COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. For hours, Flora Jessop would be on the phone with "Sarah" trying to figure out where the little girl was and if she was OK.
The girl first called the anti-polygamy activist on March 30, claiming she was nearly 16, pregnant, in a bad marriage and planned to move to the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch in Texas.
Jessop's number is passed around among people seeking to leave polygamous communities. She runs a sort of underground railroad, sheltering children who run away from the FLDS Church.
"She's very damn good. She did have me convinced at one point. But then I started to question it," Jessop said in an interview Friday with the Deseret News.
Texas Rangers are investigating a 33-year-old Colorado Springs woman whom activists say made recent hoax phone calls to them, pretending to be a child-bride in an abusive marriage. Authorities are trying to figure out if Rozita Swinton had any role in the March 29-30 Texas phone calls that triggered the raid on the FLDS ranch, where 416 children were removed and placed into state protective custody.
It was a girl named Sarah who called a domestic violence hotline in Texas several times on March 29 and 30, claiming she was 16 years old, pregnant and in an abusive marriage to a man named Dale Barlow.
Jessop doesn't even want to speculate if Swinton and the mysterious Texas Sarah are the same person.
"I feel very sorry for her in a lot of ways. I think she's very disturbed," Jessop said of Swinton.
Colorado Springs police said Swinton was arrested at her home Wednesday on a warrant for misdemeanor charges of filing false police reports. It stems from an incident in February, where she reportedly made a hoax call to police about being an abused child.
Police here confirm a pair of Texas Rangers were present at the arrest, but refused to say any more about it.
"The Texas Rangers were in Colorado Springs (Wednesday) 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," police said in a statement.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has declined to comment, only saying no one has been arrested in connection with their investigation.
Since the Texas raid began April 3, authorities have been trying to identify the Sarah who called. They have repeatedly said they believe she is among the 416 children removed from the ranch, but they have still been unable to identify her for sure.
FLDS faithful have said they do not believe the girl exists at all.
Since March 30, Jessop has received a flood of phone calls from "Sarah," who she said spoke like a little girl and seemed to know the intricacies of life in the FLDS Church and Short Creek, the FLDS strongholds of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.
"She was damn good," Jessop said of the girl. "She had the 'crick' lingo down, which is just amazing."
Others were convinced that "Sarah" needed help.
"I thought she was real," said Joni Holm, who shelters FLDS kids and also spoke to the girl.
The conversations would last for hours. "Sarah" said she wanted to run away, and provided details of a life of abuse. "Sarah" gave her addresses of where she said she was inside the FLDS stronghold of Colorado City, Ariz. Jessop reported the calls to child welfare workers, who checked out the homes and found nothing. The calls continued, always from different cell phone numbers.
Eventually cracks started appearing in the girl's story.
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