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. Top_News

    To all of you who are making comments about the LDS Church, how about getting your answers directly from them? Log on to lds.org and learn more.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • Duce

      Trying to quit...

      June 14, 2012 at 11:21 pm |
    • Duce

      Trying to quit.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • peter

      top news–The book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ is not the word of God

      June 14, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
    • Flanders

      This just in, Cult member ties to get people to join via there website. They have entered the digital age.

      June 15, 2012 at 6:41 am |
  2. Smako

    If you believe nothing about Mormons, believe this. Joseph Smith was accused of leading a cult of murderers. If it was true, the citizenry of Carthage IL would have been exterminated after he was murdered by a mob while he was in jail awaiting trial on charges of what amounted to disturbing the peace. The Mormons outnumbered them, armed, and willing to answer any call given. Instead, they left town.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • Dave from Seattle

      Smako, I had an opportunity to visit Carthage Jail. That was fascinating. They had the original door with a bullet hole in it that killed Josephs brother. Visit if you get a chance, unless you already have.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
  3. Turnaway

    Turn away!

    June 14, 2012 at 11:13 pm |
  4. chedar888

    I wonder if Romney will take the Book of Mormon and literally follow it. It will be a place te doctrine teach you to have one man to have several wives.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
    • Smako

      Obviously, you have never read it. If you are going to be a bigot, at least try to be an educated one.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:12 pm |
    • Brian

      First of all Ill start by saying im not a morman.. or religious at all.
      If you are going to mock one religion for something such as this why dont christians follow their book by exactly what it says?
      Allowing slaves/beating slaves, killing anyone that doesnt believe in their religion "You must kill those who worship another god. Exodus 22:20".
      Why allow teachers to be women? Why let women talk in church ("Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says. And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in a church." 1 Corinthians 14:34-35(NASB)).
      You cant mock one church for having stupid rules but ignore the idiocy within christianity.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:26 pm |
    • 1question

      Amen, Brian. Amen.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
  5. David

    Anybody google search "planet Kolob"

    see where the Mormon God lives?

    June 14, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
  6. Harp

    Lick it

    June 14, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  7. Oldprof

    Brian – Yes! I did look it up. The whole Mormon setup is based on the Masonic Lodge, and it required recruits to be "free, white, and 21". It was no accident that Smith was a Mason before he found any 'plates'. And Yes!, I have read the Book of Mormon, it is a fiction about the ancient native population in North America, before any tribes that the white man found were existant. And of course their doctrine blows with the wind of politics – they spend $30m in Calif. to defeat prop 8 and then 3 yrs. later have a 300 man gay parade in Salt Lake City. And Yes! I own older 1st. editions.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Harp

      Who's this Brian you're talking to? Imaginary comment poster.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • Smako

      You own older first editions? Really? You own an edition older than the first edition? Is it engraved on plates of gold? You are not only judgementally challenged, you lie too.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:15 pm |
    • Jen L

      Not all Mormons supported Prop 8. 300 gay men is not all Mormons. The state of Utah is not all Mormon. Perhaps while you're doing some research, you should read up on the gross generalization logical fallacy.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
  8. bell

    This religon is so made up and full of crap. wow this is even more of a fact that its so disturbing.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Matt

      Only this one?

      June 14, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • Duce

      ALL of them...

      June 14, 2012 at 10:55 pm |
    • ice

      Can you please tell me which church you approve of? Thanks for your expertise.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:27 pm |
  9. Lung-butter

    Mormons rock, not a religion of convenience like so many others, and they make really good food.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Well, sometimes prayer changes things. One time I was in Las Vegas and prayed for a 4 each time I rolled a dice. After about 600 rolls, God had answered my prayers about 100 times.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Duce

      Divine proof haha!!!

      June 14, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • Duce

      And, just saying, I am a rather healthy individual...

      June 14, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
  11. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things .

    June 14, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • Duce

      Only in your mind.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Matt

      Prayer...how to make yourself feel like you're accomplishing something without actually doing anything to help. Keep at it–I'm sure your telepathic connection to god will make him realize what he should have been doing all along.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:52 pm |
  12. drunkin mom

    I hope Joseph Smith is OK.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
  13. DB

    @Duce because it's not easy. When you confront someone's religious beliefs it becomes a very personal, hurtful topic. People invest a lot of energy and emotions into their beliefs. Sometimes I wonder if it's even worth it

    June 14, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
    • Don


      June 14, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Duce

      It's definitely worth it! It was a rhetorical question but you're right. Someone who has been indoctrinated since a young age and forms their opinions of the world based on their indoctrination is extremely difficult to rationalize with. However, there are a large group of 'on the fence' individuals who need the encouragement of other people to find reason. Keep it up, just try not to be condescending (I know that's the tough part)...

