Daring Rescue From Arizona Religious Sect

Ironically, the American taxpayer pays for much of this lifestyle. Recent records show in one year residents here collected more than $8-million from social services — including food stamps, welfare, health care — but the entire town paid less than $100,000 in income taxes.

"They are told to go on welfare," Jessop said. "It's called, "bleeding the beast." They find it amusing that Satan is supporting God's work."

Quiñones and Jessop also visited the house she grew up in, with a father, two mothers and 27 brothers and sisters. It is also where her flight from her community originated, she said. She said she was sexually abused there.

Her father denies her allegation and she says she tried to have him prosecuted but got nowhere — and so she ran to that world she'd been taught to fear.

Waco or Jonestown?

Quiñones and Jessop returned to their car. But within minutes, they were stopped.

"We are just a little community that is trying to mind our business and everyone else is trying to mind it for us," said Colorado City police chief Sam Roundey.

Roundey acknowledged the community was based on polygamy, but said allegations of forced marriages and child abuse are exaggerated.

Quiñones tried to interview FLDS leader Jeffs, but he has become increasingly hard to find.

His sprawling complex has become a fortress — a 12-foot-high wall was recently erected around the houses and businesses.

And today, there are many who worry that the entire town of Colorado City is preparing for the fulfillment of a prophecy: the ultimate battle between good and the evil outside.

Some worry about a repeat of the fiery siege at Waco 11 years ago — or something perhaps even more chilling.

"I'd be worried about a Jonestown," said Ross Chatwin, referring to the 1978 horror when nearly 1,000 people drank cyanide-laced punch at the order of their American cult leader, Jim Jones.

Chatwin was one of 21 men who was recently kicked out of the FLDS for criticizing Jeffs and speaking out against forced marriages — especially with underage girls.

Jeffs has the kind of control over his followers that Jones had, Chatwin said. "People will follow blindly and if he says, pull out this poison Kool-Aid — people do it."

For the Children

For 50 years the State of Arizona has left the people of Colorado City pretty much alone in their isolation — free to practice polygamy and shun the outside world.

But that could soon change — and if the authorities descend on Warren Jeffs' compound with any show of force, people both inside and outside the community have chilling fears about the possible outcome.

Jessop doesn't pretend to know the future, but she's certain the past is enough to guide her crusade.

"There are two things coming out of polygamy: Victims and abusers," she says.

"The knowledge that there's another child out there that's going to need me" motivates her, Jessop says. "And, then I'd do anything in the world to keep them safe."

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