(CBS/AP) HOUSTON - Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs is reportedly in a coma and may not survive after officials say he was fasting for days since receiving a life sentence for sexually assaulting underage girls he took as spiritual brides.
A source told ABC News that the sect leader, who has had a history of refusing to eat while incarcerated, was so weak that doctors at the Texas prison had to put him in a medically-induced coma.
Court documents show Jeffs tried to hang himself in January 2007 while awaiting trial on rape charges in Washington County, Utah. He also threw himself against the walls of his cell and banged his head, although he later told a mental health expert he really wasn't trying to kill himself.
During a visit with a brother that same month that was videotaped by jail officials, Jeffs said he'd been fasting for three days and remained awake during the night. Days later, he was taken to a hospital and given medication for depression. The court documents said he'd lost 30 pounds, was dehydrated and suffering from sleep deprivation.
Jeffs also had to be temporarily force-fed in 2009 while in the Kingman, Ariz., jail.
The 55-year-old head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was sentenced to life and will not be eligible for parole until he is at least 100 years old.
In Texas, Jeffs has been in protective custody, which is among the most restrictive forms of imprisonment in the state. He has to be alone in his cell daily. He also could not be involved in any work programs and could only leave his cell to shower and exercise by himself.