Polygamous sect leader Lyle Jeffs captured after 1 year


Bishop Lyle Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was living out of his vehicle for two weeks before his arrest in Yankton, South Dakota, an Federal Bureau of Investigation official said Thursday.

Jeffs became a fugitive the weekend of June 18-19, 2016 when he slipped off his Global Positioning System ankle monitor using olive oil or another lubricant and fled from a Salt Lake City house where he was on supervised home release, authorities have said.

The FLDS church leader was on the FBI's most wanted list and there was a $50,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.

A court filing from August offered an arguably tongue-in-cheek theory from his attorney, Kathryn Nester, as to why Jeffs wasn't around anymore: he may have been raptured.

Jeffs had one legal wife, eight "spiritual wives", and almost 60 children according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

Jeffs' brother, Warren, was convicted of multiple sexual abuse charges and is serving a life sentence in Texas.

Barnhart said he expects Jeffs to be back in the state in the next few days.

Haug and a co-worker became suspicious last week when Jeffs walked into the River City Tools and Pawn.

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Authorities had been looking for Jeffs since June 18, 2016, when he escaped from home confinement in Salt Lake City pending trial on charges in an alleged multimillion-dollar food stamp fraud scheme.

Ten others were charged with Jeffs in the food stamp fraud scheme back in February of a year ago.

The FBI said Lyle Jeffs was in touch with his imprisoned brother after he escaped from house arrest, but intercepted messages between the brothers also suggested Lyle had been removed from his position of bishop soon after he escaped. In some cases, prosecutors say, church leaders told members to transfer their SNAP benefits to church-owned stores without receiving food.

All of the defendants pleaded not guilty. FLDS, which is not connected to the Mormon Church, branched off and continues to practice polygamy in small towns along the Utah-Arizona border.

"This indictment is not about religion; this indictment is about fraud", U.S. Attorney John W. Huber said at the time.

"That being said, we have always viewed Mr. Lyle Jeffs as the lead defendant in this prosecution, and our approach with him will in no way resemble the way we have handled and processed the other defendants in this case", Huber says.

While he was a fugitive, nine of the 10 other people charged in the high-profile bust in February 2016 took plea deals while one person had his charges dismissed. One parishioner told the paper that Lyle would act respectfully during private counseling sessions with church members, but would make fun of people behind their backs when the sessions were over.