Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Fort Knox has nothing on polygamist compound
I'm in the town of Eldorado in the Texas hill country today, trying to report on a bizarre, yet impressive compound of polygamists that rises out of 1,600 acres of brush and cactus. But I think it may be easier to penetrate Fort Knox than to get inside this place.

The compound, which is called "Yearning for Zion," is home to followers of Warren Jeffs, the polygamist leader recently named to the FBI's 10 most wanted list. Some outsiders suggest Jeffs might be in there too.

So far, I've tried driving in. And I've played a game of cat and mouse with the people living inside, who run the other way when they see us. With our telephoto lens we watch them as they, in turn, watch us. It's eerie. Now, I'm trying to fly over the compound in a rented plane.

This place is amazing, like a small city surrounding a giant Masonic temple, where devout followers of Warren Jeffs believe they need to be to get ready for the apocalypse. Jeffs, who they believe is their prophet, has told them they need to be here when the world ends in order to start a new civilization.

Of course, in the meantime, Jeffs has a more pressing problem. He's running from the law for allegedly having sex with minors and arranging marriages between underage females and older men.

You see, these fundamentalists, who broke away from the mainstream Mormon church in the early 1900s, believe that in order to get to heaven each man must have at least three wives. And the more wives you have, the closer you are to heaven.

We've spent the day talking to law enforcement officials in the area, both local and federal. We asked: Why don't they go in and look for Jeffs? They tell us they can't until they are convinced he's there.

Will the compound eventually be raided? Is this going to be the next Waco? That's what residents here in Eldorado fear most. You'll hear from them and get a closer look at "Yearning for Zion" on tonight's show.
Posted By Rick Sanchez, CNN Correspondent: 5:06 PM ET
  28 Comments
It's all about brainwashing the women, using sexual favors by the men. It's stomach wrenching how these women can be so controlled by the men, and we think the Muslims are tough on women's rights, they are amaturers compared to this sect of Mormans. The poor children they conceive breaks my heart.
Posted By Anonymous Lynda Narug, Hot Springs Village, AR : 5:49 PM ET
Frankly, I think our world would be a better place if polygamists were free to practice that lifestyle. There's zero reason to interfere except 'morality' and religious reasons that dominante this country. I have to wonder how those who want to persecute polygamists would feel if they were in a country where instead monogamy was illegal. It's their lives to live, we should respect it.
Posted By Anonymous Rich, Grafton, ND : 5:49 PM ET
I can't judge on how dumb or smart this religion is because all religions make some kinds of outrageous promises to their followers. Hence, the term faith--just believe without evidence. But that's not what this Jeffs character is about. If he has done what he's accused of, he's a criminal and needs to be in jail next to Zacarias and buddies. Unfortunately, I think that what happened in Waco, even Jonestown, will pale in comparison to what could be upcoming with Jeffs' thousands of followers when the feds start moving in on them.
Posted By Anonymous Gypsy, an American in Mexico : 6:04 PM ET
Sounds to me with all these compounds in Texas, Arizona, Utah, ect. that the cops are in on it. Why didn't they do anything in the past? They had to have know these people where polygamist.

