Children Leave Freemen Compound

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JORDAN, Montana: The difficulty of bringing the Freemen standoff to a safe conclusion eased considerably today when two of the three minors at the compound left the Freemen ranch. Elwin and Gloria Ward, a common-law couple, came out Thursday afternoon with Gloria's daughters Courtnie, 10 years old, and Jaylynn, 8, who had been the youngest residents of the compound. A sixteen-year-old remains inside. The Wards were accompanied by FBI agents to the bureau's field headquarters at the Garfiled County fairgrounds, where they were held for at least an hour. TIME's Patrick Dawson reports from Jordan that the FBI has said little about the deal that resulted in the Wards' departure. Gloria Ward had been charged with violating child custody laws in Utah, but that charge was dropped in return for her family's decision to leave the ranch peacefully. Dawson notes: "The real question is, does getting the children out clear the way for more aggressive pressure tactics by the FBI? The children have been a tactical consideration up until now, and the government has had to treat them with kid gloves. We don't know if this will encourage more people to leave, or if the Freemen will dig in even harder." The FBI estimates that at least 17 people remain hunkered down inside the compound. -->