PRINGLE, S.D. (KELO) — Andrew Chatwin, Patrick Pipkin and Claude Seth Cooke are the new owners of the compound located southwest of Pringle, which is currently occupied by members of the secretive polygamous sect of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints.
The compound, was auctioned off by the Custer County Sheriff’s Department for a final price of $750,000 to Blue Mountain Ranch, LLC, which represents Chatwin, Pipkin and Cooke.
The three now own the 140 acre property which contains multiple house-style buildings, fencing, outbuildings, garden plots and a watchtower.
Take a closer look at the compound in the images below:
But how did they come to purchase it?
Pipkin spoke to South Dakota Public Broadcasting following the sale, who reported that the three, who are former members of the FLDS, will not actually have to pay for the property, as it is being awarded to them as the highest bidders due to them being owed a 2 million dollar judgement from the FLDS.
This judgment comes as the result of incidents which occurred in the community known as Short Creek, constituting the bordering communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Arizona. Hildale is where the FLDS is headquartered.
According to the Rapid City Journal, Pipkin said he left FLDS about 15 years ago and no longer believes in its teachings.
In 2015, following the split, Cooke then the owner of Prairie Farms, LLC was working with Pipkin and Chatwin were working to develop the former Fred M. Jessop Zoo, which Prairie Farms, LLC had begun leasing from United Effort Plan Trust, the organization that owned it.
Court documents charge that in October 2015 the Chatwin and Pipkin were arrested on the property. At the time, an officer with the Colorado City Marshal’s Office claimed that a squatter, Chad Johnson, was the legal occupant, and arrested Cooke, Pipkin and Chatwin for trespassing on the property that they had legal rights to occupy.
Prior to the arrest, court documents state that the CCMO was informed by Mohave County sheriff’s personnel that Cooke, Pipkin and Chatwin were the legal occupants of the property, and any attempt to arrest them for trespassing would be illegal.
Chatwin and Pipkin thus remained on the property, and were arrested by CCMO personnel. Court filings indicating that Pipkin was “deliberately and maliciously shoved” by Chief Jerry Darger of CCMO.
On October 14, the two men appeared in court and were released. Two days later, the two men returned to the property and were again arrested by the CCMO, who again claimed they were trespassing on Johnson’s property.
The court filings claim the men were discriminated against due to the fact that they were not part of the FLDS faith, and that the CCMO was “under the direct control of the FLDS Church,” and that its officers and other elected leaders were “handpicked” by the FLDS church, which conspired to illegally arrest and prosecute non-members.
The men’s reason for purchasing the compound is not readily apparent, but KELOLAND News is making efforts to contact them.
This story will be updated when new information is made available.