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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. Bruce

    If we think of this book as being so precious, what so people say about the Bible which is so much older than the Mormon book
    which is not that old. We tend to believe whatever we want and hope its the right choice for our way of life and maybe hope for the best.

    June 14, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • escher7

      Books never hold the answer but they can open doors. Unfortunately some can also close them.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
  2. Sly

    Ho ho ho .... Christians arguing with Muslims and Mormons about what that fat white man in the clouds looks like?

    Ha ha ha ...please provide me 1 intelligent reason why ANY of you god-sters don't think Santa Claus really delivers presents from his flying sleigh.

    Seriously. Or why isn't Spiderman real?

    June 14, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • R. DIBERTO

      In everything that exists from microscopic cells to the energy pattern that flows from a galaxy they all show the same pattern of flow. if you cut and apple, orange, tomato and such in half (top to bottom) they have a particular pattern. A central part that has a meat going up, around and back up through the bottom. The energy field that a human has around their bodies has this same flow. This pattern disproves the aspect of Chaos within Evolution. Because with Chaos there is no pattern. But with all these patterns showing up in everything, this shows a aspect of design. Or Creational Evolutionary Formations.

      This Proving the existence of God.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      Diberto that has to be one of the worst attempts at pseudo science i have ever seen.
      If you are trolling I admit you got me because I can not other reason anyone would claim anything so stupid as that.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • escher7

      Santa Clause was real for several years because I believed in him. Ditto the tooth fairy. What do you believe in?

      June 14, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
    • escher7

      Actually Dilberto, Chaos does have a pattern. Try reading The Code: seeing patterns in chaos. Chaos does not mean random or maximum entropy.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:36 pm |
  3. Pete/Ark

    No need to suck-up to a new boss guys,,,he ain't gonna win...now, if you could just figure out the Hoffa case....

    June 14, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • baj99

      This is where Hoffa is:
      42°32'31.85"N
      83°17'7.92"W

      June 14, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
    • escher7

      Agent 99 you do know that is the right across from the Oakland Hills Country Club.on Telegraph Road.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:23 pm |
    • baj99

      Yes, I'm from Bloomfield. the restaurant that is there now used to be the Red Fox....last place Jimmy was ever seen

      June 14, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
  4. Doepie

    Why is it that CNN lately is obsessed with Mormonism and the Bible? I am really keen to get behind their thinking (agenda?)Could it be that their reporters are considering converting to one of these religions, or what.....?

    June 14, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • escher7

      Possibly it is because the main contestant for the most powerful position in the world is a Mormon.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Flanders

      duh doepie

      June 15, 2012 at 2:46 am |
    • Sam

      Mitt Romney is a Latter-day Saint.

      June 15, 2012 at 4:05 am |
  5. Fallen Angel

    This book store owner couldn't be very bright!! why would you give a key to a guy that sold it to you and let him know where it was to be located? why didn't she put it in a Bank safety deposit box and not tell anyone where it was.If some one asked about the book she could answer "it's in a very safe place period".Some people are just too trusting with so called friends.

    June 14, 2012 at 5:27 pm |
  6. Art Cook

    Whether or not the stories in the book are true; it is a neat piece of history that was taken by someone whom it did not belong too. Glad it was recovered. Quit fighting over the book of mormon and J. Smith and over the bible its all mythological anyway and it is beside the point. Get over it and become enlighten and then you will know the truth.

    June 14, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • escher7

      You attempt to attain your own validity by lecturing to others. Clearly you have not given up attachment. I suggest you Google Jiddu Krishnamurti for a fairly nice approach to achieving what you apparently think you already have.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • Art Cook

      haha, so is google your scripture?

      June 14, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • escher7

      I don't have a scripture Art – that is the whole point. Read what I said for it is true. The only truth is that there is no truth but our inner mind. the rest of this is for entertainment only.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  7. Pityu

    I am surprised by the ignorance. Except for one religion all other religions are "feel good" religions congered up by humans. The holy book of this religion has been written by God and God communicates with humans in the first person. "Feel good" religions or "Buddy Buddy" religions are for the ignorant.

    June 14, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • baj99

      Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil!

      June 14, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • escher7

      "Except for one religion" – Yours of course.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
  8. fofo

    I hate any organized religion, especially Mormonism.

    June 14, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Pete/Ark

      try just ignoring the....it'll do wonders for your blood pressure....

      June 14, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
    • escher7

      Smartest comment of the day Pete/Ark. Of course if these comments were intelligent or rational there would be no fun for shut-ins like me.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
  9. escher7

    And for you women:
    Many religions have recently begun changing in an attempt to equalize the roles and responsibilities of men and women. Mormonism is one of the exceptions. The Mormon position on women has changed little since the early 1800's, when the official view was that "woman's primary place is in the home, where she is to rear children and abide by the righteous counsel of her husband"

    June 14, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • David

      I don't know what your talking about. I am Mormon and my wife wears the pants in my family.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • yesiamamormon

      Tell that to my lawyer wife who grew up in the mormon church and is very active today.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • yesiamamormon

      By the way, the reason I am so rich today is because of my wife working. I never stress about losing my job, my retirement is all set and I fly my private airplane all over the country just for fun. The nice part of all this is I am only 42 years old. Go Mitt Romney!!!!

