Two 16-year-old girls who fled the Colorado City polygamist community last month are missing from their foster home and have likely run away, officials said Tuesday.
Flora Jessop, the woman credited with helping Fawn Holm and Fawn Broadbent flee, said she learned about noon Sunday that the girls had run.
Megan Holm, an 18-year-old relative of Fawn Holm, is also on the run with them, Jessop said.
"We got a phone call from (Megan) last night, saying they were fine, all OK," Jessop said. But the call was brief and Megan Holm refused to say where the three had gone.
Jessop said the girls left because they were worried things were headed downhill with the state.
"The girls left letters saying CPS was betraying them, and thanking us. They said they were worried about being sent back, locked up and married off," Jessop said.
In a news release Tuesday, Arizona Department of Economic Security spokeswoman Liz Barker denied Child Protective Services had planned to send the girls back to their parents.
Federal law requires the department to make an attempt to reconcile problems between children and their parents within 12 months, Barker said in the release. Should problems go unresolved, the agency is allowed to simultaneously make other arrangements for guardianship.
Barker also confirmed that Friday, Jessop was ordered by Maricopa County Superior Court to break off all contact with the two teen girls. She said the order was in response to concerns that the father of one of the girls had raised.
"These kids trusted us to escape and take them to the proper agencies," Jessop said. "I’m so angry at the state of Arizona."
Statewide, police have been notified that CPS is looking for the girls, Barker said, and they will be picked up by law enforcement if found.
"Honest to God, I hope that doesn’t happen," Jessop said. The girls will be safer on their own than would in the state’s hands, she said.
Megan Holm was visiting the girls from Salt Lake City. She is the daughter of Carl and Joni Holm, who are trying to get custody of the girls. Carl Holm, who escaped Colorado City 23 years ago, is Fawn Holm’s brother.
Joni Holm said she is convinced that Megan Holm is only with the other girls to make sure they are safe.
"I’m not upset with her. I truly don’t believe she initiated it," she said.