End of the world prophecy fails to come true
Warren Jeffs' timing is a bit off.

The self-proclaimed prophet's prediction that the world would end Wednesday didn't pan out.

Of course, it could still happen just not on April 6, 2005.

"You might be used to these prophecies in Utah, but this is fairly new to Texas," Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran said Wednesday.

Jeffs' latest doomsday prophecy marked Wednesday as the end of the world. The foretold day of destruction landed on the 175th anniversary of the founding of the LDS Church, said Sam Brower, a private investigator who has investigated the religious sect for two years.

Past prophecies by the leader of the FLDS church claimed the end of the world would happen Jan. 1.

These doomsday scenarios and rumors of an impending mass suicide by faithful members of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-day Saints have kept residents of tiny Eldorado, Texas, on edge since the church first purchased land in the area.

Residents poked fun at the rumors Wednesday one man dressed up as the Grim Reaper and patrolled the streets of Eldorado. And on Monday, pranksters put up signs in front of the county building that said, "Tomorrow Has Been Canceled," and, "Just Kidding, Tomorrow Has Not Been Canceled."

"Another doomsday scenario came and went, kinda like the last five or six he's done," Brower said.

Doran and other officers from his office went to the compound Wednesday morning and spoke with elders from the FLDS church. Doran said everything seemed "normal" on the ranch dispelling the rumors of a mass suicide or the possible end of the world.

When asked what the FLDS leaders said about the doomsday prophecies, Texas Ranger Capt. Barry Caver told KSL Newsradio that police didn't get many answers.

"They didn't really comment on that one way or the other," Caver told KSL Newsradio. "They just sort of laughed under their breath and kind of sluffed it off."

The church recently started construction on the 2,000-acre "YFZ Ranch," which stands for "Yearn for Zion," which has caused quite a stir in this tiny Texas town. Men patrol the area in pickup trucks and ATVs and stand guard at the gates.

The compound, which sits four miles outside of Eldorado, is the site for the church's first temple. The building stands 80 feet tall and is surrounded by new homes, dirt roads, workshops, a chicken coop, a meetinghouse and garden and crop fields, Bower said.

Other rumors marked April 6 as the day the church would dedicate the temple in a mass general conference. Police expected a mass exodus of FLDS members from Arizona and Utah to the Texas compound.

Both Brower and Doran said they weren't sure if the church dedicated the temple Wednesday.

Brower was at the compound early Wednesday morning and said people were inside the temple, but the drapes on the windows blocked his view. The private investigator used night vision goggles to keep watch of the early-morning events.

"They had spotlights scanning the property, so there were things going on at midnight, 1 o'clock in the morning, but what that was, I don't know," Brower said.

Work at the compound came to halt Wednesday as residents prayed to honor the 175th anniversary of the LDS Church.

"This is a day that is a holy day for them, a day of prayer," Doran said. "They've shut down construction. Other than that, it's just another day at the ranch."

Members of the FLDS church annually celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the mainstream LDS Church on April 6. The FLDS church boasts some 6,000-10,000 members most whom live in the twin towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz.

The sect split off from the Mormon church in 1890 when the mainstream church outlawed polygamy. Members of the FLDS church openly practice the lifestyle today.

E-mail: ldethman@desnews.com
Originally published Thursday, April 7, 2005