It looks like the end of the line for the break away Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints to establish an illegal polygamist colony in rural west Texas, 1200 WOAI's Michael Board reports.
At the stroke of midnight tonight, the 1700 acre Yearning for Zion Ranch, which was established by FLDS 'prophet' Warren Jeffs, will become the property of the State of Texas.
Area rancher J.D. Doyle, who has been flying over the ranch, which was once home to thousands of followers of Jeff's bizarre 'religion,' men, women, and children, says the ranch is nearly deserted today.
"We're talking about forty people there, mainly men," Doyle said. "I have seen two women, I haven't seen any kids."
He hasn't seen Jeffs, either. Jeffs was convicted of sexually assaulting children during bogus 'marriages' arrange with 12 and 11 year old girls at the ranch, and he is serving a life term in prison. Six other FLDS men were also convicted or pled guilty to various charges, from polygamy to performing illegal marriages to sexual assault.
A judge in San Angelo ordered the ranch forfeited as the proceeds of criminal activity last month, but under state law, the FLDS has thirty days to challenge the seizure. So far, nobody has come forward.
Doyle, who heads the local Chamber of Commerce, says he doesn't expect there to be many bidders for the walled compound, with a large while 'temple' building in the middle.
"I'd like to turn it into a casino," he joked.
The FLDS fled to Texas after officials began putting pressure on the breakaway sect in Colorado City Arizona, which had been its home for decades. Jeffs built up the compound, but his troubles started in April of 2008, when the DPS and Child Protective Services raided the ranch, removing hundreds of children they said were being abused.
Doyle says there is not any other use that he can see for the property.
"It's too big and too expensive for somebody to buy," he said. "The taxes on it will be $400,000 a year, so unless you can make it profitable, the taxes alone will eat it up."
The Texas Attorney General, who will become the legal owner of the property, has not said what will become of it, but it is likely to be demolished and returned to ranch land.