FORT WORTH, Texas — A total of 52 girls were removed today from a polygamous sect’s compound near Eldorado in Schleicher County, Texas, — 18 of them legally, while the rest were being questioned this afternoon by Child Protective Services caseworkers.
All the children have been confirmed to be girls ranging from 6 months to 17 years old, according to CPS spokesman Patrick Crimmins.
Crimmins said all the children will be placed in foster homes.
“We’re assessing their needs and making arrangements for their placement,” Crimmins said. “The caseworkers need to have an opportunity to assess their needs and try to find out what the appropriate action will be.”
The children were taken in two small buses to an undisclosed location in San Angelo, 45 miles north of the compound.
No arrests have been made.
Schleicher County Justice of the Peace James Doyle, who arraigns suspects brought to the Schleicher County Jail, said no one has been brought into the jail.
“We don’t know anything,” Doyle said.
Randy Mankin, editor of the Eldorado Success, said the roadblocks remain on the roads leading to the ranch.
Surveillance of the YFZ Ranch, which is owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints and led by Warren Jeffs, began Thursday afternoon and continued throughout the night, Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger said.
Around midnight, Child Protective Services investigators entered the compound, located about 45 miles south of San Angelo, and began questioning members of the sect.
This afternoon, a bus left the compound with children in it.
Vinger described the sect followers as “very cooperative” and that the group is “providing all of the people we need to talk to” about the complaint.
Vinger said authorities have implemented flight restrictions to prevent anyone from flying over the compound and said the Texas Rangers are also involved.
The sect bought the 1,691-acre ranch in 2003.
The group began building a temple and other buildings on the remote ranchland. Jeffs, who was considered their prophet, was arrested near Las Vegas in 2006 and was sentenced to consecutive life sentences in November in Utah for his role in arranging the marriage of teenage cousins. He also faces federal charges in Arizona and Utah.