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. Darcy

    Mormon has to be one of the biggest CULTS alive today.

    June 16, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • Ting

      Someday it may surpass the cult called Christianity.

      June 16, 2012 at 1:47 am |
  2. Jack

    Hello everyone. You are graciously invited to visit my web site... thestarofkaduri.com

    June 16, 2012 at 1:05 am |
  3. T


    I believe yesiammormon is being sarcastic. You should get a life. I know how you Mormon haters are. Whenever a Mormon gets on your ass for being stupid you all can't take it.

    June 16, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  4. Martin

    Wasn't the first edition of the Book of Mormon the one that was written on the gold plates?

    June 16, 2012 at 12:22 am |
    • Darcy

      They are printed on gold tablets but unfortunately only Joesph Smith could see them and he forgot to tell anybody where they were...LOL

      June 16, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • HotAirAce

      More likely, if they ever existed, he melted them down for cash...

      June 16, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • Jonah

      Actually, 11 people saw them besides Joseph Smith. You can read their testimonies in the introductory pages of the Book of Mormon. The comimg forth of the Book of Mormon was prophesied in the Bible: Ezekiel 37: "16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:
       17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. 18 ¶And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? 19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand."
      Christ even spoke of the people of the Book of Mormon and prophesied that he would visit them, John 10:  "16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."

      June 16, 2012 at 7:28 am |
  5. Reality

    Getting down to the nitty-gritty as to why the Book of Mormon in any edition and other Books supposedly inspired by god are worthless:

    Part I


    Joe Smith had his Moroni. (As does M. Romney)

    "Latter-day Saints like M. Romney also believe that Michael the Archangel was Adam (the first man) when he was mortal, and Gabriel lived on the earth as Noah."

    Jehovah Witnesses have their Jesus /Michael the archangel, the first angelic being created by God;

    Mohammed had his Gabriel (this "tin-kerbell" got around).

    Jesus and his family (as does BO and his family) had/has Michael, Gabriel, and Satan, the latter being a modern day demon of the demented.

    The Abraham-Moses myths had their Angel of Death and other "no-namers" to do their dirty work or other assorted duties.

    Contemporary biblical and religious scholars have relegated these "pretty wingie/horn-blowing thingies" to the myth pile. We should do the same to include deleting all references to them in our religious operating manuals. Doing this will eliminate the prophet/profit/prophecy status of these founders and put them where they belong as simple humans just like the rest of us.

    Some added references to "tink-erbells".


    "The belief in guardian angels can be traced throughout all antiquity; pagans, like Menander and Plutarch (cf. Euseb., "Praep. Evang.", xii), and Neo-Platonists, like Plotinus, held it. It was also the belief of the Babylonians and As-syrians, as their monuments testify, for a figure of a guardian angel now in the British Museum once decorated an As-syrian palace, and might well serve for a modern representation; while Nabopolassar, father of Nebuchadnezzar the Great, says: "He (Marduk) sent a tutelary deity (cherub) of grace to go at my side; in everything that I did, he made my work to succeed."

    Catholic monks and Dark Age theologians also did their share of hallu-cinating:

    "TUBUAS-A member of the group of angels who were removed from the ranks of officially recognized celestial hierarchy in 745 by a council in Rome under Pope Zachary. He was joined by Uriel, Adimus, Sabaoth, Simiel, and Raguel."

    And tin-ker- bells go way, way back:

    "In Zoroastrianism there are different angel like creatures. For example each person has a guardian angel called Fravashi. They patronize human being and other creatures and also manifest god’s energy. Also, the Amesha Spentas have often been regarded as angels, but they don't convey messages, but are rather emanations of Ahura Mazda ("Wise Lord", God); they appear in an abstract fashion in the religious thought of Zarathustra and then later (during the Achaemenid period of Zoroastrianism) became personalized, associated with an aspect of the divine creation (fire, plants, water...)."

    "The beginnings of the biblical belief in angels must be sought in very early folklore. The gods of the Hitti-tes and Canaanites had their supernatural messengers, and parallels to the Old Testament stories of angels are found in Near Eastern literature. "

    "The 'Magic Papyri' contain many spells to secure just such help and protection of angels. From magic traditions arose the concept of the guardian angel. "

    For added information see the review at:


    June 16, 2012 at 12:07 am |
    • Jonah

      Unreality also denies the holocaust. 🙂

      June 16, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • Peteyroo

      Johah, I see you still have your head up your backside.

