Local lawmen join search for prophet’s child bride

Girl declines help from authorities

Sheriff David Doran and Chief Deputy George Arispe traveled to Colorado and Utah last week planning on meeting with law enforcement officials in the two Rocky Mountain states. Before the trip was over, however, they found themselves participating in a missing person investigation and searching for an alleged child bride of Prophet Warren Jeffs, self-appointed leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints.

As Doran and Arispe met with Montezuma County Sheriff Joey Chavez in Cortez Colorado word reached them that a missing person report had been filed in Utah and Arizona by Suzanne Jessop Johnson, a Colorado City, Arizona woman who told officials that her sister, 17-year-old Janetta Jessop, had telephoned her asking for help in escaping from the FLDS. Johnson said that before she could arrange to meet with her sister, the girl disappeared.


The FLDS is also considered to be a cult of Christianity. Sociologically,the group is a high-control cult.

Sheriff Doran and Deputy Arispe concluded their business in Colorado where they met with officers from multiple jurisdictions and traveled into the foothills of the San Juan Mountains to take a look at a recently discovered FLDS compound near the town of Mancos. The local lawmen were accompanied there by Lt. Steve Harmon, a detective with the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Dept. and Deputy Tax Assessor Scott Davis.

It was Davis who first grew suspicious of the FLDS developments at Mancos when he was denied entry into buildings being erected on the property. Davis noted the property had been purchased by David Allred of Utah, who told officials there, just as he did here in Schleicher County, that he intended to build a corporate hunting retreat. When Davis did a “Google” search for Allred on the Internet, he discovered numerous Eldorado Success articles about the man and his connection with the YFZ Ranch near Eldorado. It was then that Davis contacted law enforcement officials in Cortez and the connection was made between Texas and Colorado law enforcement agencies.

As Doran and Arispe concluded their visit in Cortez, more developments in the Janetta Jessop missing person case reached them, giving the men their first indication that the case had a direct link to Schleicher County. The following day, they found themselves in Hildale/Colorado City, the FLDS stronghold that straddles the Utah/Arizona border. There they met and interviewed Suzanne Jessop Johnson seeking information about here missing sister.

While Doran declines to disclose details of his meeting with Johnson he tells the Success that he found her to be “very credible” and said that her statements to him were “in line” with reports she filed with Utah and Arizona law enforcement officials.

Private Investigator Sam Brower, who assisted Johnson in filing the missing person reports, met with Doran and Arispe and took them to an undisclosed location where they interviewed Johnson about her sister.

Brower tells the Success that Suzanne Johnson first became concerned for her sister in 2003 when, on her 16th birthday, she disappeared. “Her room was cleared out and there were no signs that she had ever lived there,” Brower said. “Suzanne’s parents wouldn’t tell her where Janetta had gone. They would only say that she was fine.”

A new twist in the story developed last week when Suzanne received a phone call from Janetta, Brower said.

“She told Suzanne that she had been living in Texas where her daily routine consisted of getting up early and feeding the chickens,” Brower stated. “Then she told Suzanne, ‘You know I’m married,’ but refused to say who she was married to.”

At that point Janetta Jessop reportedly told her sister she “couldn’t stand it anymore” and asked for her help in escaping. “She said she was visiting family in Short Creek (C-City/Hildale) and asked if Suzanne would pick her up,” Brower said. “Suzanne said ‘tell me when and where’ and Janetta told her she would call back as soon as she gathered her belongings. Then she asked Suzanne not to tell their parents.”

Suzanne Johnson would not hear from her sister again for nearly a week. Instead, she received a phone call from her mother the next day saying that she should forget about what she and her sister discussed the day before. “Her mother told Suzanne that she couldn’t see Janetta because she and Warren had to hide out now because he’s trying to avoid being served a summons in a civil lawsuit,” Brower stated. That was the first acknowledgement anyone had made that Janetta Jessop was married to FLDS Prophet Warren Jeffs, Brower said.

Utah authorities declined to join the investigation after Janetta Jessop’s parents told them by phone that the girl was okay. Arizona officials, however continued to push forward their investigation even as Sheriff Doran and Chief Deputy Arispe returned to Texas intent on searching for Jessop here.

A break in the case came Tuesday, November 16, 2004, when private investigator Sam Brower spotted Janetta Jessop riding in a car with her mother. He notified Arizona investigators who quickly picked up the girl and took her to their newly opened Victim Assistance Center on the outskirts of Colorado City. Janetta Jessop refused to cooperate, however, declining to answer questions about her alleged plural marriage to Jeffs or her time here in Texas.

“It’s very frustrating,” Sheriff Doran told the Success Wednesday morning, “You work hard on one of these cases, and you know what’s going on, then the victim refuses to cooperate. Now we’re back to square one.”

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The Eldorado Success, USA
Nov. 18, 2004

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This post was last updated: Monday, November 30, -0001 at 12:00 AM, Central European Time (CET)