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FLDS Pringle Compound Survives on Polygamy, Child Rape, and Poaching

Seth Tupper offers a powerful profile of Roy Jeffs, son of convicted child rapist and religious despot Warren Jeffs. Roy Jeffs lived—or should we say was held prisoner?—at the secretive fundamentalist Mormon compound southwest of Pringle in the Black Hills in 2007 and 2008. He escaped from his father’s cult in 2014, literally running away from a job site in Des Moines.

Roy Jeffs returned to the Hills last week to participate in discussions accompanying Rapid City screenings of Prophet’s Prey, a documentary about the polygamy and child rape perpetrated by his father and the FLDS.

If that creepy criminality cloaked in godliness isn’t enough to get the state of South Dakota to monitor, search, and shut down the FLDS Pringle compound, maybe poaching is:

Guards constantly walked the perimeter of the compound. The guard tower was outfitted with surveillance cameras that could peer far up the gravel road leading to the compound, and alarms were sounded whenever non-FLDS “gentiles” or excommunicated FLDS “apostates” approached. At such times, Roy said, the compound dwellers were ordered to retreat into their homes and buildings.

Yet some of the men at the compound routinely drove to cities in the Black Hills to obtain supplies, while young men like Roy, and the women and girls, were mostly cloistered. The compound residents ate food grown in large gardens, and Roy said the men also poached deer and wild turkeys [Seth Tupper, “Son of FLDS ‘Prophet’ Peels Back Curtain on Secretive Black Hills Compound,” Rapid City Journal, 2016.05.08].

Game Fish & Parks, maybe it’s time to send the game warden out to the FLDS compound… with some back-up.


  1. Good Sense 2016-05-10 07:28

    I agree, lets go get those dirty religionists. We’ll fix em. Tanks and ATF agents surround the compound, give em 30 days to surrender, then load the compound up with tear gas and set it on fire. Its been done before, aka WACO.

  2. Dana P 2016-05-10 08:28

    Agreed, Good Sense, Waco isn’t a good image or reminder of how things went horribly wrong. But what would your solution be?

    Once you are in a religious compound, we just don’t have time to worry about you as a child being repeatedly raped and impregnated? Sorry to all of the defenseless children in a religious compound. You are on your own. Too bad for you. Because of Waco, we can’t waste time or energy thinking about or trying to help you out.

    Eager to listen to a solution to this child rape factory, Good Sense.

  3. Bill Dithmer 2016-05-10 09:11

    About two miles west of Carson House is a piece of ground that the Jeffs bought years ago. About 15 years ago they built an eight bedroom mansion not finished, and then stopped. Nobody ever lived there, but there is a caretaker that lives in a shack at the end of a mile driveway.

    The Blindman

  4. mike from iowa 2016-05-10 09:29

    Taking these goons down on poaching charges is similar to nailing Chicago gangster Al Capone on tax evasion charges. But,if that’s what it takes, do it. Bring some Marines just in case.

  5. bearcreekbat 2016-05-10 10:23

    But don’t our conservative friends champion freedom of religion? And don’t they contend that people with particular religious beliefs that conflict with the laws don’t have to obey those laws, such as the law requiring that employees’ group insurance to cover birth control, or laws that purport to require grown men not to rape children?

  6. Madman 2016-05-10 10:36

    Good Sense, we still live in the United State right? Are these people not protected by the constitution as well. I guess its legal now to build a compound and lock yourself in and create your own laws. Do they have their own flag? Is poaching the wildlife fair (legal) to us deer hunters who pay for tags?

    You bring up Waco as a reason not to storm a compound but that doesn’t mean the state of South Dakota can’t pay a visit to follow up on these poaching tips. Game, Fish, and Parks does this all the time as they request people to turn in poaching.

  7. mike from iowa 2016-05-10 10:47

    bcb-watch the rockets red glare-the bombs bursting in air when someone suggests wingnuts condone child rape and aid and abet child rapists. You, Sir, are spot on in your usual understated eloquence.

  8. Roger Cornelius 2016-05-10 11:36

    Wasn’t there a non-violent raid on a FLDS compound in Texas where the state went in and seized women and children? If I recall correctly that raid pretty much broke that compound up and resulted in criminal charges and convictions for Warren Jeffs and other male members.
    Many of the refuges from the Texas raid ended up in Pringle.

  9. Dave 2016-05-10 13:30

    Don’t you need some sort of proof before you go in guns blazing? At least good probable cause? I’m not saying nothing is going on…. But I remember seeing pictures of buses from the Baptist church loading up the children from the LDS compound in Texas…. when people hear the term “religious cult” they tend to go a little overboard… if it isnt my religion then it must be pure evil…

  10. bearcreekbat 2016-05-10 16:08

    Roger, I followed that case closely for a time. A Texas appeals court eventually reversed the trial judge and held that the state should not have seized over 400 children and should not have placed them in camps, separated them from their mothers, questioned and subjected them to intrusive bodily searches. The appeals court found that

    “The [CPS] department did not present any evidence of danger to the physical health and safety of any male children or any female children who had not reached puberty. . . .”

    The State was ordered to release the women and children and allow them to go home. The Texas State Supreme Court rejected the State’s efforts to challenge the appeals court ruling.

