A 100 acre parcel of land in a remote corner of the Black Hills of South Dakota turns out to be owned and operated by loyal followers of FLDS Prophet Warren Jeffs, and may be one of the fugitive prophet’s hideouts.
The Success received an anonymous e-mail tip about the property, followed by an equally anonymous phone call in which the caller provided details about the property and the people who bought it.
It was a very familiar story. A man named David Allred had fronted the purchase of the property on Oct. 3, 2003, for the sum of $135,000.00. Allred was acting in his capacity as president of Details Unlimited, Inc., a corporation based in Washington County, Utah.
Allred is the man who fronted the purchase of the YFZ Ranch here in Schleicher County. It was also he who claimed the property was intended for use as a corporate hunting retreat. Allred later came forward to face Schleicher County officials and admit he had lied about the purpose of the YFZ Ranch.
Other things sounded familiar, too. Things like strangers driving cars and trucks with out-of-state license plates, women wearing pioneer-syle dresses, large log cabin-style homes being erected, and guards on 4-wheelers who challenge anyone approaching the property line.
All that, combined with one last piece of information, was enough to convince Success editor Randy Mankin that the tip was legitimate. The final tidbit of information involved trucks bearing the company name Z-Trans coming and going from the South Dakota property.
Z-Trans, Inc. is a corporation registered in St. George, Utah. The company’s director and registered agent is Robert Dockstader Allred, another of Warren Jeffs’ loyal followers.
Z-Trans trucks are routinely seen entering and leaving the YFZ Ranch here in Schleicher County.
Certain that the anonymous tipster was onto something, The Success staff began tracking down any corporate records that could be accessed over the Internet. Noted author Jon Krakauer and Utah private investigator Sam Brower, were also called in. They had previously helped The Success dig up information on the FLDS property near Mancos, Colorado.
Krakauer and Brower traveled to South Dakota where they scoured Custer County land records and scouted out vantage points from which they could watch the property.
As the investigation into the South Dakota property developed, other interesing parallels with the YFZ Ranch were noted. First, in a document filed with the Custer County Planning Office, David Allred claimed the first three-story log cabin was being built as a “seasonal lodge,” and would be used as a “corporate retreat.” That’s almost word for word what he told Schleicher County citizens when setting up the purchase of the YFZ Ranch.
Of all the people involved in the Warren Jeffs/YFZ Ranch story, Krakauer has perhaps the best instincts. It was he who sensed that New Years Day of 2005 would be a good day to fly over the YFZ Ranch and it was he who snapped the now famous photo of what appears to be a crowd gathered for a dedication ceremony where the FLDS’s massive white temple now stands. In the center of the crows stands a tall man facing all the others as if he were leading a choir. That man, Krakauer believs, was Warren Jeffs.
Krakauer is an accomplished mountain climber and outdoorsman. He penned a series of nonfiction adventures before finding himself drawn toward the shadowy world of fundamental Mormonism. His runaway bestseller Under the Banner of Heaven, a Story of Violent Faith explores the more radical and violent side of several fundementalist Mormon sects, including the FLDS.
Since the release of that book, Krakauer has devoted much of his time and his personal fortune to tracking down Warren Jeffs. He feels that the Black Hills compound in South Dakota is a significant find.
• For the remainder of this story, download the Mar. 9, 2006 edition of The Eldorado Success ($1.25, by credit card or PayPal)