Former Black Hills FLDS compound under contract

KELOLAND News, South Dakota/May 11, 2023

By Jacob Newton

Sioux Falls, South Dakota — In February 2021, a 140-acre property, formerly the home of a reclusive sect of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), was sold in a sheriff’s auction to Blue Mountain Ranch, LLC.

Blue Mountain Ranch, LLC, which bought the land for $750,000, represented Andrew Chatwin, Patrick Pipkin and Claude Seth Cooke, three former members of the FLDS church who had won a judgment worth $2 million against the organization.

In 2022, the compound hit the open market, with Blue Mountain Ranch, LLC listing the property with Black Hills area company, Lewis Realty for nearly $7 million.

According to Custer County property records, the land remains owned by Blue Mountain Ranch, LLC. A call to the Custer County Register of Deeds revealed no new activity in terms of a sale in the past year.

KELOLAND News next spoke with Lewis Realty, who told us that the property has been sectioned up into different parcels and that those parcels are now under contract.

Altogether, the property consists of 6 log structures with a total of 77 bedrooms and 74 baths, all surrounded by a perimeter fence with a watchtower.

The property, large and secluded, holds a dark history. The compound for a number of years was home to the Jeffs family, which was led at the time by Seth Jeffs.

Seth Jeffs was arrested in connection with SNAP fraud in 2016, spending 6 months in jail. He currently owns land in a remote area of Minnesota near Grand Marais.

Seth Jeffs was the brother of Warren and Lyle Jeffs. Lyle Jeffs, a leader in the FLDS church at the time, was also arrested for SNAP fraud, serving nearly five years before being released in 2017.

The third brother, Warren, for whom the compound served as a headquarters, is currently serving a life sentence in Texas where he was found guilty of sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault of a child; charges stemming from abuse of children he took as his plural wives.

Speaking with KELOLAND in 2022, now-former Republican state Rep. Tim Goodwin of Rapid City recalled a day he spent with Roy Jeffs, one of Warren’s sons who left the church as an adult.

Goodwin contends that Roy Jeffs told him that infants born with birth defects or disorders would be killed. “He had no reason to lie to me — I’d say what happened if there was a deformed baby — Down’s Syndrome or whatever? He just said they just killed them at birth,” Goodwin said at the time.

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