COLORADO CITY, Arizona (ABC 4 News) - What would you do if someone called you or knocked on door saying, “Get out of your house – leave. You have two weeks.” Preposterous, Right? You’d probably slam the door or hang up the phone.
But the preposterous is happening to a growing number of non-FLDS people living in the polygamist border towns of Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah. They tell ABC 4 News they’re being targeted in a deliberate campaign of intimidation. The object: To get them out of their houses and out of town.
Stephanie Colgrove was born and raised in the community and brought her family back to live a few years ago. She’s gotten calls and visits. At one point, 20 people showed up at her door to clean up the house and yard for the next occupant. But she has no intention of going anywhere, “This is ridiculous for them to say, ‘This is our town.’ I grew up here. My roots are here. This is my town too.”
Isaac Wyler got also got a visit from someone demanding he move out. When he responded that he had an occupancy agreement from the court-appointed administrator of the United Effort Plan, the response was essentially, “So what?” Remembering the encounter he said, “These guys are getting aggressive as all get out. He said, ‘I don’t recognize the court, I don’t recognize the judge.'”
Genevieve Hienline said she also got an occupancy agreement to move in and finish a house on Garden Street in Colorado City. But almost every day since then, she’s gotten unwelcome visits from a neighbor who claims she’s trespassing. She’s even had a visit from a deputy town marshal. She explained, “He asked me if I had a deed for the property. I said I did not. Then I asked if he had a deed for his house, and he also had to admit that he did not.”
That’s the point. No one owns his or her own property in Hildale and Colorado City. It is all owned in common in what’s called the United Effort Plan. A Utah court took control of the UEP trust from Warren Jeffs when he was a fugitive on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list. The judge eventually appointed Bruce Wisan to manage the trust. Right now, Wisan is the only one with the power to say who can stay and who must go. And he told ABC 4 he has not authorized any of the attempted evictions by intimidation.
So what’s the FLDS claim to the homes? Only that at one time a member of the FLDS Church lived in them. These homes were actually abandoned by the FLDS. Between 2003 and 2007 several of the Jeffs’ most-favored followers were called to leave the twin towns – many were assigned to Eldorado, Texas. Most of the time the exodus happened in the middle of the night with little or no warning and certainly no forwarding address. Eventually, they started leaving keys and even notes turning the house over to the UEP.
But apparent things did not go well for at least some of the favored followers. They’re returning to Colorado City and demanding some of those abandoned homes be returned to them. And apparently, they’re not taking “No” for an answer.