HILDALE, Utah -- A massive wall is being built around the meeting house for the Fundamentalist LDS Church.
People inside the polygamous towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., tell FOX 13 the project has been going since last night when dozens of men and boys started building the wall that stretches almost a city block around the Leroy S. Johnson Meeting Hall.
Sam Brower, a private investigator and the author of the book "Prophet's Prey," was in Hildale documenting it. He told FOX 13 that he believed it was ordered to be built under orders from FLDS leader Warren Jeffs.
"They haven’t stopped. They’ve just kept going. They’re going like gangbusters," Brower said.
Jeffs is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for child sex assault related to underage "marriages." Brower said he wondered if the FLDS Church's new project was in response to court filings in the U.S. Justice Department's discrimination case against Hildale and Colorado City, where it was revealed the estranged wife of Jeffs' brother, Lyle, would be testifying against the towns and the church.
Isaac Wyler, an ex-FLDS member who works for the court-appointed accountant overseeing the FLDS Church’s land trust, wondered if it was in response to a planned Fourth of July party for ex-members of the polygamous church, where thousands are expected to attend.
“They’re going crazy with it,” Wyler said of the construction. “They had a ton of track hoes and back hoes and compactors; and all kinds of heavy equipment.”
Wyler said the worship hall already had a small stem wall around the perimeter. The FLDS crews have torn that wall out and are installing their own. High fences are not uncommon around FLDS compounds in Hildale and Colorado City, but Wyler says this one is different.
FOX 13 reached out to attorneys who have represented the FLDS church for a possible explanation of the expedited building, but did not receive a response
Wyler said tensions between ex-members and the faithful are rising, with increased acts of vandalism on both public and private land.