can see your life going in a direction that's the worst place you'd ever want it to go, but yet there's nothing you can do to stop it.


COOPER: Coming up, one woman's daring decision to flee in the middle of the night. She had eight children and was married to a man with at least three wives. How she escaped.

Plus, inside a polygamist family that is not linked to any sect. A man with three wives and nearly two dozen kids. Why he says you should approve of his lifestyle, when this special edition of 360 continues.


ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Erica Hill in Atlanta. We'll return you to "Polygamy in America" in just a moment. First though, this "360 Bulletin."

Hurricane John is now hammering Mexico's Baja peninsula. Cabo San Lucas is getting the worst of it. Top winds hitting more than 100 miles per hour and as much as 15 inches, a foot and a quarter of ran is being forecast before it is all over. The Category 2 storm has already caused heavy flooding in Acapulco and could pose a threat, but not as a hurricane, to parts of southern California.

Meantime, back East, it is Ernesto. It may just be just a tropical depression right now, but it is still no walk in the park. The storm grinding its way up the eastern seaboard. Now, thousands are flooded out of their homes from the Carolinas on north. Several hundred thousand are without power. People all the way into New England are now bracing for a soggy start to the Labor Day weekend.

And in Iraq, the mayhem is growing and with it the killing and the dying. According to the Pentagon's latest quarterly report, civilian deaths have risen by about 1,000 per month, compared to the last three-month period. Death squad killings reached a new high meantime, more than 1,600 in July, and that's just in Baghdad alone. The report says Iraq is now on the brink of a civil war.

Back home, there is some welcome news to report on the job front. The nation's unemployment rate falling to 4.7 percent for August. Job creation remained healthy, hourly wages grew, but not enough to trigger inflation. It was enough, though, to send the market up. All three major indices closing up for the week.

And talk about a hit with this one. Madden NFL 2007, the latest installment in the video football game franchise may only have been out a week, but its maker says it's already sold $100 million worth of copies. The best launch in Madden's 17-year history. Not too shabby. That's it for us this hour. I'm Erica Hill. Stay right here, we'll be back in just a moment with "Polygamy in America: Cult or calling?"



W. JEFFS: You see some classes of the human family that are black, uncouth, or rude and filthy, uncomely, disagreeable, and low in their habits, wild and seemingly deprived of nearly all of the blessings of the intelligence that is generally bestowed upon mankind.


COOPER: More of the teachings of Warren Jeffs. To his followers, Jeffs is a prophet. To others like Carolyn Jessop, he's pure evil. She was a member of Jeffs' sect, but she did the unthinkable. She escaped.


COOPER (voice-over): Carolyn Jessop grew up in a polygamist family in the FLDS sect in Colorado City, Arizona. She dreamed of going to college and becoming a pediatrician. Her father went to ask the prophet for permission and was told Carolyn Jessop had to get married first. That was nearly 20 years ago. The prophet then was Rulon Jeffs, Warren Jeffs' father.

CAROLYN JESSOP, LEFT FLDS SECT: I didn't really know what to do with it. It was just like you can see something really bad's coming down. You can see your life's going in a direction that's the worst place you'd ever want it to go. But yet there's nothing you can do to stop it.

COOPER: The man chosen to be Carolyn's husband, a 50-year-old man who already had three wives and would eventually take several more.

JESSOP: But I get in this car with this strange man, 32 years older than me, and we're going to get married that day and drive to his house to meet his family. It was like watching a horror movie except for I was in the front seat of it.

COOPER: Carolyn moved in to her husband's home.

JESSOP: It was bad from the beginning. I mean, there was few, if any, happy moments. You're not allowed any form of birth control. And to say, you know, I really can't handle it. I'm having too many children. I'm having them too fast is a mortal sin.

COOPER: She had eight children in 15 years, including a son who was severely disabled. Eventually, there were five wives in her home and 54 children. Life became more extreme when Warren Jeffs took control of the sect after his father's death in 2002. JESSOP: A lot of things changed when he took over. The children were pulled out of public schools and put -- everybody was put into private schools. And then they burned all the books.

