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    The Black Hills of South Dakota
 
The Black Hills of South Dakota
The Black Hills of South Dakota
The Black Hills of South Dakota

Another FLDS hideout for fugitive polygamous leader Warren Jeffs was discovered in the Black Hills of South Dakota in March 2006.   100 acres of wooded property was purchased in October 2003 by David Steed Allred for $135,000.  This land was purchased around the same time as Allred bought the parcels of land in Eldorado, Texas and Mancos, Colorado.

The South Dakota compound is located in Custer County, 15 miles southwest of the tiny town of Pringle at GPS coordinates 43.541225 latitude and -103.743667 longitude.   According to Private Investigator Sam Brower, this land is "in the middle of nowhere" just like the properties in Eldorado and Mancos.  The County Inspector said that there were only access roads on the land when it was purchased.

And, just like David Allred told the local Texas and Colorado citizens, he also told the South Dakotans that he was planning to build a "corporate retreat" on the land.

Custer County records show that they bought more land adjacent to the compound in Fall 2006.  According to the neighbors, construction goes on around the clock.  A "prison-like guard tower" was also erected at the entrance to the compound.  Is this to keep the "faithful" in or to keep the "wicked" out?

As with the other FLDS communities, the residents at the Pringle compound are isolated, secretive and keep to themselves.  Neighbors originally said that only one man, named Jerold (Williams), spoke for the estimated 60 people living here.   It was later believed that Ed "Ben" Johnson was put in charge of this FLDS Dakota compound.  Then Wayne Thornton Fischer (a son of Brenda Thornton and adopted by Vaughn Fischer) was said to be in charge of the Pringle compound.  Wayne's 12-year-old daughter, Brenda Lei, became a child bride of convicted pedophile prophet Warren Jeffs.

On January 10, 2008 there was a tragic accident involving a Chevy pickup truck driven by Wayne Fischer that slid off the icy Monarch Pass near Salida, Colorado.  There were also two women and 12 children riding in the truck; nine people were in the cab of the pickup and six children were in sleeping bags in the camper-shell-covered truck bed.  None of the children were in seat belts or child seats.  Wayne Fischer's 10-year-old daughter, Veronica, was instantly killed when the truck slid off the highway and landed on its side.  Three other chidren were injured in the crash.

It is not known if Wayne Fischer is still in charge of the FLDS Pringle Compound.

Below are news articles on the FLDS moving to the Black Hills of South Dakota.   These articles are in chronological order.
 
 
Enclave of Polygamist Sect Found in South Dakota
John Hollenhorst reporting
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast March 8, 2006

Has Warren Jeffs, gone to the Mount Rushmore State?   Investigators on the trail of the fugitive polygamist leader have made a surprising discovery.   Sam Brower, Private Investigator:: "Given it's remote location and so forth it's a place that is simply a hideout for Warren Jeffs."   They've found a previously unknown polygamist compound in an unexpected location.  They believe Jeffs has used it as a hide-out.   It's in South Dakota, nestled in the trees that gave The Black Hills their name.  It's the latest twist in what appears to be a secretive multi-state expansion of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.   From his base on the Utah-Arizona border and a satellite community in Canada, Warren Jeffs has been expanding his empire, even as his legal troubles deepen.     Read more
 
 
Polygamists May Have Settled Near Custer
By Jodi Schwan
KELOLAND TV - Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Originally published March 9, 2006

Followers of the nation's largest polygamist sect may be living in South Dakota.   Their leader is accused of child rape and wanted for fleeing from prosecution.  And he could be hiding in the state.   Investigators discovered a 100 acre site 15 miles southwest of Pringle, in Custer county.   They believe it's home to a group connected to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, led by Warren Jeffs.   The above photo is of the property near Pringle.  There are several buildings, one reportedly has as many as 21 bedrooms.  The picture was taken by Private Investigator Sam Brower, who visited South Dakota earlier this year and says he knew right away he was looking at a polygamist compound.   The people building this settlement south of Custer probably didn't want anyone to find it.   Investigators believe it was meant to be a secret hideout for Warren Jeffs, the leader of a polygamous sect whose followers consider him a prophet.   Sam Brower says, "I think it was significant.   I think if the heat came down on Warren Jeffs that would be the place he ran to."     Read more
 
 
Black Hills Police Aware Of Polygamist Fugitive
By Andy Harvey
KELOLAND TV - Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Originally published March 9, 2006

The Black Hills of South Dakota could be a hiding spot for the leader of a polygamist group.   50-year old Warren Jeffs is wanted by the FBI on two counts of sexual assault on a minor and one count of conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor.  Jeffs is the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints ... an organization that practices polygamy.   The group has built a compound near Pringle south of Custer.  And while neighbors didn't want to talk about what could be going on there, local law enforcement officials are aware of the group.   Electronic gates near Pringle are the entrance to a 100 acre piece of land, home to a polygamist sect.  On the ground ... a green metal roof is barely visible through the trees.  But in the air ... you can see the layout of the compound.  And it could be where fugitive Warren Jeffs is hiding.   Custer County Sheriff Phil Hespen said, "Everybody thinks he's down there."   Hespen learned about Jeffs and his followers within the past year.  But says he's had no reason to visit the secretive community so far.     Read more
 
 
Group near Pringle linked with fugitive polygamist
By Steve Miller, Journal Staff Writer, and AP reports
Rapid City Journal
Originally published Thursday, March 9, 2006

PRINGLE - Neighbors of people who built a compound in a remote area southwest of Pringle say they were suspicious of the secretive group even before learning that it could be linked to a polygamist Mormon sect led by a federal fugitive.   They said heavy construction work goes on all night under big spotlights inside the fenced-off compound, which appears to be self-sufficient.     Read more
 
 
A Look at FLDS Property in South Dakota
Sam Penrod Reporting
KSL-TV Channel 5
Originally broadcast March 10, 2006

A temple in Texas, a compound in Arizona, and now video of Polygamist Warren Jeffs' newly discovered development in South Dakota.  Tonight, a first look at property in South Dakota that appears to be yet another hideout for fugitive polygamous leader Warren Jeffs.   It's one of at least four locations outside of Utah and Arizona with ties to FLDS leader Warren Jeffs.  Eyewitness News first reported Wednesday night about the South Dakota property.  Today, the first video from it.   These land deeds detail that the property was purchased by the same man who bought the FLDS land in Texas.  The Texas Ranch has been known about for two years now, and documents show the South Dakota property has been owned by the FLDS Church for just as long, but it was only discovered by outsiders this week.   A dirt road leads to property that has direct ties to FLDS church.  Fences with "No Trespassing" and "Keep Out" signs line the property.   The land, located in the southwest corner of South Dakota, appears to be another place that may be a hideout for FLDS leader Warren Jeffs.     Read more
 
 
Polygamy follower buys land in South Dakota
The Associated Press
Provo Daily Herald
Originally published Friday, March 10, 2006

Deeds to a 100-acre parcel of South Dakota land show the property was bought by a follower of Warren Jeffs, the fugitive leader of a Utah polygamist sect.   Copies of deeds filed in Custer County, S.D., and obtained by The Associated Press indicate the land was deeded to Jeffs' loyalist, David Allred, president of Details Unlimited, based in Washington County, Utah, on Sept. 22, 2003, by an Illinois couple.  Allred also fronted the purchase of the fundamentalist sect's 2,000-acre YFZ Ranch, near Eldorado, Texas.   Jeffs, 51, heads the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which is headquartered in the twin towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah.   In addition to the Texas ranch, the church has outposts in British Columbia, Colorado and Nevada.   Considered a prophet by his followers, Jeffs is wanted on a federal charge of unlawful flight to avoid prosecution on an Arizona charge that he arranged a plural marriage between a 16-year-old girl and an older man.   Utah private investigator Sam Brower, who works for several attorneys involved in lawsuits against Jeffs, said he and author Jon Krakauer, were contacted by Randy Mankin, editor of The Eldorado (Texas) Success, in January about the possible enclave after the paper received anonymous e-mail and phone tips.     Read more
 
 
Officials: No evidence of crime
Steve Miller
Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Friday, March 10, 2006

Federal, state and county law enforcement officials say they have no information yet that would prompt action at a private enclave near Pringle that a Texas newspaper says is occupied by a Mormon splinter group linked to fugitive polygamous leader Warren Steed Jeffs.     Read more
 
 
NEW: NEW Warren Jeffs put on FBI's top 10 list
Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Saturday, May 6, 2006

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A polygamist church leader with possible ties to South Dakota has been placed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.  Warren Jeffs has been placed on the list in hopes that the additional exposure and reward money will lead to his arrest.     Read more
 
 
Polygamist Compound In Pringle, SD Not Hidden Well Enough
By Don Jorgensen
KELOLAND TV - Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Originally published May 15, 2006

He is on the FBI's most wanted list and could be hiding in the Black Hills of South Dakota.   Warren Jeffs, a prophet to his followers, is the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS, the nation's largest polygamy sect.   Jeffs is on the run and hasn't been seen in two years.   The FBI says Jeffs is known to travel with bodyguards and is considered armed and dangerous.   Don Jorgensen recently took a trip to Pringle, South Dakota, where Jeffs has one of several of his polygamist compounds.   It's in a remote area of the Black Hills.  Very few people have ever seen it or even knew it was there until last month when news broke about the suspected hideaway.  And if you know anything about the FLDS, you know they don't like visitors.   The front gates to Warren Jeffs compound near Pringle are locked.  No trespassing signs are posted.  The compound is hidden by evergreens.   "People say you can't see the compound from the road, but if you take a little hike through the hills you're able to sneak up along side a ride and look over the compound and that's where we're headed right now," said Jorgensen.     Read more
 
 
FLDS Compound In South Dakota Drawing Attention
KUTV Channel 2
Originally broadcast May 17, 2006

(KUTV) SALT LAKE CITY As the FBI searches for fugitive polygamous leader Warren Jeffs attention turns to the compound the FLDS church recently built in South Dakota.   Members of the polygamous FLDS church bought remote land in the Black Hills three years ago, and from the air, you can see they're building a community.   Three-story houses, and a large pole building.  They have more lumber and heavy equipment, so they may build more.   From the ground, all you can see is locked gate barbed wire fence and no trespassing signs.   Cheryl Hadlock lives near the FLDS, and she likes them.   "They plow the road in the winter; they watched our house after it was broke into.   They've been good neighbors. We have no problems."   Warren Jeffs, the leader of the FLDS polygamous church, is on the FBI's 10 most wanted list.   He's charged with performing a marriage between a 16-year-old and an older man.   The compound would be a good place for him to hide, but Custer County Sheriff Phil Hespen hasn't been on the property, and says he has no reason to go     Read more
 
 
New sheriff to monitor secretive group
By Ryan Woodard
The Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Thursday, June 22, 2006

