EXCLUSIVE: FBI arrests fugitive daughter of polygamist Ervil LeBaron
Ben Winslow | Fox 13 News
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.
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Google News - Associated Press May 14, 2010
Woman faces charges in Texas polygamist deaths
HOUSTON — FBI agents in Honduras arrested the fugitive daughter of a polygamist sect leader wanted in a 1988 quadruple slaying and extradited her to Houston to face murder and conspiracy charges, the agency said Friday.
FBI Special Agent Shauna Dunlap said a tip led to the capture of Jacqueline Tarsa LeBaron on Thursday. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Interpol and the U.S. consulate in Honduras helped to track LeBaron down in the city of Moroceli, the FBI said in a statement.
LeBaron, wanted since 1992, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Malloy Friday. The judge ruled that LeBaron would remain in federal custody and ordered a hearing for next Wednesday to determine whether her detention will continue pending trial, said Angela Dodge, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Houston.
LeBaron told the court she is a Mexican citizen and complained that she was denied due process when she was removed from Honduras, Dodge said.
Dodge said LeBaron did not have an attorney and that she would receive one through a court appointment.
LeBaron has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder; murder; conspiracy to tamper with a witness; tampering with a witness; use of a firearm during a crime of violence; conspiracy to obstruct religious beliefs; obstruction of religious beliefs; and racketeering conspiracy, according to the FBI website.
LeBaron, 44, is accused in the shooting deaths of three former sect members and the 8-year-old daughter of one of the adults in Houston and Irving in 1988.
LeBaron's father, Ervil LeBaron, was the leader of the Church of the Lamb of God. Investigators say the elder LeBaron ordered the executions of rival polygamists in the 1970s. In 1972 he was convicted in Utah of ordering family members to kill his brother, who was said to have disobeyed church laws.
Ervil LeBaron, who reportedly ordered the killing of disobedient church members, died in the Utah state prison in 1981.
Jacqueline LeBaron was among six family members charged in the June 1988 murders.
Three were convicted in 1995 and sentenced to life in prison. Another was convicted of ordering the deaths and was sentenced to 45 years in prison. The youngest, who was 16 at the time of the killings, pleaded guilty to the child's death and served five years in prison.
The victims were brothers Mark and Duane Chynoweth, killed in Houston, and Ed Marston, slain in Irving. Duane Chynoweth's daughter, Jenny, was also killed in what investigators believe was an effort to eliminate her as a witness.
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Washington Post - Associated Press May 19, 2010
Suspect in Texas sect slayings pleads not guilty
By JUAN A. LOZANO | The Associated Press
HOUSTON -- A polygamist sect leader's daughter who was a fugitive for nearly 20 years pleaded not guilty Wednesday to charges alleging that she helped orchestrate the shotgun killings of three former sect members and an 8-year-old girl.
Jacqueline Tarsa LeBaron entered her plea during a brief arraignment hearing. U.S. Magistrate Judge Nancy Johnson ordered her to be held without bond pending her trial after LeBaron waived her right to a detention hearing.
LeBaron's trial was scheduled for June 28 but will likely be delayed. Her attorney, David Adler, said it would be unusual for anybody to be prepared that quickly for trial, especially given how much time has passed since she was first charged.
"These are very serious allegations. We're interested in what the evidence is against her," Adler said after the hearing.
Prosecutor Terry Clark declined to comment on the case.
LeBaron, 44, was captured in Honduras last week and extradited to the U.S. after the FBI received a tip about her whereabouts.
She is accused of helping orchestrate the 1988 shooting deaths of three former sect members and the 8-year-old daughter of one of them in Houston and suburban Dallas.
LeBaron is the daughter of Utah polygamist Ervil LeBaron, who died in 1981 in Utah state prison, where he was serving a life sentence for masterminding the 1977 murder of Rulon Allred, the leader of another polygamist group.
Ervil LeBaron was the leader of the Church of the Lamb of God, based on distorted early Mormon teachings and disavowed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormon church.
Jacqueline LeBaron was among six family members charged with the June 1988 slayings of three men who chose to leave the sect and the daughter of one victim. Each was shot in the head with a shotgun.
Ed Marston, brothers Mark and Duane Chynoweth and Duane Chynoweth's daughter, Jenny, were fatally shot minutes apart at two sites in Houston and one in the Dallas suburb of Irving. Authorities said the girl was killed because she witnessed her father's death.
Prosecutors said LeBaron and her half-brother directed the killings after receiving what they described as a "sign from God."
Three LeBaron family members were convicted on charges including civil rights violations and witness tampering in 1993 and sentenced to life in prison. Another was convicted four years later of ordering the deaths and was sentenced to 45 years in prison. The youngest, who was 16 at the time of the killings, pleaded guilty in the child's death and served five years in prison.
Jacqueline LeBaron has been charged with 14 counts, including conspiracy to commit murder; murder; obstruction of religious beliefs; and racketeering conspiracy.
Authorities say Ervil LeBaron taught a doctrine of blood atonement, in which defectors of his sect were assassinated.
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