The YFZ Ranch, or Yearning for Zion Ranch, is a 1,700-acre (7 km2) community which housed as many as 700 people just outside of Eldorado in Schleicher County, Texas, United States. It is owned by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). It is about 45 miles (72 km) southwest of San Angelo and 4 miles (6 km) northeast of Eldorado. The Ranch was settled by members of the FLDS Church who left Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona under increasing scrutiny from the media, anti-polygamy activists and law enforcement officials.
In 2008, state authorities entered the community after Texas Child Protective Services (CPS) and other authorities received several calls from abused juveniles. However, one or more of these calls were made by a Colorado Springs, Colorado resident, Rozita Swinton, masquerading as a YFZ ranch resident. In the call or calls, Swinton falsely identified herself as 'Sarah' and gave her age as 16. She was later arrested in Colorado and the fictional 'Sarah' has not been shown to exist.
Officers removed nearly every child to state custody after alleging they were actual or potential victims of abuse given the prior convictions of the church's president and Prophet, Warren Jeffs. The state determined that the minors had to be protected from alleged force or socialization into underage marriages and sexual abuse. Since CPS considered the children to be residents of a single household in spite of the multiple residences, it was routine to remove all of the children. Residents and critics questioned if removing every child and infant and seeking to place them all in foster care violated the civil rights of the families just because of their religious beliefs about marriage. Those who believed that the families had been separated and housed in substandard shelters criticized the raid as unnecessarily putting the children at risk, and residents asked that the children be returned.
In May, 38 parents petitioned the Third Court of Appeals in Austin for a writ of mandamus to overturn the removal of 126 of the children. The court ruled that the state had not presented sufficient evidence of immediate danger to remove the children. CPS then requested that the Texas Supreme Court overturn the Appeals Court ruling. The Texas Supreme Court declined to do so, advising the trial court to order the return of the children, but to issue orders to prevent abuse of them. On June 2, the media published photos and video of parents and children returning to the ranch, and Willie Jessop announced the FLDS church would not sanction underage marriage. The total cost of the raid and the ensuing litigation was reported to be upwards of $14 million.
Speaking in Sunday Church services on August 10, 2003, Warren Jeffs declared that the blessings of the Priesthood had been removed from the community of Short Creek (Colorado City and Hildale). Following the sermon, Jeffs suspended all further religious meetings but continued to allow his followers to pay their tithes and offerings to him. He then turned his focus to what he called "lands of refuge": secret communities that he had started to build up. Jeffs referred to Yearning for Zion Ranch, one of the lands of refuge, by the code name R17.
The YFZ Land LLC, through its president, David S. Allred, purchased the ranch in 2003 for $700,000 and quickly began development on the property. When he purchased the property, he declared that the buildings would be a corporate hunting retreat. Allred stuck with that story even after William Benjamin Johnson, a Hildale man, was alleged to be shooting all the white-tail deer on the ranch and, after an investigation, fined for hunting without a license. Later, ranch officials disclosed that the hunting retreat description was inaccurate; the buildings were part of the FLDS church's residential area.
The ranch is home to approximately 500 people who relocated from Arizona and Utah communities. It houses a temple, a waste treatment facility, a 29,000-square-foot (2,700 m2) house for FLDS church president Warren Jeffs, a meeting house, and several large log and concrete homes. There are generators, gardens, a grain silo, and a large stone quarry that was cut for the temple. According to preliminary tax assessments, about $3 million worth of buildings have been built. The sect has been fined over $34,000 for environmental violations in connection with buildings on the ranch, mainly due to its failure to obtain the required permits for its cement-mixing operations.
The temple foundation was dedicated January 1, 2005, by Warren Jeffs.
April 2008 raid
A Mormon polygamist family in 1888.
On March 29, 2008, a local domestic violence shelter hotline took a call from a female claiming to be a 16-year-old victim of physical and sexual abuse at the church's YFZ Ranch. The girl who identified herself as "Sarah" was never found, but investigators eventually established by tracing the calls that they were made by a much older woman, Rozita Swinton, who had been arrested for previous hoax calls posing as abused and victimized girls. The call triggered a large-scale operation at YFZ Ranch by Texas law enforcement and child welfare officials, beginning with cordoning off of the ranch on April 3. Law enforcement officers were armed with automatic weapons, SWAT teams with snipers, helicopters, and one county provided an M113 armored personnel carrier as backup, but they met with no armed resistance. Authorities believed the children "had been abused or were at immediate risk of future abuse," a state spokesman said. Troopers and child welfare officials searched the ranch, including the temple's safes, vaults, locked desk drawers, and beds. They found evidence leading them to believe that the beds were "in a part of the temple where 'males over the age of 17 engage in sexual activity' with underage girls." A religious scholar later testified in court that he does not think sexual activity occurs in the temples of FLDS sects, and that temple service "lasts a couple of hours, so all the temples will have a place where someone can lie down." CPS officials conceded that there was no evidence that the youngest children were abused (about 130 of the children were under 5), and evidence later presented in a custody hearing suggested that teenage boys were not physically or sexually abused.
