Arizona Former Child Bride 'Escapes' FLDS Community With Children

Ruby Jessop disappeared 10 years ago and was forced to marry a relative.

ByABC News
January 23, 2013, 11:03 AM

Jan. 23, 2013 — -- Ruby Jessop's children are thrilled to be off of a strictly imposed all-bean diet ordered by jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.

"It's like they cannot get enough food in their bellies. They want to taste and try everything," Jessop's relieved sister Flora Jessop told

Until recently, Flora Jessop said she didn't know if she would ever see her sister again.

Ruby Jessop was forced into an arranged marriage with her step-brother when she was 14 years old, according to her sister and the Arizona attorney general.

"Twelve years ago, I got a call from my sister who has 14 years old and had been placed in an arranged marriage," Flora Jessop told "She had managed to get away and I gave her a promise that I would do everything I could to keep her safe. Then, before I could get to her and get her help, she disappeared and was taken back into the group."

Jessop, now 26, managed to flee from a radical faction of the Mormon church called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, more commonly known as FLDS, earlier this month. She was then able to gain temporary custody of her six children, who range from 2 to 10 years old.

Watch more on FLDS on "20/20: Breaking Polygamy" Saturday at 10 p.m. ET

Her escape was announced on Tuesday by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne.

"I have been searching for her for 12 years and she was hidden from us," Flora Jessop said. "Every time I got close to the community, they would pack her in a car and move her into hiding, ensuring that we couldn't get close to her."

"It is unacceptable that anyone would be married against her will and forced to live in a community in which she feels unsafe, " Horne said in a news release. "Ruby Jessop was forced into marriage by FLDS leader Warren Jeffs who compelled her to marry her second-cousin Haven Barlow in 2001. Her exact whereabouts were unknown for years until very recently when she was able to escape the town."

The attorney general's office has not provided details on how Jessop escaped or got temporary custody of her children, but said the escape was aided by $420,000 Horne made available. He said the money went towards more deputies working in Colorado City, an FLDS stronghold. The deputies were "instrumental" in helping Jessop and her children leave safely, Horne said.

Horne emphasized the need for more funding at a news conference, saying that the current funds will run out in six months.

"Ruby is one of thousands that have been trapped and abused and held under the regime of Warren Jeffs and she is just so happy to be out and her children are excited and able to go to a school for the first time," Flora Jessop said. "To watch them play with toys and learn to become children has just been amazing."

Ruby Jessop and her children are staying with her sister until they find a place to live. Her attorney has advised her not to speak publicly while the custody of her children is temporary, though her sister says she is doing well.

Jessop's husband Haven Barlow could not immediately be reached for comment. Barlow was in his early 20s when he and Ruby Jessop married.

Flora Jessop claims that after her sister was able to get away, the FLDS would not give her her children and that the Colorado City Marshal's Office, which she calls Warren Jeffs' personal "security force," did "everything they could to block her getting access to her children."

Blake Hamilton, an attorney for the Marshal's Office, vehemently denies the claims.