Tip helps nab wanted polygamous sect leader Lyle Jeffs

He fled house arrest past year while awaiting trial with other sect leaders for alleged food stamp fraud and money laundering.

Federal Bureau of Investigation officials said they believe Lyle Jeffs used olive oil to slip off his Global Positioning System ankle bracelet during the evening hours of June 18, 2016, and abscond from home confinement in Salt Lake City.

Lyle Jeffs had used olive oil to remove his ankle monitor and escape home confinement in Utah one year ago.

The FBI's Field Office in Salt Lake City posted a tweet Thursday morning saying he was captured Wednesday evening in South Dakota.

Lyle Jeffs is a brother of Warren Jeffs, who is considered the prophet of the sect and is serving a sentence of up to life in prison plus 20 years in Texas for illegally marrying and sexually abusing underage girls. Lyle Jeffs was one of eleven people in the polygamous sect accused of food-stamp fraud and money laundering.

In South Dakota Lyle Jeffs is being held without bond, and according to reports, is held on a Federal Marshal's "service hold".

Jeffs and the other defendants claimed that they were sharing food and that it was a facet of their communal living.

A former member of Jeffs' sect, Ross Chatwin, reacted to the news of Lyle's arrest to our sister station in Salt Lake City, KSL.

Jeffs was jailed in 2016 in connection with a food stamp fraud case in Hildale then was given home confinement. Jeffs will soon be taken back to Utah.

While Jeffs was a fugitive, nine of the 10 other people charged in the high-profile February 2016 bust accepted plea deals. Huber also stated that the sect leader's flight from custody would probably add another felony charge to his prosecution. "They feel god protected them".

Jeffs however, still has eight "spiritual wives", as the sect believes polygamy brings men exaltation in heaven. Jeffs had been living out of his vehicle near a marina, and is now being held in a Sioux Falls jail.

Warren Jeffs took the reins of the sect in 2002 after the death of his father, the church's founder. Known to the faithful as "R23", the compound sits along a gravel road, secluded by tall pine trees, a privacy fence and a guard tower.

The events leading to Jeffs' capture in a lakeside area started a day earlier when a pawn shop owner called police about a man who had come to his shop acting nervous and fidgety.

The secretive group's base has caused concerns among nearby landowners in western South Dakota.

A United States District Judge approved supervised home release June 9, 2016, though the FBI and federal prosecutors fought to have him remain jailed until his trial in October 2016.

  • Larry Hoffman