The FBI is learning more about the escape of FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) member Lyle Jeffs from his home in Utah last month. According People magazine, the agency believes Jeffs – brother of former Church president and imprisoned felon Warren Jeffs – may have used olive oil to slip out of his court-ordered ankle monitor before speeding off in a Mustang.
Sometime during the weekend of June 18, according to the FBI, Jeffs made his getaway and has not been seen since. He was released from jail only 10 days before, but was supposed to stick close to home as he awaited trail for his alleged involvement in a multimillion-dollar food stamp fraud case.
According to investigators, the scheme involved having church members sign up to receive assistance from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). They would then use their SNAP benefit cards to make “purchases” at sect-owned stores, but wouldn’t actually receive food or products in return. The stores would then transfer the funds to leaders of the church to spend on items decidedly NOT covered by SNAP, like a tractor and a truck.
According to a press release issued on June 19, “The FBI is the lead agency in this fugitive investigation and will, with the assistance of law enforcement partners, vigorously pursue all leads for Jeffs’ apprehension.”
FBI Spokesperson Sandra Yi Barker told People, “We believe [his escape] was premeditated and he had help.”
Warren Jeffs, a former accountant and private school teacher, made national headlines following his arrest and conviction for sexually abusing children. According to CNN, Jeffs called the two young female victims his “spiritual wives.” Once on the FBI’s Top 10 Most Wanted List, he is currently serving a life sentence. The FBI would not say whether they believe Warren Jeffs had anything to do with his brother Lyle’s vanishing act.
The FBI believes Lyle Jeffs may be hiding out within various FLDS communities. He may not even be in the United States, as he reportedly has hiding spots in Mexico, Canada and other countries. If you know anything at all about this case, please contact the FBI directly.