ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) — Warren Jeffs' former bodyguard has purchased the SUV the imprisoned polygamist leader was riding in when he was arrested nearly a decade ago.
Willie Jessop paid $30,000 for the 2007 red Cadillac Escalade and $50,000 for the belongings in the vehicle at a public auction Monday in St. George, Utah, the Spectrum newspaper reports (http://bit.ly/1GIl0TW ).
Jessop, who left the polygamous sect several years ago, said he plans to display the car at a sprawling compound built for Jeffs that Jessop converted into a bed-and-breakfast in a town on the Utah-Arizona border where the polygamous sect is headquartered.
"It brings a lot of closure for a lot of people that actually want to have the experience I did, which is to try to understand what he did, and it really sheds a real insight into the double life he was leading at the expense of a lot of people," Jessop said.
Jeffs is imprisoned in Texas, where he is serving a life term for sexually assaulting underage girls he considered brides.
Jessop, who left in 2011, opened the bed-and-breakfast at the compound and tore down part of the massive wall around last year as part of an ongoing effort to show the divided community that there is life after Jeffs.
Jeffs was in the vehicle in August 2006 with his brother and one of his wives just outside Las Vegas when police encountered him during a routine traffic stop — after more than a year on the run and three months FBI's Most Wanted List. Police found wigs, 15 cellphones and $54,000 in cash inside the car.
He gave the Nevada highway patrolman an alias, but later conceded he was Warren Jeffs when an FBI agent arrived.
After he was convicted in a southern Utah court, Jeffs was moved to Arizona to face separate charges. He was there in 2008 when investigators began building the Texas case against him began that would ultimately lead to a life prison sentence.
It's unclear which items from the vehicle would be handed over to Jessop as part of the purchase. Jessop's attorney, Mark James, said that must be discussed with the FBI.
Jeffs still rules the sect, known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS, through letters and phone calls from prison. One of his brothers, Lyle Jeffs, lives in the community and makes sure Jeffs' commandments are carried out.
The sect is a radical offshoot of mainstream Mormonism whose members believe polygamy brings exaltation in heaven. Polygamy is a legacy of the early teachings of the mainstream Mormon church, but the faith abandoned the practice in 1890 and strictly prohibits it today.