      June 16, 2012 at 1:31 am |
    • Jonah

      He also believes Gollum was/is a real person. 🙂

      June 16, 2012 at 7:31 am |
  6. vulpecula

    Paul wasn't even around when Jesus was alive and is veiwed by theologians as the first corruptor of the Christian religion

    June 15, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Jonah

      We are so honored to have such an emminant atheist comment on spiritual matters! You must have ample experience! I am curious. Why would an atheist take such an interest in something that he has no interest in?

      June 15, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      To straighten you out, Jonah!

      June 15, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Real Deal


      Careful... Paul lived c. AD 5 – c. AD 67, and the alleged dates for Jesus range from 7-2 BC to 30–36 AD, so they were contemporaries, but you are correct on the part about Paul hijacking the new Messiah cult and giving it his own spin.

      June 15, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
    • Reality

      Jesus like many was in the right place at the right time. There was a lot of economic-driven assistance and "necessary accessories" without which Jesus would have been just another forgotten Jewish radical.

      To wit:

      Paul of Taurus was first of the "necessary accessories". He recognized early on the great wealth of Roman and Greek Gentiles so he wrote his epistles raising Jesus and his embellished life from the dead and the Gentiles "ate it up". His promise of the imminent second coming was shear brilliance in gathering much silver and gold (the prime necessary accessory). The Romans got jealous ending the life of the first necessay accessory.

      Pilate, although not the founder of Christianity, was another "necessary accessory" i.e. he could have easily sent Jesus to the salt mines.

      Constantine and his swords finished the "necessary accessory" scenario.

      June 16, 2012 at 12:14 am |
  7. Answer

    You gotta love these clowns that back up their religious belief even though they're all drivel.

    "Hey Bill will you say I will go to heaven?"

    "Yes Chuck, you will go to heaven."

    "Thanks Bill, I think you will go to heaven also."

    So hilarious. You might as well take long loving baths together also. XD

    June 15, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  8. Mormons are STUPID

    Hitler had it wrong....Mormons not Jews should have been killed!

    June 15, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
    • rudyardK

      Is that you, Tom Tom?

      June 15, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • Mormons are STUPID

      Nope...just someone who lives in Salt Lake and HATES the stupid MORONS more than you can imagine!!!!!!!!

      June 15, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      I can't understand why anyone should die for their religious beliefs. It makes no sense. And you are suggesting the killing of Mormons? How can you be filled with such hate? Do you also burn down orphanages, push old ladies in front of buses, and torture puppies?

      June 15, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • jeremy

      Please don't tell me that you're serious about a Mormon holocaust. That's offensive to Jews as well as Mormons.

      June 15, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • J

      Hitler (Rothschild) was a Jew, father was Alois Hiedler. Jewish Grandfather was Barron Salomon Mayer Rothschild.

      June 15, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • Kurt

      Then move dude! The Mormons probably don't want you there either.

      June 15, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Kurt

      Why would you live there if you don't like Mormons. And you're calling them MORONS!

      June 15, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
  9. rudyardK

    @Tom Tom

    Oh where is TomTom?
    A Dark Sun in the long night
    Alas! I grow cold

    June 15, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  10. Peteyroo

    I have an autographed copy of the original very New Testament. Any takers? It has photos of Jesus with his disciples riding unicorns.

    June 15, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
    • nope


      June 15, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
  11. cjh10j

    If Romney wins, our president believes his ancestors had super human powers, hahahahahahahaha, by the beard of Zeus!

    June 15, 2012 at 9:32 pm |
  12. Jonah

    Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God because he restored the Church of Jesus Christ in the orignial form. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is based on the teachings of Christ and the New Testament. Christ founded his church on apostles and prophets. Ephesians 2 states: "19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

    20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;"
    Apostles and prophets are absolutely essential because they hold the keys to the priesthood. If the apostles all die, the authority is lost along with revelation; we no longer know the mind and will of God and Christ is no longer the "chief cornerstone". False teachers and priests arise and we are "carried about with every wind of doctrine". Paul taught in Ephesians 4: "11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
    12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
    13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
    14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;"
    Without apostles and prophets we cannot come to a "unity of the faith" nor be perfected in Christ. Without a prophet who speaks authoritatively the will of God, only confusion can reign as people argue what God meant and uninspired men tamper with the holy scriptures!