      June 14, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
  14. Colin

    A few questions should help highlight the absurdity of Mormonism

    Who believes that magic gold tablets were dug out of the ground in upstate New York and interpreted into 1800s English through magic seer-stones?

    (a) Historians;

    (b) Geologists;

    (c) Linguists; or

    (d) Mormons

    You are about 90% likely to believe the entire Universe began less than 10,000 years ago with only one man, one woman and a talking snake if you are a:

    (a) historian;

    (b) geologist;

    (c) NASA astronomer; or

    (d) Mormon

    I have convinced myself that gay $ex is a choice and not genetic, but then have no explanation as to why only gay people have ho.mo$exual urges. I am

    (a) A gifted psychologist

    (b) A well respected geneticist

    (c) A highly educated sociologist

    (d) A Mormon with the remarkable ability to ignore inconvenient facts.

    I honestly believe that, when I think silent thoughts like, “please god, help me pass my exam tomorrow,” some invisible being is reading my mind and will intervene and alter what would otherwise be the course of history in small ways to help me. I am

    (a) a delusional schizophrenic;

    (b) a naïve child, too young to know that that is silly

    (c) an ignorant farmer from Sudan who never had the benefit of even a fifth grade education; or

    (d) your average Mormon

    Millions of Mormons believe that they can admit dead people into a happy kingdom called “Heaven” by performing some silly ceremony in temples because:

    (a) there are visible indications of the success of their hocus pocus;

    (b) tests have confirmed a divine presence at the ceremonies;

    (c) now and then their god shows up and confirms this procedure; or

    (d) their religious convictions tell them to blindly accept this completely fvcking absurd nonsense.

    I believe that an all powerful being, capable of creating the entire cosmos watches me have $ex to make sure I don't do anything "naughty". I am

    (a) A victim of child molestation

    (b) A r.ape victim trying to recover

    (c) A mental patient with paranoid delusions

    (d) A Mormon

    The only discipline known to often cause people to kill others they have never met and/or to commit suicide in its furtherance is:

    (a) Architecture;

    (b) Philosophy;

    (c) Archeology; or

    (d) Religion

    What is it that most differentiates science and all other intellectual disciplines from religion:

    (a) Religion tells people not only what they should believe, but what they are morally obliged to believe on pain of divine retribution, whereas science, economics, medicine etc. has no “sacred cows” in terms of doctrine and go where the evidence leads them;

    (b) Religion can make a statement, such as “there is a composite god comprised of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit”, and be totally immune from experimentation and challenge, whereas science can only make factual assertions when supported by considerable evidence;

    (c) Science and the scientific method is universal and consistent all over the World whereas religion is regional and a person’s religious conviction, no matter how deeply held, is clearly nothing more than an accident of birth; or

    (d) All of the above.

    I believe that there are other planets inhabited by divine beings, that ancient Israelites colonized America and that the secrets of life, death and the Universe were secretly revealed to a failed treasure hunter in upstate New York with a bung leg. I am likely driven by:

    (a) a deep psychiatric issue;

    (b) an irrational fear or phobia;

    (c) a severe mental degeneration caused by years of drug abuse; or

    (d) my Mormon beliefs.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Duce

      Clean this up a little and it will be awesome!!!

      June 14, 2012 at 10:44 pm |
    • rob

      Awesome! I'm borrowing this.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
    • The Dude

      Fantastic!! Just Fantastic.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
    • Dave from Seattle

      Colin, Regardless of what the book is about it is still part of American History and culture. I'm not particularly fond of what many people believe in this country philosophy or theology wise. But the way I see it, these folks are very giving and kind. They gave my mom and us kids (back in the 1980's) groceries, blankets, and clothes and when we really needed it. Also none of their pastors or support staff get paid. All volunteers!!! That I respect very much!

      June 14, 2012 at 11:04 pm |
    • Savanah

      Wow, what a waste of time that was reading this B.S.!!! Pathetic actually!!!!!!

      June 14, 2012 at 11:08 pm |
    • Colin

      Dave from Seattle. I tend to agree. I like the Mormons I know, but this does not make their religious views any less childish and silly. It just shows that religion can cause very nice people to believe complete fvcking garbage.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
    • Jessika1995

      Uhhmmm....Mormon cookies are really bland, not much flavor. Just in case any of u were wundering. 😉

      June 14, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Dave from Seattle

      Jessika, hahaha! That is too funny...funny, but true! I think it has to do with keeping recipes very basic. No one likes a boring cookie though.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:22 pm |
    • Duce

      Dave's comment is in parallel with the South Park episode where they're trying to be mean to the Mormon kid and he just kills them with kindness haha!

