Fugitive polygamist leader Warren Jeffs’ driver’s license picture hangs in post offices across the nation – but not in the little West Texas outpost of Eldorado. “Distributing the FBI fliers is not really a priority,” Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran told the Dallas Morning News. “Everyone here already knows what he looks like.” Even before Jeffs landed on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list in May, the 1,900 people in this two-stoplight town were familiar with the Utah native purported to have 70 wives. After all, his group lives next door.
Long before the nation awoke to the saga of plural marriages, racism, child brides and other accusations against Jeffs’ breakaway fundamentalist Mormon sect, the folks in Eldorado were well aware of the self-proclaimed prophet of the 10,000-member Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Two years ago, the polygamist sect he leads constructed a giant compound just outside of town, turning Eldorado upside down with scary stories and a flood of reporters and investigators. But now, the isolated Yearning for Zion ranch is neither novelty nor nightmare for the people of Eldorado – even though only a handful of them have ever been inside its gates.