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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. Les

    This book was a rare gem. Since there are other copies around that are intact and more valuable, this book seller cut off her nose to spite her face. This story is all about a petty thief that thought he could break the law. In spite of the ignorant minded and false comments about Mormonism, let's keep the story in focus. Joseph Smith was no more a charlatan than Wesley, Luther or Calvin or any of myriad "faith" healers and evangelists in the world today. Get a grip and stay on focus.. This is about a stolen book and not about a belief system that is just as valid as any other Xtian fable.

    June 14, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      You are right, he was no more a charlatan, but also no less. Until any of these religious leaders, or anyone else for that matter, delivers real proof for their to date unsupported claims, they are all fakes, snake oil salesmen, and not to be believed. Right thinking people have already figured this out.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • baj99

      All those old folks that sent their retirement checks to Jim and Tammy so they could do coke, bang hoes, and drive around in Ferraris are not gonna be happy to hear this.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  2. Fallen Angel

    We all should worship the fact that we can wake up the next day and live another day!!! * HOW ABOUT THAT*

    June 14, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Les

      Agreed. Ra is the Sun God. Rah, rah, rah!

      June 14, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  3. Pilgrim1

    Why not publish it online? Then we can take a look at the cobwebs in the closet! (How much redaction over the years??)

    June 14, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • ben

      It is published online. There are several sites that have scanned pages of the original manuscripts. No doctrine has been changed, and the several changes that people always refer to are punctuation changes, moving words like and around to make it easier to read in present day english, and adding in chapter headings to give a background of what is said in the chapter.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
  4. LOL Religion

    What this story doesn't tell you is that this was a signed and dedicated copy as well.

    The inscription reads: "I can't believe they fell for this cr@p!" – Joe Smith

    June 14, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • baj99

      Actually, this particular copy was signed - "Congrats on your new book Joe, now stop trying to steal me lucky charms!" –the Rabbit from your magical hat

      June 14, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
    • RedinAustin

      @Baj99: The Rabbit ate Trix, not Lucky Charms.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:26 pm |
  5. sarah

    Selling the pages? How horrible.

    June 14, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  6. Patrick

    I love the book of Mormon – it's one of my favorite fantasy fiction books of all time. Especially love the parts with the multiple wives – thinkgs get pretty crazy after that "if you know what I mean."

    June 14, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • ashley

      All you have to do is read it to see how much of what you said is true.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • peter

      ashley–it doesn't matter what it says–the book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ is not the word of God–wether joeseph smith and early mormons were into multiple wives–which they were–is neither here nor there as far as the lie of the mormon religion.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
  7. Pilgrim1

    The Book of Mormon is considered a lie by members of the Church of Jesus Christ, on par with the toilet paper.

    June 14, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Northerndude

      Toilet paper is useful.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:59 pm |
    • ME II

      And the Bible is considered fiction by Hindus. What's your point?

      June 14, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Pilgrim1

      @ME II - It's a play on words from the article.... Not smart enough to make the connection? Or did you not read the crap above?

      June 14, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Humanist11

      So only the people that think just like you are going to heaven. That's nice.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • ME II

      @Pilgrim1,
      I see, and no I didn't make the connection. I read the article, but the sentence didn't jump out a worthy of parody. I guess, if It seemed unusual to you, to make such a comparison, sure.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • Strange

      No, a play on words would have been if you had named someone else instead of members of the Church of Jesus Christ. All you are doing is making a false comment that contradicts what you are refering to.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • Pilgrim1

      Funny how some people (@Strange) get all defensive when they are forced to read the truth.....

      June 14, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
  8. Loren

    It would only be rare if it said that it was a fraud, otherwise its has no more value than a comic book.

    June 14, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • Les

      Some people apparently are unfamiliar with the antique book trade. This book is worth 10s of thousands of dollars if it were intact. A little a research about antique and rare book collections and collectors before spouting nonsense would go far in actually adding to the conversation. This stolen book was worth more than a warehouse full of comics. Of that, there can be no doubt. The thief needs to go to jail for a very long time. BTW, the rice paper used in most King James bibles is far on the butt than most anyother book. Try it and be amazed.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • Les

      Correction: ......most King James bibles ARE far BETTER on the butt.....

      June 14, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  9. liz

    selling the book page by page what a racket

    June 14, 2012 at 5:55 pm |
  10. Northerndude

    I thought the seer stone thing was BS until I googled it. Are they for real? Perhaps he was talking to his magical rabbit in the hat. Good thing I worship the female body, at least I can see and touch that.

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

      Good thing you googled it, you know everything on the internet is true.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:58 pm |
    • ME II

      "Good thing I worship the female body, at least I can see and touch that."
      ... in your dreams, buddy. ... ur, dude.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  11. sn0wb0arder

    glad they were able to recover it for the owner. i do enjoy rare books.