CPS spokesman Darrell Azar stated, "There was a systematic process going on to groom these young girls to become brides", and that the children could not be protected from possible future abuse on the ranch. Interviews with the children "revealed that several underage girls were forced into 'spiritual marriage' with much older men as soon as they reached puberty and were then made pregnant." After Judge Barbara Walther of the 51st District Court issued an order authorizing officials to remove all children, including boys, 17 years old and under, from the ranch, eventually a total of 462 children went into the temporary custody of the State of Texas. The children were held by the Child Protective Services at Fort Concho and the Wells Fargo Pavilion in San Angelo. Over a hundred adult women chose to leave the ranch to accompany the children. Children under the age of four were allowed to stay with their mothers until DNA testing to identify family relations was finished; once DNA testing was completed, only children under 18 months were allowed to stay with their mothers indefinitely.
A former member of the FLDS Church, Carolyn Jessop, arrived on-site April 6 in hopes of reuniting two of her daughters with their half siblings. She stated that the actions in Texas are unlike the 1953 Short Creek raid in Arizona. Jessop had been in Texas the prior month at a speaking engagement, where she said, "[i]n Eldorado, the crimes went to a whole new level. They thought they could get away with more" but "Texas is not going to be a state that's as tolerant of these crimes as Arizona and Utah have been." By April 8, authorities had removed as many as 533 women and children from the ranch. On April 10, law enforcement completed their search of the ranch, returning control of the property to the FLDS Church.
On April 14, 2008, the women and children were moved out of Fort Concho to San Angelo Coliseum, where the CPS reported that the children were playing and smiling. Mothers had complained about the living conditions inside Fort Concho, sending a letter to the Texas Governor asking him to investigate the conditions. In the letter, obtained by the Associated Press, the mothers claim that their children became sick and required hospitalization. They wrote "Our innocent children are continually being questioned on things they know nothing about. The physical examinations were horrifying to the children. The exposure to these conditions is traumatizing." FLDS and mental health workers complained about subjecting children to interrogation sessions, invasive physical examinations, pregnancy tests and complete body x-rays. Women staying at Fort Concho shelter told the press that the temporary housing was "cramped, with cots, cribs, and playpens lined up side by side, and that the children were frightened."
The FLDS described the separation of mothers from their children as "inhumane". When the children under 5 realized their mothers would be taken away, the children started crying and screaming, requiring CPS workers to pry many from their mothers.
The children were placed in 16 group shelters and foster homes. Minors with children were sent to the Seton Home in San Antonio, older boys to Cal Farley's Boys Ranch in Amarillo. Some parents stated on the Today Show that they were unable to visit their boys due to a shortage of CPS staff. Newspapers released names of facilities caring for the FLDS children that have requested donations of specific items, help or cash.
On April 16, 2008, several of the mothers appeared on Larry King Live to ask for their children and tell their story from their own viewpoint. The program included a guided tour of the ranch by one of the mothers, showing where the children and families sleep and eat and stressing the loss felt with the children all now gone. The mothers declined to discuss the pending allegations of child abuse. On the 17th, a custody hearing began in the Tom Green County Courthouse to determine whether the children would remain in state custody. Judge Barbara Walther heard testimony from State officials, experts called in by the State and witnesses for ranch members over a period of 2 days while hundreds of lawyers representing the children looked on and offered objections. State officials alleged a pattern of abuse by adults, including marriages between young girls and older men, while ranch residents insisted that no abuse had taken place.
On April 18, 2008, after 21 hours of testimony, Judge Walther ordered that all 416 children seized be held in protective custody and that the DNA of the children and adults be tested to establish family relationships. Children younger than 4 were to be separated from their mothers over 18 after DNA samples were taken; older children had already been separated. Children were to be given individual hearings to determine whether they must be moved to permanent foster care or returned to their parents. DNA testing of children and adults began on the 21st.
On April 24, 2008, authorities stated that they believed 25 mothers from the YFZ Ranch are under 18. On the 28th, authorities announced that of the 53 girls aged 14–17, 31 have children or are pregnant.
After the women regained custody of the children, one half of the families left the Yearning for Zion ranch and moved to another FLDS location.
