Cyanide Document Found at Texas Compound

SAN ANGELO, Texas – Authorities searching the compound of a polygamist sect in West Texas found a “cyanide poisoning document” among the dozens of items it seized during a weeklong search.

Nothing in the 80-page list of items seized indicated that members of the sect planned to use cyanide. But the list had no explanation of the document and Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Tela Mange said she did not have any details about it.

Also seized were school and medical records, including some that listed the name of a 16-year-old girl whose call to a family violence shelter triggered the raid at the compound. But her name was identical to that of several girls in the sect.

The caller had said her 50-year-old husband had beaten and raped her.

Other items taken from the compound included computer equipment, family photo albums, a photo of a birthing room, food and hand prints taken at birth and several copies of the Book of Mormon.

The raid of the compound in Eldorado, 40 miles south of San Angelo, began on April 3. Since then, the state has taken legal custody of 416 children on suspicions that they were being sexually and physically abused.

Another 139 women voluntarily left the compound of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints _ known as the YFZ Ranch _ and were being housed with the children.

Local authorities have said it was not until after the raid began that they learned the sect was marrying off underage girls at the compound and had a bed in its soaring limestone temple where the girls were required to immediately consummate their marriages. A number of teenage girls are pregnant, investigators said.

Warren Jeffs, the sect’s prophet and spiritual leader at its longtime headquarters in the dusty, side-by-side towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., was charged in 2005 and 2006 with forcing underage girls into marriages. He was convicted in September in Utah of being an accomplice to rape and is serving up to life in prison.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday April 12, 2008.
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