Infamous polygamist and leader of the break-off Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sect has predicted that the end of times is near, prompting some to worry about violence this New Year's Eve.
Warren Jeffs is currently serving a life sentence in Texas for abusing underage girl "brides," but authorities say he has been issuing missives to his 10,000 followers from his prison cell, the New York Daily News notes.
Sam Brower, a private investigator who represents former FLDS members, told CNN that law enforcement officers will be monitoring known FLDS communities as the new year approaches.
“The consensus seems to be that Warren is indicating that by the end of the year, the end of the world will be here," Brower said.
A CNN reporter dispatched to the community's main enclave in Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, was rejected by FLDS members who refused to speak to him. Meanwhile, the abrupt closing of the area's only grocery story and "central gathering" point for the community has added to fears Jeff's followers are gearing up for doomsday, according to the report.
This is not the first time the cult leader has predicted the end of the world, however.
As recently as Nov. 12, Jeffs issued a warning to his followers that the world would end on Dec. 23. He told them they should prepare themselves for the reckoning. According to KUTV, Jeffs warns FLDS members to “be ready” for a “disastrous cleansing.”
Former FLDS member Isaac Wyler told the station that Jeffs told his flock to “make these grey or blue backpacks, 2x2x1, pack them with essentials,” he said. “Be ready to go at a moment’s notice.”
When the world did not self-destruct, Jeffs blamed his followers’ “lack of faith," according to The Independent.
Jeffs has also told officials that if he and his fellow FLDS leaders remain in jail, the world will be subject to terrible plagues and natural disasters, Time reports.
While much of Jeffs' predictions seem like the mere rantings of a man who will not have the opportunity for freedom until his 93rd birthday, former member Wyler said the continuing obedience of some in the FLDS community is unpredictable and frightening in its strength.
“There’s always that fear that Warren would see how far he could take them,” Wyler told KUTV. “I’ve got a brother-in-law who once told my sister ‘if the prophet told me to I’d slit your throat without even thinking about it."