CUSTER - Although the FBI hasn't received any new tips about Warren Jeffs the fugitive leader of a polygamist group linked to a group living near Pringle Custer County's sheriff-elect said he will be watching the situation closely when he gets into office in January.     Read more
 
 
New sheriff takes office
By Ryan Woodard
The Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Friday, June 23, 2006

CUSTER -- Custer County Sheriff-elect Rick Wheeler has taken office sooner than expected.   Wheeler, who had been scheduled to take office Jan. 1 after defeating incumbent Phil Hespen in the June primary, was instead scheduled to be sworn in Friday afternoon.   Hespen, who was elected sheriff in 2002, decided to step down early.     Read more
 
 
Trooper nabs Jeffs in Nevada
The Associated Press and Journal Staff
Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The leader of a polygamist breakaway Mormon sect who was on the FBI's Most Wanted List has been arrested and faces sexual misconduct charges for allegedly arranging marriages between underage girls and older men, authorities said Tuesday.  Warren Steed Jeffs, 50, was taken into custody after he and two other people were pulled over late Monday by a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper on Interstate 15 north of Las Vegas, FBI spokesman David Staretz said.     Read more
 
 
Compound still growing
By Steve Miller
The Rapid City Journal
Originally published November 6, 2006

Although polygamist leader Warren Jeffs is in jail in Utah, a compound reportedly occupied by members of his sect continues to expand in remote country southwest of Pringle.  Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which practices polygamy, was captured Aug. 28 during a traffic stop outside Las Vegas.     Read more
 
 
Victim's group offers help to polygamists
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Friday, November 10, 2006

As construction escalates on a Fundamentalist LDS Church compound in the Black Hills of South Dakota, victim advocates are trying to educate themselves about abuses within polygamy.  The South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault said it is trying to make resources available to any abuse victims within the FLDS Church's compound near Pringle.  "Our position is that it's illegal," coalition director Chris Jongeling said of polygamy.  "However, we don't want to interfere with anybody's religious freedom, either.  Our concern is the women and the children in the situation that are being abused and frequently don't have a way to get out."  Within the past couple of weeks, coalition members have begun putting up posters and fliers around Pringle about abuse and domestic violence with hotline numbers.  It is their attempt to reach the closed society inside the FLDS compound.  Meanwhile, coalition members said they are trying to educate themselves about polygamy.  The group has been keeping up on the FLDS Church and its leader, Warren Jeffs, through news reports.  "Ever since we started hearing rumors about what type of situation is going on in Pringle, the membership decided we didn't know enough about it," Jongeling said Wednesday.     Read more
 
 
Custer County Compound
By Matthew Holsen
Keloland TV - Sioux Falls, SD
Originally published January 11, 2007

Warren Jeffs, the President of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, currently resides in Purgatory, a correctional facility just outside of Hurricane, Utah.  He is awaiting trial on two felony charges of rape as an accomplice and is still having an effect in Keloland.  A compound in Custer County once rumored to be a hideout for Jeffs is getting bigger.  When Warren Jeffs was pulled over in Nevada in August, he was on the FBI's most wanted list.  Jeffs was arrested on federal warrants and his case is proceeding through the court system.  And while Warren Jeffs remains in custody, his community just twenty miles south of Custer, continues to grow.  Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler is in charge of keeping track of changes at the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day saint's compound.  Wheeler said, "I've made communications with them.  We have a pretty good relationship as far as that goes.  We monitor down here to a certain degree so we have a pretty good idea what's going on most of the time."  The newest addition to the compound is a 22,000 square foot dormitory-style building to be used as a guest house.  The estimated cost of materials for the project is more than a million dollars.  Wheeler also said, "They came in and built a 22,000 square foot living quarter building up here and as you see put a watchtower up on top of the hill, which is new, in probably the last month or so."     Read more
 
 
Neighbor of FLDS compound: It looks like a prison
Katie Brown
Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Monday, March 12, 2007

A neighbor of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints compound near Pringle said Tuesday he wants the compound to tear down a nearly 40-feet tall guard tower recently built there.  "It looks pretty much identical to what you would see at a prison compound," Jim Farmer, the neighbor, said.     Read more
 
 
Neighbor: FLDS Tower is 'Ominous And Creepy'
The Associated Press
KUTV Channel 2
Originally published March 15, 2007

RAPID CITY, S.D. A neighbor is objecting to an "ominous and creepy" tower built on property owned by a polygamous sect.  "It looks pretty much identical to what you would see at a prison compound," said Jim Farmer, who owns a home and 400 acres next to the compound of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  He said the nearly 40-foot tower near Pringle has a metal base with windows and panes at the top that slant down.  There are communication antennae on top.  The Pringle compound was suspected to be one of the hiding places of church leader Warren Jeffs, who was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list until his arrest in Nevada in August.  He faces trial in April in southern Utah on charges of rape as an accomplice for his alleged role in the spiritual marriage of a teen girl to an older cousin.  Farmer, who lives in Rapid City, said the tower doesn't fit the surroundings.  "It just destroys the feeling of wilderness we all came there for," he said.  "It's ominous and creepy.  You're not sure what their agenda is to keep people in or keep people out."     Read more
 
 
FLDS Compound Neighbor Upset
By Matthew Holsen
KELOLAND TV - Sioux Falls, SD
Originally broadcast March 15, 2007

A prison-like guard tower and constant construction is a cause for concern for a man who lives near the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints compound in Custer County.  The neighbor has even gone to a lawyer to see what can be done.   It's a structure that sticks out in the countryside.  "Its very ominous.  It has the slanted in prison tower windows and supposedly there is people in it 24 hours a day with binoculars.  I'm not sure if its meant to keep people out or keep people in," says Attorney Michael Hickey.  Hickey represents Jim Farmer, who lives near the Fundamental Latter Day Saints compound in Custer County.  Hickey says his client bought his 400 acres of land to have a place to escape.  "He went out there for a reason, not to be bombarded with blasting and construction activities twenty-four-hours a day seven days a week and not to have a guard tower overlooking his property," Hickey replies.  Hickey has sent a letter to the compound, threatening to file a lawsuit against the FLDS company United Land Management.     Read more
 
 
Sheriff works to improve communication with FLDS compound
By Kevin Woster
The Rapid City Journal
Originally published Friday, April 27, 2007

Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler says his outreach to a fenced community associated with a polygamist religious sect has improved communications with the group and prompted members to apply for standardized testing for their home-schooled children.     Read more
 
 
Two views of the secluded community near Pringle
Kristin Donnan Standard
Opinion
The Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Wednesday, May 9, 2007

What do you get when you mix a tall fence, a watchtower and alleged polygamy?  Differences of opinion, to say the least.  It has been interesting to observe the press coverage of the community near Pringle that is associated with the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-day Saints.     Read more
 
 
FLDS gets noise, road complaints
By Jason Ferguson
Custer County Chronicle - Custer, South Dakota
Originally published Wednesday, July 18 2007

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) continues to grow its compound southwest of Custer, having recently applied for a building permit for a new 9,500 square foot building on the compound's property.  The compound has drawn the ire of some of its neighbors recently, for what they feel are incessant trips down area roads with a 3,500 gallon water truck.  Cookie Hickstein, one of the compound's neighbors, said the truck makes as many as seven trips a day to retrieve water.  The neighbors are also distraught at the damage the tandem axle truck is doing to the roads.  "They are going to do something with it, but they can't do anything until it rains," said Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler, who met with compound representatives last Thursday.  "They need to communicate with their neighbors a little bit."  FLDS members are said to retrieve water from both the Custer and Hot Springs public loading areas, although they have recently made less frequent trips to Hot Springs.  It isn't because it costs more or they aren't welcome.  For 50 cents, a consumer can get 300 gallons of water in Hot Springs, compared to around 60 gallons for that same 50 cents in Custer.  Gene Wiser, water and street superintendent for the City of Hot Springs, said the city does not monitor who takes water from the loading dock.  In fact, he said he did not even know what the FLDS was.  Bob Morrison, public works director for the City of Custer, also said Custer does not regulate who and how much water is taken from the public source.  Wheeler said the compound uses the water for gardening and drinking. The compound has a well, but its pump is reportedly stuck and cannot be retrieved from the well.     Read more
 
 
County establishes penalties for burn violations
By Jason Ferguson
Custer County Chronicle - Custer, South Dakota
Originally published Wednesday, August 1, 2007

County residents who violate the county's burn ban or misuse a burn permit will now be subject to a fine under a new ordinance passed by the Custer County Commission at its regular meeting last Wednesday, July 25.  Under Custer County Ordinance No. 14, a penalty of no less than $100 was established for a violation of the ban and burn permits.  In addition, the person who is found violating the ordinance will have fire suppression costs charged against them based on established fire rates.  Mike Carter, director of emergency services for the county, said there were eight fires last weekend county-wide, despite a previously enacted burn ban in the county.  The commission had enacted the burning ban at a previous special meeting because of tinder dry conditions throughout the county.  Of the eight fires, one was caused by someone burning lawn refuse.  Prior to enacting the ordinance, the county had no real recourse in punishing those who ignored the burn ban.  "At least this will give us a little teeth," commissioner Joe McFarland said.  "We've never had any."  The commission also discussed the idea of changing the county's cattle guard resolution, which currently states all cattle guards replaced in the county must meet U.S. Forest Service standards, which is 24 feet wide.  The cost of purchasing the new cattle guard is the responsibility of the landowner, although the county highway department will install the cattle guard for free.     Read more
 
 
FLDS raises privacy issues for all
Kristin Donnan Standard, Journal columnist
Opinion
Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Wednesday, August 1, 2007

After previous stories about a community near Pringle - a group associated with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) - questions remained about how surrounding communities can relate to folks who choose to live what appears to be a relatively isolated existence.  I spoke with a sheriff in Eldorado, Texas, which has a large FLDS community.     Read more
 
 
Into the compound
By Norma Najacht
Custer County Chronicle
Originally published August 30, 2007

Susie Johnson may never know her mother came to visit her last Saturday.  She and her children may never receive the presents her mother lovingly chose and left for her.  Jane Blackmore knew she didn't have much hope of seeing her daughter, Susie, when she made the 932-mile, two-day trip to Custer from her home in Cranbrook, British Columbia, Canada, but still she came.  "For the most part, it's maternal," she said simply.  "She's my daughter."  Jane wasn't asking for much; just a short visit with her daughter, who she's seen only once since July 2003.  She didn't even ask to see Susie's four sons, two of whom she has never seen.  One was born approximately a month ago, but Jane has not been informed of his birth date or his name.  At the age of 17, Susie was taken by her father, Winston Blackmore, to Salt Lake City to marry Ben Johnson.  They met for the first time just five minutes before the ceremony.  In early 2004, Susie went missing from their Colorado City, Ariz., home.  Jane received a call from Susie in June of that year, begging Jane to stop trying to track her down.  There was an obvious strain in Susie's voice.  Finally, Susie said, "Mother, my time is up.  I have to go now."  Johnson then got on the line and warned Jane that God did not want her to find Susie and their three young sons.     Read more
 
