Bound by Fear: Polygamy in Arizona

For decades the state has let a feudal colony of fundamentalist Mormons force underage girls into illegal polygamous marriages

There's a brown cloud over the town from smoke from wood-burning stoves.

The town's finances are threatened by an unwise investment in a $20 million gas-fired power plant in default on its construction bonds. The plant was built in neighboring Hildale, but Colorado City is a co-owner. It is frequently shut down because of equipment problems and because it is cheaper to purchase electricity from other sources.

There is lax enforcement of an array of public safety laws. Police ignore the widespread failure to use car seats in a population dominated by children. Police also allow kids without helmets to roar up and down the town's streets on unlicensed, all-terrain vehicles.

Located on the Arizona Strip, Colorado City is cut off from the rest of Arizona by the Grand Canyon to the south and the Colorado River to the east.
Located on the Arizona Strip, Colorado City is cut off from the rest of Arizona by the Grand Canyon to the south and the Colorado River to the east.
The Leroy S. Johnson Meeting Hall.
John Dougherty
The Leroy S. Johnson Meeting Hall.

The town does operate a library and manages to get garbage picked up regularly.

And it has paved runways at the 1992 Arizona Airport of the Year, which is testament to the town's skill at securing state and federal grants rather than any indication of bustling activity. There are only a couple of planes parked at the airstrip that many believe was built to allow a former Prophet to fly in a Lear jet back and forth from a home in Salt Lake City.

A Colorado City resident most of his life, Ben Bistline, 72, says town residents are resigned rather than content. Bistline says anyone who challenges council authority even by simply raising questions in a public setting risks getting evicted from United Effort Plan land and losing family, home and job.

Boys Forced Out

Seventeen-year-old Robert Williams had a crush on a high school classmate named Jamie Holm.

They had chatted for a couple of months but never went on a date. That's forbidden in Colorado City. Jamie's father, Con Holm, soon learned that his daughter was flirting with a young man, and met Williams one day at the public school.

Con Holm told Williams he could see his daughter, as long as other people were around. A couple of months later, Jamie Holm gave Williams a ride home in her vehicle. Con Holm saw the couple driving down the street and pulled his daughter over, reached into the car and yanked Williams out.

"He grabbed me by the shirt and slammed me up against the car and hit me a couple of times," Robert Williams told attorney general's investigators in a May 29, 2001, taped interview obtained by New Times.

Williams said Con Holm threatened him with a more severe beating if he ever caught him with his daughter again.

A couple of months later, Williams drove by Jaime Holm's house, hoping to see her. Williams didn't see her, but Con Holm saw Williams.

A few minutes later, Con Holm rammed an all-terrain vehicle into Williams' truck, bringing the vehicle to a stop.

Con, Williams said, opened the truck door and an octopus of arms reached in and pulled him from the vehicle. Holm had gathered a group of a dozen men to help in the ambush.

"Six hands came in after me and hit me quite a few times," Williams related.

The beating continued until one of Williams' friends showed up with a baseball bat. Con Holm got control of the bat and struck Williams' ally across his shoulder, leaving a deep bruise, Williams told investigators.

Among the dozen men involved in the attack, Williams said, was Holm's brother, Colorado City policeman Rodney Holm.

Williams eventually got home and called the Washington County Sheriff's Office, not trusting the Colorado City Police Department to handle the matter, especially since Rodney Holm had been involved in the attack.

Washington County later filed charges against Con Holm, who pleaded no contest to simple assault in February 1996 and was sentenced to three months in jail.

Williams said he later learned that Rodney Holm and another officer, Clark Cooke, knew about the ambush ahead of time.

Rodney Holm later apologized for the beating, Williams said, reportedly telling his brother, Jason Williams, that the ambush got out of hand.

Ruth Stubbs told state investigators during her January 14, 2002, interview that she asked her husband if he was involved in the Williams beating and Rodney confirmed he had been there.

"He said, I might have kicked his butt once or something,'" Ruth Stubbs told state investigators.

The Colorado City police did not return phone calls from New Times seeking comment. Rodney Holm declined to comment on the Williams matter.

