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Ex-FLDS member denies writing letter

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COLORADO CITY, Ariz. — Ross Chatwin said he didn't even question the note asking him to copy an anonymous letter and mail it to hundreds of residents in the twin polygamous towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and nearby Hildale, Utah.

"I did not write the letter; I didn't even read more than a few sentences in it until afterward," Chatwin explained during an interview at his Colorado City home. "People think I wrote it, though, and I'm taking the brunt of the fallout for it."

Chatwin, who was excommunicated from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints two months ago after numerous warnings, said he fears his life is in jeopardy because of his involvement with the controversial letter. The letter challenges the right of Warren Jeffs to lead the FLDS church.

Chatwin also refuses to move from his home, which is owned by the FLDS church under its United Effort Plan.

Despite those fears, Chatwin, 35, has scheduled a press conference later today with the help of anti-polygamy activists Jay Beswick and Flora Jessop. He is expected to share intimate details of the FLDS church and discuss his fight to stay in his home.

Sheriff's deputies from Utah and Arizona will be in town to monitor the situation, said Washington County Sheriff Kirk Smith. Mohave County (Ariz.) Sheriff Tom Sheahan said he is working with Smith in an effort to cross-deputize their deputies to work both sides of the state line.

Chatwin said he found the anonymous letter and about $220 in an envelope on his doorstep one day. Included was a handwritten note that asked Chatwin to copy the letter, mail it to certain members of the FLDS church and to keep any money that remained.