 
Blackmore bucks 'system'
By Norma Najacht
Custer County Chronicle
Originally published August 30, 2007

Jane Blackmore's diminutive stature, soft-spoken nature and quiet demeanor belie the steely resolve and iron will that fire the 50-year-old Canadian woman's resolve to do what she sees fit, regardless of circumstances or what anyone else thinks or does.  When it comes to ensuring the welfare of her children, she clearly epitomizes the U.S. Army's slogan, "An army of one."  At the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) compound in Custer County last Saturday afternoon, Jane stood off several men for approximately two hours while they videoed her, told her she wasn't wanted and denied her access while she doggedly refused to budge, asking only to see her 26-year-old daughter, Susie, who is married to Ben Johnson, the local compound's person in charge.  Not until the Custer County Sheriff's deputy arrived did she allow herself to be led off the compound by her son, Hyrum.  Why is Jane considered an "evil influence," as her son-in-law contends, and why is she not allowed to see her daughter and grandsons?  Jane was the first and only legal wife of Winston Blackmore.  For two decades, Winston was bishop of Bountiful, a polygynous community in Canada closely associated with the twin communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  According to Jane, Winston has 115 children and at one time had 26 wives.  She left him in 2004 and divorced him.  Her departure gave several other wives the strength to also leave Winston.  He now has only 19 or 20 wives, Jane said.     Read more
 
 
Human rights being violated
Opinion
Custer County Chronicle
Originally published August 30, 2007

After witnessing first hand this weekend the devastation of a mother and grandmother who was refused access to her daughter and grandchildren, we are more convinced than ever that there are human rights violations occurring regularly at the so-called FLDS compound near Pringle in Custer County.  Jane Blackmore of British Columbia, Canada, drove nearly 1,000 miles with some members of her family just to see her daughter, Susie, and two grandchildren she knows are at the compound in Pringle.  Several years ago, Jane left the FLDS group, which means she also left behind some members of her immediate family.  Jane tracked her daughter down by linking her husband, Ben Edward Johnson, with the compound in Pringle through a photo of Johnson.  He is the person in charge of the Pringle group after taking over from Jerold Williams.  Jane was allowed to visit with her daughter once before when Ben took her to Rapid City.  This time she also offered to visit with Susie in Rapid City or Custer, but she received no such confirmation from Ben.  After repeated phone calls to him went unanswered, she and her family members decided to drive out to the Pringle compound and demand to see Susie and her four grandchildren.  Family members also brought gifts for Susie.     Read more
 
 
Blackmore declines to be on CNN
By Norma Najacht
Custer County Chronicle
Originally published September 5, 2007

Jane Blackmore, who was in Custer Aug. 25 seeking to visit her daughter, Susie, who is in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) compound near Pringle, recently declined to be on Anderson Cooper 360 on Thursday, Sept. 6.  Blackmore, a resident of Cranbrook, B.C., Canada, was denied visitation rights by her son-in-law, Ben Johnson, the man in charge of the compound here.  Blackmore entered the property through a downed fence on the south side of the property.  She was met by six men, two of whom were wearing wigs and all wore sunglasses.  They each had a radio.  One man, Wayne Fischer, carried a video camera.  Thomas Roundy, was the spokesperson, according to Blackmore.  Two of the others were Melvin Steed and Davied Neilson.  Blackmore was told that both Ben and Susie were unavailable and that they were calling the sheriff.  "Go ahead," she said.  "I want to talk to the sheriff myself."     Read more
 
 
Pringle compound is in the news again
By Charley Najacht
Custer County Chronicle
Originally published Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Before going out to the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) compound near Pringle Saturday, Aug. 25, Jane Blackmore and her entourage stopped at the newspaper to visit with us.  Author ("Under the Banner of Heaven" and others) and adventurer John Krakauer had put her in touch with us several days earlier.  He also wanted CNN to accompany her to the compound, but apparently they couldn't react on such short notice.  CNN was supposed to air a segment involving an interview with Jane this Thursday evening during the Anderson Cooper 360 segment.  She recently declined to be on the show, however.  Jane had called us several times before arriving on our doorstep with a van full of family members from British Columbia, Canada.  We offered to accompany them to the compound in their van, since they really didn't know the way.  During the course of our 30-minute trip out to the FLDS compound, I had the opportunity to visit with two of Jane Blackmore's well-groomed sons, Peter and Hyrum.  They aked if we had ever heard of them before the compound was discovered here in the county.  They said it must be strange for us to be in their company because a lot of people drove through their town just to look at them.  I found out they both engage in logging for their father, Winston Blackmore, an outcast FLDS member who has his own enclave in Creston, B.C.  Their mother, Jane, the first wife of Winston, has renounced polygamy and moved to nearby Cranston, B.C.  Both communities are located just north of Idaho.     Read more
 
 
An explanation to our readers
By Charley Najacht
Custer County Chronicle
Originally published Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 3, I was sitting down to eat an evening meal when I received a phone call from Rapid City Journal reporter Bill Harlan who was working the night shift.  The reporter quizzed me about an e-mail news release he had just received from Frank Carroll of Custer who represented a group called the South Dakota Office of the Mormon Anti-Defamation League (MADL).  Carroll was condemning statements I made in an Aug. 29 editorial about the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) compound near Pringle.  Specifically, Carroll charged that I failed to differentiate between the FLDS and Mormons.  I told Harlan I had not seen the news release, but thought I had not mixed the two in my editorial.  The same release was on our computer at the newspaper the next morning, way after our weekly deadline.  For some reason in his MADL news release, Carroll also said I was a retired Army major who served in Bosnia.  I don't know what that had to do with the issue and it was incorrect information anyway.  We set the record straight with him later.  My retired Army National Guard rank is colonel and at one time long ago I was an infantry rifle platoon leader in Vietnam.  Harlan admitted he had not read my editorial.  He said he would have to hunt it up in the Journal newsroom.  I asked him if he had read the stories my wife had written that same week concerning a Canadian woman's attempts to visit her daughter at the compound.  Again, he said he had not.  Harlan said it was the Journal's policy not to do anything with stories written in other newspapers.  I said I knew Carroll was a Mormon and that he was concerned about us lumping the Mormons and the FLDS together.  We ran a story last year on the difference between the two.  The FLDS believes it is the only true Mormon church that adheres to the original teachings of founder Joseph Smith regarding polygamy and blood atonement.  They call themselves Mormons, too, whether the mainstream church recognizes them or not.     Read more
 
 
Trial will set precedent for years to come
By Norma Najacht
Custer County Chronicle
Originally published Wednesday, September 12, 2007

It's a tale of incest, rape, physical, sexual and emotional abuse. The latest Hollywood movie?  Perhaps, but it is also the norm along with deprivation of education and forced marriages of young girls in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), according to Laura Chapman, who left that group, as stated in the book, "God's Brothel," by Andrea Moore-Emmett.  With the trial of FLDS self-proclaimed prophet Warren Jeffs scheduled to start this week, press from around the world has converged on the tiny town of St. George, Utah, shedding light on this shadowy sect.  The FLDS likes to fly beneath the radar.  Only when a trial of this magnitude hits the news does the FLDS show up on the radar screen of the consciousness of the nation.  As well it should.  According to Chapman, one of the leaders in the FLDS has told members it is OK to marry relatives as close as cousins and uncles to nieces because God will change the blood so it is not related.  That presumption has produced children with genetic disorders such as Down and Tourette's syndromes, as well as other birth defects.  Chapman says the prevalence of pedophile behavior dominates the culture, while the victims are forced to revere their abusers.  When she was 4, one of her step brothers tied her to a bedpost and tried to rape her.  "It would be difficult to pull a girl out of Colorado City who hasn't been sexually assaulted," she said, adding that she knows of girls as young as 12 who have been forced to marry their step fathers.  As the 25th of 31 offspring of her father, Chapman's earliest memories are of molestation and rape by her father.  She was also routinely fondled by her brothers.  And the leaders claim these acts are their right because it is their religion.     Read more
 
 
Reaction To Warren Jeffs Conviction
Keloland TV - Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Originally broadcast September 27, 2007

Warren Jeffs, a self-proclaimed prophet and polygamist leader, was convicted of being an accomplice to rape on Tuesday in a Utah court room.  Years ago when Jeffs was in hiding from law enforcement many believed he could have been staying at a compound in Custer County.  Its home to more than seventy five of Jeffs' followers and guarded by this watchtower.  It's a place Sheriff Rick Wheeler visits routinely.  But now that Jeffs is a convicted criminal, Wheeler says he's interested more than ever about what goes on behind the gates.  "Well, I'm concerned, that's for sure," says Wheeler.  But concern alone doesn't get the sheriff very far.  "I don't have a reason to go in there. I have neighbors down there doing most of the monitoring for me," Wheeler replies.  Several of those neighbors have contacted Wheeler to complain about things going on in or around the compound.  "I mean they will work into two, three o'clock in the morning. We do get complaints and I try to address those. If I make a phone call they will usually shut it down," he says.  Wheeler says workers are busy constructing two new housing complexes as they continue to expand what he believes is some sort of a retreat.  And while he has an open line of communication with officials at the compound, he says Warren Jeffs' trial has never come up in conversation.  "We don't bring this up. It's kind of a touchy subject I'm sure," adds Wheeler.
 
