this is "nightline." tonight, fear and the flds. is convicted child rapist warren jeffs still wielding power from prison? in an exclusive interview, a local lawman details how the polygamist preacher intimidates not only the church. what happens? real-life gone girl? she disappeared from her boyfriend's home and reappeared unharmed, claiming she was kidnapped by criminals still on the loose. tonight new developments in the twisted case in why police believe the can whole thing was
a hoax. and bieber gets burned. >> i've been in lock up and you wouldn't last a >> martha stewart, even ron burgundy. but first, the "nightline" five. you, my friend recognize when a trend has reached critical mass. yes, when otheres focus on one thing you see what's coming next. you focus on opportunity. that's what a type e does and so it begins. >> with etrade's investing center, you can spot trends
good evening. thank you for joining us. tonight, a formal marshal is speaking out exclusively to us with allegations warren jeffs is exerting control not just over his congregation but local government from prison. watch what happens when dan harris confronts town officials. >> reporter: we are being followed by what we believe to be members of the official security team for an outlaw religion. >> right on my tail. >> reporter: they don't like outsiders in this isolated desert community the epicenter of the flds. a mormon splinter group that still practices polygamy. here the women wear prairie dresses. thousands of flds members live here in two small towns straddling the border of utah
and arizona. even though their prophet is in prison, he still controls every aspect of life here. >> obey the profit when he speaks and you'll be blessed. disobey him, it is death. >> reporter: now however, a small but growing independent movement. a new public school a subway and the emergence of this man, who used to be the top lawman here. his name is heleman barlow. and he was once the marshal that controlled these close towns. in a place that placed him in close proximity to the prophet. he had broken from the faith and is now divulging what he says are church secrets to federal
investigators who are suing the local government accusing him of being controlled by the church. do the police here protect and serve the people or the church. >> my job was to protect the church. >> reporter: what you're describing is a straight-up theocracy. >> exactly. >> reporter: it took some convincing but he finally agreed to do this his first television interview surrounded with former church members. barlow says local law enforcement knew about widespread underage marriages and did nothing to stop it and that he was asked by a city official to alter police reports. barlow also said that when warren jeffs was on the run and listed as one of america's most wanted and made them available to warren jeffs. >> i knew it was wrong. but it was a way for me to keep my value up. >> reporter: did you live in
fear that the prophet could actually take your family away from you? >> oh, yeah. absolutely. >> absolutely. >> reporter: with one phone call? >> and he could call me and say you're out. and i could say i'm not going. you need to call her. >> reporter: would you have left him? >> if you leave, stay with your husband. if you keep your children with you, then you have spiritually killed spiritually murdered your children. >> reporter: then we saw this sign. town meeting, executive session, 6:30. a town council meeting on this very night where members of the public would be given three minutes to make comments. good evening. my name is dan harris from abc news. when we showed up, it was pretty quickly clear that local officials did not want to respond to charges that they are controlled by the church. the federal government has sued you, saying that you are essentially a wing of the flds church. how do you respond to that?
>> do you have our attorney's phone number? >> reporter: it's a pretty serious charge that i would think you would want to answer yourselves. they're saying that you as an elected body here in the united states of america are effectively the wing of a church. one whose prophet is in prison for two counts of sexual assault of a child. you wouldn't want to respond to that? i would imagine you would want to speak for yourselves. is anybody here not a member of the flds? you're just going to wait out the three minutes? >> thank you. >> reporter: the next night at a council meeting in the next town over we actually got a response. >> i personally deny that. i would hope you would give us the respect of allowing each person in this room their personal beliefs. >> reporter: there have been allegations from several levels of government that the marshal's
office the police force here is essentially the armed wing the security wing of the flds. do you take a view on that? >> i deny it in full. >> reporter: you deny it in full. >> your three minutes is up. >> reporter: we called an attorney who represents one of these towns who also denied that officials are controlled by the church. and with regards to the former chief, barlow he said we question his credibility because he has lied under oath. barlow admits he has perjured himself while defending the church in the past. but he insists that what he's saying now true. today when discussing his decision to leave the ñchurch, he and his wife say it was not only because of the things he felt forced to do as chief but because of the strange and arbitrary rules being imposed on all members by the prophet warren jeffs.
