SALT LAKE CITY — Twenty-five years ago this week, Utah Department of Corrections Lt. Fred House was shot and killed during one of the most infamous standoffs in Utah history.
Addam Swapp, the man responsible for the events that led to the standoff, may soon be released after serving 2 ½ decades behind bars. During his latest parole hearing, Utah Board of Pardons and Parole member Jesse Gallegos told him he would likely recommend to the full board that Swapp be allowed to leave prison.
The most compelling factor for his recommendation came from a letter written by House's widow, Ann House.
"In essence, she has come to a point where she feels that you have served enough time. She doesn't go on to say that she thinks you should be released, but that's certainly the implication or the read I have of it," Gallegos told Swapp. "She now accepts your apology and feels enough time has been spent behind solid walls. And that had a great impact on me. I will probably recommend a release; I just don't know when."
But while that hearing occurred more than four months ago on Sept. 27, the full parole board has not yet made any decision about releasing Swapp.
Swapp, now 51, has been in custody since 1988. He spent 17 years in federal prison for the Jan. 16, 1988, bombing of the stake center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Marion, Summit County. After serving time for that federal conviction, he has spent the past five years of a one-to-15-year sentence for a state manslaughter conviction.
Swapp is being held in an Arizona prison instead of the Utah State Prison, where some of House's relatives and colleagues still work.
The Singer-Swapp saga, as it was known, began in 1979 when polygamist John Singer was shot and killed by police officers serving a warrant. Police say Singer resisted arrest and pulled a gun on them. Swapp, who was in high school at the time, admitted that the shooting had a great impact on him. He ended up becoming part of the family and took two of Singer's daughters as his polygamous wives.
It was during this time that Swapp admitted he developed "very, very strong religious beliefs" and thought that somehow Singer was guiding him. After an issue with water rights arose, Swapp planted 18 sticks of dynamite in the LDS meetinghouse. The bombing — on the ninth anniversary of Singer's death — was intended to spark a confrontation that would lead to Singer's resurrection. Instead, it launched a 13-day standoff with police at the Singer-Swapp clan's compound in Marion. It ended on Jan. 28, 1988, following a shootout that left Fred House dead and Swapp injured.
John Timothy Singer, John Singer's son, was the one who actually shot and killed House. But Swapp today said he accepts that the lion's share of the blame was rightfully placed on him.
"Because I set the things in motion," he said during the latest parole hearing. "Now I never told Timothy to shoot, but the whole thing was set in motion because of my actions. Therefore, I'm responsible."
John Timothy Singer was paroled in 2006 after serving federal time and nearly 10 years of a manslaughter conviction. The matriarch of the clan, Vickie Singer, was sentenced to five years in prison followed by five years of probation for helping orchestrate the event.
Before he was sentenced in 1988, Swapp told the court that God had revealed to him that he would not actually serve any time in prison and that Americans would be destroyed if they didn't repent.
"Something moves within me very strongly — I need to call the people of the state of Utah to repent," he said at the time. He also called the country to repentance and said, "If they do not, they will be destroyed.
"I know I will be delivered from the court. Whatever your sentence will be today is nothing to me. … I stand unshaken. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.''
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