There’s no denying that Warren Jeffs took the concept of polygamy and gender roles within the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church) way too far. Unfortunately, though, as detailed in ‘Preaching Evil: A Wife on the Run with Warren Jeffs,’ he still serves as its Prophet (in absentia) despite being convicted of two counts of child sexual assault. There were multiple other similar accusations against him, but only those heinous incidents that took place at the YFZ Ranch stuck. So now, if you wish to learn more about the estate in question, we’ve got you covered.
Where was the YFZ Ranch Located?
The YFZ Ranch, or the Yearning for Zion Ranch, was a 1,691-acre land situated around 45 miles (72 km) southwest of San Angelo and 4 miles (6 km) northeast of Eldorado, Texas. As per reports, it was purchased by an FLDS member in 2003 under the initial claim it would be used as a hunting retreat, only for it to soon become an entire community for the denomination. The then-empty property was thus developed to establish houses for roughly 500-700 individuals, a temple, a waste treatment facility, a meeting house, and a 29,000 sq. ft. home for Warren Jeffs, among much more.
What Happened to the YFZ Ranch? Does it Still Exist?
Following a hoax call reporting physical and sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl at the FLDS Church’s YFZ Ranch in early 2008, the authorities began a thorough investigation into the same. That’s because while the tip later proved not to be of any substance, the surrounding evidence led them to believe the minors there “had been abused or were at immediate risk of future abuse.” A search even yielded beds inside the temple, and a Child Protective Services spokesperson conceded there was “a systematic process going on to groom [the] young girls to become brides.”
As per The Guardian, investigators further learned “that several underage girls were forced into [a] “spiritual marriage” with much older men as soon as they reached puberty and were then made pregnant.” These unions were all authorized by none other than the leader or the acting leader of the Church, driving a total of 462 minors (including boys) to be taken into State custody. It’s also imperative to mention that before FLDS President Warren Jeffs was first arrested in 2006, he used the Ranch as “his personal perverted Playboy Mansion,” according to the Peacock docu-series.
The April 2008 Ranch raid that brought most of this information to light even led to the revelation of 31 girls aged 14-17 (out of the identified 53) being mothers or pregnant, which backed every speculation. However, despite the subsequent sex crime charges as well as legal proceedings, within a year of the probe, two-thirds of the families were back at YFZ, and its leaders had promised to abolish underaged marriages. Yet things only changed for good once the evidence carefully gathered from here essentially ushered in Warren’s 2011 conviction.
Since Texas law allows authorities to seize properties that have been used to commit or facilitate certain criminal conduct, the Attorney General’s Office began the motions for the same in November 2012. The FLDS Church did not appeal the forfeiture filed in any way, shape, or form, resulting in the State taking physical and legal possession of the YFZ Ranch in April 2014. ETG Properties has since purchased this estate for about $4.17 million (in November 2018), only to rename it to the appropriate ETG Ranch for good.