COOPER: Shortly afterwards, at the age of 35, Carolyn started thinking about the unthinkable. Escape.

JESSOP: Living in these polygamist homes, or the one like I lived in, is like living in a police state. Everyone reports everything on everybody else.

COOPER: One night she had an unexpected opportunity. Her husband was out of town. And all eight children were home. She called her brother in Salt Lake City.

JESSOP: He said, you know, Carolyn, I will do anything and everything I can to help you, but if I leave right now, the soonest I can be there is at 5:00 in the morning. I said, will you do it? and he said, I'll be there. But I don't want to come into the community. So he wanted me to drive three miles outside of the community and meet him at a store that's called Canaan Corner.

The next issue was not letting the children know. There's no possible way they would have come with me knowing what I was doing. They were terrified of the outside world. So I had to come up with a story. So I got them up about 4:00 that morning, and I told them that Harrison was extremely sick and that I had to take him to the doctor, which was common. That was life. But I told them, well, Arthur's here, and so I want to get family pictures. And so everybody's coming with me this time.

One of Merrill's other wives walks in on my oldest daughter getting dressed and starts demanding answers. And so about 4:30 that morning, I hear over the intercom, Merrill wants to talk to me on the phone. I knew I was -- I knew they were on to me.

COOPER: Carolyn began piling her children into the van.

JESSOP: The last person I went in and got was Harrison. I took him off his oxygen, put him in his car seat, and I thought everybody was there. I got in the front seat, and I was just about to put the key in the ignition.

COOPER: But her oldest daughter was missing.

JESSOP: You know, honestly, it was one of the most difficult decisions I've ever had in my life. Because I knew I was out of time. And do I leave her? Do I leave one and save seven? Or do I go back in and get her and none of us get out?

COOPER: She made a split-second decision and ran inside her house.

JESSOP: But she didn't want to come. And she was crying, and you know, she said, mother, there's something you're doing that's wrong. Why doesn't father know what you're doing? COOPER: Carolyn grabbed her daughter and pulled her into the van.

JESSOP: After I got out of the community, then the realization that my van was completely out of gas. So it was like just making it on a prayer that I could get three miles out of town. And about a mile before I got to Canaan Corner, the van was sputtering. It was definitely out. But I made it there.

COOPER: She met her brother and reached safety. Her life began all over again.


COOPER (on camera): Carolyn had to fight a bitter legal battle for custody of her kids, but in the end she prevailed. They all live together near Salt Lake City.

Earlier I spoke to her about Warren Jeffs' arrest.


COOPER: Carolyn, your thoughts on hearing that Warren Jeffs is in custody?

JESSOP: Oh, I was tremendously relieved. It went down so smoothly, where it could have been such a tragedy when they could have caught him. So I was just, it was just such a relief to know that he was in custody, no one had been hurt, it had gone smoothly. And this is a huge step in that community rebuilding and people that I love and care about being safe.

COOPER: But you're also concerned that some people are going to close the book on this and say, OK, well, look Warren Jeffs is in custody, game over, no problem, anymore.

JESSOP: That's a huge concern for me because what I -- I view Warren Jeffs as a product of the problem. He was created from this lifestyle. And you know, my fear is that people will think that he was just this weird, crazy guy that they took care of and now the problems are taken care of and that's not the case.

The crimes are still occurring and they will continue to occur, unless society wants to prosecute the crimes that occur in polygamy. And until that happens...

COOPER: Do you think local authorities, particularly in Utah, really do want to prosecute these crimes?

JESSOP: I do. I think they don't -- I think that local authorities feel pretty anxious that they do not want to drive polygamy underground deeper into secrecy, because that is feeding the crimes. And I agree with that. And there's also people that are living polygamy that really want to live it honestly aboveboard and they're not living it in a way that they're hurting people. So there needs to be a separation and there needs to be a difference so that people are not required to live secretly, that are not hurting anyone, that people that are...

