Cook County Residents Express Concerns about Polygamist Seth Jeffs
Cook County residents hold a forum to talk about new resident, Seth Jeffs and his polygamist past
GRAND MARAIS, Minn.- A controversial neighbor, known polygamist Seth Jeffs is now in Cook County, Minnesota.
Seth is the brother of Warren Jeffs, the former leader of the polygamist sect of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS.
In 2011, Warren Jeffs was convicted of two felony counts of child assault for which he is now serving a prison sentence.
His brother Seth was convicted of, but never sentenced for aiding and abetting a criminal by harboring his brother from the FBI.
Now, Seth Jeffs is listed as the registered agent for a company that acquired about 40 acres of land near Grand Marais.
He has applied to build a six thousand square foot building there, and the community is trying to learn everything they can about their new neighbors’ plans for property.
“Seth is either here under normal pretenses of just trying to make a new life here and in that way i would say be a great neighbor to him, or he could potentially be starting a place where young children are coming and being used as labor, human trafficking,” Holding Out Help president and founter Tonia Tewell said.
In a two day community organized forum, dozens of Cook County residents are asking questions about their new neighbor building a lot off Pike Lake Road between Lutsen and Grand Marais.
“By us getting all the facts out before them, hopefully they can calm down, be level headed about their communications with this man,” Twell said.
Tewell is the founder of Holding Out Help, a rehab organization helping those trying to leave the FLDS polygamist lifestyle.
“Something I’ve learned about the FLDS is the one thing you can count on is not to count on anything. You just have to wait and see what’s going on,” private investigator Sam Brower said.
Tewell and Brower were flown in for the forum.
Although they don’t know anything for sure, Brower and Tewell say they have reason to believe Jeffs may be building a compound for the FLDS church.
They want to teach the community how to watch for signs of human trafficking and how to report it safely.
“What can people concretely do that are here if you see it, who exactly do you call?” Twin Cities resident Barbara Shelton said.
Shelton wants to know how residents can take matter into their own hands if they see illegal activity.
County sheriff Pat Elaisen assured her their department is trained to handle human trafficking cases.
“I think we’re taking the proper steps and i think we are very aware of what’s going on, and we will protect the rights of everybody in cook county without a doubt,” Sheriff Elaisen.
He says the community shouldn’t worry about Jeffs and what he’s doing here until they have reason to.
“It’s always good to know who your neighbors are, knowledge is power, communicating and knowing people is always helpful and then letting the professionals to what the professionals are supposed to do and within the legal realm is best,” Shelton said.
It’s unclear yet as to what the future holds for the Cook County community, but residents are doing their best to keep the conversation open.