 
FLDS fences separate members, society
By Steve Miller
Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Friday, September 28, 2007

The fenced compounds occupied by members of a polygamous Mormon sect, including the one near Pringle, were built out of fear of the outside world, but they also serve to keep the occupants inside, according to a former member of the sect.  Isaac Wyler, 41, was born into the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, headquartered at the twin border towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah.     Read more
 
 
FLDS camp spurs suspicion
By Steve Miller
Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Friday, September 28, 2007

The people occupying a secretive and growing compound southwest of Pringle are practicing polygamy and are likely conducting under-age marriages, say two former members of the sect led by Warren Jeffs, who was convicted last week of rape as an accessory.     Read more
 
 
Former FLDS unable to visit daughter
By Steve Miller
Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Friday, September 28, 2007

Jane Blackmore of Creston, British Columbia, has definitely rejected polygamy and the FLDS.  Born into the FLDS community in Canada, she was married at age 18, the first of her husband's 26 wives.  He and his wives had a total of 115 children, Blackmore said.     Read more
 
 
Guilty! Verdict sends message to men, gives hope to women
By Norma Najacht
Custer County Chronicle - Custer, South Dakota
Originally published Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Jane Blackmore, former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), is happy that Warren Jeffs, prophet of that sect, was found guilty of two counts of rape as an accomplice last week in Utah.  "I hope my testimony had some part in the verdict," she added.  Blackmore's daughter, Susie, is at the FLDS enclave in Custer County.  Blackmore has not been allowed to see either Susie or Susie's four sons.  "I am so proud of Elissa (Wall)," the Canadian woman said.  "She gave an amazing presentation."  Wall brought the lawsuit against Jeffs, which found him guilty of arranging a marriage for her at the age of 14 to her first cousin, Allen Steed, who has now been charged with rape, an action he admitted to under oath during the trial.  Cookie Hickstein of Pringle, FLDS neighbor, says she is overwhelmed that our justice system is working and that Jeffs was convicted.  "I hope it will continue with other convictions of other men who have done the same thing," she said.  "I think it will make all FLDS men realize they cannot have their celestial marriages to these young girls."  Elaine Tyler at The Hope Organization, said the volunteers of that organization are overwhelmed with joy for Elissa Wall, who dedicated and sacrificed so much to make justice happen for so many other young girls (children actually) who find themselves in a similar situation.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs' convictions won't change compound situation
Opinion
Custer County Chronicle - Custer, South Dakota
Originally published Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The convictions of Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints self-proclaimed prophet Warren Jeffs last week in Utah was good news, but it won't change what is going on at the FLDS fenced compound near Pringle in Custer County.  The former federal fugitive was found guilty on both counts of being an accomplice to rape for a marriage he conducted in 2001 between Elissa Wall and Allen Steed.  Wall was 14 years old at the time and did not consent to the so-called marriage.  These are felonies punishable by five years to life in prison for each count.  As long as the money keeps flowing in, day and night construction will continue at the 140-acre secured compound near Pringle.  And the money will keep flowing in, despite the fact that Jeffs is in prison and is now a convicted felon.  To his followers, he is a martyr who is being persecuted for following his religious beliefs.  Basic to those beliefs is the original Mormon practice of polygamy as revealed by founder Joseph Smith.  The mainstream Mormon church disavowed polygamy in 1890 so Utah could be admitted to the Union as a state.  However, factions like the FLDS broke away and continued the practice of polygamy.  There can be little doubt, even among law enforcement officials, that polygamy is being practiced at the Pringle compound.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs a religious lightning rod
Kristin Standard
Opinion
Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Wednesday, October 10, 2007

With Warren Jeffs's recent conviction of rape as an accessory, bolder stories and comments about the Fundamentalist breakaway branch of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) are appearing in the Journal and associated blogs.     Read more
 
 
Building continues at FLDS compound
By Norma Najacht
Custer County Chronicle
Originally published October 11, 2007

While Warren Jeffs, prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), cools his heels in Purgatory Correctional Center in Utah, awaiting sentencing Nov. 20 on two counts of accomplice to rape, the neighbors to the FLDS compound in Custer County are in a purgatory of sorts all their own.  The FLDS has been receiving building permits for new structures every three months since March, according to the Custer County planning department.  It has not been without problems for the neighbors.  "Too bad they (the FLDS) aren't neighbors to those who think they should be left alone, with all the dust and semis coming and going 24 hours a day," said Cookie Hickstein.  One recently woke her up coming at 11 p.m., she added.  They brought in at least three loads of raw cement in the one week recently, she said, and they are hauling a lot of gravel again.  "A semi came in after dark tonight; I couldn't tell what was on it, but it was a flat bed and the load was covered" she said recently.  They are still hauling water all the time and are digging at night, according to Hickstein.  "I can hear them in the rock if I am outside."     Read more
 
 
FLDS accussed of harassment
By Norma Najacht
Custer County Chronicle
Originally published October 18, 2007

The Fifth Judicial District Court in Washington County, Utah, has notified legal counsel for Warren Jeffs, as well as the state, that persons are making unwanted, and, in some cases, harassing attempts to contact jurors and members of jurors' families in Jeffs' case.  Jeffs, prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), was found guilty of two counts of rape as an accomplice last month in the Utah court.  The court has ordered that no person shall attempt to harass, intimidate or otherwise annoy members of the jury regarding matters in this case.  According to an Associated Press (AP) report, jurors who convicted Jeffs have been bothered by phone calls from a private investigator working for Jeffs.  The AP report quoted the foreman of the jury, David Finch, as saying that he and other jurors had received unwanted calls from an investigator hired by Jeffs' attorneys, looking for something that would impeach the jurors so they could file an appeal.  Finch alone received three phone calls, which he termed "annoying."  That activity was called to a halt when Finch and another juror called the judge to report that they were having problems with the calls.  Neighbors to the local FLDS compound have also been annoyed by the activities of the FLDS.  Suzie Von Rump said the FLDS is jackhammering rock and using a bucket long after dusk, although they promised the Custer County Sheriff's Department they would quit at dusk.  "They don't stop until 11, 12, 1 or 2 a.m., whatever suits them," she said.  "It's not fun," she added.  "There's noise going on all the time. They work from 6 a.m. until 2 a.m. the next morning. She said if she or her husband, Karl, go down by the fence line that borders the FLDS, or if they have company, the FLDS shines a spotlight on them."     Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs Faces Sentencing Today
The Associated Press
KELOLAND TV - Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Originally broadcast November 20, 2007

A polygamist leader with ties to South Dakota is preparing to be sentenced for his role in the rape of a girl.  Jeffs was found guilty on two counts of rape as an accomplice and now faces life in prison.  Sentencing for Jeffs is later this afternoon in Utah.  Jeffs' felony convictions are from his arrangement of the marriage of a 14-year-old girl with her 19-year-old cousin.  However, the defense has asked for the case to be thrown out.  That could delay today's scheduled sentencing.  While Jeffs could be sentenced to life behind bars, each conviction also has a minimum sentence of just five years.     See photo of Pringle FLDS compound
 
 
FLDS compound poised for more construction
By Steve Miller
Rapid City Journal
Originally published Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The Pringle-area compound reportedly occupied by members of a polygamist sect appears to be preparing for expansion, according to Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler.  Wheeler said he visited the compound a few days ago.  "They're not doing much right now because of the ground being frozen," Wheeler said Monday.     Read more
 
 
Authorities serve warrants at Texas ranch built by polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs
AP and Journal staff
Rapid City Journal
Originally published Sunday, April 6, 2008

ELDORADO, Texas -- Texas authorities served warrants Friday at a religious retreat built by polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs following a complaint to state child welfare investigators.  Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger confirmed the search and arrest warrants but declined to provide details. They were served a day after state troopers sealed off the polygamists' ranch near Eldorado on Thursday night so investigators could interview children there.     Read more
 
 
Texas FLDS compound raided
By Norma Najacht
Custer County Chronicle - Custer, South Dakota
Originally published Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Sometimes it takes a 16-year-old girl to get things done in the polygamist world, noted Mike Watkiss, senior reporter at KTVK in Phoenix.  It was a 16-year-old girl Ruth Stubbs who was at least in part responsible for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) decision to start building compounds including the one in Custer County when she brought a lawsuit against her police officer and polygamist husband, Rodney Holmes, said Watkiss.  "They came here (the Texas compound) for a safe haven," Watkiss said.  "They do a lot to isolate these people."  And once again, it was a 16-year-old girl who was responsible for the raid on the nearly 1,700-acre FLDS compound near Eldorado, Texas, last Thursday.  An unidentified girl from the compound called officials March 29 and 30, claiming she had been abused, both sexually and physically.  She claimed to have been married to 50-year-old Dale Barlow when she was 15 years old and has an 8-month-old baby by him.  In Texas, it is unlawful to marry at age 15, even with parental consent.  Barlow, who was one of eight men prosecuted two years ago in Arizona for having fathered a child with an underage girl, is living in Arizona.  He pleaded no contest to conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with that minor and a second charge was dropped.  He cannot leave the state without permission and he has not asked to travel to Texas.  He claims he does not know the girl.  As of press time on Tuesday, the number of children who have been taken out of the compound was reported as 401, along with 133 mothers who came with the children voluntarily.  Dressed in home-sewn, ankle-length dresses with their hair pinned up in braids, many of the young women were pregnant or carrying babies.  "Children" is defined as under 17 years of age.     Read more
 
 
Human rights violated here?
Opinion
Custer County Chronicle - Custer, South Dakota
Originally published Wednesday, April 9, 2008

As the population of the Pringle compound increases each year, it is just a matter of time before a phone call about sexual or physical abuse is made to authorities in Custer County.  Apparently, that's what we have to wait for in order for law enforcement and social services to take action.  In light of the raid at the 1,700-acre FLDS compound near Eldorado, Texas, last Thursday, residents here were left wondering if similar cases of underage marriages are taking place in the fenced FLDS compound near Pringle.  Of course they are. It's probably much worse than just underage marriages.  Along with polygamy goes incest.  Last Aug. 29 in this opinion space we made the charge that "Human rights are being violated" at the Pringle compound.  Skeptics asked, "How do you know?" or "Live and let live!"  Some would say it's none of our business how other people live.  That is correct if no laws are being broken.  If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck and looks like a duck, there is an excellent possibility it is, in fact, a real live duck.  That's what we have at the Pringle compound.  We know it was established by followers of convicted felon Warren Jeffs, who is still referred to as "the prophet" by FLDS followers.  Polygamy is being practiced there and polygamy is against the law in every state in the union, including South Dakota.     Read more
 
 
Sheriff: Eldorado raid may affect us
By Jason Ferguson
Custer County Chronicle - Custer, South Dakota
Originally published Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The recent raid on a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) compound near Eldorado, Texas, may have a ripple effect into Custer County, sheriff Rick Wheeler said.  Wheeler gave the Custer County Commission an update on the situation in Texas at the commission's April 9 meeting, but is taking a wait-and-see approach as to whether the events in Texas will cause a stir at the FLDS compound near Pringle.  "There may be things that arise from that here," Wheeler said.  "I don't know. Right now, we have no reason to be out there."  Wheeler has frequent contact with leaders of the Pringle compound and has been allowed access inside.  He said the compound is still in construction mode and, because of that, he doesn't believe there are that many children at the compound.  Local developer Jim Farmer, who has developments near the compound, said he has seen two dozen children all together at one time on the compound.     Read more
 
 
Pringle a stepping stone to Texas ranch, former sect member says
By Steve Miller
Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Thursday, April 17, 2008

A former member of a polygamous sect said he believes some members who previously lived at a compound near Pringle had moved to the polygamous compound at Eldorado, Texas, which was raided by law enforcement authorities earlier this month.   Isaac Wyler still lives in Colorado City, Ariz., which, along with Hildale, Utah, just across the border, are headquarters for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a Mormon splinter group that is spurned by the mainline Mormon Church.     Read more
 
 
Sect leader worries compound here could be raided
By Steve Miller
Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Saturday, April 19, 2008

