Polygamy Trail Leads to Colorado

Texas Rangers take part in arrest of woman who allegedly made hoax call in Colo.

ByABC News
September 17, 2008, 5:23 PM

SAN ANGELO, Texas, April 17, 2008 — -- Texas Rangers participated in the arrest of a Colorado woman who allegedly pretended to be a girl locked in a basement as part of their investigation into a Texas polygamist sect, ABC News has learned.

It was unclear if the Rangers believe the woman who was arrested in Colorado is the same person who made the series of phone calls to a Texas shelter that prompted police to raid the Yearning for Zion Ranch and take more than 400 sect children into state custody.

A person who claimed to be a 16-year-old girl who was trapped inside the sect's Texas compound and who was being abused by her adult husband called an abuse shelter several times in late March and early April. Those calls prompted the raid, sparking one of the largest child custody cases in U.S. history, according to court documents.

The girl who allegedly made the calls, who identified herself as Sarah, has not been located. Texas child protection officials have said they believe she exists.

But ABC News has learned that Texas Rangers flew to Colorado Springs, Colo., this week and participated in the arrest of a 33-year-old woman who was charged with filing a false report.

Colorado Springs police said Rozita Swinton had made calls in February in which she pretended to be a girl locked in a basement, claiming abuse and calling authorities for help. Swinton has a record for making similar calls in 2005.

Swinton could not be reached for comment and it was unclear if she had a lawyer. She has not been charged with a crime in connection to the Texas polygamy case.

"The Texas Rangers were in Colorado Springs Wednesday as part of their investigation involving the compound in Texas," Colorado Springs police said in a statement.

The FBI also told ABC News it is assisting local police in the investigation into Swinton.

Local police said Swinton had been under investigation for some time, but police made an immediate arrest after the Texas Rangers became involved.

"This arrest stemmed from an incident that occurred in Colorado Springs in February of this year," the police said in a statement. "The Texas Rangers were in Colorado Springs yesterday as part of their investigation involving the compound in Texas. They left and have not filed any charges on Rozita Swinton as of this time. "

Swinton became a person of interest to Texas authorities when former Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints member Flora Jessop, who now operates a rescue mission for teenage girls trying to escape the sect, told authorities she had been getting calls from a girl claiming to be "Sarah."

Jessop told ABC News that she -- at the direction of Texas Rangers -- began recording those calls in the past two weeks and that the Rangers were able to trace them to Colorado Springs, where the arrest was made.