>> reporter: what were the kind of rules he would hand down? >> first it was eat very little ate. then they said use beans for protein. then the next week, beans were forbidden. >> reporter: there are signs of hope emerging in this community, that new public school something jeffs had once banned. they are now get being aok proper education. >> do i hear $100,000? >> reporter: we also went to this auction where property once controlled by the church is now being sold off to anyone who wants to buy it. warren jeffs' former body guard has purchased a compound that was built for the prophet and turned it into the america's most wanted bed and breakfast which he is more than happy to show off. >> these are typical rooms here and very comfortable. >> reporter: even though this community is slowly changing it's still very tense and very divided. for example, listen to what this woman, one of the few flds
members who actually agreed to speak with us had to say about warren jeffs. she believes the admitted pedophile is the victim of prejudice. >> reporter: is that the view that's happening with the prophet that it's persecution? >> in my opinion, yes. >> reporter: do people feel like he'll come back? >> i do. >> reporter: you do. she apparently is not alone. during our interview with bash low, members of church security also known as the god squad, repeatedly drove past us. why do people believe in a prophet who has been convicted for molesting children? >> they are forbidden to read newspapers. they don't listen to radio often. no tv. and the only information they get is what they're given over the pulpit. >> reporter: so where is all of this heading? barlow says he swings between optimism that this community will slowly join mainstream america and dark pessimism about
worst-case scenarios. >> reporter: do you think it has a potential to get ugly here before it gets better? >> i do. i do very much so. >> reporter: what kind violent? >> when people realize, hey this is broke and we got tricked. these people caused me to do this much harm to my own family, i think you cannot underestimate the kind of emotions and anger and violence that is possible in that scenario. >> reporter: for "nightline," this is dan harris on the utah/arizona border. next, the latest in a bizarre kidnapping caper some are calling a real-life gone girl. there was even a $8500 ransom demand. and clearer skin. this is my body of proof that i can fight psoriatic arthritis from the inside out... with humira. humira works by targeting and helping to block a specific source of inflammation that contributes to both joint and skin symptoms. it's proven to help relieve pain, stop further joint damage and
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we're about to take you inside a very strange case that started out with a woman vanishing and then turning up 400 miles away. her lawyer says it was at the hands of kidnappers who let her go because they felt guilty. but tonight police are investigating whether those kidnappers were, well imaginary. >> reporter: tonight, a puzzling turn in the alleged real life gone girl. 29-year-old denise huskins claims she was kidnapped from her boyfriend's home. but police claim it was nothing but a hoax which drew comparisons to the hollywood blockbuster gone girl. >> my wife disappeared three days ago. >> reporter: buff tonight, denise huskins' attorney says he
has proof that she isn't a liar but a victim and that her kidnappers are still on the loose. >> i have come to receive a 15-page, single-spaced e-mail from the kidnappers. >> reporter: speaking with abc news huskins' lawyer characterized a stunning manifesto he says the kidnappers e-mailed to the san francisco chronicle after she showed up safely, two days after her boyfriend reported she was abducted from his vallejo, california home. >> they talked extensively about how they prepared for it what weapons to use. this e-mail, for lack of a better term blew my mind. >> reporter: those e-mails have brought the case back into the spotlight. in the manifesto, the alleged kidnappers claim to have used a strobe light and red laser beams to subdue the victim. they also claim they used a dog
shock collar to prevent the victim from crying out. they compare themselves to the crew from "oceans 11". they said they nabbed her as a dry run so they could kid nam higher profile victims in the future. >> they felt terrible when they discovered it was her, but since it was a training mission they decided to carry it out regardless. >> reporter: the reason they say they sent the e-mail? regret. >> they didn't want to harm her. in fact, during the course of this it became a case of reverse stockholm syndrome where they felt badly for her. >> reporter: it's the latest twist in what investigators are calling a baffling case that started a week ago. she was reported missing. her family devastated. >> it's like a bad dream, and i can't wake up. >> reporter: and the police were
baffled. >> we are treating this ago a kid nam for ransom. >> reporter: they say she was abducted in the early morning, but it wasn't until 1:55 that afternoon, ten hours later, that her 30-year old boyfriend called to report it claiming he witnessed the whole thing but couldn't instantly report it because he said he was bound and drugged by at least two assailants. >> he was saying that the female, ms. huskins, was forcibly taken against her will from the residence. >> reporter: the next day, a stunning break in the case when the san francisco chronicle reported it received an e-mail with what appeared to be a hostage reporting from huskins. >> my name is denise huskins, i'm kidnapped. otherwise i'm fine. >> reporter: she also mentioned recent news events. >> earlier today there was a plane crash in the alps and 150 people died. >> reporter: along with a ransom request for $8500.