The leader of the enclave near Pringle that reportedly houses a polygamous sect is worried that it could be raided like a polygamous compound in Texas was, according to Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler.  Wheeler said he talks regularly with Ed Johnson, a leader at the compound southwest of Pringle, which is one of several enclaves around the country occupied by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which practices polygamy.     Read more
 
 
Open the doors, FLDS
Opinion
Journal Editorial Board
Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Monday, April 28, 2008

When 463 children were removed from the Yearning for Zion Ranch in west Texas, it raised at least as many questions about religious freedoms as it answered about child abuse allegations.  The child welfare raid at the polygamist Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints community in Texas earlier this month should be a clear signal, or an ominous warning, to the similar but smaller FLDS compound located in the southern Black Hills near Pringle about one thing: Most Americans have a very low tolerance for religious beliefs that cross the line into crimes of sexual contact with minors, incest, rape and child abuse.     Read more
 
 
FLDS compound in Black Hills shrouded in secrecy
Carson Walker
The Associated Press
Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Thursday, May 15, 2008

PRINGLE - The possibility that a raid on a Texas polygamist compound stemmed from hoax calls to a shelter makes local law enforcement here more cautious about what would trigger a response to allegations of abuse at the sect's ranch in the Black Hills.     Read more
 
 
Woman says daughter, grandkids in S.D. FLDS compound
Carson Walker
The Associated Press
Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Sunday, May 18, 2008

PRINGLE - A woman who fled the Canadian branch of a polygamist group whose ranch was raided in Texas says she got no indication during a recent visit to South Dakota that young girls here have been forced into marriage at the compound where her daughter lives.  "It's very possible that it has happened. But I couldn't say, 'Yes, it has happened,"' said Jane Blackmore of Cranbrook, British Columbia.     Read more
 
 
New FLDS compound discovered
By Norma Najacht
Custer County Chronicle
Originally published October 9, 2008

The residents in the Fall River County area eight miles northwest of Edgemont off River Road along the Cheyenne River four miles east of the Wyoming line thought their neighbors were a little strange.  It was reported among them that the women, who were rarely seen, wore long purple dresses all alike, and the men wore long shirts, even in the heat of the summer.  Heavy equipment is being used at all times of the day and night and they just don't seem neighborly, like they want to talk much, said Dawn Engelbert, a neighbor.  She and her husband, Everett, stood at the fence line to meet their new neighbors recently, only to have three people drive up to talk to them.  One, a young boy around 6, drove up on a four-wheeler, a man arrived on a track hoe and another man drove up to them in a pickup.  They didn't talk much, didn't tell them where they were from, just said they were engaged in farming and would probably run a few cows on the land.  They didn't see any women, but one of the men told them the boy had three siblings, Dawn said.  "I told him we had three boys and their kids would have to come play with them," Dawn said.  "They didn't say anything, but just stared at me."  Another of those neighbors, Mark Tubbs, whose land abuts the new neighbors' land, said the man he talked to lied to him about his name and he's wondering why.  The new neighbor told him his name was Ed Williams, but he found out it's really Edmond Jessop Harker.     Read more
 
 
Cookie Hickstein
Opinion
Hot Springs Star
Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It is my understanding that the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (polygamist) have purchased or are in the process of purchasing property in Fall River County. I believe that the purchase in Fall River County is due to the no zoning that is in your county.     Read more
 
 
County warned of compound near Edgemont
By Hot Springs Star
Rapid City Journal
Originally published Monday, October 27, 2008

HOT SPRINGS A secretive religious group linked to national cases of polygamy and the marriage of underage girls may be expanding to the Edgemont area, and there may be little Fall River County officials can do.     Read more
 
 
Court sets aside purchase agreement
Hot Springs Star
Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Tuesday, October 28, 2008

HOT SPRINGS - Seventh Circuit Judge Merton Tice Friday set aside a purchase agreement for property north of Edgemont, which members of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints had purchased and had begun developing.  The property was believed to have been intended to be the site of a compound similar to an FLDS site near Pringle.     Read more
 
 
Secretive religious group may expand
KXNewsTeam
Reiten Television KXMB Bismarck - Bismarck, North Dakota
Originally published October 29, 2008

HOT SPRINGS, S.D. (AP) A secretive religious group linked to national cases of polygamy and marriage of underage girls may be expanding to the Edgemont area.  Local resident Bill Clark has asked Fall River County officials to stop the Fundamental Latter Day Saints Church from buying land and building a compound similar to one the group has near Pringle.  But there may be little that Fall River County officials can do because it has no planning regulations or zoning.  The religious sect has built several dorm-like buildings on its 140-acre compound near Pringle, about 30 miles from Mount Rushmore.

Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com
 
 
FLDS evicted from land
By Norma Najacht
Custer County Chronicle
Originally published October 30, 2008

The sale of 440 acres of land near Edgemont along the Cheyenne River in Fall River County to Oak Valley, Inc., was set aside in an Oct. 24 court decision.  Oak Valley is a corporation of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), which also owns property in Custer County.  Oak Valley was incorporated in Evanston, Wyo., in March 2006.  The sale was challenged by Carolyn Fines of Edgemont, half heir of the estate of Herman Heck, to whom the property belonged.  According to Fall River County State's Attorney Lance Russell, Fines challenged the sale because she did not agree early on with the will, which stated that if any of the heirs wanted the land, it was to go to them.  Otherwise, it was to be sold.  The other heir was Doris Seabeck, who had agreed to the sale.  In court last Friday, Fines testified that she did want the land and that she had not agreed to the sale to Oak Valley, Inc.  Testifying on behalf of Oak Valley were Edson Jessop Harker of Oak Valley and Terri Hollenbeck, realtor for All American Realty in Edgemont, which was handling the sale.  The question was whether the estate could close on the sale and accept money for it if one heir objected to the sale.  Judge Merton B. Tice ruled in favor of Fines.  The sale was scheduled to close Oct. 24.  Oak Valley will have 30 days to appeal the decision.  According to Russell, the sales contract stated that Oak Valley could be on the land only at the time of closing.  They were in violation of that agreement.     Read more
 
 
South Dakota polygamist ranch quiet
The Associated Press
Reiten Television KXMB - Bismarck, North Dakota
Originally broadcast November 29, 2008

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) New charges have been filed against members of a polygamist sect in Texas, but the group's South Dakota presence remains unchanged.  The Texas compound was the focus of a raid last spring involving the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which is a breakaway band of the Mormon church.  Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler said no charges have been filed against church members in South Dakota who live on a 140-acre ranch near Pringle.  He and ranch neighbor Cookie Hickstein said there's been less construction work at the ranch this fall.  But a company with reported ties to the group did try to buy land near Edgemont.  Fall River County Sheriff Jeff Tarrell said the deal on the 400 acres fell through when one of the heirs blocked its sale.
 
 
Section line dispute aired at commission meeting
By Curt Nettinga
Hot Springs Star - Hot Springs, SD
Originally published Tuesday, January 6, 2009

HOT SPRINGS - A neighborhood dispute over an existing fenceline and gates and an ensuing petition, were discussed at the Dec. 2 Fall River County Commission meeting.  At odds are rancher Archie Collins and several of his neighbors west of Hot Springs, near Minnekahta Junction. The dispute rises over the location of a fence, on Collins' side of a section line and gates that are located in the fence.  Collins was represented at the meeting by attorney Jim Sword.  "All we are asking is that the fences and gates in question, be allowed to continue to exist as they have for the past 30 or 40 years," Sword said on Collins' behalf.  "Mr. Collins is a rancher and the gates and fence are part of his calving pasture. He needs the gates to keep his cows in during calving."  Sword showed the commission pictures of a gate and post which he said had been destroyed, with no repair or replacement completed.  "All we are asking is that this be treated as other gates and fences near a section line; that when something like this happens, we be allowed to call the sheriff and have him investigate the incident," Sword said.  Winthrop Brookhouse, one of Collins' neighbors, read a statement in which he stated that it is the county's responsibility to make sure that every person has access to their property and to highways.  "We have been working to develop the area," Brookhouse said. "But have a difficult time making the turn onto an adjacent road, because of the location of Mr. Collins' fence and gate."     Read more
 
 
Part Of I-90 Closes To Clear Accident Debris
Keloland Television - Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Originally broadcast July 8, 2010

NEAR BRIDGEWATER, SD - Interstate 90 was shut down after a semi and RV collided Thursday morning.  Both vehicles were heading east on I-90 when they crashed just east of the Bridgewater exit.  Authorities closed the interstate again just before 1 p.m. so that equipment could be brought in to clear away the damaged vehicles.  Emergency responders had to rescue one person who was trapped inside the RV.  The two people from that vehicle were taken to the hospital, one with serious injuries.   The driver of the semi had only minor injuries.  Troopers say charges are pending, but wouldn't say which driver was at fault.  We'll have more details later today on KELOLAND News and KELOLAND.com.     See photo
 
 
 
Investigation: Semi Driver Fell Asleep At Wheel
Keloland Television - Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Originally broadcast July 8, 2010

NEAR BRIDGEWATER, SD - Authorities say the eastbound lanes of Interstate 90 will be closed for a few more hours while crews clean up after an accident.  It happened around 9:15 a.m. Thursday near the Bridgewater exit.  An investigation found the semi driver, Ronald Jessop, who works for a company out of Utah and was driving with a suspended license, fell asleep at the wheel.  That's when officials say he hit a Ford Explorer being pulled by an RV owned by a Kansas couple.  The driver of the RV, 73-year-old Betty Sullivan of Wichita, had to be taken to the hospital after the crash with minor injuries.  The passenger in the RV, 74-year-old Leonard Sullivan, also of Wichita, was trapped after the crash and is in the hospital with serious, but non-life-threatening injuries.  Jessop, 25, is in the McCook County jail; he's being charged with careless driving and driving with a suspended license.  Eastbound traffic on Interstate 90 is being rerouted north on 435th Avenue, east on Highway 38 and south on Highway 81.     See photo
 
 
Interstate 90 Open To Traffic Following Crash
Keloland Television - Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Originally broadcast July 8, 2010

NORTH OF BRIDGEWATER, SD - Eastbound lanes of Interstate 90 near the Bridgewater exit are open again after being closed for about five hours Thursday.  Authorities closed the stretch of interstate while crews worked to cleanup following a two-vehicle crash involving a semi and RV.  The semi was carrying about 25 blocks of cheese estimated to weigh 700 pounds each.  The state Department of Transportation used pay loaders and dump trucks to remove the cheese.  Ace Towing of Salem brought in wreckers to move the vehicles.  Interstate traffic was rerouted north to Highway 38 while the crash site was cleared.  The interstate re-opened just after 4 p.m.     See photo
 
 
Troopers: Concentrate Near Accidents
By Molly Miles
Keloland Television - Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Originally broadcast July 8, 2010

NORTH OF BRIDGEWATER, SD - After Thursday's crash on the interstate near the Bridgewater exit, officers are reminding drivers not to get distracted.  Highway Patrol troopers say it's important for people coming upon accidents to concentrate on their driving and pay attention to the officers at the site.  "As you are going through a scene like that, the best thing or advice I can give is to keep moving through the scene if you are told to do so," South Dakota Highway Patrol Capt. Kevin Joffer said.  Joffer says accidents often distract other drivers, which can cause congestion and even another crash if they aren't paying attention to the flow of traffic.  "Especially a high profile crash like this. There was lots to see and lots for people to look at. And unfortunately, when people slow down, not everyone behind you will know that you are slowing down," Joffer said.  If traffic is stopped completely because of an accident, never try to drive through barriers.  "When the law enforcement gets there, the biggest thing we want to be concerned about right away is getting any injured passengers out of the vehicles that are involved in the crash," Joffer said.  Doing all you can to allow officers and rescue crews to do their job, he says, will keep everyone on scene safe.
 
