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Polygamist Leader Lyle Jeffs Caught After Year Of Running

Lee Hale
Special Agent in Charge Eric Barnhart and U.S. Attornery John Huber speak to press Thursday Morning at the FBI field office in Salt Lake City.

Polygamist leader Lyle Jeffs has been captured in South Dakota after a year as a wanted fugitive.


A former leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), Lyle Jeffs was indicted on food stamp fraud in February of 2016.


Credit FBI Salt Lake City
FBI Salt Lake City


He and 10 other members of his group are accused of converting millions of dollars from the federal assistance program into cash.


“It’s a serious offense to flee justice," said John Huber, U.S. Attorney for Utah, during a press conference at the FBI field office in Salt Lake City Thursday morning.


"There is likely at least another felony charge that will become because of the conduct over the last year, him fleeing prosecution," Huber said.


Huber was joined by FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Barnhart who says Jeffs was captured in South Dakota after local authorities received a tip. Someone recognized Jeffs and followed him to his vehicle. 


Jeffs was driving a Ford F-150 with Utah plates which he had been living out of. Barnhart says he appeared to have limited resources and was found 400 miles east of the nearest FLDS compound.


Lyle Jeffs is the brother of Warren Jeffs, the former president of the FLDS church and convicted felon currently serving a life sentence.


Lee Hale began listening to KUER while he was teaching English at a Middle School in West Jordan (his one hour commute made for plenty of listening time). Inspired by what he heard he applied for the Kroc Fellowship at NPR headquarters in DC and to his surprise, he got it. Since then he has reported on topics ranging from TSA PreCheck to micro apartments in overcrowded cities to the various ways zoo animals stay cool in the summer heat. But, his primary focus has always been education and he returns to Utah to cover the same schools he was teaching in not long ago. Lee is a graduate of Brigham Young University and is also fascinated with the way religion intersects with the culture and communities of the Beehive State. He hopes to tell stories that accurately reflect the beliefs that Utahns hold dear.
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