Search Continues at Texas Polygamist Compound

Authorities have removed more than 220 women and children from the sect's property since getting a report last week of an underage marriage there. The 1,700-acre compound was built by followers of jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.

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ALISON STEWART, host:

Overlooking historic Bryant Park, we are live from the NPR Studios in midtown Manhattan. This is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. I'm Alison Stewart.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

And I'm Rachel Martin. It's Monday, April 7th, 2008. We are news, we are information, and today, we remember the end of an era.

(Soundbite of movie "Planet of the Apes")

Mr. CHARLTON HESTON: (As George Taylor) You maniac! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! Damn you all to hell!

STEWART: I have been known to quote that at my computer. On a regular occasion.

MARTIN: We love that bit. And I really, really loved Charlton Heston. I found myself remarkably saddened yesterday at news of his passing. He was 84 years old, long life, no word on exactly what the circumstances were, but...

STEWART: Long life.

MARTIN: But long life, you know? And we have a really sweet blog post from our editor Tricia McKinney, who met Mr. Heston during her time when she was working at "The View." So, it's a really nice read. You should check it out. Cool.

STEWART: Coming up on the show - how was your weekend, by the way?

MARTIN: I had such a good weekend. I could wax on for ages about how awesome my weekend was.

STEWART: All right. That will be the topic next hour.

MARTIN: Yeah. Save it, tease, Rachel's weekend, woo-hoo!

STEWART: Because you know what? Now we are talking about the end of the world.

MARTIN: I know.

STEWART: You had a great weekend. Glad to hear it. Because you know what?

MARTIN: Civilization could be at an end.

STEWART: Taking a dive.

MARTIN: OK. Not really, but there is a new article out that kind of implies this. It's a really fascinating look at how our society and civilization has become so interconnected that it actually makes us a lot more fragile and vulnerable. We are going to talk to the reporter who looked into it.

STEWART: And I know that there are some people out there who believe the end of civilization happened when Eric Cartman hit the television. I am not one of those people.

MARTIN: I think that's when we began as a human civilization, is when Cartman made his debut.

STEWART: You need to respect his authoritai(ph)! Get him some pie!

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STEWART: Eric Cartman is the subject of one of NPR's In Character series. I don't know if you heard this piece this weekend. I sat on my bed and just laughed through the whole entire piece. It's an in depth report on Eric Cartman from "South Park." We are serious.

MARTIN: We are. We are totally serious.

STEWART: That's very good. We are also going to talk sports with the BPP Monday morning quarterback, otherwise known as my husband, Mr. Bill Wolff. We'll get to today's headlines in just a minute. But first...

Two hundred and twenty women and children were removed from a west Texas polygamists' compound over the weekend, but authorities are still searching for one girl at the centre of the drama. Eighteen children have been placed in state custody.

MARTIN: Many of the religious sect's members are related to one another and share similar names. Investigators said in some cases they were giving different names at different times.

STEWART: Now, a 16-year-old girl sparked the raid when she called authorities saying she was married to a 50-year-old man, and claimed she gave birth when she was 15. Texas law prohibits girls under 16 from marrying, even with parental consent. Marleigh Meisner, spokeswoman from the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, had this to say about the girl yesterday.

Ms. MARLEIGH MEISNER (Spokeswoman, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services): I am confident that this girl does indeed exist, and I am confident that the allegations that she bought forth are accurate, but that's why we have an investigation.

MARTIN: Dozens of women and children, mostly girls, were seen yesterday boarding buses outside of El Darado, nearly 200 miles northwest of San Antonio. They wore long pastel dresses, and many of them carried infants. They have been placed in one location so caseworkers can continue interviews. Meisner also said the adults were cooperating with investigators, and that she didn't believe any had been forced to leave the compound.

Ms. MEISNER: Those of you that are parents, you need to think for a second what that would be like for your children, to be uprooted like this from the only home they have ever known. We are very aware of that, and we're really trying to make certain that their needs are met, but I would say right now, they appear to be doing very well.

STEWART: So far, the investigation has not resulted in any arrests, and some tense moments have been diffused without incident according to a local prosecutor.

MARTIN: The 1,700-acre compound was built by followers of jailed polygamist leader Warren Jeffs. Jeffs heads the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which broke from the Mormon Church more than a century ago, after the Mormon Church disavowed polygamy.

STEWART: In November, Jeffs was convicted in Utah for being an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year-old girl who was married to her 19-year-old cousin in 2001. The cousin is currently in jail in Arizona, awaiting trial for incest and sexual conduct with a minor.

MARTIN: This is the first time authorities in Texas have investigated the sect, which began building the west Texas compound several years ago, after authorities in Arizona and Utah started keeping closer tabs on them.

STEWART: And you can keep tabs on this story all day by going to npr.org. Now, let's get some more of today's headlines.

WOLFF: This is NPR.

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