    June 14, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Flanders

      WHAT ............ I take it you snowboard in Utah......freak

      June 15, 2012 at 3:54 am |
  12. hmmmmm

    Doesnt say whether or not owner of book is Mormon. If so I dont think she is much of a believer; profiting off of supposed scripture. Additionally, Im surprised Mormons in Utah wouldnt have tried to get this copy since it is supposedly rare.

    June 14, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
    • baj99

      the Mormons in Utah did try to recover it. They formed a search party:
      http://dl.dropbox.com/u/69822554/Bundesarchiv.jpg

      June 14, 2012 at 5:51 pm |
  13. Thinkergal

    It seems oddly greedy to sell pages. Anything this rare should be kept intact.

    June 14, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
  14. Alice

    No matter what religion the book that was stolen refers to, it is still agains CIVIL law to steal, and I'm glad the book was returned to the rightful owner and the thief is being prosectuded. It doesn't matter what religion you are or even if you are religious, nasty comments and trash talking doesn't build you up any higher. You have a right to have your own opinion, but don't publicaly bash anyone else... Mormons are some of the few people that don't!

    June 14, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • Flanders

      Never in public...........that is. Behind closed doors anything goes, especially in there cult grounds.......I mean Temples.

      June 15, 2012 at 3:59 am |
  15. Sly

    Do Mormon's get 79 virgins like the Christians (I think it was them, but it's easy to get religions mixed up since they are all basically the same).

    Think of how fun heaven is: maybe 1 million virgin former teenagers, and NO LAWS!

    I cannot wait, as I think I'll go up there and break all of Wilt's records.

    This heaven stuff is fun! Allah Ackbar, God is Great. Hari Hari Hari.

    June 14, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • baj99

      I think Mormons get 80 virgins, but wait, join now and give us all of your evil money and we'll double the offer. That's right, 160 virgins for all eternity and all you have to do is work your butt off for the rest of your miserable life so that we don't have too!

      June 14, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Flanders

      lol Thats right folks. Buy in now and secure your spot in Heaven. We have plenty of room, as a matter of fact we have unlimited space. 10% of your pay check is all that is needed.

      June 15, 2012 at 4:04 am |
  16. BRUCE

    A FIRST EDITION OF PLAYBOY WOULD BE NICE

    June 14, 2012 at 5:38 pm |
  17. bobby

    so wheres the fire gonna be...lets make smores with that worthless piece of $h!T.

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

      Wow, your tolerance knows no bounds.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • Tom

      Uh oh. Somebody is past their nappy time.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
  18. Robert

    It's fitting that the FBI find this product of the con artist, Joe Smith. There are many Mormons who are fine people, but sadly, they have been deceived. I know some who have come out of that cult when they finally saw that Mormon doctrines are heretical. They actually believe that God was once a man and that men will become Gods. They are blind to the fact that that was the original sin, the sin that got Lucifer thrown out of heaven (now his names are Satan and the devil) and resulted in the fall of man into misery and destruction under the curse of the only God, the God of whom Isaiah wrote, "will not share His glory with another."

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

      By the way, it was just convenient that Joe Smith had a revelation that Morman men could have multiple wives and that women, in order to go to the best heaven, had to marry a Morman man. Hugh Hefner, you've got nothing on Joe Smith.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • bobby

      so you believe in the bible...you know the one written by a bunch of dudes that lived in the middle east for their cult....whats the difference...neither book has anything to do with God.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • leanonit2

      They are not nice people. I know them they are demons. They will do anything to deceive you just like they are deceived by Satan It would be better for America if they would just leave us alone.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • sarah

      It's rather silly to diss one religion while believing in another with the same credentials. I'm not anti-religion but there is no logical argument when claiming one is true and another is not. I'm glad we live in the US where are religions have the same rights.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Humanist11

      For the same reasons you think the mormon religion is silly I think christianity is silly. Mormon stories are ridiculous that is true. The christian stories of Adam and Eve, Noah, 1000 year old men, Jonah in the whale, etc are pretty silly too, but a lot of people believe in them. The only record is the bible and that is surly a book of silliness.

      June 14, 2012 at 6:14 pm |
  19. Doepie

    escher7
    So what? In the past it has been persons of other faiths. Do I suspect discrimination against freedom of religeon in the country of " the most powerful" position in the world"

    June 14, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  20. byndpst

    This is a 1st addition book & you're selling pages out of it? DUMB, DUMB, DUMB, DUMB, DUMB. *tip to South Park there* 😉

    June 14, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • tipsana

      My thoughts, exactly!

      June 14, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
    • it's on the radio

      Addition – Edition. DUMB, DUMB, DUMB, DUMB, DUMB.

      June 14, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • byndpst

      LOL! did I get that right? it's on the radio

      June 14, 2012 at 5:45 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.