2 young FLDS boys unaccounted for

Published: Sunday, April 27 2008 12:00 a.m. MDT

SAN ANGELO, Texas — As children from the Fundamentalist LDS Church settled into new foster homes this weekend, the whereabouts of two young boys remains uncertain.

Child welfare workers in Texas say they're not worried. But the mother of the boys and attorneys representing the mothers are not sure whether they should be or not.

"We just don't know where they are," Cynthia Martinez told the Deseret News Saturday.

Martinez, the communications director for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, which represents 48 FLDS mothers, said they had information on where the boys were supposed to be taken but can't confirm anything to emotional parents. It's indicative, she said, of the fear and confusion the parents of the 467 children taken from the YFZ Ranch continue to feel.

Meanwhile, an FLDS member sent a letter to the governor of Texas on Saturday, accusing child welfare officials of "some of the most horrific violations of human rights that have ever been allowed on American soil."

The letter was sent to Texas Gov. Rick Perry from Willie Jessop, an FLDS member who has helped church members publicize their cause. The letter asks the governor to respond and "stop this injustice and abuse" of the innocent FLDS children by separating them from their mothers.

"The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services have demonstrated, in a most blatant way, their inability to properly care for, or even account for our children," the letter states.

"Many have been left in critical medical conditions, resulting in permanent mental damage through threats, intimidation and ultimately separating them from their parents, disregarding their own psychological expert advice to keep children with at least their mother."

Jessop accused Texas officials of "false allegations about the finding of abuse against teenage girls" and accused some Child Protective Services employees of "inhumane tactics and threats towards innocent mothers and children."

While not responding directly to the letter, DFPS spokesman Chris Van Deusen and others have repeatedly and strongly denied allegations made by several FLDS mothers that CPS workers threatened to never allow them to see their children again if they didn't cooperate or if the women returned to their homes at the YFZ Ranch.

"Those (allegations) are absolutely false. No one from CPS would say that," Van Deusen said.

Like Jessop, Martinez said accounting for all the children is a concern for her, too.

She said the mother of the two unaccounted-for boys contacted her attorney to say she needed to know about her 11-year-old and 16-month-old sons. The attorney was unable to get any information to help calm her client. Martinez is not saying the boy took his brother and ran away but said she can't rule out any possibilities because of the confusion that exists.

"These mothers are no longer with their children. They're afraid and fearful and they want to know that their kids are OK," she said. "We're having trouble even telling these mothers where their kids are going."

The last of the 467 children were bused from makeshift shelters here Friday and sent throughout Texas to 16 different foster-care facilities in Amarillo, Midland, Abilene, Ft. Worth, Waxahachie, Houston, Waco, Austin, San Antonio and Corpus Christi.

"We don't have any unaccounted-for kids. All of them are in foster care now," said Van Deusen.

He couldn't provide any details about the specific two boys but said identification issues have continued to plague Texas officials. CPS workers have repeatedly complained that some children and women have provided different names than were given the day before. Together with the unusual family sizes and the number of different mothers caring for the children from the polygamous families, it's been difficult to sort out who's who.

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