Carey Cockerell, representing Texas CPS investigators, said on April 30 that they have identified 41 children with past diagnoses of fractured bones. FLDS spokesman Rod Parker attributes the fractures to hereditary bone disease and believes that the fracture rate was low, considering the children's physically active lifestyle. Additionally, two children broke bones while they were removed from the ranch, and one girl broke a bone while in custody. CPS investigators also made new allegations of possible sexual abuse of boys, citing their diary notes.
On May 13, 2008, a San Antonio judge allowed a couple from the ranch to have daily visits with their children, and granted them a hearing in 10 days to decide their children's custody. Other challenges to the blanket order by Judge Walther were filed in courts in San Antonio, Austin, and San Angelo.
In November 2008, 12 FLDS men were charged with offenses related to underage marriages.
On December 22, 2008, The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services issued a 21 page final report on the raid entitled "El Dorado Investigation" The report found that "12 girls were 'spiritually' married at ages ranging from 12 to 15, and seven of these girls have had one or more children. The 12 confirmed victims of sexual abuse were among 43 girls removed from the ranch from the ages of 12 to 17, which means that more than one out of every four pubescent girls on the ranch was in an underage marriage."
On May 22, 2008, an appeals court ruled there was not enough evidence at the original hearing that the children were in immediate danger to justify keeping them in state custody. The court added that Judge Walther had abused her discretion by keeping the children in state care. The court ruled, "The department did not present any evidence of danger to the physical health and safety of any male children or any female children who had not reached puberty." The children were to be returned to their families in 10 days. CPS announced they would seek to overturn the decision. On May 29, the Texas Supreme Court declined to issue a mandamus to the Appeals Court, with a result that CPS must return all of the children. The court stated, “On the record before us, removal of the children was not warranted.” The court also noted that although the children must be returned, "it need not do so without granting other appropriate relief to protect the children."
On May 12–15, 2009, a hearing was held in Tom Green County, Texas regarding the constitutionality and legality of search warrants executed in April 2008 on the YFZ Ranch in Schleicher County, Texas. On October 2, 2009, Judge Barbara Walther issued a ruling denying a defense motion to suppress the evidence seized from the YFZ Ranch, stating:
The court finds that Defendants’ offer of proof of deliberate falsehoods contained within the probable cause affidavits to support the two warrants is unsupported by credible evidence.
On November 10, 2009, Raymond Jessop was sentenced to 10 years in prison & fined $8000 for sexually assaulting a 16 year old girl on or about Nov. 19, 2004. On December 18, 2009, Allan Keate was sentenced to 33 years in prison. He fathered a child with a 15-year old girl.
On January 22, 2010, Michael George Emack pled no contest to sexual assault charges and was sentenced to seven years in prison. He married a 16-year-old girl at YFZ Ranch on August 5, 2004. She gave birth to a son less than a year later. On April 14, 2010, Emack also pled no contest on a bigamy charge and received a seven-year sentence that will run concurrently with the sentence he received for sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl.
On February 5, 2010, Arizona Judge Steven F. Conn approved a stipulation from the previous day between Mohave County prosecutor Matt Smith and Warren Jeffs' defense attorney, Michael Piccarreta, that evidence seized from the YFZ Ranch in Texas would not be used in any manner in Warren Jeffs' two criminal trials in Arizona. Based on the agreement of the attorneys, Judge Conn issued an order adopting the stipulation. A Utah court found Jeffs guilty of two counts of rape as an accomplice in September 2007. He was sentenced to imprisonment for 10 years to life but while serving this sentence at the Utah State Prison, Jeffs' conviction was reversed by Utah's Supreme Court on July 27, 2010 because of a flaw in the jury instructions. Jeffs was extradited to Texas, to face trial on charges facing him there. The Texas jury found him guilty of sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault of children. He was sentenced to life in prison plus twenty years, to be served consecutively, and a $10,000 fine, for sexual assault of both 12 and 15-year-old girls.
On March 19, 2010, Merril Leroy Jessop was sentenced to 75 years in prison for one count of sexual assault of a child. Jessop was convicted of illegally marrying and then fathering a child with a 15 year old female.
On April 15, 2010, Lehi Barlow Jeffs pleaded no contest to bigamy and sexual assault of a child, avoiding a trial that had been set for April 26. He was sentenced to eight years in prison.
On June 22, 2010, Abram Harker Jeffs was found guilty of sexual assault of a child.
On August 9, 2011, leader Warren Steed Jeffs was found guilty of one count of aggravated sexual assault of a child and one count of sexual assault of a child and sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years to be served consecutively.
