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. Tom

    Completely off-topic post but.....who else thought the book in the main picture was actually a rusty old Zippo lighter? I certainly did....lol

    June 15, 2012 at 8:37 am |
  2. jgnewman

    Who are any of you to so blatantly criticize the things you have no real knowledge of? All religions can be taken apart and found fault with, but what is the purpose? How does this make anyone's life better? I doesn't. Our country was founded on, among other principles, the freedom to worship as one choses. Our jouney through life is about learning and growing. Being so critical of others who are really good people, is just wrong on so many levels. Tolerance and acceptance.

    June 15, 2012 at 8:37 am |
    • LiberaLIowan

      The freedom to believe the i d i o c y of your choice?

      June 15, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • Eat The Ism

      While I admire your passion and respect your enthusiasm, first off, spell check your post. It lends more strength to your argument. Second, while this is the land of freedom of religion, by the same token, you must also respect those who may not believe as you do. But instead we have all these 'reach to the sky, book-thumpers' that point and say 'you're wrong and you're gonna die because you don't believe like we do'. Well, here's a newsflash, we all die. But it should be our own choice how we do it. You can't say on one hand that people can believe what they want and then on the other, persecute and harrass them for not agreeing with how you believe. That my friend is bigotry and hypocrisy and completely takes away from the point of freedom of religion. And that should extend from atheists to those who worship rocks and trees.
      Live your life, let others live theirs, and watch how things get better once religion is not at the heart of every argument, war, or political agenda.
      But hey, what do I know?

      June 15, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • yang

      if it weren't for so very many christians forcing their religious beliefs in to politics and onto money and into schools and into the very personal decision of choosing your mate, i wouldn't have an issue with christians at all. but as it stands, their rights end where mine begin.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:59 am |
  3. Stunned Foreigner

    As someone who's not american, i am stunned at the ignorance and closemindness being shared here. I thought this was the land of freedom of religion....You don't have to agree to show respect and tolerance for other people's beliefs.

    June 15, 2012 at 8:36 am |
    • LiberaLIowan

      Fairy tale cr@p deserves no respect.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:47 am |
    • TheSchmaltz

      Tolerance, yes. Respect? I don't need to respect the beliefs, I just need to respect their right to have those silly beliefs. I would kill or die to preserve that right.

      Religions are all false and destructive, and I hope to help people see that so we can free ourselves from their oppression, but it must be a willing decision. The freedom to be ridiculous is an essential component to our humanity. Taking it away would do way more harm than good.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:50 am |
    • yang

      Stunned Foreigner, I support everyone's right to believe in what they wish, as long as those beliefs do not dictate how I live. So often in this country (and other countries, to be sure), religious concepts and rules are imposed upon people who are not associated with that faith. in the US, in our pledge of allegiance, printed on our money, invoked publicly and frequently by politicians, and written into many of our laws is the concept of being ruled, guided, and provided for by the christian god. freedom of religion and tolerance are not being applied in any of those cases. once someone else's religion is inserted in the way i live MY life, it is the very spirit of tolerance and freedom that causes it to be a huge problem.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:09 am |
  4. Bill

    For you idiots who can do nothing but put down Mormons, this is about the theft of a rare book,not the Mormon religion. I'm not Mormon, but it appears a lot of you are just bigots.

    June 15, 2012 at 8:29 am |
  5. Watchfuliiiii


    June 15, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • scientificpoetry

      You hit the nail right on the head. There's more intelligence in a South Park episode than in the entire book of Mormon.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • Hot Carl

      Love that episode!

      June 15, 2012 at 8:33 am |
  6. SV

    If I'd stolen that book I would have burned it.

    June 15, 2012 at 8:11 am |
    • Peteyroo

      Only because you're stupid.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • LiberaLIowan

      Because you're smart!

