Texas turns up the heat on YFZ Ranch
TCEQ cites YFZ for a total of 29 violations
Texas, the state that likes to brag that it's like a whole other country, probably seems more like a whole other universe to workers at the YFZ Ranch near Eldorado. With environmental regulators from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality already focusing their undivided attention on the ranch, now comes word that state legislators and the office of the Texas Attorney General are casting their gaze toward the property and the sect of Fundamentalist Mormons who call the place home.
State Representative Harvey Hilderbran was in town Monday where he met with city and county officials and discussed issues relating to the YFZ. Pam Dutton, an aide to State Senator Robert Duncan, also made the trip to Eldorado to gauge public opinion.
"I've been following this issue and have been in close contact with Senator Duncan," Hilderbran said. "I know that the Attorney General's office is also looking into the allegations of polygamy and they have been in contact with the Utah Attorney General."
Rumored escape from YFZ Ranch has Internet buzzing
So far, at least, the Success has found no evidence to support a series of rumors about a woman escaping from the YFZ Ranch, despite the fact that several versions of the rumor were posted last week on various Internet websites and even referred to in numerous published news stories.
When the reports, which appear to have originated in Utah and Arizona, first reached Schleicher County last Thursday, Sheriff David Doran and Justice of the Peace James C. Doyle carried out an aerial search for the woman who, according to one version of the story, was accompanied by her two small children.
While the men scanned the area from the air, other officers looked for the woman on the ground. The search was finally called off when nothing was found.
A later version of the story claimed the woman was yet another of Prophet Warren Jeffs' wives while another claimed she had been wed to former Prophet Rulon Jeffs and was married by the new prophet following his father's death in 2002.
Prophet's nephew alleges sexual abuse
FLDS & 3 Jeffs brothers named in Utah lawsuit
Warren Jeffs, president and prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the nation's largest polygamous community, was accused in a lawsuit last Thursday of repeatedly sodomizing his young nephew and covering it up for more than a decade. Jeffs is also accused of hiding wide-scale sexual abuse of other children by fellow members of the FLDS, including two of his brothers Blaine Balmforth Jeffs and Leslie Balmforth Jeffs.
The allegations are the most serious to be brought against Warren Jeffs, 48. He, and his top FLDS lieutenants have been under intense scrutiny by the attorneys general of Utah and Arizona, however, no criminal charges have been filed against anyone in the church leadership. But, Thursday's civil suit is of great interest to investigators in both states, even if they aren't exactly sure where to find the prophet.
A number of Hildale residents reportedly saw the prophet's motor home, and a caravan of automobiles, depart from his walled compound and drive toward St. George, Utah. One of the witnesses, who has asked to remain anonymous, told the Success this week that surveillance cameras which once stood sentinel on the estate walls, have been removed and that the prophet's home is "obviously empty."
"Some people are convinced he went to Texas, while others say he is hiding out in Canada," the source continued. "No one knows for sure, he may even be in Mexico."
YFZ is a no show at City Hall
The Eldorado City Council was prepared Monday night to receive further information from YFZ Ranch officials regarding their request that the city assist them with treating the ranch's wastewater, but no one from the ranch appeared. City Administrator Randy Mankin advised council members that he had met with Paul Allred from the YFZ following the council's July 19 meeting and had conveyed a list of requirements the city would need before it would move forward with the YFZ request. Mankin said Allred didn't seem happy with the list and suggested to him that some of the items "weren't the city's prerogative"
Mankin said he asked Allred for a written request from the YFZ outlining exactly what the ranch was requesting of the city. He also asked Allred to provide assurances concerning the quantity and quality of wastewater that ranch officials propose to haul to the city's wastewater plant, also the length of time the service would be needed. Other requirements included a monetary deposit or other assurances to guarantee payment as well as a bond to protect the city in case wastewater from the ranch is contaminated with pesticides, herbicides or other substances that might harm the city's sewer plant.
Missing FLDS leader has local cops looking
"Uncle" Fred Jessop, 94, the man once thought to the be the heir apparent to former Prophet Rulon Jeffs of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was reported missing by family members last week. The concerned relatives filed the report in person at the Washington County Sheriff's Department in St. George, Utah.
Rumors about Jessop's whereabouts, have run rampant among members of the FLDS twin cities of Colorado City/Hildale. With increasing numbers of former FLDS leaders being stripped of power and/or excommunicated from the church, many in the towns, as well as numbers of anti-polygmay activists, thought Jessop was either dead or being held hostage at the group's new Eldorado, Texas compound by new Prophet Warren Jeffs. Even then, it was nearly eight months before anyone came forward to file a formal missing persons report.
Recently, a letter attributed by some to Fred Jessop, made the rounds in C-City/Hildale, and Eldorado. In the letter, the writer pledged loyalty to Warren Jeffs and urged his followers to do the same. Many doubters, including family members who worry about Fred Jessop believe the letter to be a fake.
Sheriff David Doran of Eldorado explains that he is aware of the speculation connecting Fred Jessop with the YFZ Ranch near Eldorado. He said he and his officers would take the missing persons complaint seriously. "If Fred Jessop is here I want to find him," Doran said.
The Eldorado Success invites Warren Jeffs and/or other leaders of the FLDS church to comment on this or any other story surrounding the FLDS and the YFZ Ranch.
Prophet hunt begins at Eldorado
Sheriff David Doran and private investigator Sam Brower of Cedar City, Utah, served a summons Sunday afternoon to Merrill Jessop at the entrance to the YFZ Ranch on County Road 300. The summons directs FLDS Prophet Warren Jeffs to respond within 20 days to a lawsuit filed against him by his nephew, Brent Jeffs. The lawsuit alleges that Warren Jeffs, and two of his brothers, Blaine Jeffs and Leslie Jeffs, sexually abused their nephew when he was a young boy.
Investigator Sam Brower, who works for the law firm that represents plaintiff Brent Jeffs, said he wanted to deliver the summons directly to Warren Jeffs but adds that he really didn't expect to see the prophet. Merrill Jessop, who met the men at the ranch gate, reportedly told Brower and Sheriff Doran that he wasn't aware if Warren Jeffs had ever been to the YFZ Ranch. "He added that if Warren had actually been here it was only occasionally," Brower said.
Doran met with Brower at the Sheriff's Office where he verified the investigator's license through the State of Utah and reviewed the summons before taking him to the ranch gate. Once there the sheriff placed a call from his cellular phone to the ranch and asked that someone meet him at the gate.
It took nearly an hour, but Merrill Jessop and Paul Allred finally came to the gate to meet with Doran and Brower. At that time the men asked to see Warren Jeffs and was told he wasn't on the property. Brower then gave the summons to Jessop in his capacity as a church official.