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Jacqueline Tarsa LeBaron

Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs isn't the only fugitive member of a polygamist group to make the FBI's Most Wanted list.

The FBI in Houston has now added Jacqueline Tarsa LeBaron to its Most Wanted list — not the agency's Ten Most Wanted list, of which Jeffs is a member, however — in hopes of finally tracking down the fugitive polygamous sect member.

"It's probably been several years, but we've started looking into her again," FBI Special Agent Todd Burns said Friday.

LeBaron's name was added to the list after federal authorities in Texas received new information about her — reportedly from her half-brother, who claims to have found Jesus while behind bars.

Jacqueline LeBaron is a daughter of Ervil LeBaron, who led the polygamist sect known as the Church of the Lamb of God. Authorities said Ervil LeBaron, who had 13 wives and 54 children, once wrote a "bible" for church members that preached that anyone caught breaking his commandments would be sentenced to death.

LeBaron attempted to unite Utah's polygamist sects. Anyone who attempted to resist was met with violence. In 1977, police said Ervil LeBaron ordered the killing of rival polygamist leader Rulon Allred. LeBaron was convicted and sentenced to prison where he died of a heart attack in 1981.

After his death, rumors surfaced of a "hit list" LeBaron had written. Over the next several years, a series of murders and suspicious deaths involving about 30 former church members were carried out — including four that his daughter Jacqueline is accused of helping to plot.

On June 27, 1988, at approximately 4 p.m., four murders were carried out simultaneously in Houston and Irving, Texas. All of the victims were killed by shotgun blasts to the head.

Eventually, five members of the LeBaron clan were arrested in the killings — only Jacqueline LeBaron avoided capture. In 1992, federal prosecutors in Houston charged six people with a laundry list of crimes including murder, conspiracy and racketeering.

"We charged Aaron LeBaron, William Heber, Jacqueline, Patricia, Douglas Barlow and Richard LeBaron," said Terry Clark, assistant U.S. attorney in Houston. "All have been convicted except Jacqueline."

The FBI refused to comment on whether the so-called hit list remains in effect.

"There hasn't been any further activity that we're aware of," Burns said.

With Jacqueline on the run since 1992, the case has remained dormant until recently when the FBI said it received new information from her brother, William Heber LeBaron.

"He said they had an agreement to meet in Mexico. At one time they talked about meeting there before they got arrested and that never took place," Burns said Friday.

However, LeBaron reportedly told federal authorities he did not know where his sister is.

"He claims to not know anything about her whereabouts or whether she's living," Burns said. "We haven't had any family come forward either."

From prison, Heber LeBaron claims to have renounced his fanatical beliefs. He recently wrote a testimonial posted on a Web site for "former Mormons."

"Now that I am a Christian, I'm shocked and horrified by all the evil I did while in the cult," LeBaron wrote. "I know I was wrong in killing all those murderers who abused and terrorized us. The Word of God clearly states the vengeance belongs to God and that we are to obey the laws of the land. I see my sin very clearly now and have asked God to forgive me."

LeBaron also apologizes to the families of the people he killed, saying, "I am truly sorry for my actions and the pain it has caused them. I pray they will forgive me."

Jacqueline LeBaron is believed to be in Mexico, where she was born and where the LeBarons have several colonies scattered across the country. She worked as an English teacher, said FBI Special Agent Orlando Munoz.

"The belief was she was teaching English to wealthy Mexican families. That's what she had done previously when she lived down there," he said. "It would be logical for her to continue that."

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The FBI said it plans to work with Mexican media in hopes of publicizing LeBaron's addition to its Most Wanted list. Her wanted poster is being distributed nationwide and has been posted on the FBI's Web site, www.fbi.gov.

"There are no leads to go on the actual case anymore," Burns said. "She's the last piece of the case. Everyone else has been apprehended or is dead."

Described as about 5-foot-11, 135 pounds with brown hair and green eyes, the FBI said that Jacqueline LeBaron is known to wear disguises and has at least 15 aliases. She is considered armed, dangerous and an escape risk.


E-mail: bwinslow@desnews.com