B.C. woman fears for daughter in polygamist sect

CBC/September 30, 2004

Cranbrook, B.C. -- A distraught Cranbrook, B.C., woman has asked police to help her find her daughter, a member of a controversial, polygamist Mormon sect with whom she has lost contact.

Jane Blackmore has filed a missing persons report with police, saying 23-year-old Susie has broken off contact with her, and officials of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints won't tell her where her daughter is.

Her report comes as B.C. police prepare to probe allegations of sexual abuse and white supremacist teachings at the sect's Canadian site in Bountiful, B.C.

Several families in the U.S. have raised similar concerns about missing children, and the group's leader Warren Jeffs faces two lawsuits in Utah, the sect's other base. In one he's accused of ritualistically sodomizing a young boy; in the other, teenage boys accuse him of evicting them from the community.

Blackmore was a member of the breakaway sect, but left the Bountiful compound three years ago when she began to question the faith. Since then she had been in regular touch with Susie, who lived with her three children and husband in one of the Utah communities.

But the family moved without warning. When Blackmore called church officials in Utah to find Susie, they refused to reveal her whereabouts, saying only she's fine, and was doing God's work.

"I'm concerned because I feel like she's being coerced and not being allowed to talk to me," Blackmore said.

She described her daughter as a strong-willed young woman who always spoke her mind in the past: "Susie was always able to say when crap was crap that it was crap, and [now] she can't do that. Whatever the prophet says, is right."

Fears daughter is being brainwashed

She lost contact with Susie when Jeffs set down strict new rules after he succeeded his father as leader in 2002. Followers are told to play audiotapes of his teachings hour after hour. The church believes followers will be lifted up to heaven during Armageddon. Blackmore says she thinks this means her daughter is being brainwashed and is cutting all ties to the outside world at her church's command.

Blackmore fears it could all end in a mass suicide like Jonestown, or a showdown with the outside world, like Waco.

Warren Jeffs's followers say she's exaggerating. The sect won't talk to the media, but its lawyer, Rod Parker, said Blackmore and others have an agenda.

"The only time I've heard those kind of concerns is from former members who are very hostile towards the church," Parker said.

The RCMP has accepted Blackmore's missing person's report, but has not said what action it would take.

Blackmore has been in touch with police in El Dorado, Tex., where Jeffs is building a new compound. Sheriff Dave Doran spoke to a woman he believes was Susie Blackmore.

"She would not give her whereabouts. I asked her if she was on the Texas ranch and she would not disclose her location. It's out of the ordinary, but what we're finding is this group doesn't give much information. They're pretty secretive about their ways." Doran said.

Blackmore said she would not rest until she knew Susie was safe.

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