      June 15, 2012 at 8:50 am |
  7. Peick

    The first edition should be scanned and posted online for everyone to be able to review. What I have been told is that the book was revised to its current version, and this is something people should be able to verify. Check out UTLM dot org for details on how the revisions have affected its teaching. But it's something we should have the chance to verify for ourselves.

    June 15, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • Frank

      Same thing with the bible. It is barely recognizeable today from it's original.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:32 am |
    • Pat in IL

      The Bible, too, has undergone many revisions and translations.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:34 am |
  8. NoTags

    Thanks to all the atheists for their negative posts on Christianity and the Bible. By your posts you are in fact proving the Bible correct.

    2,000 years ago in I Timothy 4:1-2 and II Timothy 3:1-5 & 7 Paul told us that in the last days there would be a falling away from the faith and Godlessness which your posts tend to verify. The Bible is as current and up to date as today's news.

    Atheists hate the word of God and the gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Christians do not fear the words of atheists any more than they fear the words of the false prophet Mohammed or any other false prophet.

    June 15, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • They hate it because

      They hate the Bible because they are afraid of God and what he stand for ...... love.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:15 am |
    • Daniel

      Mormonism is not Christianity...

      June 15, 2012 at 8:20 am |
    • Peteyroo

      Unicorns, leprechauns, the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, God, Jesus–the list goes on.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • scientificpoetry

      Athiests don't hate the word of God. There is no word of God. What athiests hate are the words of ignorant men porportedt to be the word of God. Atheists realize you don't need the threat of eternal damnation from a God or organized religion to live a moral life. Rational thinking brings you to that conclusion. So... you christians, mormons, jews, muslims, etc... keep believing in an invisible man who lives in the sky and fight each other for not believing in "the one true faith". We athiests will keep moving forward with the understanding that the only truth is found through reason and not in some old book written by ignorant men.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • Eat The Ism

      @scientificpoetry, ty for posting that. I was going to post something eerily similar to that. I'm glad that there are people out there like us that don't like being pigeonholed by religious tunnel vision.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:34 am |
    • WASP

      @"They hate it because
      They hate the Bible because they are afraid of God and what he stand for ...... love.
      June 15, 2012 at 8:15 am"

      really? he stands for love? how can someone tell you they love you but if you don't acknowledge me i will burn you for all eternity? how is that love? how is it love to know that your "first two children" would eat something that would harm them, but you still allow it to happen? how is it love to not only flood the earth killing most of your children, but also promise next time you will use fire? this is what amazes me about christians; you folks can lie so perfectly to yourselves about what love is. love isn't pain, it isn't threats of bodily harm, it isn't punishment for disobeying.......................love is unconditional. i love my son regardless of what he may do in his life. i will still love and accept him, and i will love him even more for his mistakes because that makes him HUMAN. the ones with problems understanding love are the religious folks out there, i was told by my christian guardians "that they love me.............while they were beating me." just look on the news, any news organization you will find this religious person or that religious person abused a child in some form or fashion...........the one thing you won't hear is an atheist abusing their children due to some book.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:38 am |
    • Greg

      How do you KNOW that Muhammad or any other 'prophet' is false. Do you have proof. Do actually live by the bible? Who do you worship, Jesus or God? Are you Catholic with the 3-in-1 thing? If Jesus is God and God is God doesn't that mean there's more than one God? Mary can't be the mother of God because that would mean there was someone or something before God and that can't be right now can it? Don't hate another's religion. It will all become clear when your time comes up. Wait for it....

      June 15, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • parot

      amen to that.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:46 am |
    • TheSchmaltz

      Love is awesome. God is fake. That is all.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  9. CdnJim

    So the FBI tracked down a first edition of a book writtenby a convicted con-man which says, (and Mitt Romney believes)
    – the Ameircan Indian population are the lost tribes of Israel even though DNA clearly demonstrates they are not Jewish but Romney believes this anyway.
    – that a palestinian Jew who was executed about 2000 years ago came to visit North America...Romney believes this too
    – and the list goes on and on
    ANd somehow almost half of America is willing to put a guy who actually believes in this garbage in the Oval Office. Give your collective haeds a shake. If he believed all of the things Mormons do, but wasn't part of a "religious group" you wouldn't give him the time of day.