    Meanwhile, a CPS report alleged that out of 43 girls between the ages of 12 to 17, “12 girls were ‘spiritually’ married at ages ranging from 12 to 15, and seven of these girls have had one or more children.” This resulted in the prosecution and conviction of 12 FLDS adult men for sexual acts with child brides.

    About one half of the FLDS women and children returned to live at the compound. The State filed a forfeiture action in 2012 and a trial judge granted ownership of the compound the State in 2014. FLDS didn’t appeal.

    As with Waco, the lesson authorities must learn from the Texas case is to proceed with caution and avoid hurting innocent children, women and their families when taking action to find and prosecute FLDS men who have committed sexual crimes by purporting to marry underage girls.

  11. bearcreekbat 2016-05-10 16:26

    Another interesting twist to the Texas case is that under Texas law, parents can consent to their 14 year old child marrying, and Texas law does not prohibit sexual activity with a 14 year old married child. The FLDS men’s problem was that Texas doesn’t recognize polygamous marriages, hence the 12 “husbands” of these children could not use marriage as a defense, even though most of the girls involved in the FLDS “marriages” may have been 14 or 15 years old and married with their parents’ consent.

  12. Roger Cornelius 2016-05-10 17:28

    Bear, thanks for your comments and the link you provided.
    My point was that the Texas FLDS raid was conducted without any violence, not every situation like this has to be a WACO.

  13. mike from iowa 2016-05-10 17:57

    Surely you jest,Roger. If Drumpf gets in the WH every day will be a Waco.

    Quiverfull outfit had a soiree set up at a Salvation Army location where parents and kids as young as 12 could meet and arrange future marriages for their kids. To their credit-S A, when they learned what was going on would not allow it on their property. Quiverfull-think Duggars- prolly need to be investigated as well.

  14. bearcreekbat 2016-05-10 18:09

    Roger, while the Texas process was a million times better than Waco, it caused unnecessary and unfortunate pain and disruption to many innocent families and kids. You know, the kind of thing our war hawks might euphemistically call “collateral damage.” I would like to see our authorities avoid that – we really don’t need to unnecessarily harm women and children in order to save them.

  15. mike from iowa 2016-05-10 18:47

    Gubmint has had that mentality of destroying things to save them since at least Vietnam. Old, ineffective habits are hard to break when some in gubmint don’t believe in diplomacy.

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-05-10 19:07

    Busting poachers would be a wonderful way to avoid any First Amendment issues. It doesn’t matter if you’re FLDS, Hutterite, Catholic, or atheist: if you’re poaching, you’re breaking the law.

  17. grudznick 2016-05-10 19:58

    Sort of Mr. Capone, this Jeffs fellow could be brought down by a mundane offense. It might even be possible these fellows have poached elks or trafficked in badger skins from over in Wyoming and they could be slotted with the Lacey Act charges. Mr. H would be the Marty Jackley of the religious right. Indeed.

  18. leslie 2016-05-11 00:21

    the musician in you is coming out grudz

  19. Kyle Krause 2016-05-11 11:12

    This organization should be viewed through the lens of organized crime, not religion. Its leaders use the blind devotion of the membership to line their own pockets and fulfill their own sick sexual desires. The girls are impregnated by old perverts at very young ages, and the boys get the equivalent of about a 2nd grade education before being sent to work construction. The wages of the men and the welfare benefits of all of the legally single mothers have to be given to the FLDS. The most recent criminal charges that have been able to stick have been welfare fraud (they would have the women pretend to buy stuff from an FLDS owned store that then kept the profit without the women getting food).

    The typical member has been raised from birth to know nothing else and to believe they will be eternally damned if they defy the “priesthood” of the FLDS. Those that do leave lose literally everything they have ever had or known, including their family. I spoke with Roy when he was in Rapid City, and he literally feared that his dad was going to get God to crash the plane he was on when he left. He has also not been able to see his own mother in years.

    One thing you can do to help is to support organizations that assist people trying to leave these polygamous cults. One such group is “Holding Out HELP,” which is based out of Utah. There are also some Custer county locals who are in the early stages of trying to set up a safe house system to assist anyone who tries to leave the Pringle compound.

  20. Kyle Krause 2016-05-11 11:23

    Another question with a somewhat political facet to it is whether the Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Education has ever investigated to see whether the home-schooled children at the Pringle compound are being educated. Home schooled children in South Dakota are supposed to get an exemption from the local school board, and the Secretary of the Department of Education is empowered to investigate whether those children are being educated. (SDCL 13-27-3) Everyone knows that they are not getting exemption certificates for all of the children at the Pringle compound (if the Sheriff sees kids there, he is told they are “just visiting” and don’t live there). My guess is that the Secretary has never investigated out there, although they may not be able to definitively say either way. The Custer County School Board should also have the names of any children they have granted exceptions for.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2016-05-12 16:29

    Kyle, I would wholeheartedly support a child wellness check out there, as well as a straight-up census. Every one of those children needs to be in school. If they aren’t enrolling in public school, they need to complete home school applications with their local district (Edgemont or Custer?).

    But don’t count on Secretary Schopp for real oversight.

  22. mike from iowa 2016-05-12 16:40

    It is my sincere religious belief that compound needs to be raided and those children need at least monthly visits from a child welfare group-not necessarily one run by Dakota’s wingnut party. Children’s welfare trumps anyone’s peculiar religious rights.

Comments are closed.