    June 15, 2012 at 9:25 pm |
    • Mormons are STUPID

      Joe Smith was a lying AAAAA_HOLE.....to hell with him and all mormons!

      June 15, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • jay

      Joesph Smith wasnt a true prophet of God becaus eif you read the book of Mormon it distorts the biblical teachings of Jesus Christ

      June 15, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
    • Jonah

      It is easy to make a lie. It is harder to back it up. Tell us all which Biblical teachings you are referring to.

      June 15, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • Jonah

      Christ taught in John 15: "16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you." Christ intended that he, himself, would be at the head of his church through revelation. That is why a man must be chosen of God through revelation to represent him and to preach his holy word – a thing that protestant churches totally lack because they apostatized from the Catholic church and which the catholic church cannot claim either because the first pope was a bishop, not an apostle, and to this day can claim no authority from living apostles.

      June 15, 2012 at 10:47 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things*

    June 15, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      Still praying for personal wealth and for your favorite sport team to win? Or have you moved on to praying for death to all who disagree with you?

      June 15, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
    • nope


      June 15, 2012 at 9:31 pm |
    • rudyardK

      Just show me the GodFax

      June 15, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • Mormons are STUPID

      Screw you troll...you are hated!!!!!!

      June 15, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
  14. Friedman

    "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."

    Hahaahah rofl. My favorite quote in the article.

    June 15, 2012 at 9:10 pm |
  15. careabouttheworld

    Check out these lyrics to a favorite mormon hymn and decide for yourself if you aren't scared of mormons yet....
    1) Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah! Jesus anointed that Prophet and Seer.

    Blessed to open the last dispensation, Kings shall extol him, and nations revere.

    chorus: Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven! Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vain.

    Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren; Death cannot conquer the hero again.

    2) Praise to his memory, he died as a martyr; Honored and blest be his ever great name!

    Long shall his blood, which was shed by assassins, Plead unto heaven while the earth lauds his fame.

    3) Great is his glory and endless his priesthood: Ever and ever the keys he will hold.

    Faithful and true, he will enter his kingdom, Crowned in the midst of the prophets of old.

    4) Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven; Earth must atone for the blood of that man.

    Wake up the world for the conflict of justice. Millions shall know "brother Joseph" again.

    June 15, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • baj99

      um, alrighty then...not too much hostility there...let's just hope Mitt doesn't take this song literally and nuke us all for what we did to his precious Joseph Smith LOL

      June 15, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      Ease up, can't care about the world. Still spewing venom towards Mormons? Jesus would be so proud of you–not!

      June 15, 2012 at 9:20 pm |
    • jeremy

      I'm not seeing how the words of this song are hostile. It talks about how Joseph Smith was a great man and was martyred. It says that the members of the Church miss him. What's so scary about that?

      June 15, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
  16. Jonah

    I was just thinking about Harold Camp. It seems like one like him comes along from the evangelicals every so often. I wish to say that Joseph Smith was a true prophet. False prophets are always alone when they have their "visions". That is because it never happened, to put it nicely. Joseph Smith had witnesses to everything he said. Witnesses are central to the gospel. Paul said, "In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established." Here is the testimony of the 3 witnesses to the Book of Mormon as set forth in the introduction to the Book of Mormon:
    "Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man. And we declare with words of soberness, that an angel of God came down from heaven, and he brought and laid before our eyes, that we beheld and saw the plates, and the engravings thereon; and we know that it is by the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, that we beheld and bear record that these things are true. And it is marvelous in our eyes. Nevertheless, the voice of the Lord commanded us that we should bear record of it; wherefore, to be obedient unto the commandments of God, we bear testimony of these things. And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ, and shall dwell with him eternally in the heavens. And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God. Amen.
    Oliver Cowdery
    David Whitmer
    That is the difference between Joseph Smith and the false prophets – JOSEPH SMITH HAD WITNESSES!
    We are also ent itled to a witness as individuals that we not be deceived. In the Book of Mormon, God gave the following promise to every one who will read the Book of Mormon with si ncerity and faith:
    " 4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sin cere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost."
    5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."
    Some of you may have gotten a witness as you read these words. The Lord's sheep know his voice and the truth will have a familiar ring to them. I want to say that I have received that witness and I know of a surety that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God. You can get more information at mormon.org.