    June 15, 2012 at 7:56 am |
    • Do we know?

      DNA evaluations have not been around long enough to say that it's telling the whole story. How do you know that it's developed to the point where there is no error? The human race is complex and while science is learning new information daily. I'm just saying that while DNA shows some facts it may not be showing ALL facts. More learning may be forthcoming. Information that would show DNA results are sometimes wrong and, for example, we may be turning killers free who were convicted with better evidence.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • vulpecula

      @Do we know?
      Clearly you don't know. If you really wanted to know anything about current abillities of DNA studies, they are readily available online. Yes, science is always open to new evidence. But with the wealth of evidence available about DNA and the ability to trace the family histories using genetic markers, that evidence is considered valid until something comes along to prove it wrong. Take gravity for example. It's a theory, only because we don't know the mechanism that actually makes it work. But we know it exists because we can formula hypothosis and test them, and get consistent measureable results. And we can observe it in action every day. It's the same with DNA. The human genome has been mapped. Anyone can now have their DNA tested to find out what their bloodline is, to trace their roots back to fairly specific regions of the world, and when compared to another known sample, determine if a genetic link is their. For you to ask that question and not bother to find out the answer when it is readily available onlyline is nothing short of willful ignorance.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:41 am |
  10. jim

    @Evangelical You've convinced me! I wouldn't vote for Romney even if he ran unopposed!

    June 15, 2012 at 7:42 am |
    • Dude

      You should not hold his religious beliefs against Romney.

      The fact that he is an unfeeling, uncaring, greed driven elitist bent on establishing a nation with no social mobility where the children of the wealthy go to college and become wealthy themselves and the children of the working class are educated only enough to obey the orders of their wealthy employers should be held against him. But, not his religion.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:01 am |
    • bryce

      Nice, dude. ^^^

      June 15, 2012 at 8:53 am |
    • yang

      Dude, you have so succinctly hit the nail on its head.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  11. interesting fact

    a large percentage of FBI agents are Mormon due to certain values they look for when hiring. When the FBI was established, Roosevelt liked the values of the Mormons, and used those as part of their search critera for employees. Soooo, I'm not surprised tracking this down was deemed important....however....I think it was a waste of resources being that the book of mormon is fiction material.

    June 15, 2012 at 7:40 am |
    • peridot2

      It's an antique valuable book. How is that any different from an antique copy of THE ROBE? Or an antique copy of the Bible? As a Christian, my own personal beliefs aside, you come across as a bigot. In case you have forgotten, we have freedom of religion in the US.

      June 15, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • GetReal

      And Don't forget Mormons own the right to Boy Scouts....

      June 15, 2012 at 8:07 am |
  12. Canadian Bacon

    Two Pre-schoolers, each about 4 years old, are having an argument:


    No – Easter Bunny!


    Easter Bunny!!!

    My Santa is REAL!

    BS! My Easter Bunny inspired me to KNOW that he is real, and Santa is fake.!

    Yeah, Right! The followers of the Easter Bunny cult plagiarized Santa's whiskers when they gave the Easter Bunny Fur!
    Followers of that false rodent Easter Bunny won't get any presents from Santa unless they repent; otherwise they'll get fiery lumps of coal in their stockings forever!!!!!

    You know, reading some of the threads where Mormons are arguing with Fundamentalist Christians sounds a lot like the Santa/Easter bunny argument. Perhaps the followers of either, of both, of these religions are still like these young children – they cling to these beliefs, and are to terrified to even stop to think – hmmm, maybe I should give this just a bit of critical thought.