Robert Williams is among many young men who have been harassed after showing interest in teenage girls. The harassment has included not only beatings, but illegal searches of vehicles and orders to stay out of town, according to state records and numerous sources in Colorado City.

In fact, the primary purpose of local police, historian Bistline and others say, is to get rid of troublesome young men to ensure a surplus of teenage girls for polygamous marriages. In other words, the polygamists, many of them middle-age and elderly, want to keep the young girls for themselves.

"I've known 13-year-old boys who have been driven off and end up sleeping in the rafters of a barn," Craig Chatwin says.

Families routinely drive their penniless young sons from home on the command of the Prophet.

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Ken, (with regards to your comment on Apr 20th, 2008, 07:50)

I don�t believe what you suffered had anything to do with God; it�s a power struggle being fought by the truly weak and unstable inhabitants of this word, desperately trying to convince themselves of their self-righteousness when it�s so plain to see all they want is to be impervious to our laws and poke fun at morality. These people could sit in front of a mirror and look themselves in the eye and truly believe what they are doing is correct, like the saying �as happy as a pig in s**t� these creatures have never been educated to question, just to accept without question, so have no comparison. As for taking your own life, would you hang yourself in a barn cos the pigs got in the shit again?

What I�m trying to say is that you have broken away from that way of life, as you understood it be wrong, despite the fact it was the way you were raised, so you must see you are a very special, insightful and strong willed person to go against your family, your blood, and do what is obviously right and moral in this very corrupt world, this world needs more people like yourself to stand up for what is write, no matter what the consequences, don�t deprive the world..


Living without freedom.

Being born into the Polygamist Cult,FLDS Headquarter at the time was colorado city AZ, Being a child of the Black Family, knowing of others that have left (My couple of Uncles), that joined Satan and the evil people, outsiders the Gentiles as they were called,

It just meant that we would have to make up for the wrong that we had done to the community by being Pure and doing everything that the only proffit of god told us, even if it meant Killing anyone that he had asked us to even our parrents or brothers.

This life was just a test, a test to see if we are ready to Join Jesus in heaven, To build up the kingdom of heaven we need children and wives to bring with us in the afterlife, there are three levels of heaven and to be on the highest level where Jesus is then we need 3 wives, God knows when it is time for us to have children when girls can have children then they must have a child every 11 months and we will follow there cycles so we know when the time is right.

I felt bad for the Gentiles, Asking my Father "Is it fair that they are going to hell?" and the answer was well they might have another Chance but a new world will have to be built but God did that in 6 days so anything is possible.

Then he would add but since you have been chosen by god to be a part of Zion then if you were to leave then God would through your soul into the melting pot of Hell, where you would no longer exist in the afterlife,

I asked allot of questions wich was not good it meant that the evil spirit as my grandma taught me was doubting my faith in God (blind faith),

I remember being punished as a Child, Water torture was the method used by my grandma, I remember her water boarding my younger Brothers, to the point of breaking there spirit (spanking them then runing water over there face from the kitchen sink) , Grandma would say that the young toddlers were susceptible to evil spirits entering there bodies and that by doing this they would leave, Then as we got older around 9 or so she would change the methods of purifying our bodies by as she would say "Shocking the Devil out of us" throwing ice water in our face and making me angry at what point I would run as she would have my Cousins chasing me with water around the Yard and running away.

Remembering why I hate my brothers, I was always active when I was younger, running ect. my grandma would resort to giving me enema's as a form of discipline, she would ask my older brothers was (me) good when I was gone? and they would say nope, I would be like please don't lie, (They would mock me saying how does it feel to have water up my butt?)and laugh at me and my grandma would administer the water to the point I could not hold, crying the whole time, I would talk to my parents, and they would never listen. even to this day,

My mom says that grandma was just trying to help me and I was probly sick. no I was not sick my family was and has been 5 years since I have talked to my family, My dad is dead and my family is living to the best of there ability.

It has been 15 years since being kicked out by my Mom and I was 16 at the time and I still feel sad, Should I have just taken my life when I was younger, so much pain and unhappiness in the name of God.

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