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‘You have been warned’: Fourth suspected wife of polygamist ‘cult’ leader Sam Bateman indicted over threats

Sam Bateman LC

Accused polygamous cult leader Sam Bateman (Screenshot via Law&Crime Network)

A fourth suspected wife of polygamous cult leader Samuel Bateman has been indicted on allegations that she made interstate threats and engaged in cyberstalking.

Federal prosecutors disclosed that a grand jury indicted Josephine Barlow Bistline in a filing in her husband’s case last Tuesday.

“On April 4, 2023, a grand jury returned an indictment charging Josephine Barlow Bistline, a.k.a. Jomie B, who is also believed to be one of Bateman’s wives, with one count of interstate communications involving a threat and one count of cyberstalking,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Dimitra Sampson wrote in a three-page motion.

With that disclosure, Bistline joins three of Bateman’s other wives on the criminal docket of the District of Arizona: Naomi Bistline, Donnae Barlow, and Moretta Rose Johnson.

Those defendants represent a small fraction of Bateman’s total number of alleged spouses.

In 2019, Bateman declared himself a prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), a sect whose adherents practice polygamy. The government estimates that Bateman has roughly 50 followers and more than 20 wives, nine of whom are minors between the ages of 12 and 16. Prosecutors have accused Bateman of having “sexual discussions” with children while incarcerated, but they have charged him with other crimes.

Josephine Bistline is believed to be one of the adult wives, and two of her daughters — Jane Does # 8 and 9 — were taken into the Arizona Department of Child Services (DCS). Those daughters were among a group of eight children who escaped from DCS custody on Nov. 27, 2022, before being found weeks later in Spokane, Washington.

Their escape precipitated kidnapping and other charges against Bateman and the three other wives.

Though not charged in connection with that incident, Josephine Bistline stands accused of threatening a DCS case manager identified only as C.B. and a case worker anonymized as L.B. from her Gmail account.

The FBI quotes Bistline’s email missives, whose profanities were uncensored in their original form.

“dcs is doing wrong and they damn well know it,” Bistline allegedly wrote on Dec. 16. “To take them in the first place was something God required of us. Just so CB, and every other amazing ego chaser, looking for the ‘honor’ of men, will soon find out, God did this to raise Samuel Rappylee Bateman up in the eyes of all nations, and WHEN He gets to the top, God will turn the tables, from ‘bad’ to good, and there will be no holes for dcs and this Wicked F—— government to hide in. WATCH!”

Three days later, prosecutors say, Bistline sent L.B. another fire-and-brimstone rant.

“You know Samuel Rappylee Bateman is an innocent and pure man, and if you understood who you were trying to ‘put down’, you would see, that you have been siding with Judas Iscariot, and Haman of old, and VERY SOON, they will hang themselves, on their own gallows,” the Dec. 19 email states. “You will be among them, unless you repent, and confess you have done the wrong dam [sic] thing, and fix it. I know you can, and with God’s help, I believe you will.”

Months passed before a follow-up email bearing the subject line “Re:Reminder.” In this message, Bistline allegedly accused L.B. of “CHILD TRAFFICKING” and said that another case worker, “H.P.,” had “better watch her back.”

“We will do what God requires, and I KNOW He wants us with our girls, and He wants wickedness put down- and that is my only goal,” read the email, sent on March 17, 2023. “You have been warned. Repent and fix it, or you WILL pay a very dear price.”

On the day that her criminal complaint was filed, Bistline allegedly sent four more lengthy emails to C.B. and L.B. Authorities would excerpt all four of them in court papers.

The first of these — titled “Good morning!” — wasn’t quite as sunny as the subject line would indicate.

“Your prison experience will be behind a ventilator, with help to breathe, to blink, to clean up anything that runs,” Bistline told C.B. in boldface text, according to court papers. “And, you know, I wouldn’t mind helping with that too. Because I love you! But you have gone too far. We are done.”

A grand jury returned a sealed indictment on April 4, in a case currently pending on a separate docket before U.S. District Judge Douglas L. Rayes.

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Prosecutors want to move her case to the docket of Senior U.S. District Judge David G. Campbell, to be joined with her husband and his other wives.

“While these cases charge crimes committed on separate dates, the underlying events are intertwined,” prosecutors say.

The government says that Bistline’s attorney Mark Paige objects to the request. Paige didn’t immediately respond to an email requesting a comment.

Read Bistline’s complaint here.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."