COOPER: What are the crimes in particular, I mean, you talk about the people hurting other people in this lifestyle. What are the particular crimes that you have seen, that you have heard from other people as well?

JESSOP: What I witnessed growing up in the community as a child and married into the community as an adult is just horrible child abuse, and it's continued. It was in the community when I was a small child. Warren was not in power then, and it was rampant when I was a young mother in the community and Warren was not in power then. It has grown since he's became in power, but it's, you know, and in some ways there's other...

COOPER: And when you talk about child abuse, you're talking physical, you're talking sexual?

JESSOP: I'm talking physical, emotional, sexual, neglect. There's huge educational neglect in the community right now that needs to be addressed. Throwing young boys on the streets. You know, the problems have always been there. They've just gotten a lot more extreme with Warren, as you know in leadership, but my belief is not, is that those problems will not go away until society addresses them.

COOPER: And what do you think should be done to Warren Jeffs? What do you think he deserves?

JESSOP: I think he deserves to be prosecuted for the multiple crimes where he's hurt multiple people. He's hurt thousands of lives and he's hurt a lot of children. He's hurt them very bad.

I think that it would be good to draw the public's awareness to the fact that this, what he's being taken in, what he's being prosecuted for is about child abuse. It's crimes where he's hurt children. It's not necessarily about polygamy.


COOPER: Many others like Carolyn Jessop have fled Warren Jeffs' sect and some have even been forced out.

The young men who've gone down that path have been called the "Lost Boys." Coming up you'll hear from two of them now outcasts and trying to start at new lives.

Plus the money trail, how Jeffs' followers may have helped bankroll his fugitive lifestyle, when this special edition of 360 continues.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) W. JEFFS: Many young men, when they receive their first wife, they're just so untrained. And the woman, if she's not careful, will be overbearing and always ask permission for what she wants. And ladies, build up your husband by being submissive. That's how you will give your children the success. You will want your children to be obedient and submissive to righteous living.


COOPER: Another creepy sermon by Warren Jeffs. There are no walls or barbed wire fences surrounding many of the towns where his believers live.

Leaving that world behind, however, is much easier said than done, especially for the young men of polygamy known as the "Lost Boys."

Once again, here's CNN's Dan Simon.


SIMON (voice-over): This young man's trade is home construction. Ironic, perhaps, because Sam is actually homeless.

Until two months ago, he lived in Colorado City, Arizona. In fact, Sam grew up in the isolated polygamist community led by Fugitive Warren Jeffs.

SAM, FLED SECT: I'm totally an outcast now.

SIMON: We caught up with the 17-year-old and his friends in St. George, Utah, a town that has taken in dozens, if not hundreds, of the so-called "Lost Boys," teenage boys who were either kicked out of the sect run by Jeffs or, like Sam, fled.

He says he ran away after hearing about the outside world from relatives. He became aware of the freedoms absent in his life.

SAM: And we always had to hide in the closet to watch movies, and could never do anything fun. Always working every day. Just all these rules and regulations. Couldn't have girlfriends. Couldn't talk to girls or wave to them or anything. Felt pretty lame so we just left.

SIMON: Bruce Barlow was one of Sam's closest friends. The two ran away together.

BRUCE BARLOW, FLED SECT: You can't walk down the streets. You can't...

SIMON: You couldn't just walk down the street?

BARLOW: Yes. You have to get a ride wherever you go.

SIMON: Most kids can ride bikes.

BARLOW: No. You have to get a ride.

SIMON: It was one of Jeffs' orders.

SAM: And everybody believes him so much because they're taught since they're little kids if we disobey him, we'll go to hell.

SIMON: Sam was also taught to believe in having multiple wives, something he now finds morally wrong.

What do you think about these young girls marrying these older men.

SAM: I think it's pretty much like rape because they're taught from when they're little to marry the older men and become plural wives, and so they don't really know anything else.

SIMON: You think it's like rape?

SAM: Yes, because they don't really have a choice.

SIMON: Sam never finished the ninth grade. He attended a school operated by Jeffs. He says it did not teach American history or science.

