In December 2022, Heber Jeffs kidnapped his 10-year-old niece on orders from his uncle, Utah polygamous leader Warren Jeffs, who is serving a life sentence for child abuse.
On Saturday, February 11, 2023, Heber Jeffs was arrested in North Dakota on kidnapping charges, and the 10-year-old girl he is accused of abducting was found safe.
Heber Jeffs, 54, a fugitive wanted for the kidnapping of his niece two months ago, was arrested by FBI agents at a hotel in Minot, North Dakota. The suspect, who was being held in Minot jail in North Dakota after his arrest, waived his extradition rights and is reportedly being transported back to Utah to stand trial for kidnapping.
Details on Heber Jeffs's arrest explored
In December 2022, Heber Jeffs kidnapped his sister, Rose Jeffs' 10-year-old daughter, after he was ordered to keep the girl from seeing her mother. The order was reportedly issued by his uncle, Utah polygamous leader Warren Jeffs.
Warren Jeffs, the president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is still believed to wield significant influence over his congregants despite being imprisoned in Texas on child s*xual abuse charges.
As per court documents, since infancy, the 10-year-old niece was reportedly in the care of Heber and his wife after his sister, an ex-member of the church, split from her husband.
Rose Jeffs was reportedly allowed to see her daughter until August of last year. Shortly after, the suspect barred Rose from seeing her daughter while acting on orders from his uncle, who continues to lead the group as a prophet of the polygamous church.
Court documents stated that Heber was ordered by his uncle Warren Jeffs to gather the community’s women so they could be moved to a new location away from Utah at a later date.
After Heber refused to allow Rose to see her daughter, she threatened to take her away, which allegedly propelled the suspect to cut off all communication with his sister.
Shortly after, the suspect fled with his niece after authorities got involved in a custody battle. Officers then tracked him down to North Dakota where he was found with the girl hiding in a hotel in Minot.
The girl was s reunited with her father, Dowayne Barlow, who told KSTU-TV in Salt Lake City that she was safe.
Authorities have not released any other details in connection to the arrest. Meanwhile, Heber Jeffs is being extradited to Utah, where he will officially be charged with kidnapping the girl.