Big homes abandoned in polygamous sect's town

The Associated Press/January 2, 2007

Hildale, Utah — There are at least a dozen abandoned homes in communities populated by followers of polygamous-sect leader Warren Jeffs.

These wouldn't be considered starters.

They include a 19-bedroom, 23-bathroom mansion with three kitchens, and a three-level house with eight bedrooms and just as many baths.

Another property has eight bedrooms and, with just three bathrooms, probably long lines in the morning.

It is "at least a three-wife home," said Isaac Wyler, a former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS, which practices polygamy and arranged marriage.

Wyler works for Bruce Wisan, a court-appointed accountant who is overseeing an FLDS property trust. Wisan must collect property taxes and pay bills in Washington County, Utah, and across the state line in Mohave County, Ariz.

Only half of the $602,000 due to Mohave County on Nov. 1 has been paid.

Wisan has managed the trust since spring 2005 while Jeffs, leader of the FLDS church, was on the run from police. He was arrested in August and faces trial in April on charges of rape as an accomplice.

FLDS members haven't fully cooperated with Wisan. They've skipped three public meetings to hear his plans for the trust and have resisted paying taxes.

"I am not overly concerned with what we have right now, but if every week I get three or four or five (abandoned) houses then, yeah, I'll be concerned and have to take a different approach in terms of what I'm doing," Wisan said.

He has allowed some ex-FLDS members to reclaim homes if they can prove an interest.

Wisan said he might have to put abandoned homes on the market to non-FLDS members. Some of the houses have been stripped of appliances and cabinets and need work.

"Did you think to pray today?" reads a message on a mirror in a seven-bedroom home.

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