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FBI recovers rare first-edition of the Book of Mormon
The FBI recovered a stolen first-edition of the Book of Mormon.
June 14th, 2012
04:15 PM ET

FBI recovers rare first-edition of the Book of Mormon

By Carol Cratty, CNN

(CNN)–Law enforcement agents have recovered a rare first-edition copy of the Book of Mormon that was reported stolen from a Mesa, Arizona, bookstore in late May.

The FBI announced Thursday the religious book, first published in 1830 in New York, was located two days ago in Herndon, Virginia, and a suspect was arrested.

The Book of Mormon is considered scripture by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, on par with the Bible.

Jay Michael Linford, 48, is awaiting extradition to Arizona, where he faces charges of theft and trafficking in stolen property.

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According to a court affidavit, the owner of the Arizona bookstore - identified only as Witness 1 - reported the theft to the Mesa Police Department on May 28.

The bookstore owner told police she had been in business with Linford, who brokered the sale of pages of the rare book on her behalf.

The woman said their business relationship had ended but Linford knew she kept the first-edition in a locked fireproof box in a file cabinet and had access to it around the time she believes it was stolen. According to the affidavit, Witness 1 said Linford had a key to the box and to the location where the book could be found.

The bookstore owner told police once she realized the book was missing - along with its fireproof box - she contacted Linford and he "denied having the book or having any knowledge of its location."

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The affidavit says the bookstore owner also reached out to people who buy and sell rare books to alert them that the book had been stolen.

A Texas man identified as Witness 2 replied that he recently had bought two pages of a Book of Mormon from Linford for $7,500 and that Linford said the book was owned by a family in North Carolina. The pages were shipped to the Texas man, who later determined they did come from the Arizona woman's first-edition.

The FBI's Art Theft unit and other agents investigated and found the book after locating the suspect staying with an acquaintance in Virginia, the affidavit said.

The FBI would not estimate how much this edition of the Book of Mormon might be worth. The Arizona bookstore owner placed the value at $100,000. However, the Mesa Police Department consulted experts who gave an estimate of $40,000 because pages had been taken out of the book and sold.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Books • Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints • Mormonism

soundoff (2,069 Responses)
  1. Tony

    I find it funny that all these people can say such crappy things about religon but when their beliefs are attacked they cry and whine. If non religous people cry hard enough we have to forgo Christmas in schools and the pledge of allegiance can be attacked. If you are religous you can be attacked constantly for what you believe. The people who make fun of religon are the same ones who cry if their opinions are not heard.

    June 15, 2012 at 6:00 am |
  2. samoa

    So whts so important about this Book? there iz one God so there iz one book thats the Holy Bible thts it

    June 15, 2012 at 5:36 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """So whts so important about this Book? there iz one God so there iz one book thats the Holy Bible thts it"""

      It's important because the Book of Mormon is GOD 4.0. Have you upgraded?

      June 15, 2012 at 8:05 am |
  3. Joe

    Oh Americans... They blame the Middle East for being so religious, yet never seem to look at themselves.

    June 15, 2012 at 5:27 am |
  4. Bootyfunk

    on the cover of every religious book, it should say:

    not to be taken seriously

    June 15, 2012 at 5:23 am |
    • Ed

      Or perhaps: "Objects within may appear more real than they actually are."

      June 15, 2012 at 7:19 am |
  5. Sic Semper Tyrannis

    Bible, Koran, Toah, – all the same loads of hogwash that hold up to scrutiny less than a John Grisham novel. All religious tomes are fiction designed to sucker in those who would part with their money, intellectual freedom and common sense. When scammers and lazy people can't figure out how to set up a Ponzi investment scheme, they invent a religion. Millions of suckers out there who'll pay to belong to something that gives meaning to their otherwise hollow lives.

    June 15, 2012 at 5:10 am |
  6. YeahBut

    So this book is one of the earliest editions of what a man said while his face was stuck inside a hat. I'm not kidding, look it up.

    June 15, 2012 at 4:59 am |
    • peter

      why was his face stuck in a hat?

      June 15, 2012 at 5:05 am |
  7. wolverine

    Why is the FBI, which I pay taxes for getting involved in a stolen book from a Mesa bookstore?? This proves the Mormons rule the country.

    June 15, 2012 at 4:41 am |
  8. Jay Dee

    I would bet $10,000 that Mittens would buy that book for $100,000!

    June 15, 2012 at 4:25 am |
  9. Jay Dee

    Didn't John Smith marry Pocohantas?

    June 15, 2012 at 4:24 am |
    • FazaPops

      If you're going to try and be funny at least get his name right.

      June 15, 2012 at 5:08 am |
  10. el_incr

    That;s great! Now wipe your butt with it's pages.

    June 15, 2012 at 4:14 am |
  11. warex1234

    As for the differences between the first edition and what they have now, the mormons existence is a contradiction. Apparently they changexd their prophets words to fit their needs when they needed to. Should the original prophets words be the one truth, so are the mormons sacrareligious in their own belief?