In November of 2012, the Texas Attorney General’s Office began legal proceeding in an attempt to seize the ranch. In a 91-page affidavit filed with the 51st District Court of Texas, the Attorney General argues that Warren Jeffs authorized the purchase of the ranch property as "...a rural location where the systemic sexual assault of children would be tolerated without interference from law enforcement authorities", therefore, the property is contraband and subject to seizure.  Under Texas law, property that was used to commit or facilitate certain criminal conduct can be seized by law enforcement authorities. In 2012 the property was appraised to have a value of $19.96 million, according to county tax rolls.
On January 6, 2014 Judge Walther ruled that state could seize the property, and that they could "enter the property and take an inventory." The FLDS Church had 30 days to appeal. On February 6th, 2014 at the close of the courthouse day, the opportunity to appeal the seizure expired; since no one had filed an appeal challenging the seizure by that time, the state of Texas became the legal owner of the YFZ Ranch. Officials have not released details about their future plans for the ranch.
Rozita Swinton, a Colorado Springs woman who had previously made calls while pretending to be a young girl, was under investigation for posing as the caller "Sarah" who complained of abuse, but could not be found. FLDS women did not know of any such girl and assumed it was a prank call. Sarah was considered a real person by CPS until May when her court case was dropped, effectively acknowledging that she doesn’t actually exist. Swinton has previously been responsible for hoax calls to authorities in multiple jurisdictions, setting off large emergency responses that sometimes involved dozens of police officers. Flora Jessop recorded nearly 40 hours of Swinton's phone calls, both before and after the raid on the YFZ ranch. Swinton posed alternately as "Sarah Barlow" and her sister Laura. She claimed that her 50-year-old husband beat and raped her and that his other wives tried to poison her. Swinton herself was 33 at the time, unmarried, and childless.
The Associated Press reported that Texas Ranger Brooks Long called Colorado officials about two phone numbers. One of the numbers "was possibly related to the reporting party for the YFZ Ranch incident." However, the CPS acted on additional evidence gathered while investigating this complaint, and Flora Jessop and some commentators have expressed gratitude to Swinton that her tip, even if false, allowed exposure of alleged child abuses.
CPS has acknowledged that some ranch residents who were removed because they appeared to be minors may be older than first assumed. On May 13, Louisa Bradshaw Jessop gave birth to a son. Louisa Jessop had been classified as 17 by CPS, although her husband had previously provided a birth certificate and driver's license to demonstrate that she was 22. A CPS lawyer explained, "We can't just look at people and say, 'You're of age, you can go.'", although CPS had used appearance as one method of determining age. A spokesman for FLDS believed that CPS "just wanted to keep the mother in custody until they could get the baby." Jessop was one of 27 "disputed minors," or ranch residents about whom the CPS has inaccurate or conflicting information regarding age. Child Protective Services lawyers on May 13 told Judge Walther that Louisa and the mother of a boy born April 29 were no longer considered to be minors. On May 22, CPS declared half of the alleged teen mothers to be adults, some as old as 27. One who had been listed as an underage mother had never been pregnant.
In May 2008, FLDS spokesperson Willie Jessop wrote a letter to President George W. Bush, asking him to intervene, and outlining the harsh conditions that Jessop believed that the children and mothers were subjected to. In the letter Jessop claimed that, contrary to statements from authorities that the children were being placed in a safe and secure environment, the mothers and children were actually crowded by the hundreds into Fort Concho, a military facility without adequate toilets, bathing facilities, or privacy.
Mental health workers who worked at the shelter testified similarly to state officials, also citing lack of privacy, only military cots for sleeping and poor-quality food, with no communications and threatened arrest if mothers waved to friends. "The CPS workers were openly rude to the mothers and children, yelled at them for trying to wave to friends... threatened them with arrest if they did not stop waving" Workers took notes on everything the "guests" said. In many of the testimonies it was compared it to a prison or concentration camp. Others testified the children were "amazingly clean, happy, healthy, energetic, well behaved and self-confident," while the mothers were "consistently calm, patient and loving with their children."
The Christian legal group Liberty Legal Institute believes the state of Texas should be required to prove that the children taken from the ranch were actually abused or were in imminent danger, warning of possible damage to religious liberties and the rights of all Texas parents. Home-schooling families are also fearful opponents could file similarly false complaints against families to force attendance in government-run schools.
"Let's say you're a 6-month-old girl, no evidence whatsoever of any abuse. They're simply saying, 'You, in this culture, may grow up to be a child bride when you're 14. Therefore we're going to remove you now when you're 6 months old,"' he said. "Or, 'You're a 6-month-old boy; 25, 30 years, 40 years from now you're going to be a predator, so we're going to take you away now."
