By Sean Cruz
The 16th anniversary of the day that my four children disappeared, kidnapped into Mormon Country, has arrived and it is just as their Mormon abductors intended it to be, both then and now.
A Mormon shunning, with the weight of the church to keep it in place, intended to punish me for speaking my mind so long ago, intended to last forever….
Mormon officials in three states put the scheme together, had decided to hide my children in the mountains east of Ogden, and to hide themselves behind a phalanx of Mormon lawyers and the theocratic courts that pass for a justice system in Utah. An actual Mormon cabal, think about it….
On this day 16 years ago, a Monday morning, a school day during the Great Storm of 1996, my children had vanished, were in fact being driven by a roundabout, secret route from Battle Ground to Salem to a motel near the Oregon coast where they were hidden for a few days, waiting for flooded Interstate 84 eastbound to clear.
Then they were driven out through the Columbia Gorge, through the Blue Mountains, east across Idaho and then down into theocratic Utah, where a group of Mormon zealots awaited their arrival, covert as you would expect a gang of human traffickers to be, months of planning invested in this, not to mention the overtly criminal conduct.
They were going to take my children to Utah and force them to choose a parent—the Mormon parent—and cut all ties with their non-Mormon family members. This amounts to torture, emotional torture, Mormonboarding….
All of this was in clear violation of an Order for Joint Custody that had been in effect for five years. Decisions about the children’s education were to be made jointly.
From this point on, however, every decision regarding my children was made by others, as I fought through four jurisdictions in three states.
Utah officials ignored or refused to comply with orders from Oregon or Washington courts, even a felony arrest warrant for Custodial Interference I. At the same time, all of the courts involved treated the Joint Custody order as if it were printed in invisible ink.
They have their own ways of doing things in Mormon Country, and if you have been labeled as anti-Mormon, they will shut you out. In this respect, they are like the Borg….
And like the Borg, they ganged up on my children, force-fed them the dogma, forced them to reject the non-Mormon parent in favor of Mormon stepdad #1, then Mormon stepdad #2 (the heavy-set thug who slapped my kids around Payson Utah), and now Mormon stepdad #3.
Mormon stepdad #3 has a heavy investment in maintaining the status quo, simple jealousy a good portion of that. I am the one, after all, who his wife sustained a 15-year prior marriage with, a relationship that produced four beautiful children, and these facts are always going to stick in his craw.
But it’s really about the Mormonism, this whole story.
Apart from the shock of losing their father, their grandmother and all of their father’s family, their Oregon homes, their schools and all of their friends, my children suffered an onslaught of indoctrination, far beyond what is normal even in Mormon circles.
This particular group of Mormons was well aware that they were acting criminally in terms of state and federal statutes, but they were group-thinking their way through the series of crimes, convinced that they were working on behalf of A Higher Authority. And they certainly wanted to be sure that their asses were protected from discovery, which could lead to criminal prosecution.
They forced my children to write letters to the court, begging the court not to make them return to Oregon. My children wrote that they never wanted to leave Utah, not ever, not for any reason, and the Courts did nothing to look any deeper than the surface.
This is how my children were forced into a religious war, where they remain today, still in Mormon Country, where many Mormons are heavily invested in maintaining the status quo. Long past the time when the statutes of limitations bar prosecutions, there is still the fear of discovery, embarrassment and loss of status in that closed-off secretive Mormon society, a very real threat.
How differently our lives would have turned out if only the court had required that the children be returned to their Oregon homes and the terms of the Joint Custody Order enforced. For years, that was all that I asked the Courts to do.
Aaron would still be alive today.
Our family would be whole. Maybe some Mormon, some non-Mormon, but not at war within the family over religious bullshit.
Our family would be whole.
And Aaron would be alive today.
Sean Cruz writes at