Fleeing the faith: How Elizabeth Roundy escaped the FLDS Church and her message to her missing daughter

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MONTEVIEW — Elizabeth Roundy believes her daughter is hiding with members of The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the concerned mother is worried church leaders may force her 16-year-old to marry an older man.

Elintra Fischer has been missing since Jan. 1 when she left her Monteview home in Roundy’s gray Honda Civic. The car was found at a gas station but Elintra is still missing. Roundy has had no communication with her daughter in over three weeks.

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Elintra Fischer | Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office

On Monday, EastIdahoNews.com posted part one of Roundy’s story as she spoke extensively about growing up FLDS in eastern Idaho, marrying a man she had never met and being forced to leave because of a miscarriage.

In the second half of our story, Roundy opens up about being banished from her community for over five years, how she was able to gain custody her children and she begs for Elintra’s return.

Life in Nebraska

Roundy was told in July 2014 she needed to leave her children in Hildale, Utah and go “far away” to repent. Church leaders told her to take her “unclean” 10-year-old son Benjamin but leave everyone else behind.

She had $4,000 and left town in a “puttering” old van that broke down several times during the drive.

“My cousin came with me to try and help me get settled,” Roundy recalls. “He’s actually the one that suggested Nebraska and it just felt right to me. So we went to Nebraska.”

Roundy ended up at a run-down motel in Minden where the owner hired her to do laundry. Benjamin was homeschooled in their small room and they continued to follow strict FLDS teachings, including a prohibition on all television, cell phones, internet and news media.

After saving some money, Roundy and Benjamin moved to an apartment in Hastings. She was not allowed to call her children in Hildale but remembers when her eldest son Jonathan reached out to her.

“We ended up talking approximately four hours. He had to hang up twice and call me back,” Roundy says. “I could tell he was just as happy to get to talk to me as I was to talk to him…I just wanted my children. I needed my children and wanted them with me and I was worried about them all the time.”

Roundy figured she would be away from Hildale for a few weeks or, at most, a couple of months. She anxiously awaited a call from church leaders inviting her home and while the phone did ring a few times, she received invitations of a different kind.

“They called me, I think, four different times and asked for donations of money. That’s all they asked for,” Roundy explains. “I’d say, ‘How are my children doing? I’m worried about them.’ They’d always just tell me, ‘They’re doing wonderful. Did you send any money?'”

The last time Roundy received a call was in 2016 and leaders again asked for money. Roundy said she didn’t have much but promised to send a few hundred dollars she had earned from a paper route. Delivering newspapers was an ideal job because Benjamin could go with his mom and do homework along the way.

Reunited with family in Idaho

Roundy occasionally heard from her husband, Nephi Fischer, who still had not been invited back to the FLDS community after being told to leave years earlier.

In the fall of 2017, he called Roundy with disturbing news.

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Nephi Fischer and Elizabeth Roundy | Courtesy Elizabeth Roundy

“He told me he had received a call from an anonymous person who was concerned about my children. They told Nephi my children were not in a loving situation and I was worried sick,” Roundy says. “I was ready to climb in my car and drive home and check on them.”

Roundy called Jonathan and he told his mom everyone was fine. Roundy was still worried and told Fischer she was going to check the kids. He reminded his wife that if she went back without being invited, she would be considered an apostate.

Roundy decided to remain in Nebraska but in November 2019, she learned her father had passed away.

“I actually called Nephi and said, ‘Father died. I’m wondering if it’s a good idea to go to his funeral.’ He told me he thought I should, which shocked me because I thought he would tell me no,” Roundy explains.

Fischer, who was living in Colorado, offered to drive with his wife to the funeral and they met up to make the 16 hour trek to Monteview.

“I had basically cut my family off 20 years earlier and they just all accepted me with open arms,” she says. “They were shocked but so happy to see me and they were so kind. I was only there for a few hours and Nephi made us leave.”

Roundy was frustrated she couldn’t stay longer and on the drive back to Nebraska, she says her husband complained the entire time. She realized how unhappy she was.

“I just thought, ‘What in the world am I doing?’ I’m exiled out in Nebraska when I could be here with my loving family and on top of all that, I wanted my children back,” Roundy says. “So on my drive back to Nebraska, I decided I was moving back home to Idaho.”

