Salt Lake City - The FBI has arrested the fugitive daughter of polygamist Ervil LeBaron, bringing what ex-members of the fundamentalist church hope is an end to several decades of bloodshed. Jacqueline LeBaron was arrested in Honduras and flown to Houston on Thursday, FBI Special Agent Shauna Dunlap told Fox 13. LeBaron is believed to have been hiding in Latin America for years.
The arrest was made by Interpol, with the help of the consulate in Honduras, Dunlap said. She will make her initial appearance before a federal judge in Houston on Friday.
LeBaron is wanted by the FBI for a series of murders in the 1980s, carried out based on the "Book of the New Covenant." It was scriptures that her father wrote while in the Utah State Prison, where he was serving time for murder. However, federal authorities called it a "hit list."
Ervil LeBaron died in the Utah State Prison in 1981. But in the years following his death, more than two dozen mysterious deaths occurred that ex-members of his Church of the Lamb of God believe are linked to the book, which was smuggled out of the prison.
"I've tried a lot of homicide cases, but this is the first time where I've seen a book where it outlined who was to be killed and why they are to be killed," assistant U.S. Attorney for Houston Terry Clark told Fox 13 in November 2009. "And it's not just talk. Many of these people have, in fact, been murdered by the LeBarons."
To this day, some people still live in hiding because they are on the hit list, Fox 13 News has learned. Some of Jacqueline's siblings were all convicted -- but she remained on the run. She was believed to be hiding out in Latin America after a series of slayings in Texas dubbed the "Four O'Clock murders," because they were all carried out simultaneously at 4 p.m.
Fox 13 reported on the fear of Ervil LeBaron's "Book of the New Covenant" in a series report last year.
"At what point do you think it stops, that people can stop looking over their shoulder and that you don't have that in the back of your mind?" Fox 13's Ben Winslow asked Irene Spencer, a former LeBaron church member, in November 2009.
"Probably when I'm dead," Spencer replied.
Spencer was married to Ervil's brother, Verlan, and was on LeBaron's hit list. Reached at the family's community of Colonia LeBaron in the Chihuahua state of Mexico late Thursday, she was overjoyed by the news.
"Hallelujah!" she exclaimed. "I am absolutely thrilled! Very, very thrilled!"
Spencer said many people who still feared that someone would pick up Ervil LeBaron's mantle, ordering death to his enemies, will be relieved. Spencer said that in Colonia LeBaron, family members of the fundamentalist Mormon community were more concerned about drug cartel violence in the region than the radical preachings of a dead polygamist.
"I basically think it's going to settle down. I myself feel a lot calmer and at peace just knowing that she is apprehended," she said.