henry k. lee is the reporter who received the manifesto that detailed the specific amount of the ransom. >> they chose the $8500 ransom because it falls below the $10,000 federal level. they're saying they're below that threshold so no one would find out. >> reporter: but it was wednesday morning that the case took a shocking twist. denise huskins imaginely reemerged, apparently following the same story line of hollywood's "gone girl." she was found alive and well, 400 miles away at her father's apartment in southern california. after she says her captors dropped her off. >> ms. huskins indicated that she would be happy to meet with our police detectives. >> reporter: the police and fbi made arrangements to fly her back to northern california she disappeared again. >> as of right now, we have not
heard from ms. huskins, and we are no longer in contact with any of the family members. >> reporter: as police are investigating the claims serious doubts were raised. >> her investigation has concluded that none of the claims has been substantiated. >> reporter: on thursday huskins resurfaced with a lawyer, even participating in a five-hour police interrogation. but as pleaseolice weigh the evidence, the court of public opinion is skeptical. >> everything about this kidnap screams out hoax. she was returned without the kidnappers ever getting any ransom money. she gave a proof of life audio file. she basically says i'm sorry, i've been kidnapped. no. everything sounds phony. >> reporter: the lawyer wouldn't tell us how he got the e-mail or show the contents, but abc was able to see it from another
source. >> when you read this e-mail you'll see that this is a terrible problem for public safety and that denise is just the first victim. >> reporter: as for denise huskins and aaron quinn, the couple could facial criminal charges if prosecutors believe they made up the kidnapping claims, which they both deny. >> now these are all allegations. it may very well turn out that denise huskins was really kidnapped by gentlemen bandits who never got their money. the. >> reporter: for "nightline" in los angeles. >> okay. so now you've seen the evidence. what do you think? is this kidnapping case real or hoax? head to our "nightline" facebook page and let us know what you think. and next justin bieber gets burned to a the crisp at his comedy central roast. >> this is a good opportunity for me. abc news "nightline" brought to you by viagra. ion happens again.
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finally tonight, it's not that hard to make fun of justin bieber, a badly behaved singer gave comedians the easiest paycheck ever at a roast. but was it part of a plan to revamp his image? >> reporter: justin bieber once a tv idol. beauty and the beast might have been a turning point. he's now just a little tattooed and tarnished. >> big trouble for justin bieber. police say he failed a
test. >> reporter: snoop and martha stewart -- >> to give justin some tips when he inevitably ends up in prison. i've been in lock-up, and you wouldn't last a week. >> reporter: he's given cred while he's kicked and down. >> selena didn't want to come. >> people in my business call this a cathartic moment. and you're supposed to come out of this stronger. >> you rank the fifth most hated person of all time. kim jong-un didn't even score that low. >> he looked real uncomfortable. he was screaming on the inside. >> reporter: then the little fell low got serious stab at bieber renaissance work? >> it could help propel him towards a new image if the music's there and the
performance is there to support this new >> he came off as just as serious as he's been. >> reporter: harsh as anything he heard from that roast. >> wow. who knew martha stewart, stand-up comic. it was will rogers who said everything is funny as long as it's happening to somebody else. thank you for watching abc news. world news now is coming up soon with overnight breaking news. tune in to good morning when i have an asthma attack... i feel scared. sometimes my parents have to take me to the hospital. i feel like a fish with no water. you know how to react to their asthma attacks. here's how to prevent them. call... visit...