Texas requires public education for children not in private or home schooling. Although the children have not been schooled while in state custody, a Texas Education Agency spokesman has stated that "there's a point at which their educational input is secondary" to their emotional well-being. CPS anticipates that the children will continue their education on the campus of their foster placement. There are no plans for the children to attend classes on any public school campus.
The ACLU maintains that the raid was prompted by a single, unsubstantiated allegation of abuse, and they allege that all children at the ranch were believed at risk solely because of exposure to FLDS beliefs regarding underage marriage. But, the ACLU contends, "exposure to a religion's beliefs, however unorthodox, is not itself abuse and may not constitutionally be labeled abuse." The ACLU pointed out that parents were separated from their children without individual hearings and without particularized evidence of abuse, and that DNA testing was ordered without evidence that parentage was in dispute. Such actions, the ACLU asserts, "should not be indiscriminately targeted against a group as a whole – particularly when the group is perceived as being different or unusual."
At the beginning of May, National Review columnist John Derbyshire called the raid the "atrocity of the [previous] month", but said he had seen only one editorial critical of the removals. The Los Angeles Times editorially endorsed the appeals court decision, saying CPS "was overzealous in its efforts".
Several commentators compared the raid with the Short Creek raid of 1953, which was also a government raid on an FLDS community, and which led to a popular backlash against the raid.
A year after the raid, two thirds of the families were back at the ranch and sect leaders had promised to end underaged marriages. Twelve men, not all apparently from the ranch, had been indicted on a variety of sex charges, including assault and bigamy. One child, a 14-year-old girl, remained in foster care. She was married to jailed leader Warren Jeffs when she was 12. The following summer, 2009, she was sent to live with a relative and ordered not to have contact with Jeffs.
- Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, a book of investigative non-fiction published in 2003 which documents incidents of violence and abuse connected with the FLDS.
- Lost boys, young men who have been excommunicated or pressured to leave polygamous groups such as the FLDS, though no documented cases were related to the YFZ Ranch.
- "FLDS temple nearly complete". Provo Daily Herald. (AP). January 31, 2006.
- Korosec, Thomas (March 6, 2005). "Have polygamists found their Eldorado? West Texas compound may be a haven from scrutiny, but neighbors worry". Houston Chronicle.
- "Timeline of raid on FLDS-owned YFZ Ranch". Deseret News. May 23, 2008. Retrieved July 2, 2009.
- "219 children, women taken from sect's ranch". CNN. April 6, 2008. Archived from the original on April 15, 2008. Retrieved April 7, 2008.
- Adams, Brooke (June 3, 2008). "Polygamous sect's parents get kids back, vow to shun under-age marriages". The Salt Lake Tribune.
- "Raid on FLDS could cost Texas $14 million or more". The Salt Lake Tribune. (AP). June 14, 2008. Retrieved June 16, 2008.
- Bistline, Ben (2004). Colorado City Polygamists. Agreka Books. ISBN 1-888106-85-9.
- Ben Winslow (June 1, 2009). "Division over FLDS land grows wider". KSL-TV.
- Waller, Matthew (March 16, 2010). "FLDS TRIAL: Jessop letters read in court". San Angelo Standard-Times.
- Frazier, Deborah (July 16, 2005). "Majestic temple rises in Texas oil country". Rocky Mountain News (reprint at childbrides.org). Retrieved April 17, 2008.
- "Corporate retreat or Prophet's refuge". The Eldorado Success. March 25, 2004. Archived from the original on January 7, 2006. Retrieved April 6, 2008.
- "Peek at polygamists' haven". The Arizona Republic. July 11, 2004. Retrieved 2012-02-13.
- Lewan, Todd (April 19, 2008). "Polygamists transformed rocky ranch into bustling site". Houston Chronicle. (AP). Retrieved April 25, 2008.
- "137 children removed from polygamist ranch". CNN. April 4, 2008. Retrieved April 7, 2008.
- "TCEQ seeks $18813 fine against YFZ". The Eldorado Success. March 3, 2005. Archived from the original on August 24, 2007. Retrieved April 6, 2008.
- "Jeffs dedicates FLDS temple site at YFZ Ranch". The Eldorado Success. January 11, 2005. Archived from the original on January 7, 2006. Retrieved April 6, 2008.
- "FLDS-raid timeline". Deseret Morning News. April 13, 2008. Retrieved April 13, 2008.
- West, Brian (April 8, 2008). "Affidavit: FLDS raid spurred by girl's reports of physical, sexual abuse". Deseret Morning News. Retrieved April 9, 2008.
