The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Racist FLDS Cult Surfaces in New Location

By Hatewatch Staff on May 14, 2008 - 10:57 am, Posted in Hate Groups

WESTCLIFFE, Colo. — A top aide to imprisoned fundamentalist Mormon polygamist leader Warren S. Jeffs has purchased $2 million worth of property in five locations along the remote eastern flank of the rugged Sangre De Cristo Mountains about 175 miles southwest of Denver, Hatewatch has learned.

Men, women and children members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS, are occupying at least three of the properties. Their presence is causing anxiety among neighbors and public officials unsure how to react to the presence of a racist sect known to coerce underage girls into plural marriages.

“Quite frankly, we don’t know what to do,” said Custer County Sheriff Fred Jobe. “We are definitely aware that they here … but until they break some laws, there isn’t much that we can do.”

The real estate purchases by Lee A. Steed, a senior member of the FLDS, constitute the largest known cluster of land holdings outside of the FLDS-controlled communities of Colorado City, Ariz. and adjacent Hildale, Utah. Mr. Steed paid $725,000 cash to acquire two of the properties, real estate records show.

County commissioner Dick Downey said government officials have been quietly observing the influx of FLDS into the community but have not made it publicly known. But rumors abound in this small town and adjacent Silver Cliff, Colo., with a combined population about 1,000.

“We are concerned because of the various reports that we have received and the media exposure we have seen about this group in the last few months,” Downey said.

The FLDS attracted worldwide attention last month when Texas authorities raided a church ranch and removed 462 children and placed them into foster care pending the outcome of child custody hearings. Texas Child Protection Services reports that among the children are as many as 31 girls under 18 who have babies or are pregnant. Authorities allege that the FLDS is threatening the welfare of all the children because leaders indoctrinate girls to enter into polygamous marriages and bear children at a young age. Last year, after two years on the lam, FLDS leader Warren Jeffs was convicted as an accomplice to the rape of a young girl who was forced to marry her cousin.

The Southern Poverty Law Center placed the FLDS on its hate group list in 2005 for its racist beliefs, including the notion that black people have been cursed by the devil and are an inferior race. The FLDS is a breakaway sect from the 13-million member Mormon Church based in Salt Lake City, which disavowed polygamy in 1890 as a condition of Utah gaining statehood, and which began allowing blacks to become priests in 1978 ¬— a move that Jeffs called a victory for the devil.

The FLDS has openly practiced polygamy since the 1930s in Colorado City and Hildale, where church members control local governments. In recent years, the FLDS has begun to disperse to other areas, including a compound in Pringle, S.D., southwestern Colorado near Cortez, and the 1,700-acre ranch in Eldorado, Texas, that was raided in April.

Steed allegedly played a key role in helping Jeffs elude a nationwide manhunt in 2005 and 2006 when Jeffs was on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted List. Acting on orders from Jeffs, Steed purchased secluded properties in Colorado that Jeffs used as hideouts, according to a civil suit filed in St. George, Utah by a former FLDS member.

Custer County property records show that Steed filed a quit claim deed on a Westcliffe hideout in July 2006, walking away from a $40,000 down payment made in January of that year. The property was returned to the original owner one month before Jeffs was arrested. Jeffs is serving two, consecutive five-year-to-life sentences in Utah on the rape conviction and is awaiting trial in Mohave County, Ariz., on sexual misconduct and incest charges.

Jeffs’ arrest in August 2006 and conviction on two counts of accomplice to rape charges in September 2007 has not ended Steed’s acquisitions in Custer County and adjacent Fremont County. The recent spate of purchases suggests that the FLDS plans to take up permanent residence in a very conservative, decidedly Christian, ranching community. The sect’s history of plural marriages is not something that is likely to lead to the group being widely accepted in the area.

“They are not going to be assimilated into the community,” said Custer County Undersheriff Craig Feldman, whose wife’s family has resided in the area for five generations and is a major Custer County landowner.

