Skip to main content

Arrival of religious sect leader to NE Minnesota the subject of weekend town meetings

Locals are concerned after the brother of a cult leader bought a large piece of land in Cook County.

Concerned citizens will meet in Grand Marais this weekend to discuss the possible arrival of a religious cult leader.

It was reported by KARE 11 in January that Seth Jeffs, the brother of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) founder Warren Jeffs, has bought a large property in Cook County, Minnesota.

The building permits approved for Seth Jeffs, himself a former FLDS leader and a convict, include one for a 900-ft. driveway and one for a 6,000 sq. ft. building — which is considered, "at least in part, an interior living unit."

This has given rise to concerns that Jeffs may be trying to start a "religious colony" in northeast Minnesota, with the Utah-based FLDS known as a polygamist cult whose practices include the sexual assault of underage girls.

At 9 a.m. Saturday, a town hall style meeting will be held at the Cook County Community Center in Grand Marais, which follows a showing of a documentary about the FLDS on Friday evening.

Speaking at the Saturday town hall will be two visitors from Utah with detailed knowledge of the FLDS sect.

WTIP reports that Tonia Towell, founder of the Holding Out HELP nonprofit that works with those inside Utah's fundamentalist polygamous communities, will speak with locals Saturday morning.

She will be joined by author and private investigator Sam Brower, who has written about and been involved in documentaries concerning Warren Jeffs' cult.

Speaking to the Pioneer Press, businessman Mike Larson, who is helping organize the Friday and Saturday events in Grand Marais, said of Seth Jeffs: "We just want to bring awareness to the community, that there’s a landowner here with his past.

"I trust that he’s trying to make a better life for himself. The evidence doesn’t dictate that."

More about the FLDS

Warren Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison in 2007 for sexually assaulting two girls, aged 12 and 15, that he'd taken on as his wives.

His church, known as FLDS, broke off from mainstream Mormonism in 1898 to continue practicing polygamy. Critics of the church say the sect also forces underage females into marriages with older men — practices that led to the downfall of Jeffs and increased scrutiny of his group. 

As for Seth Jeffs, he himself has a history of legal troubles, much of it related to FLDS.

As Patheos notes, he's being sued for allegedly participating in the church's ritual sex abuse, and is said to be in hiding from that lawsuit.

He was also tried over a food stamp abuse scheme that authorities said benefited FLDS.

Since then, he has reportedly been leading a chapter of the church on a compound in South Dakota

Next Up

Hsa Law Yaw Say

Police trying to find woman, 18, who was shot at in St. Paul

Police are looking for help finding the woman.

image

Is an Amazon grocery store coming to Woodbury?

There's six rumored stores in the Twin Cities.

ambulance

Man sentenced to life in prison for 2021 murder of girlfriend

Lacy Jo Krube, 36, was found unresponsive at her St. Paul home, after she'd been beaten in Brooklyn Park.

Richfield High School

New threat prompts closure of Richfield secondary schools

The new threat comes after a shooting outside the Richfield High School football game Friday night.

Screen Shot 2022-09-25 at 6.09.38 PM

Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg to headline Duluth rally

The rally will take place at Leif Erikson Park on Oct. 1.

Screen Shot 2022-09-26 at 6.09.43 AM

Stella's Fish Cafe closes temporarily to investigate viral rodent video

The Uptown restaurant said it was closing temporarily so it could investigate the claims.

Governor Tim Walz

Walz, judge in dispute over Feeding Our Future case

A Ramsey County judge disputed Walz's claims that the Minnesota Department of Education was ordered by the court to resume payments to Feeding Our Future.

ambulance

2 dead, 1 with life-threatening injuries in Hwy. 7 crash

Both drivers were not wearing their seatbelt, according to the State Patrol.

Screen Shot 2022-09-25 at 11.50.33 AM

15-year-old Richfield football game shooting suspect arrested

A 16-year-old accused of instigating the altercation is also in custody.

Police tape

3 arrested after homicide, burglary in Inver Grove Heights

Charges of first-degree murder and first-degree burglary are pending.

fire, firefighter

Woman dies after becoming trapped in Waseca house fire

Police tried to enter the home but heavy smoke prevented them from getting inside.

Related

Seth Jeffs

Cook County issues construction cease and desist to cult leader

Seth Jeffs has received building permits for land west of Grand Marais.

Is Warren Jeffs' polygamist cult trying to move to Minnesota?

Reports say Jeffs' brother has purchased a large property in rural Cook County.

Tim Walz

Walz, health officials to meet with church leaders who are set to defy order

The governor is keeping indoor church services closed for now, prompting anger from Christian leaders.

Catholic

Watch live: Church leaders address reopening against Walz order

In a letter to partner churches, Catholic leaders said Mass can resume at one-third capacity.

DFL leader reveals plan for marijuana legalization in Minnesota

House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler aims to introduce it early in the 2020 session.

Grand Marais

Cook County warns cabin owners: Stay at your first home

The North Shore county is worried about its healthcare capacity.

Screen Shot 2019-05-30 at 8.22.02 AM

6 North Shore resorts bought by Minnesota investment group

The investors were only looking to buy one resort, but ended up buying an entire portfolio.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda

Defying order, Catholic leaders say reopening for services is legal

The diocese will allow churches to resume in-person mass next week.