- Mankin, Randy (April 4, 2008). "52 children taken during raid". The Eldorado Success. Retrieved April 24, 2008.[dead link]
- Pilkington, Ed (April 4, 2008). "Children removed from sect in Texas tell of girls forced into sex with older men". The Guardian (London). Retrieved April 10, 2008.
- Arian Campo-Flores and Catharine Skipp (July 26, 2008). "Did Rozita Swinton's call set off the FLDS raid?". Newsweek. Retrieved May 11, 2009.: Sarah was not the blond, blue-eyed teen bride she claimed to be, but rather a 33-year-old African-American woman living in Colorado Springs, Colo., named Rozita Swinton. It's not the first time Swinton has been accused of duping authorities. She's been arrested for false reporting in two separate cases in Colorado, allegedly setting off frantic manhunts by repeatedly impersonating abuse victims. But even as she now faces possible charges in Texas, Swinton remains an elusive and enigmatic figure. As one woman who cared for her beliefs, Swinton might well be a victim of sexual abuse who fractured into multiple personalities to cope with the trauma. Others who've known her view her as a masterful manipulator with an insatiable appetite for attention. In a brief conversation with NEWSWEEK, Swinton only added to the mystery. "There are so many lies about me that have been published," she said without elaborating.
- Blumenthal, Ralph (May 23, 2008). "Court Says Texas Illegally Seized Sect’s Children". The New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2008.
- Nancy Perkins and Amy Joi O'Donoghue (April 15, 2008). "FLDS at ranch detail raid by Texas officials". Deseret News.
- West, Brian (April 10, 2008). "Search: Were beds in temple used for teen sex?". Deseret Morning News. Retrieved April 10, 2008.
- "Sect children will stay in state custody, judge rules". CNN. April 18, 2008. Retrieved June 4, 2008.
- Roberts, Michelle (April 25, 2008). "Sweep of polygamists' kids raises legal questions". Associated Press.[dead link]
- "Update: Judge orders all children out of FLDS compound". The Salt Lake Tribune. April 5, 2008. Retrieved April 5, 2008.
- Boyle, Jayna (April 25, 2008). "Coliseum population down to 260 as mothers divided from children". San Angelo Standard-Times.
- "FLDS kids may overload Texas' troubled foster care". The Salt Lake Tribune. April 9, 2008. Retrieved April 11, 2008.
- Smart, Christopher (April 11, 2008). "FLDS children to stay in care of Texas officials pending court hearing". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved April 11, 2008.
- "Affidavit: Teen brides cry for help led to raid". CNN. April 8, 2008. Archived from the original on April 9, 2008. Retrieved April 9, 2008.
- "Moms and young children from Texas ranch to be parted". Associated Press. April 19, 2008. Retrieved April 19, 2008.[dead link]
- Adams, Brooke (April 7, 2008). "People who have left sect go to Texas to help". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved April 7, 2008.
- Winslow, Ben (April 5, 2008). "Hildale and Colorado City worry over Texas raid". Deseret Morning News. Retrieved April 11, 2008.
- "Police Search for Missing Sect Teen; 533 Women, Children Are in Custody". KRDO-TV. April 7, 2008. Archived from the original on May 3, 2008. Retrieved April 9, 2008.
- Winslow, Ben (April 10, 2008). "FBI confirms warrant served at FLDS ranch". Deseret Morning News. Retrieved April 11, 2008.
- Randall, Kate (April 15, 2008). "Court proceedings begin in Texas polygamy sect case". World Socialist Web Site (International Committee of the Fourth International).
- Adams, Brooke (April 26, 2008). "FLDS attorney challenges Texas count of pregnant minors from polygamous sect". The Salt Lake Tribune.
- Julia Lyon, Brooke Adams and Nate Carlisle (May 5, 2008). "FLDS children adapt old ways to new homes". The Salt Lake Tribune.
- "We need our children". CNN. April 16, 2008. (Video clip)
- "Tour of polygamist compound". CNN. April 16, 2008. (Video clip)
- "Sect members say life 'normal' on polygamous church ranch". San Francisco Chronicle. April 19, 2008.
- Johnson, Kirk; Dougherty, John (April 19, 2008). "Sect's children to be held in custody for now". New York Times. Retrieved April 19, 2008.
- "DNA tests to determine parentage in polygamist sect". Houston Chronicle. April 21, 2008. Retrieved April 25, 2008.
- "Number of children in Texas custody rises – some young mothers are actually under 18". Deseret Morning News. April 24, 2008. Retrieved April 25, 2008.
- "Most teen girls from ranch have been pregnant". MSNBC. April 28, 2008.
- "Texas officials looking at possible abuse among FLDS boys". KSL-TV. April 30, 2008.