 
HP: Semi Driver Shouldn't Have Been Driving
By Don Jorgensen
Keloland Television - Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Originally broadcast July 8, 2010

NORTH OF BRIDGEWATER, SD - Troopers say he shouldn't have been driving in the first place.  A Utah trucker is in a South Dakota jail cell, accused of falling asleep at the wheel and causing a major accident on Interstate 90.  The crash stopped traffic near the Bridgewater exit for several hours and sent two people to the hospital.  The accident scene looks worse than it was.  Judging by the mess, investigators say it's lucky someone wasn't killed.  "There was an Airstream RV with a Ford Explorer traveling eastbound on I-90 when a semi came up behind that vehicle and rear ended the vehicle being towed by the RV," Captain Kevin Joffer of the South Dakota Highway Patrol said.  The semi hit the Airstream so hard, the driver lost control, the RV rolled into the median while the semi veered into the ditch tipping on its side.  Investigators say the semi driver, Ronald Jessop of Utah, wasn't paying attention and was operating the big rig illegally.  "The driver of the semi has a suspended commercial driver's license. We have also received information from the troopers investigating the accident that it appears the driver may have fallen asleep," Joffer said.  Cargo and personal belongings were strewn everywhere.  Because of the all the debris, the South Dakota Highway Patrol shut down the Interstate for several hours until the wreckage was cleaned up.  "We weren't safely able to move traffic through that area because of the crash because it was quite a mess," Joffer said.  The driver of RV, 73-year-old Betty Sullivan of Wichita, Kansas, has minor injuries.  Passenger 74-year-old Leonard Sullivan suffered serious, but non-life threatening injuries.  Jessop, the driver of the semi, has been cited for driving without a license and careless driving.  He also has an outstanding warrant on a failure to appear in court on a separate charge.     See photo
 
 
 
Crash on I-90 closes interstate for five hours
Staff Report
The Argus Leader - Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Originally published July 8, 2010

Interstate 90 is back open after a two-vehicle crash this morning west of the Salem exit closed it for about five hours.  The crash happened about 9 a.m. when Ronald Scott Jessop, 24, of Washington, Utah, fell asleep at the wheel of a 2005 Kenworth semi-truck, the South Dakota Department of Safety said in a release.  The Kenworth struck the rear of a Ford Explorer being towed by a 1999 Air Stream Cutter driven by Betty A. Sullivan, 73, of Wichita, Kan.  The Explorer went into the south ditch.  The Air Stream entered the center median and rolled, while the Kenworth entered the south ditch and rolled.  Sullivan suffered minor injuries.  A passenger in the Air Stream, 74-year-old Leonard Sullivan, suffered serious but nonlife-threatening injuries.  Both were transported to Sanford in Sioux Falls.  Jessop was uninjured.  All occupants were wearing seatbelts.  Jessop was taken into custody and charged with careless driving and driving with a suspended commercial driver license.  Interstate traffic was rerouted north to Highway 38 while the crash site was cleared.  The interstate was re-opened shortly after 4 p.m.  The Kenworth carried a load of about 25 blocks of cheese, with an estimated weight of 700 pounds per block.  Ace Towing of Salem sent wreckers to move the vehicles, and the state Department of Transportation used pay loaders and dump trucks to remove the cheese from the interstate.
 
 
Nearly All Truck Drivers Follow Rules Of The Road
By Shawn Neisteadt
Keloland Television - Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Originally broadcast July 9, 2010

Truck drivers don't want Thursday's incident to give the industry a bad reputation.  South Dakota's four permanent weigh stations are located along the busiest entrances to the state, along the interstate system.  Motor Carrier Enforcement and Highway Patrol Troopers check up on trucks along other highways, and they're checking on much more than just how much each trucks weighs.  Whenever you get behind the wheel, chances are you're sharing the road with big rigs.  And those who drive trucks for a living must follow more rules than the average driver.  But with up to 80,000 pounds of responsibility, they appreciate the extra federal and state regulations.  "We can still get our jobs done. We can still get our deliveries made on time. We just have to plan ahead, be smart about it and be safe," truck driver Dave Bruck said.  Like other truck drivers, Bruck must take a few minutes out of his trip to stop at this Interstate 90 weigh station at the South Dakota - Minnesota border.  Checking the weight of the truck is just the start.  If asked, drivers must also prove they're licensed and insured and show their log books.  That's because, depending on the truck, drivers may only be on the road between 11 and 14 hours before taking a ten-hour break.  Bruck says it's up to every driver to make sure they're following the rules of the road.  "You have to make a lot of decisions and they better be the smart ones and the right ones," Bruck said.     Read more
 
 
Warrant Issued For Driver In SD Cheese Spill
Keloland Television - Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Originally published August 10, 2010

SALEM, SD - A Utah man charged in a semitrailer crash that dumped more than eight tons of cheese onto Interstate 90 in South Dakota failed to show at a court hearing this week.  A warrant has been issued for 25-year-old Ronald Jessop, of Washington, Utah.  Jessop faces charges in the July 8 crash near Salem, including driving with a suspended commercial driver's license.  No telephone number is listed for him.  Authorities allege Jessop fell asleep at the wheel and struck a vehicle being towed behind an RV.  The semi rolled and ended up in a ditch, spilling 25 blocks of cheese weighing about 700 pounds each.  The interstate was closed for about five hours.  Two people in the RV suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
 
 
Jeffs Extradition
Radio 1380 KOTA - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally broadcast December 2, 2010

Polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs, whose church has a secretive compound in the Black Hills, was extradited from Utah to Texas to face trial on bigamy and sexual assault charges.  The 54-year-old ecclesiastical head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was convicted in 2007 of being an accomplice to rape.  Earlier this year, Utah Supreme Court ordered a new trial but did not block the transfer of Jeffs to Texas.  In 2003 the church built a compound near Pringle.
 
 
Pringle compound delinquent on property taxes
Mary Garrigan Journal staff
Rapid City Journal
Originally published Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A polygamist Mormon sect that owns a 140-acre compound in the southern Black Hills is $178,594 past due in its Custer County property taxes for 2008 and 2009.  The United Order of South Dakota, which is the legal name of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints community 15 miles southwest of Pringle, has paid none of its 2009 property taxes, which were due last year.     Read more
 
 
Treasurer: Polygamist sect past due on taxes
Business > Texas
Victoria Advocate - Victoria, Texas
Originally published March 29, 2011

CUSTER, S.D. (AP) - A polygamist sect that owns a 140-acre compound near Pringle is more than $178,000 past due on its property taxes, according to Custer County records.  The Rapid City Journal reports that the United Order of South Dakota, which is the legal name of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints community, has paid none of its 2009 property taxes due last year.  The group is also more than two years past due for part of its 2008 taxes that were due in 2009.  County Treasurer Dawn McLaughlin said late tax payments are unusual for the group, which had always paid on time and in cash.  The group has owned land in Custer County since 2003 and historically has always paid its tax bill in two installments.  "They have never been delinquent before," McLaughlin said.  The FLDS practices polygamy as a religious belief, and its president and spiritual leader, Warren Jeffs, is in a Texas prison on charges of bigamy and sexual abuse of a child.  Its religious roots are tied to the early teachings of Joseph Smith who founded the mainstream Mormon church.  Smith's church abandoned the practice of plural marriage in 1890.  It's not known how many people live at the South Dakota compound, which is known for its secrecy and a guard tower on its property along Farmer Road.  McLaughlin said the group will owe another $80,424.80 in 2010 property taxes this year.  If the tax bill goes unpaid, the county will have the legal right to start proceedings to acquire the property in December of 2012, she said.
___

Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com
 
 
Custer Group Owes Taxes
Radio 1380 KOTA - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally broadcast March 30, 2011

Custer County records show a polygamist sect that owns a 140-acre compound near Pringle is three years behind on property taxes.  According to the Custer County Treasurer's Department, the United Order of South Dakota has not paid a large amount of its property taxes from the years 2008 through 2010.  The three-year debt total for the group is over $259,000.  The United Order is the legal name of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints community.  Warren Jeffs, the group's president and spiritual leader was convicted last year of forcing a 14-year-old girl to marry an older man.  Before his arrest, it is believed he hid from the FBI at the Pringle compound.
 
 
FLDS upsets neighbor
Jason Ferguson
Custer County Chronicle - Custer, South Dakota
Originally published Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

Karl Von Rump moved 10 miles outside of town to enjoy peace and tranquility.  Now he has a city next to him.  "I wish you people would come down there. You wouldn't want to live there," Von Rump said to the Custer County Commission at its April 6 meeting.  Von Rump approached the commission about a few issues he said are caused by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) compound, which is near his home on Farmer Road.  First and foremost on his list of complaints is the condition of Farmer Road, which he presented the commission with pictures of.  Von Rump said FLDS' semi traffic is tearing the roads apart, saying six semis came in and out on one day alone.  "You talk to them and they say, 'We're sorry and we will try to fix it this,' and then its the same thing the next day," Von Rump said.

Available only in the print version of the Custer County Chronicle. To subscribe, call 605-673-2217.
 
