SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) _ The hundreds of children from a polygamist compound taken into state custody are on their way to group homes, shelters and residences, but experts and lawyers fear their transition may be much harder than it is for other foster children.
The 437 children taken from the compound in West Texas will be plunged into a culture radically different from the community where they and their families shunned the outside world as a hostile, contaminating influence on their godly way of life.
Many of the children have seen little or no television. They have been essentially home-schooled all their lives. Most were raised on garden-grown vegetables and twice-daily prayers with family. They frolic in long dresses and buttoned-up shirts from another century.
"There's going to be problems," said Susan Hays, who represents a toddler in the custody case. "They are a throwback to the 19th century in how they dress and how they behave."
Buses have already shipped 138 children to group homes or boys' and girls' ranches, but most of the remaining children will be separated from their mothers for the first time when they are sent out of San Angelo in the coming days.
The state Child Protective Services program said it chose foster homes where the youngsters can be kept apart from other children for now.
The children were swept up in a raid earlier this month on the Yearning for Zion Ranch run by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, a renegade Mormon splinter group. Authorities say it believes in marrying off underage girls to older men, and that there is evidence of physical and sexual abuse at the ranch.
Possible twisters touch down in West, North Texas
DALLAS (AP) _ A severe thunderstorm system that damaged homes and knocked down power lines and trees may have also produced several tornados across West and North Texas.
Officials with the National Weather Service said that crews would be dispatched across the area on Thursday to confirm several reports of possible tornadoes Wednesday.
No injuries were immediately reported from the storms that brought heavy rain, winds up to 70 mph and baseball-size hail in some counties.
On Wednesday afternoon, roofs were damaged by winds in a Snyder park in Scurry County. A short time later as many as two twisters reportedly touched down away from populated areas near Patricia in Dawson County, southwest of Lubbock.
"We feel fairly confident on the Patricia one because there was a … spotter out of Lubbock that was on that storm," said David Hennig, a NWS meteorologist in Midland.
Man authorities say killed two arrested in Burleson County
SNOOK, Texas (AP) _ A man has been arrested after authorities say he killed the father and grandfather of his two stepchildren in front of the children, fled the scene and then holed up in someone's home for about nine hours Wednesday in Burleson County.
Myron Douglas Phillips, 35, of Katy, was being held Wednesday night in the Burleson County Jail without bail.
The slain men were identified as David Joseph Weichert, 35, and his father, David Richard Weichert, 62.
Sheriff's deputies were called to the Weicherts' rural home around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday. Authorities said the younger Weichert was leaving for work when he was confronted by Phillips, who was at the time free on bail for an aggravated sexual assault charge involving a child.
"He jumped out and said he was angry because he thought he was falsely accused," said Burleson County Sheriff Dale Stroud, referring to the sexual assault charge.
Phillips then pulled a gun and fired five or six shots that killed the two, authorities said. Stroud said that the first deputy to arrive heard the last two shots.
"The deputy actually saw him run around the house," Stroud said in a story for Thursday's editions of The Bryan-College Station Eagle. He said the deputy chased Phillips, but lost him in the dark.
Grand jury issues report in Brownsville bridge debacle
McALLEN, Texas (AP) _ After a year-long investigation into a $21 million bridge to Mexico that was never built, a Cameron County special grand jury has indicted one of the parties involved in the debacle for theft.
The grand jury's final report, released Wednesday in Brownsville, also said that while all of the money paid out by the Brownsville Navigation District was properly invoiced, some payments were made for services that were never received.
"There is no money that is missing or unaccounted for," the report said. "Those entities receiving the money have either forfeited any money found to be still in their possession or have been indicted for theft in a sealed indictment."
It is unclear when that indictment will be made public, revealing the name of the entity charged.
The grand jury focused on $2 million in "success fees" the district paid through its contractor even though Mexico never approved the bridge, which would have connected the Port of Brownsville with rail lines in Matamoros, Mexico.
Such fees were intended to reward the consultants for winning that approval from Mexican authorities, said Martin Arambula, the district's chairman. The district believed the appropriate Mexican authorities had given their approval when the fees were paid, he said.
But Mexico had not signed off and the project fizzled. The district and its consultant, Houston-based Dannenbaum Engineering, filed lawsuits arguing each owed the other money. The sides later settled.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.