SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, June 15, 2017 (Gephardt Daily) — It was a call from an alert tipster that led to the capture of fugitive Lyle Jeffs, a bishop of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, an FBI spokesman revealed on Thursday morning.
Jeffs, 57, was taken into custody close to midnight near Yankton, South Dakota, said Utah FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Barnhart. Officers found Jeffs at a marina in his Ford F150 extended-cab truck.
It appears Jeffs has been living out of his vehicle for many of his 361 days on the lam, since he slipped out of a house-arrest ankle monitor using olive oil, Barnhart said. Jeffs was running low on resources, and did not enjoy the support given to brother Warren Jeffs when he was a fugitive.
Warren Jeffs is now in prison after being convicted of sexual abuse of a child. His sentence is life plus 20 years.
The federal charges Lyle Jeffs faced when he fled were related to the FLDS church’s alleged fraudulent use of $12 million in food stamps. Most of those charged in the case accepted plea deals, an option unlikely to be offered to Jeffs, said John Huber, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah.
Yankton is about 400 miles east of Pringle, South Dakota, the site of an FLDS compound, Barnhart added. Federal agencies will be investigating who may have helped Jeffs while he was on the run.
Jeffs did not resist arrest, and confirmed his identity to arresting officers, Barnhart said. He has been booked into the Minnehaha County Jail on a United States Marshal hold.
Huber said trying to escape is always a bad idea.
“The long arm of the law will eventually catch up with you and bring you back to justice,” he said, adding that Jeffs will now be facing trial on additional charges. “Undoubtedly, the flight from prosecution and his fugitive status will play a part.”
Staying a fugitive takes skills very few have, Barnhart said.
“If you have not done it before, it’s not going to turn out well, with 18,000 law enforcement agencies in this country,” he said. “One mistake and it ends.”
Barnhart declined to share information on the tipster who described Jeff’s vehicle, making the capture possible, until talking with the person and getting permission.
Jeffs should be extradited to Utah in the next few days, Barnhart said, “now that he is back in the loving embrace of law enforcement.”