    June 15, 2012 at 4:02 am |
    • YeahBut

      Name one religion that hasnt done that.

      June 15, 2012 at 4:56 am |
  12. warex1234

    Uh someone correct me if I'm wrong but since someone brought up romney, isn't the mormon religion anti goverment or something? I read somewhere that mormons do not respect the laws of the goverment or something to that effect. So for romney to run wouldn't that be contradictive to their beliefs?

    June 15, 2012 at 3:58 am |
    • 22xy

      Actually they believe in a strong central government. It's written on a stone monument right outside the Temple. I don't remember the exact wording, but it basically says god made government to help man (and something about government rules should reflect gods laws....little too theistic for my liking, but the bible thumpers should love it).

      To all you people hating on the Mormons, I just moved to Salt Lake City and I have to say they are really, really nice. Just good people period. This is coming from an atheist too.

      June 15, 2012 at 4:09 am |
    • LinSea

      Actually, warex1234, one of our most important beliefs is that we respect and honor the law of the land.

      June 15, 2012 at 4:13 am |
    • peter

      22 I don't repect or pay homage to the God of joeseph smith

      June 15, 2012 at 4:23 am |
    • peter

      really,really,really, brainwashed–i prefer jerks who tell the truth than nice people who lie–im not talking about white lies–im talking about bold-face lies

      June 15, 2012 at 4:35 am |
    • Aron Martinez

      That is not correct. our church has something called The 13 articles of faith which pretty much sums up what we believe in as Mormons. The 12 article of faith states the following " We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in cobeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.'

      June 15, 2012 at 4:46 am |
  13. Captain Moroni

    There are over a thousand different churches today. God's church is church of order – not confusion. When Christ was on the earth, He established His church by ordaining Apostles.

    So, how does one find the true church amongst all of the other churches. Answer: By their fruits, you shall know them. If I was looking for the true church, I would first start by finding one that has true authority and led by a Prophet like Adam, Noah, Moses, and Abraham. Furthermore, I would look for a church that has twelve apostles like Christ set up in His church when He was on the earth.

    If Christ was perfect...how many ways are there to set up his church? Not a thousand different ways. There is only one way.

    Ephesians
    4:5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism

    Ephesians
    2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

    You also can't get authority to act in Christ's name by just reading the bible.
    Hebrews 5:4
    4 And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

    June 15, 2012 at 3:55 am |
    • Nephi

      Ezekiel 23:20
      20 There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses

      June 15, 2012 at 4:44 am |
    • Leeroy

      That's The Old Testiment and a paraphrase. Sheesh.

      June 15, 2012 at 6:09 am |
    • Nephi

      Ezekiel 23:20
      www. biblegateway. com/passage/?search=Ezekiel%2023:20&version=NIV

      June 15, 2012 at 6:51 am |
  14. RowdyAtheist

    The cool thing about this first edition is that it includes a forward by the author, Jonathan Smith, re-iterating that this is a work of fiction, and urging readers to not take it seriously. I mean, come on. Angels and golden tablets in a secret language that only Smith could decipher? It was the Harry Potter of the early nineteenth century.

    June 15, 2012 at 3:37 am |
    • RowdyAtheist

      Sorry, I misspoke. Joseph Smith.

      June 15, 2012 at 3:41 am |
    • TQ

      @RowdyAtheist. JOSEPH Smith. Not Jonathan. If you're going to argue, get it right.

      June 15, 2012 at 3:44 am |
    • LinSea

      Try looking at it this way, Rowdy–God created the heavens, the Earth, and every life form upon the Earth. If He has that much knowledge and power, is it really such a stretch to think that He could send a messenger to Earth? Or teach someone how to translate a language?

      June 15, 2012 at 4:26 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """is it really such a stretch to think that He could send a messenger to Earth? Or teach someone how to translate a language?"""

      I'm sorry, but don't you realize how stupid this sounds? Why would the great and powerful Oz, umm, GOD need a translator?

      June 15, 2012 at 8:08 am |
    • RowdyAtheist

      I find it highly unlikely that a god would leave Joseph Smith - who had a history of FRAUD and mental instability - golden tablets that only he could translate. It seems like a very bad way of getting this god's message about. Faith blinds people to the truth.

      June 15, 2012 at 11:03 am |
  15. Shawn

    I would be so excited to see that book and make comparisons . That is really something . Thank you for thr article *

    June 15, 2012 at 3:03 am |
    • Sam

      You know that you can find the original text of the 1830 BoM online right?

      June 15, 2012 at 3:46 am |
  16. Delmar H. Knudson

    Shoot, I thought they'd found the missing golden tablets. You can email me when you find those.

    June 15, 2012 at 2:56 am |
    • Aron Martinez

      Shoot i thought you found Noah's ark email me when you find it.