    June 15, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • No one gives a sh it

      For Canadian opinion ... keep it to yourself

      June 15, 2012 at 7:28 am |
    • HeavenSent

      OH, Canadian Bacon had his childhood and now he wants to ensure other children aren't allowed theirs. He wants to ensure that everyone becomes just as rigid and miserable as he because he refuses to come into God's light while sulking in satan's darkness.

      June 15, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • Peteyroo

      Spot on, Canadian Bacon!

      June 15, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • Canadian Bacon

      @ No One and Heaven Sent: Applying critical thought – ie using the brain that the God you believe in – is a bad thing? Does your God want you to be a mindless, thoughtless slug? Does your God want you to ignore all of the marvelous potential inherent in all of us?

      All I'm suggesting is to stop, for a moment, and think.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:41 pm |
  13. Name*Chedar

    I bet this antique book of Mormon may mention about how the underwear Romney is wearing becomes a " magic underwear "

    June 15, 2012 at 7:18 am |
  14. Liz Wilso

    How awful to sell off any book page by page

    June 15, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • Nick22

      Exactly what I was thinking. If there is a sin it is selling off a book page by page. It is even more amazing that they were doing this with a first edition of a religious text. The bookseller should be arrested for being a dumb . . .

      June 15, 2012 at 8:20 am |
  15. jp

    What a colossal waste of time on "petty theft" ie the theft of something worth less than $10

    June 15, 2012 at 7:05 am |
  16. Master

    Forget about any "value" this book may have religious or otherwise.

    My question is, doesn't the FBI have better things to do than chasing down stolen BOOKS?

    June 15, 2012 at 6:53 am |
    • Rick

      Nope, orders from Obama!

      June 15, 2012 at 7:31 am |
    • ToldUso

      You'd feel different if someone capped a $40,000 item from your possession.

      June 15, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • crackedskull44

      If its a rare first edition written in the 1800's not only does it have history but can wrap up a couple thousand for sure. That sir is called a felony. i could crae less if you beleive the contents inside, it could be a book about a 2 headed dinosaur named bob, once you put in historical value of anything preservation is required.

      June 15, 2012 at 7:37 am |
    • Ed

      C'mon, really? I have no love for Mormonism, but the value isn't tied to what it says, it's about rarity. Take the low number of 40k. Would you make the same comment if bank robbers stole 40k and crossed state lines? Would tracking them be the same "waste of time"?

      June 15, 2012 at 7:38 am |
  17. Atheism isn't a choice

    It is a foolish mistake.

    June 15, 2012 at 6:52 am |
    • bryce

      Apparently stupidity isn't a choice either.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:56 am |
  18. Rick

    This book is no different from a collection of Grimm's Fairy Tales.........just like ALL other "religious" books......I just can't understand how anyone with even half a brain would not see straight through such BS.

    June 15, 2012 at 6:40 am |
    • Jay in NC

      Obama reads from the bible.


      June 15, 2012 at 7:08 am |
    • crackedskull44

      I cant see how someone with a half a brain cant see that it wasnt stolen for its contents, but the historical value to pawn on the black market,

      June 15, 2012 at 7:40 am |
  19. LT

    Throw it in the fire where it belongs. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons was an occultist who taught HIS truth not the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon is false teachings.

    June 15, 2012 at 6:19 am |
    • Mirosal

      Every religion is false, not just the Moronic ... oops I mean Mormon church.

      June 15, 2012 at 6:29 am |
    • Reality is Checking on You

      Mirosal is right. Your book was written by people who didn't have toilet paper. I would suggest you reevaluate your worldview, but you're probably too much of a coward.

      June 15, 2012 at 6:35 am |
    • DF

      Jesus said even if a angle comes down from heaven and changes 1 word of the good word do not believe them.. like he knew the mormons were coming.