    June 15, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
    • careabouttheworld

      ALL of Joseph Smith's witnesses were MEMBERS OF THE MORMON CHURCH ALREADY!

      June 15, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • baj99

      what a convincing argument. He had witnesses? Why didn't you say so? OK sign me up, and reserve my seat on the spaceship!!

      June 15, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
    • yesiammormon

      They all left the church, but never denied what they saw.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:48 pm |
    • Get Real

      "They all left the church, but never denied what they saw."

      Not so sure what you call "denial", but they did qualify *how* they *saw* them - "through the eyes of faith", and not with physical eyes. The ones who supposedly 'touched' them did so through a heavy cloth (frock) and never actually saw them.


      June 15, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
    • jeremy

      The three witnesses to the Book of Mormon wrote that they saw and hefted the golden plates. Every one of these witnesses ended up leaving the Church because of social disputes with other Church members. Even though it would have been in their best interest to deny what they had previously said about the Book of Mormon (to distance themselves from the anti-Mormon bigotry of the period), all of them adamantly defended their testimonies to the grave. They were what lawyers call "reluctant witnesses"–the most powerful testimony that can be presented in a court of law.

      June 15, 2012 at 10:58 pm |
  17. vulpecula

    I'll have to say this republican nomination think was very interesting. Being an atheist that strongly beleives in the religious freedom put forth by our founding fathers, who were mostly Deists, it was thought prevoking to think that an Evangelical or a Mormon might get the nomination. Both are out to take over the government for their own agenda. And while I have to agree with most christians that the Morman roots are pretty shaky, I have to say too that the other religions rooots hold no water with me either. Of the two though, If it came down to it, I'd rather see a Mormon than a Evangelical President. If the Mormans get control, I suspect tey'll spent a lot of time trying to contact space and fulfilling their prophecies. The Evangelicals on the other hard would try to provoke an Israeli war hoping to triger the end times. So as nutty as some of you say the Mormons are, the Evangelicals are dangerious. I could see the evangelicals trying to get around our first amendment rights, disregarding the intent of out founding father. Luckily we do have other choses though.

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

      Evangicals scare me more than Mormons. I heartily agree with you vulpecula. I would like to see absolute religious freedom in this country as long as only atheists are allowed to run for president.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
    • Topher

      Wow. Not what I expected to see in that video. But I'm not sure how she can say she's moral without a moral-law giver.

      June 16, 2012 at 3:20 am |
  18. careabouttheworld


    June 15, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • mormonsaregreat


      I am a mormon and I would love to have control of the world. I can't wait until Romney wins the election and the mormons take over the world in their mini vans and I get 79 virgins (atleast that is what some genius said on a previous post). I think I will pick one from every race, but not african american unless they look like Halle Barry.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • baj99

      Oh yeah, these folks are going to hell lmfao....I love the piano in the background, if you close your eyes you almost feel like you're in church. Hilarious!

      June 15, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      An hour-long video? You must be kidding. Who wants to sit through an hour of religious drivel?

      June 15, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • Lana

      Excellent video. Good luck to you.

      June 16, 2012 at 2:21 am |
  19. realperson


    June 15, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • arealguy

      Negative attack ads against a religion. So cool.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:55 pm |
    • Topher

      Wow. Not what I expected to see in that video. But I'm not sure how she can say she's moral without a moral-law giver. (Sorry, posted this earlier in the wrong spot.)

      June 16, 2012 at 3:22 am |
  20. baj99

    I admit that the mormons are a weird and sometimes disturbing cult, but let's not forget the good things about Mormons:
    1. HOT girls. I went to BYU for a year, and oh my god!! Sunday school was almost worth the view.
    2. They do all these funny things that make us laugh (magical underwear, baptizing dead people, etc.)
    3. They conquered Utah, which is a wasteland anyway (that would have sucked if they'd kept going to California)
    4. They are mostly a conservative bunch, which means more exotic dancers for me!! Yeah baby!!

    June 15, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
    • Pumbaa

      Sounds good to me! I am glad there are not too many Mormons in Mississippi. There seem to be a lot more JWs. Now if I could just get all the Southern Baptist people to move to Utah the rest of us here might get the law changed so we could have liquor stores in the County.

      June 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
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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.