How Lyle Jeffs Got Caught: Pawned Pliers Leads to Fugitive’s Capture

The people who last interacted with Jeffs say it was his unusual behavior that ultimately tipped them off

YANKTON, S.D.- On Wednesday, one of the FBI’S Most Wanted criminals was captured right here in South Dakota.

Lyle Jeffs, the polygamist sect leader from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was arrested in Yankton after nearly a year on the run.

“He was acting erratically,” said Kevin Haug, owner of River City Tools & Pawn Shop.

Jeffs met his fate at River City Tools & Pawn Shop after he came into the store twice trying to sell some items.

“Just pliers,” said Haug. “So he was down to the rock bottom I suppose, he was living in his truck.”

Haug says the store purchased the pliers, but it was Jeffs’ strange behavior that made them curious.

“He was a little erratic. He got a little nervous, a little more nervous when he had to give his ID up. But he did, willingly.”

An employee Google searched the name on that ID, and once Lyle Jeffs’ image popped up, the employee took action.

“He got his license plate and description of his truck, and the rest is history.”

That.”history” happened about six miles away the next day, where an off-duty police lieutenant spotted Jeffs’ vehicle.

Yankton County Sheriff Chief Deputy Michael Rothschadl said the lieutenant saw Jeffs coming out of a restroom at the marina and called for backup.

Within minutes, the Police Department, Sheriff’s Office and FBI were on scene and Jeffs was in custody.

“He was pretty quiet, didn’t say much, just kind of looked bummed out,” said Chief Deputy Rothschadl. “Getting somebody on the Top 10 list doesn’t happen every day.”

As for the one possession Jeffs left behind, Haug says a lot of people have inquired about the pliers.

“A lot of people want to buy them. But the police actually have them, so they’re not in my possession. I don’t know if I want to get rid of them though, they’re kind of a keepsake.”

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