FLDS "Apostates" beginning to return to polygamist community

ABC 4, Utah/May 27, 2006

Warren Jeffs used his economic and ecclesiastical powers over the members of his FLDS church to tear apart families and kick men out of their communities. Before going into hiding to avoid felony charges from both Arizona and Utah, Warren Jeffs was the sole trustee of the United Effort Plan which owns all land in the polygamist town of Hilldale and Colorado City.

Jeffs is also considered "an infallible prophet" by his followers. The "purges" began soon after his father died in 2001 and he assumed dictatorial control. Several men, some of whom were church and community leaders, were sent packing by Jeffs - evicted from their houses. Their wives and children were immediately given to other men deemed more "worthy" by Jeffs.

Among them was Richard Holm. "This community was darkened, black," he said. "A curse was on it because of their 'cultish' practices." But Holm is once again home. The court-appointed special fiduciary restored him to the home he once shared with his family on Richard Street in Colorado City.

Even though the house is on UEP land, Holm argued successfully that it was built with his money and sweat. He hopes eventually the fiduciary will deed him the lot so he no longer has to worry about ever again being kicked out. Indeed, he hopes everyone in town - whether they're an "apostate" or a "Warrenite" - will be deeded their land. He believes it is the only way that the community straddling the Utah-Arizona border will rebound and flourish. "It needs to be like the rest of America."

While taking me on a tour of his home, Holm catalogued all that needed to be done. Repairs. Remodeling. Expansion. It's clear that it was used and even abused during his absence. Still it was not trashed.

When asked about the people who were evicted, (They refused to answer multiple notices to establish ownership and did not contest the eviction order) he said, "I don't gloat. I am sad that had to happen. They packed up and left in a real hurry. They even left some of their stuff behind." Still, there is satisfaction being in the home where many of his children were born and whose names are written in the concrete along the back porch.

"It's nice to be back. I feel better. At ease. At peace," he added. He has his house back, but not his family. His ex-wife remains with her new husband - still loyal to the prophet who broke up their marriage. But Holm has court-ordered parental rights and living in Colorado City again allows him to make the most of his time with his children. Holm is among the first "exiles" to be restored to their homes in Colorado City and Hilldale.

He hopes many more will follow. He believes they are the best hope for saving the towns from Warren Jeffs. "I feel like this is my community. I've invested hopes, life and plans for the future. I was born here and spent 30 years in the community as a business leader. I don't like seeing it go to hell under some religious pervert."

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