SAN ANGELO, Texas, April 17, 2008 — Texas Rangers participated in the arrest of a Colorado woman who allegedly pretended to be a girl locked in a basement. The Rangers were in the state as part of their investigation into the Texas polygamy custody battle, local police told ABC News.
It was unclear if the arrest was related to the phone call from a woman who claimed to be a 16-year-old girl, a phone call that sparked what has become one of the largest child custody cases in U.S. history.
Officials in Texas raided a polygamist compound and took 416 children into custody after an abuse hotline received a series of phone calls from the purported teen who said she was being held at the compound. The girl, who called herself Sarah, said she was being physically and sexually abused by her adult husband, court documents say.
Texas child protection lawyers have said they believe the girl does exist, even though they have not found her.
But ABC News has learned that Texas Rangers flew to Colorado Springs, Colo., and participated in the arrest of a 33-year-old woman who was charged with filing a false report.
The FBI also told ABC News it is assisting local police in the investigation. Colorado Springs police said in a statement that “The Texas Rangers were in Colorado Springs Wednesday as part of their investigation involving the compound in Texas.”
Colorado Springs police said they arrested Rozita Swinton last night on local charges of pretending to be a girl locked in a basement, claiming abuse and calling authorities for help.
Local police said Swinton had been under investigation for some time on that accusation, but police made an immediate arrest after the Texas Rangers became involved.
“This arrest stemmed from an incident that occurred in Colorado Springs in February of this year,” Colorado Springs Police said in a statement. “The Texas Rangers were in Colorado Springs yesterday as part of their investigation involving the compound in Texas. They left and have not filed any charges on Rozita Swinton as of this time. ”
ABC News was unable to reach Swinton or her lawyer for comment.
Swinton became a person of interest to Texas authorities when former Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints member Flora Jessop, who now operates a rescue mission for teenage girls trying to escape the sect, told authorities she had been getting calls from a girl claiming to be Sarah — the same girl who made the call for help to a San Angelo, Texas, shelter that led to the raid on the El Dorado compound.
Jessop told ABC News that she — at the direction of Texas Rangers — began recording those calls in the past two weeks and that the Rangers were able to trace them to Colorado Springs, where the arrest was made.
Jessop’s allegations could not be immediately confirmed by ABC News.
The Colorado Springs police gave no details about the Texas connection other than to confirm that the Texas Rangers were in on the arrest and helped with the investigation.
But they have returned to Texas, and Swinton has been freed on bond in Colorado Springs.
Swinton has an arrest record that includes another false report charge from 2005.
The Texas Rangers told ABC News they would comment Friday.