Help for children being abandoned in Colorado City

ABC4 News/February 20, 2007
By Brent Hunsaker

There's a new exodus from the polygamous communities along the Utah Arizona border. It's smaller than the exodus of a few years ago when Warren Jeffs transplanted some of his people to Texas to build a new community and temple on the YFZ Ranch.

This time just over a dozen of his most faithful including some relatives have been moved out.

One other wrinkle to this exodus: Jeffs apparently ordered a handful of children abandoned. Parents allegedly left kids (usually young boys in their teens) not only in their communities, but also in Hurricane, St. George and even Las Vegas.

Stefanie Colgrove said these teens are ill equipped to survive in the outside world, "They don't even know how to take care of themselves."

As others left Hildale, Colgrove moved back. She's took over a large house recently occupied by John Gilbert Jeffs and invited all those left behind to come and stay with her. Its a place where she said, "somebody can love you, make sure you get your laundry washed, and have a family again. That's the essence of it right there. If you're raised in a family and then all of a sudden it's removed, you've lost something serious not just a mom and dad, but a whole family."

Explaining why she's undertaking such a daunting task, Stefanie Colgrove said, "This is my community. These are my people."

In fact she is the great-granddaughter of Leroy S. Johnson, the man who founded Colorado City and became the leader of the largest polygamist group in North America.

She moved away when she was 20 but always knew she would return.

Now she is sickened by what she sees. Colgrove said she was raised in a community where neighbors talked to each other and trusted each other.

Now she said, Jeffs has turned neighbors and even families against one another. Where the town was once open, there are now walls, fences, "no trespassing" signs and even surveillance cameras. She is especially angry that so many families have been torn apart.

Colgrove is calling her shelter "Affinity Home" -- a place that will restore hope to children who have been discarded by their own.

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