Jeffs maintains control, but time may be limited.
Ranch leadership said to be in upheaval.
Jeffs is serving life plus 20 years in prison.
The ranch remains isolated from the outside world — an order issued by Jeffs to all FLDS members to block coverage of his fate in a San Angelo courtroom.
Local leadership at the YFZ Ranch is in upheaval, with bishops at the isolated compound coming and going.
"They now rotate out weekly," said Willie R. Jessop, an FLDS member and advocate for YFZ Ranch residents.
While Texas authorities have succeeded in locking Jeffs away, that hasn't immediately severed his authority over the FLDS church, especially at the YFZ Ranch.
Observers say they aren't sure how long Jeffs will be able to maintain control of church's 10,000 members and more than $110 million in assets across the United States and Canada.
William E. Jessop on Aug. 10 sent a letter to Warren Jeffs' brother, Lyle, and FLDS members in their community that straddles the Utah-Arizona border condemning "abominations" by Jeffs.
"You condone the immorality by your failure to accept once again the terrible deeds that were done, by believing you can sit in the halls of the court and turn off the evidence and deny the abominations of Warren Jeffs," Jessop wrote.
The letter, which was mailed to FLDS members, calls for openness in information about Jeffs' confession to his brothers about not being the true FLDS leader.
For now, Warren Jeffs has turned to Lyle Jeffs for help leading the church. Lyle Jeffs, it seems, is acting as the de facto leader. He denied a Standard-Times request to visit the ranch during his brother's trial.
Lyle Jeffs is the bishop of the Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., border twin cities known collectively as Short Creek.
He helped his brother in the courthouse, retrieving and distributing documents. At times, Lyle Jeffs sat with another FLDS member in the hallway, shying away from media inquiries about YFZ Ranch residents' reaction to the trial.
"What he will be doing is managing in the name of Warren till Warren dies," said Carolyn Jessop, a former FLDS member. She grew up in the FLDS church and still stays in close contact with FLDS members.
Ken Driggs, an attorney in Georgia who has written academic work on the FLDS, said he doesn't believe Warren Jeffs will remain in control for long.
"I don't see how Warren can continue as the absolute leader," Driggs said. "His communication is going to be diminished."
Jeffs, like other Huntsville inmates, will be allowed to establish a 10-name visitors list and permitted to phone the people on that list for a total of 15 minutes a day, to a maximum of 240 minutes a month. In the Reagan County Jail where he awaited trial in Texas for seven months, Jeffs had unlimited access to the jail pay phone using prepaid phone cards.
Warren Jeffs continued as prophet from his jail cells before his trial. Jeffs excommunicated dozens of men and reassigned families from behind bars, members in the sect said.
Willie R. Jessop, once an ardent defender of Warren Jeffs, is working with William E. Jessop, who is said to have about 200 followers. Willie R. Jessop is calling for the removal of the guard tower at the YFZ Ranch to make the community a more open society.
"He is a leader out of respect," Willie R. Jessop said. "Warren is a leader out of a usurpative dictatorship."
In 2007, Warren Jeffs said he was not the prophet and never had been the prophet, but that William E. Jessop had been the rightful successor all along. Jeffs later retracted his confession. He said it was a test of faithfulness for his people.
Following the clash with Jeffs, William E. Jessop was removed from the church.
He is described as a reserved farmer who finds peace in his fields after being exiled from Short Creek, where he was bishop. He tried unsuccessfully to take hold of the "FLDS corporation of the presidency" and "presiding bishop" by filing documents with the Utah Division of Corporations and Commercial Code.
In that filing, William E. Jessop wrote: "Warren S. Jeffs informed me that he does not hold priesthood and that he had been immoral. He also informed me that he was aware of my ordination performed by his father, Rulon T. Jeffs, and he acknowledged that I am the Key Holder, (i.e., the person appointed to be the prophet of the FLDS church)."
State officials in Utah rejected Jessop's efforts, leaving Jeffs in control of the corporations.
Utah commerce regulations don't automatically bar criminals from holding these types of positions, said Jennifer Bolton, a spokeswoman for the Utah Division of Corporations.The division would only act to remove a criminal if "ordered to do so by a court of law," Bolton said.
Willie R. Jessop said the issue of who controls the official presidency and presiding bishop in the corporation is important. For real progress to happen in the FLDS, it must be a grass-roots effort that will take education and a change of leadership, he said.
"This crisis has got to be fixed from within," Willie R. Jessop said.