- Allen, Elizabeth (May 13, 2008). "Polygamist sect couple allowed to visit their children". Houston Chronicle (in association with the San Antonio Express-News).
- Allen, Elizabeth (May 13, 2008). "Sect couple's visits with children OK'd". San Antonio Express-News (in association with the Houston Chronicle).
- Paul Anthony (November 13, 2008). "Nine more indictments issued against FLDS members". San Angelo Standard-Times.
- El Dorado Investigation, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, December 22, 2008, retrieved February 17, 2012
- Michells, Scott (May 22, 2008). "Court: Texas Had No Right to Keep Polygamy Kids; Appeals Court Overrules Decision Placing Sect Kids in State Custody". ABC News.
- Blumenthal, Ralph (May 23, 2008). "Texas to Seek Stay of Polygamy Ruling". New York Times.
- Sullivan, John (May 29, 2008). "Court Rules Sect Children Should Go Home". New York Times.
- In Re Texas Dept. of Family and Protective Services, 255 S.W.3d 613, 615 (Tex. 2008).
- Michael Kelly (October 2, 2009). "Judge allows FLDS raid evidence". San Angelo Standard Times. Retrieved April 9, 2010.
- Adams, Brooke (November 10, 2009). "Polygamist sentenced to 10 years for sex assault of teen 'bride'". The Salt Lake Tribune.
- Waller, Matthew (November 5, 2009). "Jessop Guilty of Sexual Assault". San Angelo Standard Times.
- Waller, Matthew (April 15, 2010). "2 FLDS men plead, sentenced". San Angelo Standard Times.
- Order dated Feb. 5, 2010, Superior Court, Mohave County, AZ, Cause CR-07-0743, State v. Jeffs, here 
- Adams, Brooke (February 8, 2010). "Conn Grants Suppression Order". The Salt Lake Tribune.
- Wright, Richard A.; Piccarreta, Michael L. (September 3, 2008), NO CR-2007-743: Motion to Suppress Evidence Obtained in Unlawful Searches of FLDS Properties, Mohave County Superior Court
- "Jeffs Found Guilty on Both Counts". KSTU-TV. September 25, 2007.[dead link]
- Metcalf, Dan Jr.; Vanocur, Chris (July 27, 2010). "Utah Supreme Court reverses Warren Jeffs conviction". KTVX. Retrieved September 6, 2011.
- Ward, Mike (December 1, 2010). "Jeffs arrives in Texas". Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved February 17, 2012.
- Whitehurst, Lindsay (August 11, 2011). "Warren Jeffs gets life in prison for sex with underage girls". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved September 4, 2011.
- Waller, Matthew (March 19, 2010). "Jessop sentenced to 75 years". San Angelo Standard Times.
- Matthew Waller (June 22, 2010). "FLDS member found guilty of child sexual assault". The San Angelo Standard-Times.
- Whitehurst, Lindsay (August 9, 2011), "Warren Jeffs gets life in prison for sex with underage girls", Salt Lake Tribune
- Reavy, Pat (28 November 2012). "Texas seeks to seize YFZ Ranch from FLDS Church". Deseret News. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Dalrymple II, Jim (18 November 2013). "Texas inches closer to seizing massive polygamous ranch". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- "State of Texas Files Legal Action to Seize West Texas Ranch Where Warren Jeffs and Sect Members Sexually Assaulted Children". Texas Attorney General’s Office. 28 November 2012. Retrieved 21 November 2013.
- Vine, Katy (February 5, 2014), "What's the Next Chapter for the FLDS Ranch?", Texas Monthly
- Rios, Jennifer (January 8, 2014), "Former FLDS ranch forfeited to state", San Angelo Standard-Times
- "Clock ticking for YFZ Ranch owners", San Angelo Standard-Times, January 11, 2014
- Carlisle, Nate (February 6, 2014), "Polygamists' ranch appears to belong to Texas", The Salt Lake Tribune
- Teague, Don (May 21, 2008). "Polygamist girls surprise investigators". MSNBC.
- "Swinton used phone that helped spark raid". The Denver Post. April 23, 2008.
- "Is arrest tied to FLDS raid, phone calls?". Deseret News. April 18, 2008.
- "Hoaxer's Phone Linked To Sect Abuse Calls". KYW-TV (CBS 3). April 24, 2008.
- "Roommate stunned by claims Colo. woman's bogus call triggered FLDS raid". Salt Lake Tribune. April 20, 2008.
- Merritt, George (April 23, 2008). "Phone number in Texas abuse report linked to Colo. woman". Associated Press.[dead link]
- Adams, Brooke (May 13, 2008). "Second FLDS mother gives birth while in Texas custody". The Salt Lake Tribune.
