(ELDORADO TEXAS) — A company called YFZ Land Company is purchasing property near this remote west Texas town, and many here are afraid a controversial polygamist sect plans to build a compound in rural Schleicher County.
“We’ve been applying a lot of pressure in Utah and Arizona, and I think that they’re looking to establish somewhere where they’re not known,” Flora Jessop, who said she escaped from the sect when she was a teenager and has become a crusader against the sect, told a news conference at the Schleicher County Sheriff’s office.
The group, called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, is headed by a charismatic and controversial rogue Mormon named Warren Jeffs. The religion website Wikipedia.org says Jeffs believes that in order to get to heaven, men must have at least three wives. He took over the sect from his father, Rulon Jeffs, who reportedly had 22 wives and fathered more than sixty children. The FLDS is the largest polygamist sect in America.
Today Rowwena Erickson, who described herself as a former ‘wife’ in the FLDS told 1200 WOAI news she thinks she knows why the group is building near the US/Mexico border.
“If anything goes wrong, they can just skip over the border,” she said, adding that the group could be planning to smuggle young girls in from Mexico to become ‘wives’ for male members.
Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran says there is no evidence that YFZ is related to Jeffs, although Jessop says the letters stand for “Yearn For Zion” after a song recorded by Jeffs.
Doran says no laws have been broken but he’ll keep an eye on the growing compound, which consists of three three story buildings, buildings similar to those currently standing in FLDS compounds in Arizona and Utah.
“Then, the sheriff’s department will take a different stance,” he said. “We’ll look into it, and if necessary, we’ll prosecute through the district attorney’s office.”
Jessop says in addition to plural marriage, the FLDS is involved in other activities, including transporting women from Canada to become young wives of FLDS men.
“There’s the issue of under aged marriages, forced under aged marriages, welfare fraud, there’s tax evasion issues, tax fraud issues,” she charged.
The buildings are being constructed in a rural area which is roped off to onlookers. Eldorado residents say they have no idea what is going on inside the compound.
An attorney for the FLDS told the Deseret News in Salt Lake City that the compound is going to be used as a ‘corporate hunting retreat.’ He said it was ‘unlikely’ that the FLDS planned to move to Texas. Jessop says it has long been known that Jessop was eyeing property in Mexico for a new settlement.
Current FLDS compounds exist in Hilldale Utah and Colorado City Arizona. Membership in the sect is believed to total about 8,000.
Earlier this year, the FLDS mayor of Colorado City was excommunicated from the sect, and his ‘wives’ and children were taken from him and ‘distributed’ under the so called “Law of Placing” among other FLDS men.