      June 14, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • escher7

      David – if you wife wears the pants does that mean you wear the lacy things? The fact that your wife has balls doesn't mean that the teachings of the Mormon church support her – they don't.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:40 pm |
    • LinSea

      No, escher7, it just means that YOU do not understand the church's teachings.

      June 14, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  10. Duane - St. Pete FLA

    you libs are so silly....let me try and stress the importance of this book in terms even you can understand...it's like taking the union money away from the left, you would be upset right? Or it would be like you libs being honest with blacks here is America by telling them to follow the laws and value an education, that would make balcks mad and they would not vote for you libs any more....get it? hahahha

    June 14, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • escher7

      Gotta keep an eye on those balcks.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • Duane - St. Pete FLA

      no problem....we shoot here if they get crazy.....see Travon

      June 14, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • Pastapharian

      You're an I'd!ot.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • j

      Truly, you have delivered a scathing critique of the liberal mindset. One wonders why you're not employed as an analyst by a high-powered conservative think tank, and are instead forced to distill your wisdom through CNN message boards.

      Your analogy likening a holy book to union money is a refreshing breath of insight. Are you referring to political funding? Increased pay? Something else? Who knows! That's part of the brilliance; forcing the reader to engage in introspection to find their own meaning!

      I bow to you. You win +1 internets today. Your debate skill towers above that of the lowly libs, who verily must scatter before your mighty wordcraft like gazelles before a cheetah.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Duane St.pete

      wow.....you one smart dude......why don't you help education those blacks?

      June 14, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
  11. baj99

    Wait, that reminds me of another recent story on Mormons...so, is it OK to be gay and Mormon? What if you want to have one of those compounds...can you fill it with under age boys instead of under age girls? Thinking about joining up, but I just need to know what the rules are since they seem to change all the time...

    June 14, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • escher7

      Wonder if Romney has a few hidden wives? I doubt if most Mormons believe in polygamy but if you start picking and choosing are you really following the religion?

      June 14, 2012 at 6:43 pm |
  12. escher7

    This is the part of the tablet story that cracks me up:
    Smith dictated a translation using a seer stone in the bottom of a hat, which he placed over his face to view the words written within the stone.[3] Smith published the translation in 1830 as the Book of Mormon.

    Do you really want to elect a man President who believes his religious book was translated by a guy looking at the bottom of a hat??

    June 14, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • fofo

      Nope.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • joe

      Christianity has plenty of weirdness and a homicidal, genocide loving god character.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
    • BG

      Ur stupid.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • escher7

      I see joe down there is defending Joe up their. No one was saying the bible is without its weirdness. We are talking about the Book of Mormon.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • David

      Have you read the book? Joseph Smith did not have much of an education to make this up. The book is full of truth.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • rosethornne

      No!
      But even moreso, I don't want a spoiled vulture who believes in social darwinism: 'if you're rich you're superior and deserving, if you're poor you're inferior and defective'.
      Besides, I want a human President not a plastic android who doesn't even know what a donut is.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "Have you read the book? Joseph Smith did not have much of an education to make this up. The book is full of truth."

      how much of an education do you need to make stuff up?
      and what truth exactly?

      June 14, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
    • talon

      Escher7, if u feel comfortable electing men who believe that god became a burning bush and spoke to man, the same man divided the red sea in two, that the whole world was flooded and every animal packed on to a boat, and that another man died and then raised himself from the dead and ascended into heaven, then I don't see what your fuss is about electing a man who believes his religious book was translated by a guy looking at the bottom of the hat.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • escher7

      I don't really think Obama believes the bible literally whereas I am quite certain Romney believes the Smith stuff. Why else call yourself a Mormon?

      June 14, 2012 at 6:27 pm |
    • escher7

      And Rosethorne – if anyone doesn't relate to the middle class and the poor take a look at Mr. "I'll bet you $10,000" and "I have two Cadillacs". i just do not see how any intellectually honest person can say Obama is an elitist compared to Romney. You don't worry about health care and taxing the rich if you are an elitist. Where do you get these ideas?

      June 14, 2012 at 6:31 pm |
  13. shep

    Dr. Suess has more credibilty than this whacky sacrilege. Is America really going to elect a man that wears a magic Mormon diaper 24/7? This is a Christian country. Mormons are not Christians.

