Escaped FLDS Leader Arrested In SD

Lyle Jeffs, who has been on the run for almost a year, was arrested by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and Yankton County authorities.

A judge released Jeffs to home confinement after his indictment, despite warnings from family and friends that he would likely flee. Days later, Lyle Jeffs disappeared after investigators say he used olive oil to slip a Global Positioning System ankle monitor off his foot without triggering an alarm. His lawyer, meanwhile, suggested in court documents that the Rapture-you know, the end-times event when God will zap Christians back to heaven en masse-might have been responsible for his disappearance. It is an offshoot of the mainstream Salt Lake City-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon church, which renounced polygamy in 1890 and is not affiliated with the FLDS. If the name Jeffs seems familiar, it may be because he is the brother of Warren Jeffs, the polygamous sect's prophet, who is imprisoned in Texas and serving a life sentence for raping girls he claimed to be his brides.

Jeffs re-arranged his name during the transaction, according to pawn shop owner Kevin Haug. Jeffs is facing trial in a multimillion-dollar food stamp fraud scheme.

The owner of a small-town South Dakota pawn shop says Lyle Jeffs revealed who he was on Tuesday when he pawned two pairs of Leatherman pliers for $37 and provided identification.

"Down near the marina near Yankton and he saw that vehicle, called in for back-up, back-up arrived and a felony auto stop was conducted and Mr. Jeffs was taken into custody", said Barnhart.

The sect, known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, has a compound in Pringle, South Dakota.

Jeffs waived his right for an identity and detention hearing in South Dakota, putting him in custody with the U.S. Marshals until he returns to Utah.

All of the defendants pleaded not guilty.

Jeffs fled from his Salt Lake City home - where he was under house arrest - on June 19 of previous year while awaiting trial for his alleged involvement in a multimillion-dollar food stamp fraud case.

Jeffs complied with officers when he was arrested and acknowledged he was the fugitive they had been searching for, said Eric Barnhart, FBI special agent in charge for the Salt Lake City Division. FLDS, which is not connected to the Mormon Church, continues to practice polygamy in small towns along the Utah-Arizona border.

"You have those times when you don't want to say, 'I told you so, ' but that's kind of where we're at", Huber said Thursday. Prosecutors opposed that move, arguing Jeffs was a flight risk.

While Jeffs was a fugitive, nine of the 10 other people charged in the high-profile February 2016 bust accepted plea deals.

  • Zachary Reyes