 
The simple truth: There's no 'Pringle Compound'
By: Amy Kirk
The Daily Republic - Mitchell, South Dakota
Originally published April 25, 2011

Reading about the "Pringle Compound," or the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) compound, disgusts me.  Pringle does not have a compound!  We have excellent food, a pool table, and beer at the popular Hitchrail Bar & Restaurant (where owner and award-winning chef Dennis Boitnott recommends making reservations), a sand plant, the Pringle Poacher Car on a hill, elk droppings on the Mickelson Trail, dogs running loose and the proud title "The Elk Capital of South Dakota," but we do not have an FLDS compound.  The 6-foot chicken that was in Pringle has been moved to a Minnesota poultry farm.  News about this compound being constructed first hit the dirt streets of Pringle when an out-of-town news crew showed up at the Hitchrail to get the locals' opinions on the FLDS being "in the neighborhood."  My husband and a neighbor having coffee were the first residents questioned.  When asked to comment, my husband and the neighbor gave a puzzled look, shrugged their shoulders and my husband replied, "We didn't know anything about it."  After getting similar responses from other residents, the TV crew left and drove back to Custer.  They had to, to get back home.  In the beginning of the drama surrounding the FLDS, newspapers referenced the compound as being "near Pringle."  Typing the word "near" became too tedious and was eventually eliminated from headlines.  Although many people are still clueless as to where Pringle is, the compound has become known as "The Pringle Compound" without Pringle's approval.     Read more
 
 
Neighbors, county want FLDS to repair road damage
Mary Garrigan
Features
Rapid City Journal
Originally published Sunday, May 22, 2011

After seven years of almost constant construction at the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints compound near Pringle, Custer County commissioners have said they won't issue any more building permits to the group until improvements to Farmer Road are under way and all delinquent property taxes are paid.  The FLDS's neighbors say it's about time.     Read more
 
 
Neighbor concerned about polygamy, child welfare
Mary Garrigan
Features
Rapid City Journal
Originally published Sunday, May 22, 2011

PRINGLE - Cookie Hickstein would love to open her front door some day to find one of Warren Jeffs' wives standing on her front porch, seeking sanctuary.  "If one of those women wanted to run, I'd help her do it," said Hickstein of a secretive compound just up the road from her house that is owned by followers of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.     Read more
 
 
FLDS compound pays overdue property taxes, starts road improvements
Mary Garrigan
Rapid City Journal
Originally published Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A reclusive religious sect near Pringle paid its overdue property tax bill at the end of May and, as a result, has been granted two new building permits by Custer County after also showing a "good faith" effort to begin improving the public road to its 140-acre compound.  The United Order of South Dakota, which is the legal name of a group that belongs to Warren Jeffs' Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, paid $181,272 in delinquent 2008 and 2009 property taxes on May 25.     Read more
 
 
Freedom of worship
Mary Garrigan
Rapid City Journal - Rapid City, South Dakota
Originally published Sunday, July 3, 2011

Sometimes, freedom to worship means the right to ring other people's doorbells.  Sometimes, it means the freedom not to have anyone ring yours.  The evangelistic zeal that certain religious groups, including Jehovah's Witnesses and young Mormon missionaries, bring to the public practice of their faith is at the opposite end of the proselytizing spectrum from more privacy-minded churches and sects, like the one that has built a secluded 140-acre compound in the southern Black Hills, far from prying eyes.     Read more
 
 
FLDS and neighbors at odds
Jason Ferguson
Custer County Chronicle - Custer, South Dakota
Originally published Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

Tensions are escalating between members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) at the Custer County compound and their neighbors, as construction noise and a late-night hauling of construction equipment have become the focal point of the latest dispute between the parties.  The Custer County Sheriff's Department has been on the receiving end of calls from both the FLDS and its neighbors in the past few weeks.  Perhaps the neighbor who is most upset is Karl Von Rump, who said he is considering a civil lawsuit to limit the hours the FLDS can work on its property.  "He is at the end of his rope with the noise," Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler said.  Von Rump confirmed that is the case and has pleaded with the Custer County Commission on a couple of occasions to do something to limit the hours FLDS members can work.  Von Rump said the work is around the clock, with the help of floodlights at night.  "It looks like a football field out here at night," he said.  Wheeler has tried to be a mediator in the dispute and said he thought he had an agreement between the two parties as to when work would take place, but that quickly fell apart.     Read more
 
 
Church moves forward with road repair
Mary Garrigan
Rapid City Journal
Originally published Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints have completed county-mandated construction on a first, small section of road leading into their Pringle-area compound.  In exchange for the right to construct two new agricultural buildings on the 140-acre property, the polygamist FLDS community, which is affiliated with Warren Jeffs' church, has brought the first 0.6 of a mile of 20 Mile Road up to county road specifications, as required by Custer County.     Read more
 
 
Jeffs' Compound Appears Unaffected By His Trial
By Perry Groten
KELOLAND TV - Sioux Falls, SD
Originally broadcast August 5, 2011

CUSTER, SD - The sentencing phase for religious cult leader Warren Jeffs got underway Friday in a Texas courtroom. A jury on Thursday found Jeffs guilty of sexually assaulting two girls, ages 12 and 15, whom he took as brides in so-called "spiritual marriages."  Warren Jeffs' legal troubles haven't loosened his ties to South Dakota.  Jeffs is the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which, for the past six years, has run a compound in a remote area in Custer County, near Pringle.  It's a spiritual settlement that keeps growing, even with Jeffs facing prison time.  The compound, with religious ties to Warren Jeffs, is leaving an ever-growing footprint in the foothills of Custer County.  The church members who live here keep adding new buildings to their secluded site. The latest addition, according to Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler, is a dairy barn and other out-buildings.  Members have also been required to build a private access road as part of the permitting process.  Wheeler estimates the compound numbers between 100 to150 people.  It's a fluid population, with church members moving in for a time to help with construction, and then moving on, once the project is finished.   Wheeler makes regular visits onto the compound. But he says the people living there make no mention of Jeffs, or the crimes he committed.  In fact, Wheeler doubts Jeffs' followers here have been paying much media attention to his trial, since they prefer isolating themselves from the outside world.
 
 
 
Semi accident temporarily closes lane near Watford City
By Lynne Napton
Williston Herald - Williston, North Dakota
Originally published Tuesday, August 30, 2011

An accident involving two semis shut down traffic on U.S. Highway 85 for four hours early this morning.  According to a report from the North Dakota Highway Patrol, Steven Black, 31, Colorado City, Ariz., was traveling northbound in a 1994 Freightliner semi.  Steve Solem, 48, Watford City, was traveling southbound in a 1998 Kenworth.  At 1:45 a.m., Black attempted to slow down to avoid hitting a vehicle in front of him that was slowing to turn in the northbound lane.  Black's vehicle crossed the center line and struck Solem's vehicle.  Black's vehicle came to rest facing west in the southbound lane.  Solem's vehicle crossed the northbound lane after being struck, entered the ditch and continued into a field before coming to rest facing east.  Due to damages to Black's vehicle, the southbound lane two miles south of Watford City was closed for approximately four hours until the vehicle could be removed.  According to the report, neither men were injured.  Black was cited for care required.
 
 
FLDS asked to cut back construction
Jason Ferguson
Custer County Chronicle - Custer, South Dakota
Originally published Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Custer County officials recently met with officials from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) in an effort to come to an agreement over FLDS construction hours.  Whether or not the meeting amounted to much is yet to be seen.  At the Aug. 24 meeting of the Custer County Commission, commission chairman David Hazeltine told of the meeting, at which the head of the FLDS compound in southwest Custer County, Ben "Ed" Johnson, told county officials he would talk with landowners surrounding the compound and get back with them.  Landowners around the compound have been up in arms recently over the compound's 24-hour construction.  Commissioner Phil Lampert told the commission that Jim Farmer, owner of Canyon Rim Ranch which sits near the compound, told him he had been contacted by the FLDS, as had some of his renters.  FLDS members hoped plates of cookies would pacify the neighbors.     Read more
 
 
FLDS neighbors complain about noise
Journal staff
Rapid City Journal
Originally published Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Neighbors of the United Order of South Dakota, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints' Pringle-area compound, are asking the FLDS to address late night/early morning construction noise complaints or they will seek a county noise ordinance from the Custer County Commission.     Read more
 
 
Investigator warns: Keep eye on Pringle FLDS
Mary Garrigan
Rapid City Journal
Originally published Thursday, September 1, 2011

The recent convictions of polygamist church leader Warren Jeffs proves that South Dakota and Custer County law enforcement officials should do more to investigate a Jeffs-affiliated compound near Pringle, said an expert on the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Sam Brower is a private investigator from Cedar City, Utah, who spent seven years investigating the FLDS after being hired by a FLDS member who was engaged in a dispute with the group.     Read more
 
 
Neighbors Upset With Polygamist Compound
By Derek Olson
KELOLAND TV - Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Originally broadcast September 19, 2011

PRINGLE, SD - Since polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison early last month for sex crimes the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS has faded from news headlines.  But for people living around the group's compound near Pringle, problems of a different kind still grow.  In the sparsely populated hills south of Pringle, one would expect there to be an abundance of peace and quiet.  But the FLDS sect has been in a near constant state of construction for more than five years, and neighbors have had enough.  "It just goes on and on and on, there's no end to it day and night," Rick Hickstein said.  "I can't put up with it. I'm sorry. It's not right to be this rude to your neighbor," Karl Von Rump said.  On August 24, the Custer County Commission held a meeting to address the concerns.  The compound's leader, Ben "Ed" Johnson, was then asked to consult with his neighbors about appropriate times to work.  But Karl Von Rump, who has a home less than 300 feet from the construction of a new dairy facility, says that hasn't happened.  "If you ask them to be quiet they'll say, 'oh, we're sorry. We want to be good neighbors.' They'd be quiet for a week and start right back up again," Von Rump said.     Read more
 
 
 
FLDS contemplating harassment complaint
Jason Ferguson
Custer County Chronicle - Custer, South Dakota
Originally published Thursday, October 13th, 2011

The feud between Members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) compound southwest of Pringle and some of their neighbors escalated this past week, when a member of the compound threatened to file a harassment complaint against two of the neighbors, Richard and Cookie Hickstein.  The issue started late last month, when the Hicksteins began going on the land of a neighbor or on to county road right-of-way near the compound to take photos of all the work FLDS members were doing on their land.  Before then, Cookie would occasionally take a photo from her deck of them hauling in equipment or of the watchtower on the compound, but not on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.  After a while of the photo taking, Cookie contacted Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler about whether the Hicksteins were doing anything wrong, and Wheeler said a compound member had contacted him about the picture taking, but had not filed a complaint.  He also told the Hicksteins no laws were being broken.     Read more
 
 
Fundamentalist church sends revelations to Custer commissioners
Mary Garrigan
Rapid City Journal
Originally published Thursday, December 29, 2011

Custer County commissioners each got a letter from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently that contained revelations from its jailed spiritual leader Warren S. Jeffs.  The three-page letter, signed by church patriarch Vaughan Taylor and bishop John Barlow, included revelations through Jeffs that were dated Nov. 23 and spoke of a need to "prepare righteously for coming great war."  It included 12 items, including a revelation apparently warning against the consequences of allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the U.S. military.     Read more
 
 
Imprisoned Polygamist Pestering SD County
By Associated Press
KDLT News - Sioux Falls, SD
Originally published January 8, 2012

A polygamist who's in prison for sexual assault has been pestering South Dakota county officials with letters and boxes of books.  Butte County officials say the material is coming from Warren Jeffs and his supporters.  Jeffs is leader of a sect called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Jeffs is serving a life term, plus 20 years, in a Texas prison for sexually assaulting two young girls he claimed as his wives.  A group affiliated with Jeffs owns land in western South Dakota's Custer County.  But auditor Elaine Jensen says there's no record of Jeffs' church having any presence in Butte County.  The materials include a letter from Jeffs in which he claims "keyholding power of authority on Earth."
 