      June 14, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  15. sftommy

    "Witness 1" perpetrated a criminal act in destroying the book selling it piecemeal. She has no right to that book either, she's as bad as Mr. Linford from a book lovers point of view.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
  16. Bobbio

    Book of moron?

    June 14, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • fritz

      No no, not 'moron'...it's Moroni, son of King Mormon, king of the Lamanites. Moroni is the dead guy who appeared before a young Joe Smith way back in the early 19th century. It's an elaborate concoction of religion, history and sci-fi. Their history according to those LDS folks starts with Nephi. An Israelite royal of the house of Zedakiah, last king of Israel, who fled the armies of King Nebuchadnezzer, hopped a boat and sailed to America around 587 BC. It's really a great yarn. Too bad it's all bunk though. Might make a cool sci-fi movie.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
  17. Ron

    They found it in the "FICTION" section of a book store!!

    June 14, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
  18. AgeofInsanity

    Seriously, people actually believe the fantasies in that book? This world really is full of sick people.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • R Carson

      People believe a lot of things in a lot of "silly" books. I read a book the other day that had all this "silly" stuff in it about alternate universes and superstring theory...I think it was by a guy named S. Hawking. *shrug* it had all these conjectures and theories, but nothing that had any more proof than other "silly" books I've read,

      June 14, 2012 at 10:33 pm |
    • chubby rain

      It's a silly world when you actually look for the answers and don't just make them up.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • Ian

      Hey, R Carson, gotta call you on that, what was the name of that book you read in a day? Are you fibbing?

      June 14, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • Flanders

      Shrugging at Steven Hawkins and calling any of his theory's silly is nonsense. It's people like him that put the good book to shame.

      June 15, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  19. Kane

    Religion aside, I'm kind of disappointed that a bookstore owner would sell a rare book like this piecemeal. No matter the content (atheist here), the destruction of a historical artifact for monetary gain is somewhat wrong to me.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:21 pm |
    • R Carson

      I agree, it is worth more as a whole object. I'm sure there is an archive somewhere that would have gladly bought the whole thing for a fare market price. I doubt God cares, but it's such a shame from a historical and religious POV.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:37 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      What makes this book a historical artifact? Because it is (aledgedly?) signed by a religious charlatan?

      June 14, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • No one gives a sh it

      what a low end Canadian has to say, put a sock in it ass hole !

      June 14, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • Duce

      And what difference does it make if he's Canadian, Russian, American? Spoken like a true idiot.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • smeeker

      I agree with the post. Selling an artifact a page at a time is unconscionable. They have destroyed that value of the book forever. Even though I don't believe, the book is historic in that a major religion that altered history (settling Utah and the Mountain Meadows Massacre), stemmed from this book. Simply terrible.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:00 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      But it's one copy of many and the contents are well known. I tried to find out how many first editions there were/are, without success, but came across this caption accompanying a picture of Joseph Smith:

      "Joseph Smith in the process of translating the golden Nephi Plates the angel Moroni gave him. This process of translation of "scripture" is the only time known to man, when God inspired the translator. Yet the original 1839 book of Mormon was full of all kinds of errors! "

      The site is http://www.bible.ca/mor-1830-changes.htm.

      June 14, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      From an article at http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2012-06-02/book-of-mormon-stolen/55337798/1:

      "In 2005, Schlie became somewhat of a controversial figure among members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when she announced plans to sell pages from the book for $2,500 to $4,000 apiece. She estimated she has sold 40 of the book's 588 pages, each mounted in a wooden frame.

      Some critics consider divvying up the book as sacrilegious or disrespectful of its history. But Schlie and one of her customers, Gary Hyde, a winter resident of Mesa, said the LDS Church gave its blessing to the project, viewing it as a way of strengthening people's faith."

      So it seems the book owner is merely doing the lord's work by destroying a "historical artifact."

      June 14, 2012 at 11:25 pm |
  20. Curt

    .... and I guess that getting your 10 commandments from a "burning bush" is so different than an "angel" delivering golden plates up out of the ground? Which sounds more ludicrous? Get over it you bigots? I love how all of you, who profess to believe in Jesus Christ preach so much hatred.... seems a wee bit like you are going against his main commandment. I guess you really don't understand your scriptures as much as you think or profess to think. Pretty sad

    June 14, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
    • peter

      curt–the claims of joeseph smith or ron l hibbard have nothing to do with christendom-cursed is your prophet and the christ he preached and wrote about–reject the claims of the book of mormon,another testament of jesus christ–break free of the religion of darkness

      June 14, 2012 at 10:28 pm |
    • susan

      Curt you're the only one who sounds hateful...

      June 14, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Don

      hey susan

      June 14, 2012 at 10:40 pm |
    • 1question

      Ha ha! Peter is a total hypocrit and doesn't even realize it.

      June 15, 2012 at 12:02 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.