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Polygamist's body language tipped off trooper

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LAS VEGAS, Nevada (CNN) -- A paper license tag, a salad and stories that didn't make sense pricked the suspicions of a state trooper who stopped the car of a wanted fugitive polygamist in Las Vegas.

But it was the pumping carotid artery in the neck of Warren Steed Jeffs that convinced Nevada Highway Patrolman Eddie Dutchover that he had cornered someone big.

"I knew some type of criminal activity was possibly afoot," Dutchover said after he stopped Jeffs with a brother and one of his wives in a new luxury SUV that had only a paper tag instead of a license plate. (Watch state trooper reveal what gave Jeffs away -- 2:46)

Inside the car on Monday night, Jeffs seemed evasive and started to eat a salad.

"I noticed Warren was extremely nervous. He was sitting in that right side back seat and wouldn't make eye contact with me," Dutchover said.

"But his carotid artery was pumping."

Dutchover separated the brothers and questioned them. Isaac Jeffs said they were heading to Utah, but Warren Jeffs said their destination was Denver, Colorado, Dutchover reported.

"Their stories didn't make any sense to me," Dutchover said.

He called in back-up and later the FBI when he and his fellow trooper realized they had captured one of the FBI's 10 Most Wanted Fugitives with a $100,000 bounty on his head. (See what FBI agents say they found inside Jeffs' car)

Jeffs himself later confirmed he is the man who is wanted in Utah and Arizona on a variety of charges including child rape that are linked to his allegedly arranging marriages between girls and older men in his polygamist organization, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

"He said his full name -- Warren Steed Jeffs -- and he just kind of like sighed. And that was it," the trooper said.

Fugitive kit

FBI agents said they found many different items that could be the trappings of a life on the run inside Jeffs' maroon 2007 Cadillac Escalade, that retails at nearly $55,000 for a base model.

They recovered:

  • 15 cell phones
  • Walkie-talkies
  • A police scanner
  • Laptop computers
  • Wigs
  • Sunglasses
  • Credit cards
  • At least $54,000 in cash
  • A duffel bag recovered from the SUV was stuffed with unopened envelopes that may contain even more money, according to the FBI. (Watch what police found with the self-proclaimed prophet -- 1:35 )

    Law enforcement officials had feared the possibility of a violent showdown in trying to capture Jeffs, who was believed to travel with heavily armed security guards.

    But in the end, the only people with the polygamist leader when he was captured were his brother and one of his wives, Naomi Jeffs. They were released without charges.

    Warren Jeffs was "cordial" but uncooperative during questioning, contending he was being subjected to "religious prosecution." The interview ended on Tuesday at about 5 a.m. (8 a.m. ET), according to John Lewis, FBI special agent-in-charge in Phoenix, Arizona.

    A hearing for Jeffs, who is being held without bail in the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas, is scheduled for Thursday at 9:30 a.m. (12:30 p.m. ET), where a judge will review extradition requests from Utah and Arizona.

    Utah to prosecute first

    A source involved in the case told CNN on Wednesday that Utah will have the first opportunity to prosecute Jeffs. He is expected to return to Utah some time next week, the source said.

    Jeffs, considered a prophet by his followers, is expected to be transferred to the Purgatory Jail near St. George, Utah.

    Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff said he wants Utah to get Jeffs first because the charges he faces there -- two counts of rape as an accomplice -- carry a penalty of five years to life in prison, while he faces only a possible six-year sentence in Arizona.

    "We have the strongest charges. There's no doubt about that," Shurtleff said.

    Jeffs' FLDS church, which claims 10,000 followers, freely practices polygamy in both Colorado City, Arizona, where it is based, and nearby Hildale, Utah. It also maintains groups of followers in Texas, South Dakota, Nevada, Canada's British Columbia province and Mexico.

    The mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, based in Salt Lake City, gave up plural marriage more than a century ago and has no ties to the FLDS.

    FLDS members consider Jeffs, who took over the sect after his father died in 2002, to be a prophet of God. Law enforcement authorities charge he wields almost total control over his followers, including dictating their marriage partners. (Watch how Warren Jeffs lorded over his followers -- 4:28 Video)

    Tuesday night in Colorado City, Jeffs' followers, who normally shun the media, had little comment on his arrest, although some of them appeared not to believe that he had been caught.

    In May, the FBI put Jeffs on its 10 Most Wanted list, a roster that also includes al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to his capture.

    CNN's Ted Rowlands, Gary Tuchman, Kelli Arena and Terry Frieden contributed to this report.


    A mug shot, relased by authorities at the jail in Purgatory, Utah, shows Jeffs in green stripes.



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