      June 15, 2012 at 4:50 am |
    • peter

      has nothing to do with the ark

      June 15, 2012 at 5:08 am |
    • mickey1313

      Smith alegidy destroyed the plates on orders from an angel. Of course the original publicist was a known fraud. Herst admited that everything he wrote about the marijuana menace was completely made up. Once a lier always a lier

      June 15, 2012 at 5:38 am |
  17. HotAirAce

    Nothing related to religion warms the heart of this atheist more than watching believers argue amongst themselves about who has the one true set of myths. Too bad they haven't discovered mirrors yet. Peanuts, popcorn, candy apples!!

    June 15, 2012 at 2:54 am |
    • Evangelical

      I suggest you find God or else you are going to be burning in hell.

      June 15, 2012 at 3:00 am |
    • HotAirAce

      Unless you have factual, verifiable, independent proof for your god and your hell, they don't exist and you are full of sh!t.

      June 15, 2012 at 3:03 am |
    • Herby Sagues

      What if I find the wrong one? I mean, Yahweh, Allah, Thor, Baal Zebud, Rah, Rama, Jesus, Quetzalcoatl... They can't all be true, so at most only one of them is the one true God, and the amount of evidence is the same for each of them.
      Mmmm, decisions, decisions.

      June 15, 2012 at 3:20 am |
    • 1a2rd2

      Then why are u so biased?,(answer: in your heart u know where you'll be spending your "forever")
      That is y u and I have free will ,we will answer for our deeds and words ! !

      June 15, 2012 at 3:33 am |
    • Leeroy

      Sounds like you're looking for a sign. Be careful with that. Muwahahahaha!! Seriously, it's not that hard to figure out if the Book of Mormon is true or not. Read it with an open mind and pray about it before, during and after you read it. Easy. It's True. It's awesome and it's powerful. So, be careful with your sign searching. It talks about that too. 🙂

      June 15, 2012 at 6:19 am |
  18. Evangelical

    My biggest concern in this election is that we stem the tide of secularism which is destroying this nation. I think Romney is more apt to advance the cause than Obama who is either a muslim or an atheist – we don't know because he won't come clean. We need to get America back to God.

    As for not voting for someone because he is a mormon, it seems to me, if I remember right, the same sort of things were said about Kennedy and Catholism. People were afraid that the pope would be ruining the country from the Vatican. But those fears were proven unfounded.

    No, I'm betting that Romney will stand up for conservative Christians. He will owe his election victory to us.

    June 15, 2012 at 2:51 am |
    • peter

      romney does not belong to christendom–if he is elected i don't "fear" that he is going to make mormon laws or this so called white house prophecy that some talk about because neither the book of mormon nor any prophecy of mormonism is true–It is a false religion and romney is no christian

      June 15, 2012 at 2:55 am |
    • Evangelical

      Doesn't matter whether he is a Christian or not. What matters is that he will advance the Christian agenda.

      June 15, 2012 at 2:59 am |
    • Rocinante

      Peter, try talking to a neighbor or coworker who is Mormon to see what you have in common.

      June 15, 2012 at 3:00 am |
    • peter

      Give me some examples how is going to do that

      June 15, 2012 at 3:02 am |
    • HotAirAce

      So, you goofy believers are quibbling over which charlatan is more likely to ignore the const!tution and the 1st amendment. Fascinating!

      June 15, 2012 at 3:06 am |
    • Evangelical

      Here are some examples:

      1. He is anti-ho-mos-exual marriage.
      2. He is anti-abortion.
      3. He is against employers being forced to cover contraception.

      Those are just 3 examples.

      June 15, 2012 at 3:14 am |
    • peter

      evan–lets forget the fact im not voting for him because he is a mormon--He used to be pro abortion,pro gay marriage–the man is a liar–oh and romneycare-and i don't like how he trashed santorum–will he be more "conservative' than obama - i suppose so as if that is hard to do–obama is pro gay marriage and romney apparently is not

      June 15, 2012 at 3:22 am |
    • Mirosal

      The President CANNOT make laws. Period. That isn't his job. You talk about pushing the "christian agenda", but IF he were to do so, it would be grounds for impeachment, because that would be the government advocating a specific religion and its "principles", and THAT is against the law.

      June 15, 2012 at 3:27 am |
    • RowdyAtheist

      I find it deliciously ironic that, on the one hand, you whine about secularists ruining the country, and on the other hand, you're defending Kennedy for having different religious views than your own and noting that he did not, in fact, ruin this country.

      June 15, 2012 at 3:34 am |
  19. Bootyfunk

    hahaha, it's like finding a book on selling snake oil. find some mindless sheep - profit!

    June 15, 2012 at 2:48 am |
  20. Tom C

    I don't want to generalize here...but...all religion is idiotic.

    June 15, 2012 at 2:38 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.