Three of Steeds’ properties are located within a few miles of Westcliffe. In November 2006, Steed purchased a 6,000-square foot, nine-bedroom, six-bath, log home on 35 acres (pictured below) that was in foreclosure for $350,000 cash, according to Custer County records. Neighbors say a large group of men and women soon moved into the two-story structure and began working around the clock.

Kathleen Kerr, who owns a house next door, said activity on the Steed property has ruined the community’s rural flavor with bright lights on all night, constant construction, and noise generated by ATVs patrolling the property as well as occasional gunfire. “It’s just not quiet and peaceful there anymore,” Kerr said, adding that she has put her 35-acre, three-bedroom cabin retreat up for sale.

Following a pattern seen throughout Colorado City and Hildale where many homes are encircled by fences, Steed built a six-foot-high wooden fence across the front of the property soon after moving in around Thanksgiving 2006. The fence stands in sharp contrast to most homes in the community that refrain from blocking spectacular mountain views.

FLDS Colorado

Another neighbor, who asked not to be identified, said the Steed property has generated a lot of traffic on what was before a very lightly traveled gravel road. “There were lots of expensive vehicles coming and going, mostly during the night,” the neighbor said.

The FLDS men and boys would sometimes talk to neighbors, residents say, but the women, dressed in their prairie-style dresses, hide from view. The neighbor said most of the men and boys left the property earlier this winter and that the repairs that were once quickly made have been left unattended.

The property, however, is still occupied. Hatewatch observed a large white SUV enter the property on May 11 and drive up to the house.

Steed, who did not return a message left on a phone number he listed with Custer County, added to his holdings in December when he purchased 80 acres of grazing land about three miles southwest of Westcliffe for $428,000, with a $30,000 down payment and a $398,000 mortgage.

Steed’s Custer County portfolio expanded again last month when he purchased 80 acres about six miles south of town that includes a ranch house, a large barn and other outbuildings. Undersheriff Feldman said he has seen FLDS men, women and children at the property while working on a house Feldman is remodeling across the road.

Steed’s purchase has not yet been recorded, but an official with the Custer County Assessor’s Office confirmed that Steed owns the property and is remodeling the home. The previous owner purchased the property, which includes irrigated pasture, for $650,000 in April 2007.

In addition to the three Custer County properties, Steed purchased two properties in adjacent Fremont County in 2007. In July, Steed bought a 4,600-square-foot, six-bedroom log home in an upscale development in Cotopaxi for $375,000 cash. The log home sits high on a hillside with a view of the still snow-capped Sangre de Cristo Mountains.

Last December, Steed bought 40 acres with a ranch house on the west of state highway 67 about 10 miles south of Florence. He paid $275,000 for the property, according to county records.

At the time of the purchase, the homestead included a 2,400-square foot house and an outbuilding. But considerable construction activity is visible from the highway, and a large building that appears to be an additional residence hovers above the original home. There is also evidence of excavation on a hillside next to the highway.

Kerr said she and her husband noticed similar excavation work done at the Westcliffe residence. “It looked like they were building underground storage or bunkers,” she said.

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  • Laurie…

    Nobody cares about their “beliefs”, silly, it’s their PRACTICES, like marrying underage girls.


  • brigette

    i love how you people worry and care so much about what other people do with there lives!!!!!! not… if you guys worried half as much about your lives and not theres i honestly think the world would be a better place!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! grow the fuck up and worry more about starving children then people who live different lives just because they have different beliefs!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Laurie…

    If you want to know what’s going on with the FLDS polygamists, get your hot little hands on a copy of the film, BANKING ON HEAVEN.

  • pligchild


    there is a way, called “You know, I really want to go out” That is all it takes no matter what apostate former members say. It is their personal fear that they are choosing wrong to leave, that makes them feel like they are “escaping”

  • azoria

    These people are so out in the open, you all should be concerned about the ones you don’t know. There is obvious proof that they live good lives, there has been no evidence found of any abuse of any kind. And in this day and age, to say anyone could be forced is so far from reality as you get. Has anyone heard of Josef Fritzi and what he did to his daughter? I think, if I was part of FLDS and wanted to escape, there would be a way no matter what you all think. If they were forced or brainwashed no one would know any thing about them. I think you are all afraid of someone being an example of the true way Christ lived. Too much for the conscience? What if he lived in our day?

