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Polygamist Cult Leader Used Olive Oil to Slip Away from FBI, Police Say

FLDS cult leader Lyle Jeffs escaped from house arrest last month; according to police, he may have gotten away with the help of a popular cooking agent.
Screenshot via wochit news

A popular cooking and beautifying agent is to blame for the escape of indicted polygamist leader Lyle Jeffs, the FBI reports.

The Utah man, currently in charge of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (also known as FLDS), escaped late in June while out on house arrest after being released from jail two weeks earlier; he was charged with food-stamp-fraud and money laundering, and the trial is scheduled for October.


Read more: Inside the Lawsuits that Could Finally Take Down the FLDS Mormon Cult

"He used a substance which may have been olive oil to lubricate the GPS tracking band and slip it off his ankle," Eric Barnhart, the special agent in charge of the Salt Lake City field office of the FBI, told FOX 13 yesterday. "The damage to the bracelet was not such to trigger the full array of alarms that law enforcement or the US Marshal's Service would have responded to."

Jeffs, who's been described as having "a temper" and as being "rude toward women," has been running the day-to-day operations of FLDS, known widely for polygamy and child labor practices, ever since its "prophet" and leader, his brother Warren Jeffs, was sentenced to life in prison in 2011 for sexually assaulting his child brides. In the mid 2000s, Warren, too, ran from the authorities and was listed on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List.

Sam Brower, a private investigator who's followed FLDS for years and released a book and film documentary on the group, told The Daily Beast it could be harder for federal agents to find Jeffs than it was for them to find Warren, who was stopped by a Nevada state trooper in a Cadillac Escalade.

"They learn from their mistakes. Warren was caught. They're not going to make the same mistakes again with Lyle. It's going to be that much more difficult," Brower said.

"Lyle Jeffs is not like a normal crook that, say, robs a gas station and takes off in an old, beat-up car and has little money and not much help," he continued. "He has thousands of people who would die for him, unlimited money, and unlimited resources, so he's well set-up."

Steven A. Hassan, a cult expert and founder of the Massachusetts-based Freedom of Mind Resource Center, tells Broadly that FLDS is "a totalistic mind control cult."

"It's a system where you're not allowed to think other than the way the leadership thinks—which is that the leader is the prophet of God, literally the [most] divine person on Earth, and that you are evil and you will be shunned and kicked out of the group, and you will be burn in hell if you don't follow God's will," Hassan says. "It's all in the context of Armageddon, this impending doom that's going to happen at any moment. And people are trained in this black and white mentality that the outside world is evil and inside is God."

"That's why they would do anything to support the people they've been programmed to believe are divine against the 'evil government,'" he adds.

Hassan, who's been educating the public about mind control for 40 years, says if the government can figure out how to deal with FLDS, they'll know how to deal with terrorist group ISIS. "It's exactly the same phenomenon: It's just a different set of content beliefs, but the actual structure and process of brainwashing and mind control is the same."