- Garrett, Robert T. (May 13, 2008). "CPS stopped in effort to remove baby, his mother". The Dallas Morning News.
- "Texas concedes sect woman who gave birth is adult". WOAI-TV. May 15, 2008.
- "Texas Concedes Sect Mother of Baby Born in State Custody Is Not a Minor". Fox News Channel. (AP). May 13, 2008.
- Roberts, Michelle (May 22, 2008). "Texas Officials: 15 Mothers Wrongly in Foster Care; Half of mothers thought to be underage in polygamist sect case are adults". ABC News. (AP).
- "Women return to Texas polygamist ranch". CNN. April 14, 2008.[dead link]
- "Willie Jessop: Purported Frontman at Texas Polygamy Compound". ABC News. April 18, 2008.
- "Letter to President George W. Bush" (PDF). captivefldschildren.org. May 10, 2008.
- Perkins, Nancy (May 11, 2008). "Letter asks Bush to help FLDS kids". Deseret News.
- Lyon, Julia (May 13, 2008). "Caregivers blast Texas' treatment of polygamous sect's women, children". Salt Lake Tribune.
Some quotes found in two of the original affidavits linked to from this article titled: "This incident... is not what America or Texas stands for." and "Even the simplest request was discounted."
- Johnson, Jeff (May 7, 2008). "Caution urged in Texas sect case". OneNewsNow.com.
- Winslow, Ben (May 4, 2008). "Utah, Arizona AGs feel fallout from FLDS raid". Deseret News.
- "Texas Education Code Excerpt". Texas Home School Coalition.
- "CPS Working with TEA to Meet Educational Needs of Eldorado Children". Texas Department of Family and Protective Services. May 14, 2008.
- "ACLU Statement On The Government's Actions Regarding The Yearning For Zion Ranch In Eldorado, Texas". ACLU. May 2, 2008.
- Derbyshire, John (May 1, 2008). "April Diary: Atrocity of the month". National Review Online.
- "Polygamists presumed evil?". Los Angeles Times. May 23, 2008.
- Adams, Brooke (April 11, 2008). "Polygamous crackdown echoes 1953 Short Creek arrests". The Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved April 18, 2008.
- "Polygamy: Where religious liberty ends". The Salt Lake Tribune. April 13, 2008. Retrieved April 18, 2008.
- BDN Staff (May 28, 2008). "Editorial: Shades of Short Creek". Bangor Daily News.
- Miguel Bustillo and Nicholas Riccardi (staff writers) (May 31, 2008). "FLDS raid appears to have backfired". Los Angeles Times.
- Owens, Ryan. "Polygamist Sect Marks First Anniversary of Texas Ranch Raid". ABC News.
- "Alleged underage polygamist bride to leave foster care". The Arizona Republic. (AP). May 7, 2009.
- Brooke Adams (July 23, 2009). "Texas judge closes last custody case in YFZ raid". The Salt Lake Tribune.
- Bistline, Benjamin G. Colorado City Polygamists: An Inside Look for the Outsider (2004). A Colorado City historian presents the beginnings of the group and its original religious doctrine. ISBN 1-888106-85-9
- Bistline, Benjamin G. The Polygamists: A History of Colorado City, Arizona (2004). ISBN 1-888106-74-3
- Jessop, Carolyn, "Escape" (2008) Seventeen years after being forced into a polygamous marriage, Jessop escaped from the cultlike Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints with her eight children. ISBN 0-7679-2757-5 ISBN 978-0767927574
- "The Primer" – Helping Victims of Domestic Violence and Child Abuse in Polygamous Communities. A joint report from the offices of the Attorneys General of Arizona and Utah. (2006)
- Van Wagoner, Richard S. (1999). Mormon Polygamy: A History. UK: Prometheus Books. ISBN 0-941214-79-6.
- Quinn, D. Michael (1998), "Plural marriage and Mormon fundamentalism", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought 31 (2): 1–68.
- Main Street Church. Lifting the Veil of Polygamy (2007). A documentary film on the history and modern-day expressions of Mormon polygamy, including numerous testimonials.
- "Timeline of raid on FLDS-owned YFZ Ranch". Deseret News. May 23, 2008. Retrieved May 11, 2009.
- Affidavit for Search and Arrest Warrant
- CPS Petition for Protection of Children in an Emergency
- Texas Court Of Appeals: In re Sara Steed, et al.
- Supreme Court Of Texas: In re Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, Relator
- Supreme Court Of Texas: In re Texas Department ... (Minority Opinion)