Sect buys Mancos 'hideaway'

The Durango Herald/October 24, 2004

Salt Lake City -- An investigator for disaffected members of a polygamist sect in Utah said an agent for the group bought a 60-acre parcel of land near Mancos to use as a "hideaway."

Sam Brower, an investigator for some of the members, said the agent, David Allred, told authorities it would be a corporate hunting retreat.

"There's a few houses there. I don't know what's going on," Brower said Friday, as he tried to serve amended complaints at the southwestern Colorado property he described as "tucked away."

Allred also bought a 1,691-acre ranch near Eldorado, Texas, last November for a supposed hunting retreat. But a few months later, leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints church acknowledged the Texas ranch was intended to be a refuge from attorneys general in Utah and Arizona who are cracking down on the sect for polygamy-related crimes.

The church is based in the border towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.

About the same time as the Texas purchase, Allred bought the 60 acres in Colorado midway between Cortez and Durango.

The purchase came to the attention of local authorities when a tax assessor trying to inspect the property was turned away.

The enclave came to national attention this year when church leader Warren Jeffs began exiling men and dividing their wives and children among others more faithful to his leadership.

Last summer, Jeffs and the church were named in lawsuits alleging he and others sexually molested a boy, were ousting male adolescents and young men, and fired one member from his job because he no longer adhered to the faith. All three lawsuits are pending in Utah's 3rd District Court.

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