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Stop at pawn shop leads to capture of Lyle Jeffs

Stop at pawn shop leads to capture of Lyle Jeffs (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) The intense man hunt for one of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives is all over. Lyle Jeffs, 56, is now behind bars, captured 940 miles east of Salt Lake City in the small town of Yankton, South Dakota.

"We knew that this was just a matter of time," said special agent in charge Eric Barnhart during a press conference about the capture. "All you have to do is make one mistake and it ends."

Jeffs was spotted on Tuesday afternoon by the owner of a pawn shop in Yankton, South Dakota when he came inside the store to pawn two pairs of pliers. That man who spoke to 2News said that he then alerted police. An off-duty officer later spotted Jeffs vehicle, based on a witness description, and police made the arrest on Wednesday night.

"That tipster had a partial vehicle description which had the make, model, color and plate of the vehicle. That information was absolutely instrumental," Barnhart said.

U.S. Attorney John Huber said this is how it will eventually play out when you try to run from the law.

"Know this: when you flee a federal indictment, the long arm of the law will eventually catch up with you and bring you back to justice," Huber said.

The FBI believes Jeffs had been in Yankton for about two weeks and was living out of his newer Ford F-150 truck and was running low on resources.

"He spent that whole time, I'm sure, looking over his shoulder wondering about every police officer he saw, every highway patrolman and what person would eventually give him up. And I believe all those played out," said Huber.

Investigators want to get Jeffs back to Utah as quickly as possible, where he is expected to face additional felony charges that could putt him away in jail for years if found guilty.

"A trial team comprised of our top prosecutors and investigators eagerly await the opportunity to give Mr. Jeffs his day in court," Huber said. "Undoubtedly the flight from prosecution and his fugitive status will play a significant part in his upcoming prosecution."

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