Authorities have recovered a rare first-edition of the Book of Mormon believed to be stolen from a downtown Mesa bookstore over Memorial Day weekend, and have taken a man into custody in connection with the reported theft.
Mesa police, with assistance from the FBI, the U.S. Marshal’s Service and the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office, recovered the book inside an apartment near Washington, D.C., after executing a search warrant there. Authorities arrested Jay Linford in connection to the crime, according to Mesa police.
Police said Linford is a known acquaintance of Helen Schlie, the 88-year-old owner of Downtown Mesa’s Rare and Out of Print Books at 121 S. Mesa Drive, police said.
On May 28, Mesa police received a report from Schlie that the book, published in 1830, had been stolen from her shop sometime over the Memorial Day weekend. Linford was present in the store at the time the book was stolen, police said Tuesday.
Linford currently is being held in a jail on a $40,000 cash bond and is facing extradition to Arizona, police said. He also is required to forfeit any passports he has.
Although experts valued the book at $30,000 to $40,000, Schlie had valued the book at significantly more, since she’s been selling it off as single pages for the past few years. Each page sells for about $2,500 to $4,000 apiece, she said, with proceeds helping her start another business that would fund Mormon missionary trips as well as assist young women and elders from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The 588-page worn, brown leather book is believed by LDS faithful to be translated from gold plates in New York by church founder Joseph Smith.
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