Police share details of Jeffs' capture

Salt Lake City Tribune/August 29, 2006
By Brooke Adams and Nate Carlisle

New details of the capture of Warren Jeffs, the fugitive leader of a Utah polygamist sect, were released at simulataneous press conferences in Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Phoenix Tuesday afternoon.

Jeffs is scheduled to appear in Las Vegas Justice Court on Thursday for an extradition hearing, said Clark County court information officer Michael Sommermeyer. Chief Judge James M. Bixler will review arrest warrants from both Utah and Arizona. Jeffs is being held until then without bail.

In Las Vegas, police said Jeffs was captured after a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper noticed temporary Colorado license plates, partially obscured, on a 2007 Cadiallac Escalade on Interstate 15 north of the city. The vehicle was northbound toward Utah at milepost 60 at the time of the 9:04 p.m. stop.

The trooper, who asked that his name not be released to media, had Homeland Security training to investigate suspicious vehicles, said George Togliatti, Nevada's public safety director. "It became a routine stop at that point," Togliatti said.

Jeffs, a passenger in the Escalade, initially gave the trooper an alias, Togliatti said, declining to reveal the false name. But Jeffs shortly confessed his identity and the FBI was called, he said.

Steve Martinez, the FBI special agent in charge for Las Vegas, said Jeffs "was cooperative in identifying himself as to his true identity."

Martinez added: "He was arrested without incident. We are very, very pleased that this was resolved without violence."

A search of the Escalade is not complete, but no itinerary or information about where Jeffs was headed has been found, he said.

Jeffs was booked into the Clark County jail at about 5:07 a.m. on two sex crime-related charges out of Arizona. He was indicted there in June 2005 on charges related to allegedly arranging a marriage between a 16-year-old girl and a married man.

A federal charge of fleeing to avoid arrest, which was filed later, has now been dropped.

He is also charged in Utah with two felony counts of rape as an accomplice, for allegedly arranging the marriage of a teenage girl to an older man in Nevada.

The two people with Jeffs Monday night - brother Issac Steed Jeffs and wife Naomi Jeffs - were eventually released.

"There were no charges pending against them and they were released. We did confer with Arizona and Utah and it was determined they would not be charged at this time," Martinez said.

Items found in the Escalade included: 27 stacks of $100 bills, worth $2,500 each; 14 cellular phones; a radar detector, two Global Positioning System units; three wigs; a laptop computer; several knives; several CDs; three watches; three Ipods; multiple credit cards; seven sets of keys; a photograph of Jeffs and his father; a Bible and a Book of Mormon.

The items were seen on pool video footage created with officials' permission.

In Salt Lake City, Special FBI Agent in Charge Timothy Fuhrman said no decision has been made on who gets an offered $100,000 reward. He said that it is "rare" for the law enforcement officer who makes a stop or arrests a fugitive to get the money.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff called the apprehension a victory for Jeffs' victims "who had the courage to stand up against a man some consider God on Earth."

He added: "The message is nobody is above the law."

He said Utah's charges against Jeffs carry the longest potential prison sentence if he is convicted. "We'd love to try the charges against him here first," he said.

Jeffs is the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, headquartered in the twin communities of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.

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