Now, Sam makes his way alone. He sleeps on friends' floors. Perhaps not surprisingly, he is thrilled by new freedoms. Among his first acts of independence, he had his ears pierced and his hair bleached.

He says the construction work is temporary. He wants to go back to school. And he says he probably wouldn't have left Colorado City, had it not been for Warren Jeffs.

When Jeffs came into power four years ago and proclaimed himself a prophet, Sam says he did everything possible to isolate his followers from the outside world.

(On camera): Help me understand this. He made these changes just a few years ago?

SAM: Yes.

SIMON: He came in and said OK, everybody, no more cartoons. You can't watch them anymore?

SAM: Yes. No more movies, no more TV, no more Internet in the homes. Everything.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't hear the words very good. They kind of mumble.

SIMON (voice-over): The kids say they grew up without ever listening to music, except for what Jeffs gave them.


This is Jeffs singing. They say it played constantly in their homes and cars.

Are you kind of aware that you didn't really have a normal childhood?

SAM: Yes, but I mean, we always taught that we're better. I mean, we're like a chosen race. I mean, everybody -- we see people with short sleeves when I was little, and stuff, and call them wicked and stuff like that, but it's like we were so high and mighty. I mean, we're the better people.

SIMON: Sam knows he may never see his nine brothers and sisters and parents again, but he says he has no regrets about leaving.


COOPER: So what about the money trail? A look at how Warren Jeffs' flock may have helped him while he was on the run, when this special edition of 360 continues.



COOPER: Music there sung by Polygamist Leader Warren Jeffs, who is no longer a fugitive after being captured outside Las Vegas this week.

To most of his, his polygamist society really seems like another world. But the reality is many of Jeffs' followers are living right here in America. And investigators say many of them helped bankroll his life on the run.

CNN's Randi Kaye followed the money trail.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From a distance this Nevada construction site looks ordinary. But law enforcement says it's hardly what you imagine. They believe this site may be the beginning of a money trail that funnels millions of dollars to Polygamist Warren Jeffs.

GARY ENGELS, SPECIAL INVESTIGATOR, MOHAVE COUNTY: He's probably bringing in close to $2 million a month.

KAYE: If true, that would be $24 million a year. How does it work? Carolyn Blakemore Jessop, a former member of Jeffs' church, says Jeffs orders men from the sect to work for construction companies owned by FLDS church leaders. But those men don't see a penny.

CAROLYN BLAKEMORE JESSOP, FORMER FLDS MEMBER: These specific companies that he would assign them to work for very often just didn't give them a paycheck. They didn't give them anything at all.

KAYE: And where did the money go instead of in the worker's pocket? JESSOP: It went to Warren.

KAYE: Jessop says her son was assigned a construction job when he was just 12 and never got paid. Instead, families donated 100 percent of their earnings to Jeffs. That put them on welfare, money out of your pocket, while Jeffs got rich.

(On camera): We're in the car about an hour north of Las Vegas, in Mesquite, Nevada, and like the investigators we are trying to follow the money. We're heading to a construction site where some members of the church work to see what they have to say about where the money is going.

(Voice-over): Immediately, we spot men who, like members of this sect, are dressed from their necks to their ankles despite the searing heat.

(On camera): I'm Randi Kaye with CNN, are you affiliated at all with Warren Jeffs and the FLDS church?

We try again.

Are you a follower of Warren Jeffs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have anything to say.

KAYE: Are you affiliated at all with the FLDS church?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't have anything to say. We're just doing work here.

KAYE: Is any of the money from here or all of the money here, do you donate any of it to the church, to Warren Jeffs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have anything to say.

KAYE: In minutes the supervisor arrives. We're with CNN and we're doing a story here and we're following the money on Warren Jeffs.


KAYE: Do you know who these guys all work for, who contracts them out?

HARRINGTON: Yes, they're working for Prism or Paragon.

KAYE: Prism and Paragon. Just two of the many companies, investigators and Carolyn Jessop say are owned by Jeffs' church members.

