PIERRE, S.D. — Polygamous leader Lyle Jeffs' one-year run from justice was ended by pliers, sharp-eyed pawn shop workers and an astute off-duty detective in a small town in South Dakota.
The events leading to Jeffs' capture Wednesday in a lakeside area near the South Dakota-Nebraska state line where he was living out of his truck started a day earlier when a pawn shop owner called police about a man who had come to his shop twice acting nervous and fidgety.
After Jeffs sold two pairs of Leatherman pliers for $37 and provided his ID on Tuesday, a suspicious employee at River City Treasures and Pawn in Yankton looked up online the name he had been given and realized the man was wanted by the FBI, owner Kevin Haug said in an interview Thursday.
Haug said Jeffs re-arranged his name during the transaction, going by Jeffs Lyle Steed.
"That was his shot at fooling everybody," Haug said.
Haug alerted police and his employee called the FBI — providing authorities with store video of Jeffs, pawn paperwork bearing his information and the vehicle Jeffs was driving: A silver Ford-F-150 pickup truck.
"Every once in a while, when someone's weird, we look into them for no apparent reason other than we're just bored sometimes," Haug said.
The tip proved to be the break the FBI had been craving since Jeffs used olive oil to slip out of his ankle monitor and escape home confinement in Utah on June 18, 2016, ahead of his trial in an alleged multimillion-dollar food stamp fraud scheme.
In a federal court appearance Thursday in Sioux Falls, Jeffs waived a detention hearing until he returns to Utah in coming days to face the pending food stamp fraud charges, said Melodie Rydalch, spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah.