MESA, Ariz. — The rare first-edition copy of the Book of Mormon recently stolen from the Rare and Out of Print Books and Art in Mesa, Ariz., has been found.
FBI and U.S. marshals recovered the book inside an apartment near Washington, D.C., and arrested Jay Linford in connection with the crime, according to Mesa police. Eighty-eight-year-old Helen Schlie, who reported the book stolen from her store May 28, said she was happy it would be coming back and that the book's theft had captured a lot of people's interest.
"I'm happy it's back and we can continue the missionary work we've been doing," she said. "People have taken a personal interest in that Book of Mormon, mainly because they can touch it. I tell them they're sharing their DNA with Joseph Smith, because Joseph Smith had to handle it."
Schlie's rare copy of the Book of Mormon has already contributed to missionary work. In addition to allowing visitors to hold and take pictures with the book, she removed about 50 pages and sold them to provide financial support to men and women serving LDS missions, the East Valley Tribune reported. Experts have valued the book at about $40,000.
Not long before the book was stolen, Schlie even took it to a church youth meeting where she spoke.
"Seventy-five kids from 12 to 16 all had their pictures taken with the book," Schlie said. "It took over two hours."
She expressed her happiness the book had been found and her hurt that Linford, whom Schlie described as a friend of six years, may have taken it.
"I feel such a compassion for him," Schlie said. " ... He's been such a help to me the past six years."