Polygamous sect murder suspect arrested after 17 years on the run

By Calvin Palmer

The daughter of a polygamous sect leader, who has been sought by authorities for more than 17 years, has been arrested in Honduras by FBI agents and extradited to the U.S.

Jacqueline Tarsa LeBaron, 44, daughter of the late polygamous sect leader and convicted murderer Ervil LeBaron was arrested yesterday, according to FBI spokeswoman Patricia Villafranca.

FBI Special Agent Shauna Dunlap said a tip led to the capture. The Naval Criminal Investigative Service, Interpol and the U.S. consulate in Honduras helped to track LeBaron down in the city of Moroceli

LeBaron had been on the run since October 1992, when a federal warrant was issued for her arrest. LeBaron was wanted on numerous charges connected to the 1988 killing of three adults and an 8-year-old girl in Texas who had broken with the Church of the Lamb of God sect.

“Jacqueline Tarsa LeBaron was the sole remaining fugitive in this tragic case, and therefore this is a significant capture that should send a message to all fugitives,” said Villafranca.

LeBaron appeared today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Malloy who ruled LeBaron would remain in federal custody and ordered a hearing for next Wednesday to determine whether her detention will continue pending trial.

Angela Dodge, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Houston, said LeBaron told the court she is a Mexican citizen and complained that she was denied due process when she was removed from Honduras.

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.

The charges relate to the shooting deaths of three former sect members — Mark and Duane Chynoweth, killed in Houston, and Ed Marston, slain in Irving – and Duane Chynoweth’s eight-year-old daughter, Jenny, was also killed in what investigators believe was an effort to eliminate her as a witness.

Church of the Lamb of God leader Ervil LeBaron was convicted of ordering the 1977 assassination of a rival polygamous leader in Salt Lake County. He died in Utah State Prison in 1981.

While in prison, he wrote the 400-page Book of the New Covenants that imposed the death penalty for any sect member who broke sect commandments. The FBI alleges that those writings influenced LeBaron family members to carry out the simultaneous slayings in Houston and Irving, Texas, on June 27, 1988.

Eventually, five LeBaron family members were either convicted or entered guilty pleas and were sentenced to prison. The sixth defendant, Jacqueline LeBaron, remained at large until yesterday.

[Based on reports by The Salt Lake Tribune and Associated Press.]

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