Local lawmen join search for Prophet's child bride
Girl declines help from authorities
Sheriff David Doran and Chief Deputy George Arispe traveled to Colorado and Utah last week planning on meeting with law enforcement officials in the two Rocky Mountain states. Before the trip was over, however, they found themselves participating in a missing person investigation and searching for an alleged child bride of Prophet Warren Jeffs, self-appointed leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints.
As Doran and Arispe met with Montezuma County Sheriff Joey Chavez in Cortez Colorado word reached them that a missing person report had been filed in Utah and Arizona by Suzanne Jessop Johnson, a Colorado City, Arizona woman who told officials that her sister, 17-year-old Janetta Jessop, had telephoned her asking for help in escaping from the FLDS. Johnson said that before she could arrange to meet with her sister, the girl disappeared.
Utah judge ratchets up pressure on Warren Jeffs
Utah District Judge Stephen L. Henorid wants to hear from Warren Jeffs, self-proclaimed prophet and leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. A civil lawsuit against Jeffs is pending in Judge Henroid's court and so far, attorneys for the plaintiff, Brent Jeffs, have been unable to serve the elusive Mr. Jeffs with a summons ordering his appearance.
So, the judge has ordered the publication of notices in four newspapers, including The Eldorado Success, instructing Warren Jeffs to respond to the lawsuit.
On July 29 of this year, Jeffs' 21-year-old nephew, Brent Jeffs, filed a lawsuit in Judge Henroid's court in which he accused his uncle of repeatedly sodomizing him beginning when he was 5 years old. The lawsuit also alleges that the FLDS church and much of its leadership were complicit in covering up the sexual abuse.
Listed as co-defendants in the case were Warren Jeffs' brothers Blaine Balmforth Jeffs and Leslie Balmforth Jeffs. Also, named in the lawsuit was the FLDS church and the United Effort Plan Trust, a trust fund originally intended to benefit FLDS church members but which many observers now believe serves as little more than a slush fund for Warren Jeffs and his lieutenants.
Since the date of the lawsuit, Private Investigator Sam Brower of Cedar City, Utah has been successful in serving both of Warren Jeffs brothers. Brower even traveled to Eldorado in August where he managed to serve papers to one of Warren Jeffs subordinates, Merrill Jessop, at the YFZ Ranch gate.
Massive hoist going up at YFZ stone cutting area
Construction continued this week at the YFZ Ranch with the erection of a large hoist, believed to be standing over the rock cutting area near where many believe the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saint plans to build its first-ever temple. The hoist, clearly visible from County Road 300, consists of four large I-beam trusses, connected down the sides by more large beams that carry the hoist. While the massive structure is built in such a way as to make it easy to enclose with metal or other siding, it is unclear if the workers at the ranch plan to do so. A new gate has also been erected at the entrance to the property, several feet down a fenced lane from where the original gate stood near the roadway. The first gate was damaged, reportedly by a truck delivering construction material to the ranch.
TCEQ not ready to act on violations at YFZ Ranch
Wastewater plant permit clears first hurdle
Officials with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality say that the investigation into environmental violations at the YFZ Ranch near Eldorado is still moving forward, but the state agency is not yet prepared levy a fine or other penalties against the ranch's owner, YFZ Land L.L.C.
In October of 2003, a Utah man named David Allred formed YFZ Land, L.L.C. and began using the company to acquire property in Schleicher County. Eventually 1,691 acres were bought some four miles north-northeast of Eldorado and construction soon began on a series of three-story log cabins. Allred's claim that the land was intended as a hunting retreat where he could entertain his business clients didn't hold up under scrutiny and by mid-March of this year it was discovered that the man had fronted the purchase of the land for a reclusive sect of fundamentalist Mormons and that the group's prophet, Warren Jeffs was intent on building a new community on the property.
Salt Lake City law firm wants out of FLDS lawsuit
Lawyer cites fundamental disagreement with client
The Salt Lake City, Utah law firm of Snow, Christensen & Martineau is asking to withdraw as counsel for the Prophet Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, according to a petition filed in Judge Stephen L. Henroid's 3rd District Court. The lawyers, specifically Rod Parker, who for years has represented the FLDS and its charitable trust, the United Effort Plan claims that they must withdraw because their clients "insist upon a course of action with which their lawyers have a fundamental disagreement."
YFZ wastewater permit moves forward
YFZ Ranch officials moved another step closer this week to obtaining a state permit to operate a wastewater treatment plant on ranch property. A public notice, published in this edition of The Success, indicates that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has determined that the YFZ application is administratively complete and will now begin a technical review of the application.
The permit application has already caught the attention of the Upper Colorado River Authority which on December 17, 2004 notified TCEQ Chief Clerk LaDonna Castanuela of its desire for a public meeting to be held in Eldorado, or at another location nearby, for the discussion of the YFZ permit request.