With a safe place to live in Monteview, Roundy needed her children back.

Getting the children

In March 2020, Roundy drove to Parowan, Utah to pick up her three kids. Jonathan had turned 18 so he was free to do what he wanted but Roundy was determined to get her son and two daughters.

“I decided I didn’t care what (the church members) thought about me. I needed my children and I wanted my children,” Roundy says.

She arrived in Parowan and drove around for some time but couldn’t find the kids so went to the police department for help.

“The officer told me not to show up on their doorstep or it will blow up in my face. They had been dealing with so many cases like mine with the parent showing up to get their children and the children would quickly vanish,” Roundy recalls. “He said I needed to get a court order.”

Roundy filled out the forms and about a month later, returned to Parowan with her brother and the legal paperwork in hand. Several police officers accompanied them to the home where the kids were staying.

“When we first showed up, the children were not there. We had to wait for them to get home,” Roundy explains. “They soon arrived and I walked up to my eldest daughter Elintra, the one who is missing right now, and said, ‘Hi Elintra, it’s good to see you.’ She glared at me and said, ‘What in the hell are you doing here?'”

Roundy had not seen her children in over five years and officers showed the caretakers the court order demanding the kids go with their mother. A stand-off ensued with the adults saying they would not honor the order.

After going back-and-forth for some time, the caretakers asked Roundy to come into the home without her brother or the police.

“They started asking me why I was doing this and said the prophet is going be delivered,” Roundy says. “I almost gave into them but I had my attorney on the phone. He said if you give in to these guys and don’t take your children right now, don’t honor this court order, you’re going to lose your chance.”

Roundy and the police officers began searching the home for the three children. Her youngest son was found hiding in a hall closet and she says he was so terrified he wet his pants.

The two daughters hid in a high kitchen cabinet and a ladder was needed to get them down. Jonathan and another woman in the home ended up in handcuffs for obstructing the officers’ work.

“The cops literally picked the kids up and put them in the truck. It was just heartbreaking. It wasn’t what I wanted. I was trying to just peacefully get my children,” Roundy says.

With the truck doors locked, Roundy and her brother took off to drive the kids to their new home in Idaho.

Message to Elintra

Roundy was finally reunited with her children but she says they were convinced she was evil and deceived. FLDS members smuggled a cell phone with the kids so they could stay in touch.

“They were telling them to be naughty and told them to keep running away,” Roundy says. “I had to literally follow them around because they kept trying to leave. I had to put up cameras to make sure they would stay.”

After a few days, Fischer showed up and said he was going to fight for custody of the children. A court battle ensued for the next 18 months but in December, Roundy was awarded full-custody of the kids.

They are enrolled in school and help out on the family farm. Roundy says they are doing well, which makes Elintra’s disappearance so shocking.

“It just breaks my heart because she really had it good at my place. She’s gone to public school and had a lot of friends. She has a lot of animals and it felt to me like she was coming along,” Roundy says.

The day Elintra left, Roundy says Fischer called her and said their daughter was with him. Roundy asked for Elintra to come home.

“He just laughed out loud and said, ‘She is home.’ He told me that he believes in letting people do what they want and he was not going to require her to come home,” Roundy says. “So here is my 16-year-old who doesn’t have a license and has had minimal experience driving on icy roads and he didn’t do anything to stop her.”

Elintra left her mother a note saying she would get the vehicle back to her. It was later found at a gas station in McCammon but there has been no sign of Elintra anywhere.

“I’m very concerned because I’ve been told there’s more revelations from Warren Jeffs telling certain caretakers to gather up all the young women and prepare them for marriage,” Roundy says.

Roundy no longer believes in the teachings of the FLDS Church but maintains a strong faith in God. She prays every day for her daughter and hopes Elintra doesn’t end up on the same path Roundy has been on for the past three decades.

“Elintra – I hope that you’re watching this. I want you to know that I love you with all my heart and you are always welcome at my home. Please come home,” she says.

WATCH PART 2 OF OUR INTERVIEW WITH ELIZABETH ROUNDY HERE:

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