"And the more wives you have, the closer you are to heaven." Rick, I know allot of men that would disagree and say one wife is plenty. Good luck with your "fly by".
Posted By Anonymous Rachel-Albuquerque, NM : 6:17 PM ET
Please! Let's not have another Waco. They could have caught Kouresh while he was in town on errands or jogging out in the open.
The blaze at Waco, despite what the FBI says, was caused by the break in. It killed 19 children, one unborn. If you want Warren Jeffs, get him when he goes to the bank. Don't follow him home and invite the press to film the takedown!
Posted By Anonymous Katie, Amarillo, TX : 6:20 PM ET
It's important to note that the temple is not a Masonic temple. It's a common misconception that Mormons (and Mormon splinter groups like this one) are Masons.
Posted By Anonymous Jonathon, Midvale, UT : 6:42 PM ET
Sounds like Waco getting set up to happen all over again. The usual government propoganda line of "women and children being abused" by this evil man, etc., ad nauseum! It never ceases to amaze me of all the 'evil cults' which crop up when the sitting administration is under fire for some thing or another. If they want Jeffs, just wait for him to show up, no need to raid his 'compound'...or does he have weopons of mass destruction, like Sadam?
Posted By Anonymous Jim Tuggle, Elk Falls, KS : 6:48 PM ET
we need our law enforcement resources elsewhere!! Our cities are filled with violent criminals who are carjacking, raping, beating, robbing and murdering innocent people every day. What are the police doing about it? Hunting down polygamists. Please. What a JOKE!!
Posted By Anonymous Mark Johnston, Sacramento, CA : 6:48 PM ET
There have been myriad stories in the past on this issue, and that's good. Until something is done we need to renew public outrage when it comes to abuse of underage children. I can't wait to see the story - I hope something comes of it this time.
Posted By Anonymous Jeff Strauss, Hollywood, California : 6:49 PM ET
I am ashamed to live in Texas- I am ashamed that Texas permits this atrocity. I could care less about the "crime" of polygamy- what two (or more) consenting adults do is their business and not mine. But who can argue that the rape of these children is not utterly sickening?

Our society refuses to acknowledge that these girls truly are children- because they LOOK like adults. Girls merely sixteen years old should be thinking of prom and college, or at least be preparing to graduate from highschool in a couple of years.

Instead, these children are being systemically raped by men four times their age in a culture that condemns their tears as sinful.

Our nation and world are sick- possibly beyond repair- when people refuse to recognize that when there is still a child's mind in that woman's body. A child deserving of our protection. Instead we fixate on about how many of them it's okay to rape before the ATF intervenes.
Posted By Anonymous L LaSalla, 25, Austin TX : 6:52 PM ET
One thing that the world admires about The United States are our liberties, but.....How can we allow this to happen for so long? How long has the government known about this group and this has to be a classic example of church versus state......does it not?
Posted By Anonymous James, Detroit, MI. : 6:53 PM ET
SAD really sad! Those of you so easy to say let them be should read the stories of the girls that have escaped and ones still trying to flee this life of emotional abuse, sexual abuse and slavery! Also read about the very sick, deformed children being born from all the inbreeding! I just feel sorry for the innocent that will die to protect him and what they believe. He has over 30,000 followers!
Posted By Anonymous Cindy B., Dothan, AL : 6:57 PM ET
jonathon from utah....he did not say it is a masonic temple.....he said it is like a masonic temple.....please read his comments again.....
Posted By Anonymous brian,pgh,pa : 7:03 PM ET
As a nation we should find any form of brainwashing, whether from a religious or government source, appalling to our way of life. This is brainwashing pure and simple.

But in addition we have become so afraid of another Waco that this pervert will just elude the authorities and continue to molest other young women.
Posted By Anonymous Katie Norcross Palatine, IL : 7:03 PM ET
Poligamy, while hardly mainstream, is a matter of faith for these people. Four hundred years ago, people were burned for reading the Bible on their own and practicing adult baptism -- things which many of us in America practice and hold dear. While I do not believe that poligamy is morally correct, who am I -- who is the US government -- to legislate what consenting adults practice as long as it does not harm or endanger the rest of us? However, there is, and must be, a different standard for minors. If this man has indeed abused minors, put him under the jail. Send a clear message -- if she can't vote, hands off!
Posted By Anonymous A McLaurin, Atlanta : 7:05 PM ET
I wish that Mr. Jeffs would stand up and be a man, and take the D. Koresh way out.
Posted By Anonymous Bob Gomez, Phoenix, AZ : 7:10 PM ET
Why do you have to use telephoto, why to use planes?! Just leave these people alone. It doesn't matter what you or I believe about Polygamists; If they're not interfering with what you do, don't interfere with them!
Posted By Anonymous MK, Redmond, WA : 7:11 PM ET
I don't think people should confuse the religion with the illegal practices and manipulation by some of it's members.

All religions are manipulated by corrupt men who take advantage of the "faithful" for their personal gain. The rampant child abuse within the Roman Catholic Church is a prime example.

As long as people follow a religion on blind faith, there are going to be people who are hurt and manipulated.

