Yankton, SD The FBI is praising South Dakota law enforcement after the capture of one of FBI’s most wanted fugitives.
Lyle Jeffs was arrested on Wednesday after fleeing custody in Utah on June of 2016.
Jeffs, a polygamous sect leader, was awaiting charges in an alleged multimillion-dollar food stamp fraud scheme last year before he went on the run.
Authorities said that Jeffs was identified on Tuesday by an employee of the River City Treasures and Pawn shop. Jeffs pawned two pairs of Leatherman pliers for $37. He had to provide identification during the transaction.
What tipped the employee was that when asked to give his name, Jeffs provided his last name as his first name, going by Jeffs Lyle Steed.
The pawn shop employee soon realized who he was dealing with, and called police. He provided officers with store video and paperwork. Police were able to identify his vehicle using this information.
On Thursday, an off-duty officer noticed a vehicle matching the description at the Lewis and Clark Marina just outside of Yankton. The officer called in reinforcements, and Jeffs was taken into custody without incident.
During a press conference, Salt Lake City Special Agent in Charge, Eric Barnhart said that with the help of the public and the Yankton Department, the capture of Lyle Jeffs went smoothly.
“We want to thank the Yankton police department, the very best of law enforcement,” Barnhart said.
With the capture of Jeffs, Barnhart is planning on retracing his steps to see how he was able to hide for so long.
He also believes that Jeffs fled on his own, and was living in his vehicle for the last two weeks.
Banhart says there will be further investigations to confirm these theories.
“Now that he's going to be back in the loving embrace of law enforcement, we will try to patch together a timeline of where he was, and whom he interacted, and that's a typical thing,” Barnhart said.
Utah authorities are awaiting for the extradition of Jeffs.
“We look forward to proceeding in a civilized-organized matter to bring this case to trial on its merits in the near future,” U.S. Attorney for Utah, John Huber said.
Huber says that trying to flee from prosecution will only make matters worse, and that no matter how hard a person tries, they will be caught.
Prosecutors were offering a large reward for anyone who could bring one the FBI’s most wanted into custody again.
“The reward is for up to $50,000, so again, our aim is to get it to the deserving people, if they qualify,” Barnhart said.
Barnhart and Huber both say if you notice anyone acting suspicious to call local law enforcement.
“He spent that whole time I’m sure looking over his shoulder; wondering about every police officer that he saw, every highway patrolman, and what person would eventually give him up,” Barnhart said.