First-Edition Book of Mormon Stolen From Mesa Store Recovered in Washington, D.C.; Jay Linford Pegged as Book's Thief

It took help from the U.S. Marshals Service and the FBI, but a first-edition Book of Mormon stolen from a Mesa bookstore has been located in Washington, D.C.

The theft of the book did not make the Mormon community happy, as folks used to stop by Mesa's Rare and Out of Print Books and Art store quite often to take a look at the one-in-5,000 book printed in 1830.

Mesa police say Jay Linford is the guy who stole the book from the store in late May.

Police say Linford was arrested in a Washington, D.C., apartment after the Marshals Service and FBI served search warrants, where authorities believe they recovered the same Book of Mormon stolen from the Mesa shop.

The book's valued between $30,000 and $40,000.

A Mesa police spokesman says the owner of the Mesa store knows Linford, and Linford was in the store when the book was stolen.

Linford is currently in custody on a $40,000 bond, and he was required to give up any passports.

Mesa police don't yet have a mugshot for Linford, and a police spokesman says it's unclear how long the extradition process is going to take.

According to media accounts printed shortly after the theft of the book, storeowner Helen Schlie said she'd been selling individual pages from the book for a few years, fetching between $2,500 and $4,000 a page.

As the story goes within the Latter-day Saint communities, Joseph Smith found gold plates engraved with prophecies and revelations from as far back as 2200 B.C.

Smith found these plates in western New York, and a resurrected being called Moroni showed up to help Smith get these foreign characters into English.

In 1830, three years after finding the plates, Smith got his translation of the plates printed into some books, one of which being the one stolen out of Mesa.

We'll get the rest of the details on Linford's arrest if available, and report back.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley