[Guest post by DRJ]
Friday, Texas state Judge Barbara Walther ordered that all children will remain in San Angelo until Thursday’s custody hearing. The hearing is expected to last 14 days. Only the mothers who left with their children will be permitted to visit them. The State of Texas is currently providing for 555 people in shelters, including 139 women.
The court also released an 80-page search warrant that provides insight into their lives:
“Items removed from the ranch include boxes of photo albums, family trees, multiple laptop computers, shredder contents, cell phones and digital electronic equipment.
Many of the inventory items refer to the name of the girl who called in the original complaint, including 18 receipts from Shannon Medical Center laboratory.
However, the inventory notes that several girls with the same name lived at the compound and the receipts pertain to a number of people, not just one.
Also on the list are items indicating the children on the ranch went through some home schooling: four textbook exercises, one teacher notebook, 19 report cards with names and a mobile video of both floors at the schoolhouse.
The officials also seized an item described as a video of the birthing room.
More items included photographs, multiple journals as well as father-child identifying information and what are described in the inventory as “pedigree documents.”
Officials worry that the Texas FDLS case will be hard to prosecute because the Texas members were selected based on their obedience and are unlikely to cooperate with officials:
“Polygamist sect members who were moved to a Texas compound from their longtime homes along the Utah-Arizona line were hand-picked for their fierce loyalty to leader Warren Jeffs, and that allegiance may be a stumbling block for law enforcement, authorities say.
Jeffs, the imprisoned leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, transferred people to Eldorado, Texas, to escape growing government scrutiny on the sect’s base in Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard said.
“This was Warren Jeff’s all-star cast,” said Goddard, who has been investigating the sect since 2004. “They had the strongest sense of obedience.”
As a result, their extreme devotion could make it hard on Texas authorities as they push for prosecutions, said Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.
“All these girls are taught from the cradle not to trust anybody from the outside,” Shurtleff said. “Especially the government. We’re the beast. We’re the devil.”
There are also more details about the raid led by Texas Ranger Capt. Barry Caver: “When officials asked to enter the massive temple, for example, about 57 men who live on the ranch formed a line around the huge white building to offer, for the most part, superficial resistance.”
Approximately sixty people (men and elderly women) remain at the compound and have resumed their normal lives. There was also more on the original call for help:
“Also Thursday, officials from NewBridge Family Shelter in San Angelo and the National Domestic Violence Hotline said their agencies will work with similar domestic abuse groups in Utah to get training to help victims from plural families such as those from the YFZ Ranch.
Tammy Harris, NewBridge executive director, said her agency contacted CPS once it took calls from a girl at the FLDS compound and determined she is 16. On a separate day, NewBridge contacted law enforcement.
Phone operators are not allowed to get help for a caller unless the caller asks for assistance, said Sheryl Cates, chief executive officer of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the leader of the Texas Council on Family Violence.
“When we go to the phones, we have to believe that call,” Cates said in response to a question about the authenticity of the FLDS calls. “Our job is to assess that situation.”
NewBridge does not record phone conversations, but phone operators take notes, Harris said.”
Apparently Child Protective Services were contacted after the first call, but it sounds like Texas law enforcement agencies weren’t called until after the girl’s second phone call. If so, the search warrant and investigation were mobilized in less than one day. I imagine law enforcement had plans in place to respond to this but that’s still impressive.
Related posts here, here, here, and here.
UPDATE 1 – The parents have been served notice by publication in the Eldorado Success newspaper. The children’s names are listed in the notice. Their last names (where known) are mostly Jeffs, Jessop, Steed, and Barlow.
UPDATE 2: Saturday, Texas law enforcement talked with Dale Barlow in Utah.