As for the governement,it must enforce the laws of the United States equally. If these "religious leaders" are suspected of breaking the law and abusing children, then they should be arrested and prosecuted just like anyone else.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Kowalski, North Huntingdon, PA : 7:19 PM ET
Can people who believe that this form of religion is correct be blinded by their paranoia of governemnt? I am a democrat by political orientation, but I believe that the way this sect treats women is abominabal. They force young girls my childrens age to become wives for much older men. Is the abuse of youth protected by the constitution? I think not.
Posted By Anonymous Bob Hasforth, Kenton, New Jersey : 7:34 PM ET
Why doesn't the states of Utah,Arizona,Texas and Pennsylvania know what is going on in there states. There are alot of Religion Cult/sect living in these dangerous settlement full of weak brainwash women/children. Do these women/Men had a legal marriage license? Poligamy is about how to use people by the sick man/woman. I hope they catch Jeff soon.
Posted By Anonymous BA, Window Rock AZ : 7:46 PM ET
Rick-
If we dis-assemble them here, they will assemble somewhere else. I am surprised that howcome any congressmen/Senators dont have a law to cut welfare benefits to polygamist mothers/families. If this happens, I dont think any women would like to be a wife for a polygamist unless he can take care of the wives and kids.
Posted By Anonymous Riaz, Jersey City, NJ : 7:53 PM ET
Poligamy is a major problem and concern when under age girls are involved. They have no choice no rights and no freedom. In Colorado City they stop going to school at an early age. They have no contact with the out side as in TV, radio and newspaper.
If they do call 911 or try to escape they are brought back "home" because the sheriff and his employees practice poligamy .
A lot of these households are on welfare , so we the tax paying public are supporting them. Since by law a man can only marry one woman the other wives go to the public welfare offices and state they are unmarried mothers. Then they start getting their checks , more kids more money.
It's about time we and the US government wake up and start cracking down on these brainwashing, child abusive cults.
Posted By Anonymous K. Donald Kethum Id : 7:53 PM ET
I'm amazed by some of the comments so far. It's not about the sitting administration. It's also not a matter of "letting people live how they want to live". It's a matter of a man and his adult followers who have been abusing minors for years.
Posted By Anonymous Bryan, Louisville, KY : 8:01 PM ET
You say, "With our telephoto lens we watch them as they, in turn, watch us. It's eerie. Now, I'm trying to fly over the compound in a rented plane.".

Yeah, you are creepy alright. Your intentions to profit from this invasion of privacy are disgusting. Leave them alone. They are no more brainwashed than you are about right and wrong. These people have found a way of life that works for them for a century. All you want them to be is wal-mart shopping, fast food eating, zombies. Then there will be no news, all will be assimilated.

Respect other cultures and ways of life. Stop waging war on "the different".
Posted By Anonymous Sickened, Washington : 8:26 PM ET
Mark Johnston, Read the news. What's made this a federal case is not polygamy but statuatory rape. That's no joke, buddy.
Posted By Anonymous Gypsy, an American in Mexico : 8:36 PM ET
I'm not a Mormon or a polygamist, and have little sympathy with polygamy (although it seems that, to the degree it might be consensual, the act of taking many spouses alone seems harmless enough). But why would you chase ordinary citizens around to snap their photos in a "game of cat and mouse"? A distorted view of a free press leads the abridgement of the calm and comfort of people living their daily lives--whether they be celebrities, politicians, or Mormons on their ranch (or "compound," if that word adds the freight you need to make the point about these people criminality and bunker mentality.
Posted By Anonymous Liam, Branford, CT : 2:18 PM ET
The idea that law enforcement can not enter the "compound" to look for this Jeffers idiot has got to be some kind of joke. This is the U.S., not some other country we want to invade! If the government has the right to keep records of every phone call made in the U.S. then searching this compound would be small peanuts! Who has rights in America? Criminals!
Posted By Anonymous Kim U., Grand Rapids, MI : 4:20 PM ET
Eldorado has a very competent and level headed Sheriff, I'm sure you actions out there did not make his job any easier. Oh and by the way, Eldorado is not in the hill country. Do a little research next time.
Posted By Anonymous Dale, San Angelo Texas : 10:29 PM ET
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