How 8 girls in Arizona protective care ended up back with a polygamous cult over 1,000 miles away

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Samuel Bateman, the self-anointed “prophet” of a polygamous FLDS cult, was arrested in August after three young girls were found hidden in a cargo trailer that law enforcement said he was towing on a highway in Flagstaff, Arizona — over 1,000 miles from the group’s stronghold in Colorado City.

Around that time, local officials raided Arizona residences used by Bateman — who has 20 wives, most of them children — and nine girls were placed in Arizona Department of Child Safety group homes, according to the FBI.

Two months later, though, eight of those girls had run away. Four days after they ran away, they were found with members of the group in Washington State.

“On November 27, 2022, eight of the nine minor females ran away from DCS group homes,” Dawn Martin, an FBI special agent, wrote in an affidavit filed in federal courts in Washington and Arizona.

It’s unclear how so many girls were able to run away at once or what was done to prevent their disappearances. An Arizona Department of Child Safety spokesperson told Insider they couldn’t comment on the specific case due to privacy laws but that steps are immediately taken when a child runs away.

“If a child runs away from a DCS foster home or group home, the Department immediately notifies the court and the local law enforcement agency,” Darren DaRonco said. “DCS caseworkers continue efforts to locate the child by working with law enforcement and the child’s family until the child is located and returned to care.”

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  1. Doomsday cults frequently use such fears of antihalation as a leverage point for control. The group claims to provide protection or a place of safety for true believers.

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