 
Butte County questions letters from imprisoned leader
Milo Dailey Butte County Post staff
Rapid City Journal
Originally published Sunday, January 8, 2012

BELLE FOURCHE - Butte County officials have no idea why they have been receiving letters and boxes of books from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its imprisoned spiritual leader Warren S. Jeffs.  The latest was opened for the Jan. 3 county commission meeting.  It included a warning, "Cincinnati shall soon be a destroyed city."  It's the fourth set of letters sent to the Butte County Commission, Butte County Sheriff Fred Lamphere and Butte County Auditor Elaine Jensen.  "There's no cover letter, no nothing," Jensen said.  "But it's our names and they've done well on their research."    Read more
 
 
Warren Jeffs Pesters SD Counties From Prison
By Derek Olson
KELOLAND TV - Sioux Falls, SD
Originally broadcast January 9, 2012

BELLE FOURCHE, SD - Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints leader Warren Jeffs has been behind bars since last August when he was sentenced to life in prison for sexually assaulting two young girls.  But, as Butte County officials are discovering, incarceration isn't silencing the controversial leader.  In early December, letters from Jeffs began arriving at the Butte County Courthouse.  At first, they were handled like any other piece of mail.  "The first time they came, I did give them to my commissioners," Butte County Auditor Elaine Jensen said.  The letters, which contain some dire jailhouse prophecies from Jeffs, were promptly rejected by the Butte County Commission.  But, the packages continued to arrive.  "By the third time I'd received them, I realized that I had a pattern. That's when I contacted the Butte County Sheriff," Jensen said.  "It isn't being ignored by us. We're aware that it's there. We're dealing with it, but it's not anything that we're interested in or buying into," Butte County Sheriff Fred Lamphere said.  And Butte County officials say Warren Jeffs is not a pen pal they're interested in having.  "If I receive any more I'm just supposed to refuse them," Jensen said.     Read more
 
 
 
Mormon sect adds county governments to mailing lists
Mary Garrigan
Rapid City Journal
Originally published Friday, January 13, 2012

The Pennington County Commission is turning mailings from Warren Jeffs' fundamentalist Mormon religious sect over to the Pennington County Sheriff's Office as a precaution, according to commission office manager Holli Hennies.  Like many commissions statewide, Pennington County began receiving the mailings in late November, and it got the most recent envelope on Jan. 11, Hennies said.     Read more
 
 
Ag land values expected to increase
By Curt Nettinga
Hot Springs Star
Rapid City Journal
Originally published Tuesday, Jan 24 2012

HOT SPRINGS - Valuation of crop and non-crop ag land will likely increase in 2012, as the county continues the implementation of productivity valuation, according to Director of Equalizaton Terri Halls from the Assessor's office.  Halls presented her 2012 intentions to the Fall River County Commission at its Jan. 17 meeting.  She is recommending that crop soil values be increased 10 percent with a 5.3 percent increase to non-crop soil values. Halls noted that values of ag buildings or houses on ag land will not increase.     Read more
 
 
KSFY Exclusive: The Jeffs' Letters
By Brian Allen
KSFY Television - Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Originally broadcast February 26, 2012

To some, he is a religious leader who is helping prepare the world for the return of Jesus Christ.  But to others, he is a criminal who used his position of power to sexually abuse young girls.  And this man is now reaching out from behind prison walls....hoping to influence elected officials here in South Dakota.  His name is Warren Jeffs and he leads a radical off-shoot of the Mormon church called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  This off shoot believes men should have more than one wives and that those wives can be in their teens.  For the last five years, Jeffs has been in and out of prisons in Utah and Texas, convicted of sex crimes involving children.  Even behind prison walls, Jeffs and his followers continue to seek converts and spread their beliefs.  And their work now has a South Dakota connection.  His followers believe Warren Jeffs receives direct communication....or divine revelation...from Jesus Christ.  And that those revelations condone adult men marrying teen-aged girls; some of those girls as young as 14-years-old.     Read more
 
 
FLDS is on a building binge
Norma Najacht
Custer County Chronicle - Custer, South Dakota
Originally published Thursday, September 6th, 2012

A temple?  An amphitheatre with a 30' statue of Warren Jeffs?  A milking barn?  While all those ideas have been suggested, no one knows for sure.  However, there is no doubt that the latest project the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) is constructing on its property located on Farmer Road in Custer County is massive.  Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler was told by Ben "Ed" Johnson, the person in charge at the FLDS compound, that it is to be a milking barn, but after seeing photos of the project, Wheeler suspects it is something else.  What that something else is, he doesn't know.  Dave Green, Custer County planning director, sees a similarity between this structure and one at the FLDS Yearning For Zion (YFZ) compound in Eldorado, Texas.  That structure is the size of a stadium and shaped like an amphitheatre in which it it has been rumored that a 30' statue of FLDS prophet Warren Jeffs with a small child will be placed.  Green notes that the packing materials in which the statue was delivered to the YFZ compound is identical to packing materials seen in the photo shown here.  Although Green is concerned about what the FLDS may be constructing in that area, as there is no formula for dealing with an amphitheatre should that be what it turns out to be that structure isn't Green's main concern at the present time.     Read more
 
 
Building Boom At Polygamist Compound
By Derek Olson
Keloland Television - Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Originally broadcast September 13, 2012

NEAR PRINGLE, SD - The fundamentalist religious group led by Warren Jeffs has been adding on to their compound near Pringle, South Dakota.  A massive building under construction has piqued the curiosity of people in the area.  The FLDS sect has been in a perpetual state of construction for years.  In fact, Custer County records show a total of 22-structures have been built since the group moved into the area.  "The tower is kind of an icon out there, and there's always a question about that. Why is it there? I think everybody has some kind of thoughts about what's going on," Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler said.  New aerial photographs show four buildings currently under construction, including one with a 100 by 120 foot foundation.  "Size does alarm some people, but we don't regulate the size of anybody's structure beyond using that as a basis for permitting costs," Custer County Planning Director David Green said.  While you can't see much construction from the road, county officials were out on Wednesday and say that all the building projects have current permits.  "They indicated that it's a structure of religious significance. But, then again, every structure is of religious significance out there. The permit states that it is a storage building," Green said.  Other buildings under construction include a chicken coop and milking barn, all needed to support a population that could be into the hundreds.     Read more
 
 
 
The New Polygamists on the Block: Warren Jeffs's FLDS on the Move?
As Texas moves to seize their ranch, followers of Warren Jeffs might be migrating north to a tiny town in South Dakota. Not everyone's rolling out the welcome mat, writes Matthew DeLuca.
Matthew DeLuca
The Daily Beast - New York, NY
Originally published December 4, 2012

A secluded compound in South Dakota may be the next stop for some of the devoted followers of convicted prophet Warren Jeffs, say people with ties to his Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints.  The state of Texas moved last Wednesday to gain control of a ranch held by the group, and what will come next for the media-shy followers of Jeffs, who is serving a life sentence in a Texas prison for sexually assaulting two girls, remains unknown.  One clue can be found on the outskirts of tiny Pringle, South Dakota, population 112, with one bar and one post office to its name.  More than twice that number about 200 to 250 people already live on the FLDS compound, which was built in 2003 not far from Pringle, according to Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler.  The compound has received permits for six residential structures with a total of 61 bedrooms.  It was purchased by David Steed Allred, the same Jeffs follower who purchased the land for the Yearning for Zion ranch near Eldorado, Texas, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.  The Texas purchase was funded through money laundering and was used to facilitate "bigamy, sexual assault, and aggravated sexual assault," Texas alleged in the 91-page affidavit attached to the seizure warrant filed last week.  Efforts to contact Allred through the United Order of South Dakota, which currently holds the Pringle-area property in a common-law trust, were unsuccessful.  Rodney Parker, a Utah-based attorney who has represented the church in the past, did not return requests for comment.     Read more
 
 
FLDS faithful may be moving here
Custer County Chronicle - Custer, South Dakota
Originally published Thursday, December 13th, 2012

According to a Dec. 4 article by Matthew DeLuca in Newsweek/The Daily Beast, members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) may be making their way to the Custer County compound.  As Texas moves to seize the FLDS Yearning for Zion (YFZ) Ranch near Eldorado, Texas, FLDS members may look for a safe haven here.  Kathy Mankin, co-owner of The Eldorado Success with her husband, Randy, said the FLDS businesses there and in San Angelo, Texas, have moved away.  "They are gone," she said.  No one knows for sure where they went.  According to DeLuca, Isaac Wyler, a former FLDS member who lives in Colorado City, Ariz., said he had heard that a lot of FLDS members, especially the workers, have moved to the Custer County property.  This property contains six residential structures with a total of 61 bedrooms.  Sam Brower, private investigator and author of "Prophets Prey," said, in DeLuca's article, "We only know this heavy equipment has left Texas and there is a lot of heavy equipment now in South Dakota."

Available only in the print version of the Custer County Chronicle. To subscribe, call 605-673-2217.
 
 
FLDS permits expired
Jason Ferguson
Custer County Chronicle
Originally published Thursday, January 31st, 2013

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) compound in southwest Custer County has been delivered a cease and desist letter from the Custer County Sheriff's Office, ordering the FLDS to halt construction until it obtains building permits that are current.  At the Jan. 30 meeting of the Custer County Commission, county planning director David Green told the commission of the letter that was being sent to the FLDS compound.  Green said the permits the FLDS were issued have expired and need to be either updated or extended before work continues at the site.  Green also recommended the commission stipulate that planning be allowed on the site to verify construction.  Green said members of the FLDS heard about the letter and came to his office to say they would submit in writing the status of the projects they are working on, as well as an application to have their permits resubmitted or extended.  "I think because of public interest, we should make sure they are current," Green said.  Green said many building permits are extended, and most residents come to the planning office to extend their permits once they expire.

Available only in the print version of the Custer County Chronicle. To subscribe, call 605-673-2217.
 
 
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During the January 23, 2009 deposition of Merril Jessop, court exhibits were included in his deposition. One item was a budget from the Short Creek Stake reporting their tithings paid and how these monies were being spent to support the other FLDS compounds
 
Read the Budget Estimates from the Short Creek Stake and see where their hard-earned money was going
 

 
Read the February 21, 2005 Training Given by President Warren S. Jeffs On the Places of Refuge to a Group of Men regarding the "keep sweet" training on "how to live and be Zion" and be invited to live on the lands of refuge
 

 
See the Photo Gallery of the compound in Pringle, South Dakota
 


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