Rozita Swinton

COLORADO SPRINGS — The woman considered a "person of interest" in the phone call that sparked the massive raid on the Fundamentalist LDS Church's YFZ Ranch is scheduled to make her first appearance in court this morning.

Rozita Swinton, 33, will appear for a pre-trial conference on a misdemeanor charge of making a false report. She is accused in a local case of a phony abuse call where she pretended to be a 13-year-old girl named "Dana," who was locked in a basement, drugged and sexually abused by her father.

When police here arrested Swinton, Texas Rangers were also present and seized evidence from her home that indicates a connection to the call that sparked the raid that resulted in 440 children being removed from the YFZ Ranch.

Texas authorities will only say that Swinton remains a "person of interest" in their ongoing investigation.

"The criminal investigation is still continuing. I do not know when we will be turning over the case to the prosecutors," said Texas Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Tela Mange Thursday.

All of the FLDS children taken in the raid have been returned to their parents after the Texas Supreme Court and Austin's 3rd Court of Appeals ruled the state acted improperly in removing all of the children from the ranch.

The Deseret News reported in May about phone numbers linked to Swinton being used to call family crisis shelters and child welfare authorities in Texas, Arizona, Washington and, possibly, Utah.

A call was first made to the Newbridge Family Shelter in San Angelo, Texas, on March 29 by a girl calling herself "Sarah Barlow." She said she had an 8-month-old baby and was pregnant with another child. She said her husband, 49-year-old Dale Barlow, abused her.

"Sarah Barlow desired to leave the YFZ Ranch compound but stated to call takers that if she were caught, she would be locked in her room and not allowed to eat," an arrest warrant affidavit said.

It was those calls that are believed to have triggered the raid on the YFZ Ranch on April 3. "Sarah" also called a battered women's shelter in Everett, Wash., and anti-polygamy activist Flora Jessop in Arizona.

Schleicher County Sheriff David Doran said in a recent interview with the Deseret News that when the raid was being conducted, authorities were still getting phone calls — and still believed there was a "Sarah." The FLDS put him in contact with Dale Evans Barlow, who lives in Colorado City, Ariz.

"A dialogue was made between myself and this gentleman that proclaimed to be Dale Evans Barlow. That still left in question the victim Sarah. As far as we were concerned she was still in jeopardy, was still on the property and still in need of intervention," Doran said, adding that there were several young women with the name "Sarah Barlow" on the ranch, despite the FLDS's insistence there were not.

On April 10, the shelter in Washington called Schleicher County sheriff's deputy John Conner, putting "Sarah" on the line.

"Sarah Barlow had repeatedly said she felt she would be punished for the trouble she caused," the affidavit said. "Sarah Barlow insisted that if she came forward her baby would be taken away."

Texas Rangers eventually came to Utah and questioned Dale Barlow, who first told the Deseret News that he did not know who she was. A warrant for his arrest has since been canceled.

Authorities said the phone numbers were traced to Swinton, who was arrested for the February incident in which she is accused of being "Dana." After bailing out of jail, Jessop said Swinton kept calling her.

Swinton suffers from multiple personality disorder and was a child sex abuse victim, claims her foster mother.

Writing under the pseudonym "Kate Rosemary," the woman mentions Swinton in a pair of books about the struggles of raising abused children in foster care. Swinton aged out of foster care and had nowhere to go, she wrote.

"Rozita, too, had been tragically abused, and suffered from one of the most extreme forms of post-traumatic stress disorder: sShe had been diagnosed as having developed multiple personalities, each of which experienced part of her abuse," Rosemary wrote in her book "After Disclosure: A non-offending parent reflects on childhood sexual abuse."

Swinton, Rosemary wrote, was "to say the least, unpredictable."

"With black hair and beautiful deep brown eyes and skin, she eventually went west to Utah and got a job she loved, as a nanny," she wrote.

In the book "Raising Shane," Rosemary described Swinton as "one of the most interesting people you can imagine."

"Among her many talents, Rozita is a superb cook," she wrote. "Her fried chicken is, as they say, to die for."

Rosemary's book publisher declined to make her available for interviews without approval from Swinton's criminal defense attorney. Attempts to reach Swinton herself for comment have been unsuccessful.

Swinton was convicted in connection with a 2005 case stemming from a false report in Castle Rock, Colo., where she claimed to be a 16-year-old girl named "Jessica" who wanted to abandon her baby and kill herself.

Authorities have also investigated hoax calls about abused girls named "April," "V," and "Jennifer."

The Utah Attorney General's Office told the Deseret News it is still investigating a similar call of abuse and whether it is connected to the calls that sparked the raid on the YFZ Ranch. A call was placed to child welfare workers in St. George, alleging child abuse and neglect. A Division of Child and Family Services spokeswoman said the information gleaned from the call "may or may not be related to an existing criminal matter."


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com