Victims of Arizona polygamous cult leader Samuel Bateman fled community groups and hid at Airbnb

Eight underage girls rescued by child protection officers from a leader of a polygamous cult in Arizona ran out of their shared homes and hid in an Airbnb in Washington state, according to a report.

The eight and one additional girl had been taken from the homes of Samuel Bateman — the leader of a small offshoot of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — and placed in the group homes under the care of the Arizona Department of Child Safety in September.

However, last Sunday, the eight girls, ages 11 to 16, disappeared from homes outside of Phoenix, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

They were found four days later at an Airbnb in Spokane, Washington, with a Bateman supporter named Moretta Rose Johnson, 19, who has since been charged with kidnapping, according to a federal complaint seen by the newspaper. According to KXLY, Johnson reportedly married Bateman when she was a minor.

Samuel Bateman
All nine children were removed from Bateman’s homes on September 14.
AP/ Trent Nelson

A 24-year-old woman was also arrested in Colorado City, Arizona, in connection with the missing girls. She was booked in the Mohave County Jail on suspicion of kidnapping, obstructing a criminal investigation, resisting arrest and tampering with a witness, the outlet reported.

FBI agents had traced a credit card linked to a business owned by one of Bateman’s followers to the reservation on the Airbnb rental site, court documents said.

The girls were considered runaways, according to the Tribune.

All nine children and teenagers were removed from Bateman’s homes on Sept. 14 when the FBI searched his property looking for evidence he had had underage wives or was involved in sexual activity with a minor, according to an FBI affidavit.

Samuel Bateman.
Bateman faces allegations of incest, group sex with adults and children, and child trafficking.
Coconino County Sheriff’s Office

Bateman, 46, has been accused of marrying more than 20 women, most under the age of 15 – reportedly including his own daughter.

Bateman is said to have made sexual advances towards his own daughter, first bribing her with two bags of Doritos and $50, saying, “If his feelings were right, he would do what a boy does to make money.” [her] having a baby,” reported KXYLY.

Although he has not been charged with sexual abuse or other related crimes, the affidavit alleges that the FBI has probable reason to believe that he and others transported minors between Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Nebraska between May 2020 and November 2021 to engage in illegal sexual activities .

Bateman has been jailed since late August, when authorities found three young girls, ages 11 to 14, in a cargo trailer he was towing near Flagstaff. Victims of Arizona polygamous cult leader Samuel Bateman fled community groups and hid at Airbnb


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