  • karateka

    It is ironic to find an article filled with religious bigotry on a site where I would expect tolerance to be the rule. When is the last time an FLDS member lynched someone, put a white cross in their front yard, passed a black person over for promotion, or marched down the street with swastikas? It seems their listing as a “hate group” has more to do with “religious profiling” than any action.

    Also, the use of the word “cult” as directed at the FLDS is a religious slur, and hate speech. The church has survived multiple leaders, multiple organization setups, and they have always lived in multiple locations. It is time to recognize the word “cult” as the four-letter word it is.

  • Thotman

    bunkers?…where I come from the call them basements.

  • R

    This is disgustingly dishonest of you. You’re still reporting the figure of 31 underage mothers? That number has dwindled to less than five potential (not confirmed) cases. Texas authorities hadn’t produced enough evidence for the Texas Supreme Court to back them up. Nor have they been able to convince a grand jury to issue indictments.

    Read both sides of the story, people.

  • pligchild

    “Believe it or not”


    You people need to get out and get some fresh air once in a while, everything on TV isn’t a documentary.

    “as a Christian myself”
    How very Christian of you.

  • White Owl

    “It look like they were building underground storage or bunkers.”–Kerr from the article.

    Believe it or not, they were building secret torture chambers or sexual dungeons of some kind.
    That’s what cults do, is that they engage in such depravity. History tells us about cult groups and what they do and sexual abuses always comes up. Evidence from the news, CPS, and investigators pointed out that there was sexual abuse of children taking place in those compounds. There should be a law banning polygamy practices. Because as a Christian myself, I see nothing sacred about having many wives both legal and underage girls. This cult is a complete sham.

  • 88`s Jeno-side

    Perhaps you’re right. This isn’t a such lucrative stint by these cult-nuts, they’re actually like leeches living off of the Government through programs such as WIC, Welfare, Cash Asistance, Food Stamps, SSI etc.
    This is certainly the case in my former state of Utah where I used to live.
    These people do not assimilate into general society, nor do they help stimulate the local economy but rather, scam the tax payers for their own self-fish ends….

  • hiimalle

    The news gets everything right, all the time. Believe what we say. Do not think for yourself. Do not give anyone the benifit of the doubt. All are bad except us. Repeat

  • Hi there

    How ironic that a site that claims to be against “hate” includes posts exhibiting such hate towards the FLDS from people who nothing about them.

    Then again, the SPLC is a hate group, so no surprise.

  • deb

    This is paid for by your tax dollars. The news has reported that these women file for welfare as single mothers. Colo should be very concerned about this.

  • playboy

    All organizations are bad if they seek to control a person’s thinking somehow. No person is really free unless he can think objectively.

    There’s no difference in a person inculcated with the tenants of political correctness and one indoctrinated with a fanatical belief in some far out cult theory that is hammered into his mind to the point where an individual’s entire mental base can only evaluate and react to information that has been repetitiously pounded into his/her head, and he/she reacts automatically. Like Pavolv’s lab dogs really. If the proper stimulus is provided, the reaction will be a conditioned response.

    Look at the James Jones cult where almost a thousand people lined up to drink poisonous kool aid. Or the one recently that fanatically believed that the mother ship would soon come to earth to take them to colonies on Jupiter.

    Politically correct brainwashed and conditioned adherents are almost identical to people in far out sects in so far as to how they have been repetitiously brainwashed into a particular ideology and accept it whole-heartedly, to the point of attacking anyone who dares to tell them what they believe is absolute nonsense.

    Cult members will kill themselves and others, in many cases, and do anything short of that, if those in control suggest or order that they do so, as we have learned from the above referenced examples.

