Sheriff questions phone call from Fred Jessop
Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran received a phone call this week from a man identifying himself as Fred Jessop, the 94-year-old patriach of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Doran said that the man phoned him last Saturday at the urging of officials from the YFZ Ranch.
"I can't say whether or not it was Fred Jessop. He provided me with the right pieces of information that would tend to identify him and he certainly sounded as if he could be 94, but I still have my doubts," Doran told the Success.
Doran said the man told him he was fine and didn't need any help, adding that he was retired and staying out of church business.
Jessop, known as "Uncle Fred" to the FLDS faithful, was slated to succeed former FLDS Prophet Rulon Jeffs. But, that office was claimed by the late prophet's son, Warren Jeffs. in 2002. Shortly thereafter, the new prophet excommunicated many in the church's heirarchy. Then, late in 2003, as construction was getting under way on the group's new compound near Eldorado, Fred Jessop went missing.
YFZ hauling wastewater to San Angelo
TCEQ District 8 Director Ricky Anderson confirmed this week that wastewater is being transported from the YFZ Ranch near Eldorado to a wastewater treatment plant at the San Angelo landfill operated by Trashaway. Anderson said that his inspectors had visited the ranch on August 16th to confirm that an above ground storage tank had been installed.
He said that since that time ranch officials have hired a licensed wastewater hauler to transport the waste to San Angelo. Anderson said that his inspectors have received trip tickets documenting the process and that they continue to closely monitor the situation at the YFZ, which he says will only last until a permanent wastewater treatment plant can be constructed at the ranch.
Ross Chatwin Visits Eldorado
Ross Chatwin, the Arizona man who refused to move from his home after being excommunicated from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints by its Prophet Warren Jeffs, was in Eldorado this week. Chatwin, his wife Lori and daughter Kimberlina arrived here Monday morning and spent the next day and a half visiting with Eldorado residents. Tuesday morning pilot Doug Garvin took the couple up in his plane for an aerial view of the YFZ Ranch, the property that is being developed by FLDS followers.
Chatwin gained fame when he won a court decision blocking Jeffs, the FLDS Church, and its trust fund, the United Effort Plan, from evicting him from his home. Chatwin's home was built on UEP land and, according to the trust bylaws, is supposed to revert to UEP ownership when he vacates it. But, instead of following church orders and moving his wife and six children out of town, Chatwin did what no one before him had dared, he refused the Prophet's order.
FLDS leadership in flux as pressure on group increases
Sam Barlow, the man who once answered only to Prophet Warren Jeffs inside the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was reportedly excommunicated last week along with a handful of other men who no longer found favor with the Prophet.
Barlow once served as the Police Chief of Colorado City, Arizona. In recent years, he was Prophet Warren Jeffs right-hand man as the self-proclaimed church leader sought to consolidate his hold over the church following the death of his father, former FLDS Prophet Rulon Jeffs.
Sources close to the story tell the Success that Barlow and his brother Alvin, the man who until recently served as Superintendent of Schools for the Colorado City school system, were both kicked out of the church just over a week ago. Also said to be included in the excommunications were two men who, as recent as a month ago, were helping with the construction project at the YFZ Ranch just outside of Eldorado, Ernie Jessop and Allen Steed.
Arizona charges Chatwin with trespass at this own home
Ross Chatwin, the man who stood up to FLDS Prophet Warren Jeffs and went to court to win the right to stay in his Colorado City, Arizona home, was arrested last week, shortly after returning to his home following a trip to Eldorado. Interestingly, Chatwin was charged with trespassing at his own home, the very home awarded to him by Arizona Superior Court Judge James Chavez.
Chatwin was released a day later, shortly after Mohave County, Arizona, Deputy Attorney James J. Zack, Sr. reviewed the charges against him, as well as Judge Chavez's order giving Chatwin the house as a "life estate."
Chatwin had reportedly entered the upstairs apartment occupied by his brother, Stephen, and was changing the locks in hopes of keeping the man and his family out of the home, when C-City police officers Helaman Barlow and Fred Barlow were called to the scene. The officers reportedly told Chatwin they were not aware of Judge Chavez's ruling. They then arrested Chatwin as his wife, Lori, videotaped the incident.
Authorities eye Social Security payments in Fred Jessop case
Sheriff David Doran told the Success this week that he remains skeptical that the man he had a phone conversation with recently is "Uncle Fred" Jessop, the missing 94-year-old patriarch of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
Authorities in the Beehive State also have their doubts that the man who refuses to meet with Doran, or any other law enforcement official, is Fred Jessop.
So, officials in Utah and Texas have decided to try a fresh approach in the case, by looking into Social Security payments, made to Fred Jessop, as well as any Medicare claims, or other government documents that may have been filed on his behalf.
"We know someone has been cashing the Social Security checks," Doran says. "Who that may be, is another matter."
Doran said that the elder Jessop could clear everything up by meeting with him or with Washington County, Utah Sheriff Kirk Smith. "If he's alive and well then there's nothing to worry about," Doran said. "If not, then we have lots of questions."
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.