CNN has also learned Daygrow (ph) Trust and one of its owners, Guy Allred (ph), who investigators say is a sect member, is of interest to them.

We tried to talk with him at his company headquarters in Nevada and ask about his brother David who bought property used by church members.

I was told neither one of them would be willing to talk with me and that we should take our cameras and go, which is what we're doing now.

We made calls to both Prism Contractors and Paragon Contractors. The man who answered the phone at Prism, as soon as we identified ourselves as CNN, told us, no comment. We left several messages at Paragon. They have not returned our calls.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Salt Lake City, Utah.


COOPER: Well certainly, not every polygamist is a member of Warren Jeffs' sect. Coming up, other believers tell all.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So many other people. We have a lot of the same feelings, worries. Things like that. You just go through the same kind of ups and downs.

JOE, POLYGAMIST: We're people, too. We deserve the same rights and the same religious freedoms and the same opportunities to pursue happiness as everyone else.


COOPER: He has three wives and 19 kids under one roof. How he's trying to blend into his neighborhood, when this special edition of 360, "Polygamy in America: Cult or Calling," continues.


COOPER: By some estimates there are anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 polygamists in the United States. And many of them don't belong to any particular sect. Some of them live in neighborhoods, maybe near you, and just want to blend in.

CNN's Heidi Collins introduces us to one family trying to do just that.


HEIDI COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's their favorite time of the day. Their dad's home from work. And now it's family time. But family time at this suburban Salt Lake City household is a bit different.

JOE, POLYGAMIST: I have three wives and 21 children that I am a father to.

COLLINS: This is Joe. Joe is a polygamist. He's also a successful businessman. He does not want his identity revealed because he wants to protect not only his family, but also his lucrative business relationships. Many wouldn't approve of his lifestyle.

(On camera): Why is it important for you to be understood?

JOE: I think it's important that not so much I'm understood, but the many, many people like me are understood.

We are men that take on a tremendous amount of responsibility for a very good purpose, and not for a sinister purpose.

COLLINS (voice-over): It's hard to think about polygamy without the stereotypes that come with it. The old-fashioned clothing, the compounds with walls to conceal them, and submissive women.

JOE: We're not on welfare. This isn't about sex. It's not about control or oppression or abuse. It's about choice. And about a very spiritual choice for us.

COLLINS: You can see the difference when visiting the home he shares with his three wives and 19 of his children.

These are Joe's second and third wives. Joe's first and only legal wife declined to speak with us on camera, but Vicki and Valerie say this lifestyle is certainly their choice.

VICKI, POLYGAMIST: It's a choice that, you know, you know going into it that that's what you're going to do. And it does take a lot of, I guess, sacrifice or just selflessness, kind of overcoming a lot of natural selfish tendencies in people.

COLLINS (on camera): If you had to say what was the absolute best part about this lifestyle?

VICKI: I think just the closeness that we share. I mean, there's nothing like just having all these children around to interact with and have all the love that goes back and forth between us.

VALERIE, POLYGAMIST: I love it for the fact that it really makes you expand yourself.

COLLINS (voice-over): Joe's 37. His 21 kids range from five weeks to 15 years old. He says his many kids are a spiritual calling, and that he works hard at being a good father.

JOE: I think people have to know that they have me time. I do daddy/daughter dates. I do sports activities with my kids. Times when they know that that's me and them.

COLLINS: The older children asked not to be on camera. They worry about backlash from their friends. The kids do attend regular schools, play sports and instruments. They even have friends come over to play. But they are always cautious.

Joe and his wives don't want their kids to live in secrecy, but they know their lives are illegal.

JOE: It's hard because I'm such a forthright person. I'm not ashamed of who I am or what I do. And so I don't necessarily try to hide it, but at times you have to be very discreet.

COLLINS: Heidi Collins, CNN, Harriman, Utah.


COOPER: In a moment are more of "Polygamy in America," a special edition of 360. Stay with us.


COOPER: That's all for this special edition of 360. Thanks for joining us. "LARRY KING" is next.