Over 219 People Removed from Polygamist Compound

April 08, 2008 04:15 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
After a 16-year-old girl called police about her marriage to a 50-year-old man, Texas authorities raided the compound of a polygamist Mormon sect.

30-Second Summary

Although police have yet to find the young caller, local prosecutor Allison Palmer said that “she is a young, underage mother with an older husband.”

Officials are also searching for Dale Barlow, who is wanted in connection with the marriage. However, child protection services agent Marleigh Meisner says that the commonality of last names and birth patterns is complicating their efforts.

Since April 4, 159 children and 60 women have been bussed out of the YFZ—Yearn for Zion—Ranch to the nearby town of San Angelo.

The inhabitants of the ranch belong to a Mormon sect, not recognized by the mainstream Mormon church, called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The FLDS broke away from the central Mormon church after it banned polygamy in 1890.

According to NPR, members believe leader Warren Jeffs is “God’s mouthpiece on earth.” Jeffs is currently incarcerated in a Utah prison on two counts of serving as an accomplice to rape for his role in the marriage of 14-year-old Elissa Walls and her 19-year-old cousin.

Brooke Adams, a polygamy expert for The Salt Lake Tribune, laments the fate of the sect’s children, writing that they will have to “face the prospect of other moves to strange locales.”

In contrast, former sect member Carolyn Jessop asserts that the women being taken from the ranch will be taken care of and have “numerous options.” The YFZ Ranch events recall the 1953 arrests at the group’s compound in Short Creek, Ariz. Those events saw the town’s men put behind bars and the women and children hauled away to Phoenix.

Photos of the incident turned the raid into a public relations disaster, leading to the release of many of group’s members.

Headline Links: Women and children bussed out of compound, one arrest made

Background: The Yearn for Zion Ranch

Video & Audio: Life at the Eldorado Ranch and Warren Jeffs’ teachings

Key Player: Warren Jeffs (1955-)

Historical Context: The 1953 raid in Short Creek, Ariz.

Opinion & Analysis: Children at greatest risk of political, cultural fallout


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