Corporate Retreat or Prophet's Refuge
Even as construction proceeds on a complex of three-story buildings some four miles north of Eldorado, rumors about the facility and its possible ties, if any, to a polygamist group located in southern Utah and northern Arizona are swirling through the community.
The buildings are located on a 1371-acre parcel of land purchased last year by a company named YFZ L.L.C., a Texas limited liability corporation based in Washington, UT. Documents filed in the Schleicher County Courthouse reveal David S. Allred as the YFZ corporate official who handled the transaction for the land. Allred is the only company official named in the corporation’s organizing papers filed with the Texas Secretary of State’s office.
Who is Flora Jessop and why is she coming to Eldorado?
Flora Jessop was raised in the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), a group that long ago broke its ties with the Mormon Church, and under FLDS rules, she was forced to marry her older cousin when she was sixteen. The marriage proved to be the final straw.
Jessop said she didn’t run away from Colorado City, AZ because of religion, but because of abuse. She says that she was sexually abused in her home, beginning at age 13. But, she was strong-willed and wasn’t about to submit. So, Flora took the unheard of action (at least at that time and in that place) of taking her alleged abuser to court.
Community seeks answers to questions about new neighbors
As word filtered out of Eldorado last week that a three-building compound under construction north of Eldorado might be connected to a polygamist group known as the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), media outlets from across the state, as well as Arizona and Utah, flooded into town to hear what Flora Jessop, a children’s rights activist, would have to say at a press conference last Thursday.
The news that many of them sought, broke first on the front page of last week’s Eldorado Success. The story, and its accompanying photo were picked up by a number of daily newspapers, including the Salt Lake City Tribune, which has closely followed the FLDS in the Arizona/Utah border towns of Colorado City, AZ and Hilldale, UT.
Jessop explained to reporters that she had grown up as a member of the FLDS and that she escaped from the group at age 16 after church leaders forced her to marry her cousin. She said that 28 of her brothers and sisters remain in the group.
Forced underage marriage, sexual abuse of children, welfare fraud, tax evasion, tax fraud and child labor violations, were but a few, of the allegations that Jessop leveled against the FLDS. She explained that the registered owner of the ranch in question, David Steed Allred, is a member of the FLDS and has close ties to its prophet, Warren Jeffs.
Utah sheriff to visit Eldorado
Sheriff Kirk Smith of Washington County, UT, plans to visit Eldorado in the coming days to update local authorities on his dealings with members of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), a large number of whom live in the community of Hildale, UT, located in a remote corner of his county.
There has been much speculation in recent weeks that a three-building complex, being erected on the YFZ ranch, some four miles north-northwest of Eldorado, is affiliated with the FLDS. Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran says that he has invited Sheriff Smith to visit Eldorado in hopes of gleaning more information about the group.
“Sheriff Smith has gained some valuable experience in dealing with the FLDS in Washington County,” Sheriff Doran told the Success. “If the group on the YFZ ranch is associated with the FLDS, and I’m becoming more and more convinced that they are, then we can benefit greatly from hearing what he has to say.”
Still more questions than answers about YFZ Ranch
David Allred, the Arizona man who represented a newly formed corporation, YFZ L.L.C., when it purchased 1,691 acres some four miles north-northwest of Eldorado last November, made the rounds in town last Thursday, meeting with local officials, and assuring them that he intends to use the property as a corporate hunting retreat. Three large buildings under construction on the ranch will be used to house guests, Allred told Sheriff David Doran, adding that some families may be living there full time.
Doran said that he and Texas Ranger Sgt. Brooks Long met with Allred, and his construction foreman, Ernie Jessop, primarily to make contact with the men and open a dialogue. “They are aware of the rumors that are buzzing around town,” Doran stated. “They told us that they just want to live their lives peacefully and to be left alone to raise their families according to their beliefs.”
Attorney says YFZ Ranch connected to FLDS church
Salt Lake City attorney Rodney Parker told the Success on Tuesday that the buildings going up on the YFZ Ranch are “clearly connected” to the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints. Parker, who has represented the FLDS on a number of occasions, said he was unsure why the group chose to build near Eldorado and that he has no idea what the FLDS has planned for the property.
Parker said that he only knows what he has read about the YFZ Ranch but noted that photos of the buildings, plus information he has gleaned about individuals connected with the property convinced him of an FLDS connection.
Parker represented Colorado City, AZ police officer Rodney Holm last year when the State of Utah brought charges of bigamy and unlawful sexual conduct with a 16- or 17-year old child. Holm, who is a was eventually convicted in the case, is an FLDS member who admits to practicing polygamy.
“Polygamy is the bedrock of their faith,” Parker said of the FLDS. “They are very committed to the practice.”