Then along came Warren Jeffs in the late 1990s, inheriting the prophetic mantle from his father, and everything changed.
Jeffs' bizarre rules (no red clothing, an edict to round up the town' dogs and slaughter them) confused his followers and his penchant for taking teen brides attracted the eye of authorities, eventually leading to his capture on an interstate near Vegas in August of 2006.
In the mid 1990s, Black soured on the church, perhaps disappointed he hadn't become prophet, but stuck around the community, marrying other apostate wives and opening a shop called Mojave Minerals, where he claimed he was making gold out of rocks.
When Black came to Mexico in the mid 2000s, he settled in Chihuahua, a northwestern Mexican state which has long been a safe haven for Mormon polygamists seeking refuge from the law, dating back to 1885, when the mainstream Mormon church sent 350 families (including the family of Mitt Romney’s grandfather) across the border to avoid federal prosecution for marrying multiple wives.
Not long after, the FBI raided the town, resulting in indictments for 11 of Jeffs' top lieutenants, with charges ranging from money laundering to welfare fraud.
(Ten pleaded guilty, but Jeffs is expected to be the only one who will do jail time.
But a ruling by the Supreme Court in 1878 stated that they were not protected based on the long-standing legal principle that while government cannot interfere with religious beliefs, it can with practices.
As a member of a polygamist Mormon splinter-sect known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS, Black had always been a rebel – even by the twisted standards of Short Creek, the dusty desert hamlet that straddles the border of Utah and Arizona at the base of soaring vermillion cliffs.Tucked away in one of the most remote places of America, they ran Short Creek like a theocracy since the 1930s, with virtually no intrusion from outside authorities, and at their peak claimed over 10,000 members.