Brawl erupts when Utah mother tries to get children back from FLDS Church members

Posted at 3:49 PM, Apr 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-07 19:02:13-04

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. – A Utah mother who left the FLDS Church, then fought for custody of her children for eight years finally won the court battle, but almost didn’t get her children back.

That’s because members of the polygamist church physically blocked her when she went to get her children.

It took law enforcement to get the children, ranging in age from 8 to 13, out of the community and back to their mother.

Cell phone video shows the FLDS members from Colorado City coming out in droves as Sabrina Tetzner took her four children from the community.

A judge ordered the polygamist FLDS group to turn over the children by 5 p.m. Thursday but that did not happen.

The executive director of Defenders of Children, an advocacy group that helped Tetzner, told KSAZ it was “insanely crazy.”

Kimberly Ririe said she was in contact with Tetzner the entire time.

“She always wanted to go back to get her kids but she had no hope that it was even possible because they don’t let kids go from Colorado City,” Ririe said.

Deputies told KSAZ hundreds of FLDS members gathered to try to keep the mother from her children.

“They filled the home, they filled the yard, they filled the fences, and they surrounded the vehicle,” she said.

Deputies were forced to get a search warrant.

The children were reluctantly reunited with their mother; they were told she would take “them to hell with her.”

According to KSAZ, deputies escorted the family back to their home, which Ririe says was vandalized.

“That’s normal, that’s what we were raised with, we were taught that was the norm,” Flora Jessop said.

Jessop left Colorado City in 1986 and now fights for women and children, including her sister who had a similar experience when she left the community.

“Keep in mind the people left up there right now are the most radical and rabid followers of Warren Jeffs and things are going to keep getting more dangerous for the women and children inside,” she said.

Jessop told KSAZ Warren Jeffs still runs the church from prison.

“It’s going to be tough; we’ve got to get these kids help, to transition. It’s not going to be easy on the children, and it’s not going to be easy on mom,” Jessop said.

MORE: See the latest on this story from KSAZ