Winston Blackmore attends court to file an application separating his polygamy trial from his co-accused James Oler. (Trevor Crawley/Cranbrook Townsman)

Marriage records entered in Bountiful polygamy trial

Special prosecutor identifies religious documents indicating Winston Blackmore and James Oler participated in multiple marriages

A Texas Ranger who was part of a team that seized religious documents at a ranch in the U.S. took to the stand in the trial of two members of a polygamous sect south of Creston on Wednesday in Cranbrook.

Winston Blackmore and James Oler, both members of Bountiful, are on trial facing polygamy charges that were filed in August 2014 by a special prosecutor.

Ranger Nick Hanna and US law enforcement executed a search warrant on the Yearning For Zion (YFZ) ranch in Eldorado, Texas in April 2008. The raid was initially based on the report of a sexual assault, however, after investigators spent three days on the property, the warrant was expanded, according to Hanna.

During the Eldorado raid, Texas Rangers seized over 300 boxes of evidence, including marriage and priesthood records for members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the U.S. and Canada that were locked away inside a concrete vault.

Hanna described how tight security was at the YFZ ranch, as it was in a remote location and fenced around the perimeter at 12 feet high, while the main temple building was also fenced with a barrier taller than six feet.

Inside the temple, the temple annex was locked with thick oak doors, while the temple vault was encased with concrete that took a locksmith expert over 24 hours to defeat the mechanism.

“It was just a series of obstacles put in place by the FLDS to ensure the security of the documents [inside],” said Hanna.

Instead of going through the vault door, law enforcement ended up entering the vault by drilling through the side wall, with a Ranger gaining access through a small hole, where he seized documents in bank boxes kept in cabinet drawers.

After the documents were seized and catalogued, an affidavit was sworn on Aug. 8, 2008 detailing a list of FLDS marriage and personal records relating to Winston Blackmore and James Oler.

Special prosecutor Peter Wilson entered 24 marriage records for Blackmore into evidence that were dated back to 1990 and up to 2008. Some records include marriages to two different women that are recorded to have occurred on the same day.

Wilson also entered four marriage records for Jim Oler to women between 1993 and 2004.

Wilson also cross-referenced a personal record for Oler against personal records for the women he married that were also seized by law enforcement.

On cross-examination, Blair Suffredine, the defence counsel for Blackmore, attacked the credibility of the personal and marriage records, noting that there was no way to tell who the original author of the records are.

Suffredine pointed out some of the records seized were not original copies as the documents have markings indicative of being sent to the YFZ ranch by fax machine.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The State of Aging: COVID-19 exposed a long-term care system already in crisis

A look at Greater Victoria’s aging population and what that will mean for the future

Police seek ‘high-risk sex offender’ last seen in Victoria

Scott Jones is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for being ‘unlawfully at large’

Oak Bay home ready to house refugees, immigrants

District leases two village homes to Victoria Immigrant and Refugee Centre Society

Central Saanich police sport personalized face masks

Masks feature the crest and individual officer pin numbers

Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Sept. 27 to Oct. 3

World Farm Animals Day, Drink Beer Day and Virus Appreciation Day are all coming up this week

B.C. records 98 more COVID-19 cases, most in Lower Mainland

One new senior home outbreak, Surrey Memorial outbreak over

Vancouver Island Tour de Rock riders roll into Parksville Qualicum Beach

Saturday’s schedule includes Port Alberni, Ucluelet and Tofino, followed by Nanaimo on Sunday

97 distressed horses, cats and dogs seized from farm in Princeton

RCMP assisted as BC SPCA executed search warrant

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

$250K reward offered as investigation continues into Sea to Sky Gondola vandalism

Police also asking for specific footage of Sea to Sky highway around time of incident

Trudeau ‘disappointed’ by RCMP treatment of Sikh officers over mask issue

World Sikh Organization of Canada said taking Sikh officers off the front lines constitutes discrimination

Liberals reach deal with NDP on COVID-19 aid bill, likely averting election

NDP and the Liberals have reached an agreement on COVID-19 sick-leave

Most Read