      June 15, 2012 at 6:35 am |
    • Mirosal

      we'll never see angels, just like we'll never see a "god" or a "devil". Joseph Smith had a little in common with L. Ron Hubbard. Hubbard wrote science fiction.. poorly. Smith was a convicted fraud. They both played upon pepople's fear and imagination. And both of their "religions" are too whac'ked out to have ANY reasoning behind them.

      June 15, 2012 at 6:42 am |
    • Slickner

      I see Angles all the time, buildings have lots of them

      June 15, 2012 at 6:54 am |
    • Mirosal

      yeah, buildings have lots of ANGLES ... I mean angels lol .. or are your angels models for Picas'so? lol

      June 15, 2012 at 6:59 am |
    • jp

      Joseph Smith was , by any measure, a paranoid schizophrenic. LDS is a cu;lt pure and simple and its followers are "sheeple"

      June 15, 2012 at 7:07 am |
    • jim

      @DF It depends upon whether the angle is really acute or just being obtuse.

      June 15, 2012 at 7:23 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Mirosal and the other miserable walking sticks have spoken. Therefore, what they say must be true? LOL, just because they believe it. Get over yourselves ... as your professors played nasty tricks on you, knowing you would never amount to anything by building, they got you to focus on destruction.

      June 15, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • peridot2

      I see angles every day in buildings and corners.

      Who am I to say that a con man (Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon religion) didn't have a religious experience and found a religion? God works in mysterious ways. I'm not so arrogant to say that. What I do say is that the Mormon religion isn't the way I worship the Lord. Perhaps it is the way He speaks to others of His flock. I don't know everything. Jesus did say that He had other places to go. Christians can't know everything.

      June 15, 2012 at 7:58 am |
    • Jeff Williams

      """Every religion is false, not just the Moronic ... oops I mean Mormon church."""

      Truth be told, the Book of Mormon is the latest revision of the GOD hardware.

      The Old Testament was GOD 1.0. The New Testament was GOD 2.0. The Qur'an was GOD 3.0. These products are no longer under warrantee.

      The latest, greatest revision is GOD 4.0, the Book of Mormon.

      So, in geek terms, those of you still using the ancient texts are Luddites and y'all need to update to the latest version of GOD. It has a much faster fatherboard.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:03 am |
    • Peteyroo

      LT, that is the pot calling the kettle black, my feeble-minded friend and chronic bedwetter. The Book of Mormon is garbage just as the Bible is garbage. It is all nonsense! Get your head out of your backside and smell the coffee. Prostrate yourself before the nearest atheist and beg for forgiveness for your wicked ways and befuddled thinking.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:40 am |
    • Dude

      Jeff, Flying Spaghetti Monster = God 5.0. It's being beta tested right now. Very cool. Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and the even numbered Star Trek movies are all integrates as apps.

      June 15, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  20. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    June 15, 2012 at 6:13 am |
    • Lisa

      Er... no. Maybe there is a god, maybe not... but acting like a skeptical mind is bad for you is like saying "Don't question!" I like having questions. Sorry

      June 15, 2012 at 6:34 am |
    • GOD


      June 15, 2012 at 6:36 am |
    • halfbakedlunatic

      'god' is an idiotic idea promoted by immoral people to control and pacify the weak minded.

      June 15, 2012 at 6:37 am |
    • Kris

      Seems your prayers were answered, better listen, true believer.

      June 15, 2012 at 6:37 am |
    • Mirosal

      "god" can kiss my ass and suc'k my di'ck.That's how much I revere your deity.

      June 15, 2012 at 7:00 am |
    • truth given

      filth replied

      June 15, 2012 at 7:29 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Oh, questioning? Is that what your professors told you this is what you need to do? Try, you were (still are) used by your teachers as a soldier of destruction, all along, knowing you never had what it takes to build.

      June 15, 2012 at 7:53 am |
    • Peteyroo

      You again? Does prayer save the lives of children with cancer? Does prayer prevent earthquakes? I thought not. You should stop praying for personal wealth and for your favorite sports team to win.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:33 am |
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About this blog

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.