Arizona Polygamous Leader Helped Plan Girls’ Escape From Foster Care From Prison

Even from behind bars, a leader of a controversial polygamous group in Arizona continues to manipulate their illegal practices.

While Sam Bateman sits behind bars facing federal evidence tampering and state child abuse charges, he allegedly enlisted some of his wives to coordinate the escape of eight girls he considers his wives from a group home and transport them out of state. Authorities report that approximately two weeks ago, three women Naomi Bistline, Donnae Barlow and Moretta Rose Johnson worked to help nine children placed in foster care after Bateman’s arrest escape their assigned homes.

An indictment filed by U.S. attorneys in Arizona the latest development in the federal case. Prosecutors claim that Bateman, from the federal prison, spoke to two of the women via video calls, which include while they were driving from Arizona to Washington state and also while they were in a hotel room with the girls.

According to prosecutors, during one of the calls, Bateman asked the women, who reside in Arizona, if they were in “our state.” They responded that they were not in Arizona. During another call, one of his wives reassured Bateman, “we are helping you.” On a third, they discussed details on changing vehicles. Law enforcement was in fact pursuing them at the time.

Prosecutors allege that Bateman was working with three women to “unlawfully seize, confine, inveigle, decoy, kidnap, abduct and carry away” three children and transport them to the state of Washington.

Bateman is known to be a former member of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who started his own breakaway religious group, after Warren Jeffs was sent to prison.

Bateman was considered one of Jeffs’ most trusted followers.

Though federal prosecutors charging documents, Bateman had taken some of the girls in question as child brides. Other charges Bateman is facing is that he orchestrated sexual acts involving minors and gave wives as gifts to male followers. It is been reported that those men then supported Bateman financially and in return gave him their own wives and young daughters as wives.