Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Jennifer Rios | Standard-Times Texas Department of Public Safety cars idle along a road on the Yearning for Zion Ranch Thursday afternoon. A writ of possession was filed in the Schleicher County District Court in the Attorney General’s civil case against the ranch. It was served Wednesday.
Texas takes possession of polygamous ranch

The ranch is called an asset in a criminal enterprise in which Jeffs and FLDS followers abused underage girls.

First Published Apr 17 2014 11:14 am • Last Updated Apr 17 2014 10:52 pm

Texas authorities have taken physical possession of the polygamous YFZ Ranch, bringing an end to a compound once hailed as a place of refuge for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

The Texas Department of Public Safety issued a news release Thursday saying law enforcement arrived at the ranch Wednesday and "are working with the occupants of the ranch to take all reasonable actions to assist with their departure of the property, to preserve the property, and to successfully execute the court order."

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The department said it will take an inventory of real property and protect the remaining assets. The department declined to answer further questions.

It was unknown how many people were still living on the ranch Wednesday. There were about 800 residents when Texas law enforcement conducted a massive raid on the ranch in 2008. Since then observers have described just a handful of people remaining.

It’s unclear what will happen to the property next. Texas law provides for several means of selling the property, including a public auction. Any sale or transfer appears months away.

The ranch was appraised in 2012 at $19.96 million, according to county tax rolls. It consists of about 1,600 acres — with living quarters, barns, classrooms and a towering temple used to commit sex crimes — located in a remote part of West Texas.

The FLDS bought theYFZ Ranch, which stood for "Yearning for Zion," in 2003. Written records kept by FLDS leader Warren Jeffs, called priesthood records, indicate he established the ranch as a sacred place because he believed members would be driven from their home base in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.

The 2008 raid by Texas and federal law enforcement began after a bogus tip that a girl on the ranch was being held against her will and wanted to escape. While that tip was false, once law officers visited the ranch, they found evidence of underage marriage and sexual abuse and filed criminal charges against a dozen men, including Jeffs.

Jeffs, 58, was convicted in 2011 of and sexually assaulting two girls, ages 12 and 15, he took as spiritual wives. He is now serving a life prison sentence.

Ten other FLDS men have been convicted on bigamy, underage marriage or sexual abuse charges, using evidence seized in the 2008 raid. One man was convicted of a misdemeanor for failing to report child abuse.


story continues below
story continues below

The Texas attorney general in 2012 went to court to seize the ranch. The state alleged the ranch was an asset in a criminal enterprise in which Jeffs and his followers conspired to marry and have sex with underage girls.

The FLDS put up no fight. On Jan. 6 of this year, Texas won a default judgment to seize the ranch.

ncarlisle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @natecarlisle



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.