    June 14, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • escher7

      I am not sure Mormonism is any more based on fable than the bible, but at least the bible has a long history. Joe Smith looking at a seer stone in the bottom of a hat is a little more recent when folks should have known better.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • fofo

      I value my Dr. Sues' book anytime over any Bible or that silly book of Mormons.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Bert

      This is NOT a christian country any more than it is NOT a morman country or any other religion.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • BG

      Nice of you to put other peoples religion so nicely... you ******.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • RedinAustin

      Actually, by definition, Christians are those who follow Christ. I believe the Mormon religion says that Jesus Christ did come to America and appeared before the Native Americans. I also believe they follow what they believe to be Christ's teachings. Sounds like a branch of Christianity to me.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • Pastapharian

      Anyone who thinks this is a Christian country is ignorant and has no clue re: our founding fathers. In the US, we have freedom of religion, and more importantly, freedom FROM religion! They're all a bunch of bllsht anyway, so it is irrelevant.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • Art Cook

      most founding fathers were by their own account Diest not "Christians" the "Christian" Nation element was added within the last 100 years or so....

      June 14, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
  14. washingtonian

    Dum,Dum,Dum,Dum,Dum!!!

    June 14, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • fofo

      and more dumps.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  15. Obvious Guy

    The sad fact of this story is that not only is it a historic book (whether you believe in it or not, I do not) but that it is a first edition of a historic book, AND the fact that this jerk actually cut out pages of the book for sale, and almost ruins the book for the next person. As much as I believe Mormonism is silly and pointless, it is sad to find that this classic 1st edition book is no longer in its entirety.

    June 14, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Laura

      Agreed. Doesn't matter what contents are. Its of value to someone

      June 14, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • fofo

      I'm not loosing any sleep over that useless book.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      agreed, its awful that the guy cut pages out.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
  16. Jan

    Meh. If I'd found it I would have burned it.

    June 14, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Serious

      you would burn $40 000 worth of what some people consider precious. really $40 000 wow......if i could afford to do that

      June 14, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
    • Flanders

      seriously think it was worth 40k when he found it in 1837. Serious think a little. I concur, I would have also burned this atrocity. But wait, if I found it, then I could of founded mormanism. Which means I could get a bunch of retards to follow me, give me 10% of everything they make. Have access to all there daughters, marry as many as I want, and then sit back and relax. Hummm maybe Joe Smith was a genius.

      June 15, 2012 at 3:25 am |
  17. Mike

    Nice to see our resources being wasted on useless fairytales!

    June 14, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • fofo

      Useless indeed.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • BG

      Nice to see people who are tolerant of others beliefs.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  18. marc

    Romney is a Mormon.... "if" elected President he will enforce his Mormon views on us in some way watch and see.

    June 14, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Will

      I'm voting for Obama but in the meantime, would you please grow up? Im so tired of people who exaggerate and demonize the character of candidates.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Serious

      You mean Mormons views like being kind, taking care of the poor and the needy those kind of "horrible things? Horrible things like visiting the sick and afflicted? horrible horrible things indeed

      June 14, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
    • RedinAustin

      Isn't that exactly the argument against electing JFK? "He's a Catholic and he'll let the Pope enforce their crazy Catholic ways on us..."

      June 14, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • jon

      Is he going to take away our soda??

      June 14, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • Sam

      Like Kennedy did with Catholicism?

      June 14, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
  19. vinyl45s4ever

    Whta's so magical about a first edition of a fairy tale book? Show me the golden tablets and I might be impressed.

    June 14, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Mike

      Joseph Smith is the only one who has ever seen them and coincidentally the only one who can read them!

      June 14, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • Serious

      In response to mike:

      Beofre you type on the keyboard check out the front couple pages of the Book of Mormon. The plates were seen by others who even on their death bed never denied them and always held to that. Even though they quit following Joesph Smith

      June 14, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • talon

      Mike, 11 others were allowed to view and heft them and gave their testimonies of the experience. They are recorded as "the testimony of three witnesses" and "the testimony of eight witnesses" in the opening pages of every copy of the book of mormon.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
    • David

      Mike,

      There were eleven witnesses and he translated them through Gods help.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
    • cedar rapids

      "and he translated them through Gods help."

      ok next time warn us before you say these things, my side is aching after laughing so hard, it was a good job i was sitting down.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:47 pm |
    • David

      Cedar Rapids

      You can laugh all you want, but there is a reason why Mormonism is one of the fastest growing religions. Read the book and find out for yourself. The book is full of truths.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:17 pm |
    • Flanders

      David,

      Quit pathetic. Fastest growing religions because your worthless retarded followers are required to go on missions. Mission of finding more pathetic people than yourselves, talking them into signing up, take 10% of there pay check, and then require all there children to follow the CULT and go on missions. It's a great business plan really.

      June 15, 2012 at 3:37 am |
    • cedar rapids

      "You can laugh all you want, but there is a reason why Mormonism is one of the fastest growing religions. Read the book and find out for yourself. The book is full of truths."

      nonsense, absolute nonsense. how can anyone with a brain accept a story about golden plates and seer stones being found in the US? seriously, what is it that made you go....hey this must be true?.... whacko, true whacko.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:33 am |
  20. SKYLAR

    New Gawker,
    And you are obviously one of them!!

    June 14, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
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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.