    Also, we know from news reports of numerous times politically correct fanatics have chained themselves together, fought with police, thrown excrement and molotov cocktails at authority and pies in the faces of conservative speakers or rushed the stage to keep them from speaking.

    Psychologists/psychiatrists who specialize in techniques of deprogramming can effectively reverse those not too far gone. But access to the subject is important. Very few willingly opt for therapy. Almost all of them have to be restrained, and some of them will try to kill even family members who are trying to help them.

    I believe those indoctrinated with years of political correctness can involve people who are fanatically mouth-frothing cultists down to those just lightly effected; however, those in this entire affected group can’t be restrained, of course, so some other means is necessary to reach them, which is why the problem will never be resolved short of armed conflict between the sick….and their co-horts…. and the healthy, because the politically correct dominate the organs of entertainment, communications, and politics, just like in Europe.

    Shock is the only way outside of therapy politically correct indoctrination can be reversed, as, for example, in a major limited tribal conflict where masses of people are shocked by seeing and experiencing stark examples of the harsh reality of the failure of political correctness, which could erupt as a result of a man-made or natural disaster: The “Big One” in California, The Yellowstone volcano erupting, an economic meltdown, severe food and water shortages, to name but a few.

    Otherwise look for more of the same in years to come, as we continue towards a Brazil-type society with a clear delineation between the wealthy in gated communities and the poor who rule the streets.

    The answer to many will be guarded communities in remote areas of the country, set up as self-sufficient enclaves, until an implosion occurs, which may or may not affect them.

    This evil cult of political correctness is far worse than Nazism or communism, and involves much darker omens of our degeneration than an example of the indoctrination of those in protest of something they’ve been programmed to despise, because it forces us to destroy ourselves from within, and allows its growing numbers of adherents to feel good about it in the process, because they’re “doing the Lord’s work,” so to speak, in the name of love and tolerance.

    Whether it’s a group described in this article or political correctness, they have one thing in common: They’re both cults that require brainwashing and indoctrination to the point where the individual can no longer draw conclusions from anything other than his base of indoctrination. Objective thinking is non-existent.

  • Christy

    I don’t really care if someone has many wives, I am concerned for the children.

  • Jimmy Blood

    I’m wondering how the f*** do these incestuous inbreeders are able to purchase such properties and land if they’re not employed in the general economic workforce. None of them have the knowledge to do their own income tax returns, let alone, if they actually pay any taxes at all, which I doubt they don’t.

    Where do they generate such income to acquire the lands in which they’re able to built such isolated prison like compounds to house their sexual victims(ie Women and Children)???

    Those men need to do a perp walk straight into the federal prisons for committing acts of evil upon women and children. For their faith is a complete sham!! Mormons stopped this practice long ago. Those that continue to practice it today are nothing more than sexual perverts and pedophiles using the Amendment Rights to practice their false religion.

    LOCK EM UP!!

  • Carl

    To Brian above – They are not a dangerous, twisted cult. The sick twisted people are people like you who have no sense of true discernment and have taken up the last trash written in the newspaper as your diet. Come on, save your nasty statements for a barnyard publication and be honest when you speak of others. I also live outside Westcliffe and am not bothered by them, or the Mendonites, or the LDS, or the Amish, or the Baptists, or even good sense deprived souls like you. Leave them alone.

  • Brian

    I live just outside of Westcliffe and am outraged that the Sheriff and County Officials have kept this scandal under their ten gallon hats.

    This is a sick, dangerous and twisted cult that exists to serve the sick sexual devient needs of dirty old men.

  • hiimalle

    Just thought you should read this post I found:

  • Happy Day

    pls remember that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is up to his armpits in this outrage upon the dignity of the people of the United States.

    Some might even call him the persecutor in chief, or more formally, Caiaphas Shurtleff.

    Of course, the real question is why? Why is Shurtleff doing this?

    Is he acting as a surrogate, and if yes, for whom?

    Did he work to raise the marriage age in Texas so he could carry his vendetta against the people whose religion he opposes to Texas?