Mormon polygamist wives and daughters agree to rare photo shoot

Mormon polygamists — or members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints — are known to be very media-shy. When the Colorado Independent traveled to Westcliffe, Colo., last month to investigate polygamist land purchases in the area, the FLDS families kept to themselves. At one compound, a pair of young men sped away in a golf cart after the Independent attempted to speak with them.

In spite of the extreme reticence in the community, the New York Times impressively accessed several young FLDS women for a series of photos, which will be printed in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. Most of the women photographed were taken from the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas, after it was raided by Texas law enforcement officers in early April.

"Only a small number of families have returned to the ranch, according to Willie Jessop, a spokesman for the ranch, who says many of its former residents fear the possibility of more government interference and have opted to try to live quietly elsewhere, while continuing to adhere to F.L.D.S. principles," the slide show’s accompanying article reads.

In fact, some of those families may have relocated to Westcliffe, where an aide to jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs has bought up $1 million worth of land.

"It is one thing to have one property, but it seems they are moving here in great numbers," Custer County Sheriff Fred Jobe told the Independent in June. "We don’t know what is on their mind. Are they going to build a temple? I am assuming that there will be enough of them someday to build a temple."

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Naomi Zeveloff

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