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Orchestrator of infamous Singer-Swapp standoff released from prison after 25 years

Published: Saturday, Aug. 29 2015 10:01 p.m. MDT

The Utah State Prison, Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Addam Swapp was released from custody Tuesday in Sanpete County. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) The Utah State Prison, Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Addam Swapp was released from custody Tuesday in Sanpete County. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

DRAPER — After serving a combined 25 years in state and federal prison, the man responsible for one of Utah's most infamous standoffs was released from prison Tuesday morning.

Addam Swapp, incarcerated since 1988 for orchestrating the Jan. 16, 1988, bombing of a stake center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Marion, Summit County, and the shooting death of Utah Department of Corrections Lt. Fred House, walked out of the Sanpete County Jail at 7 a.m. Tuesday. He was picked up by family members, according to the sheriff's office.

Swapp served 17 years in federal prison before beginning a one- to 15-year sentence for his state conviction of manslaughter in 2006. He was incarcerated in an Arizona prison instead of the Utah State Prison, where some of House's relatives and colleagues still work.

Swapp, now 51, was transferred back to the Utah State Prison from Arizona on July 3 and was taken to the Sanpete County Jail on Friday in preparation for his release.

Addam Swapp was returned to the Utah State Prison on July 3 after serving much of his 25 years of incarceration in federal and state prisons outside of Utah. He was transferred to the Sanpete County Jail recently in preparation of his release. He was released from prison Tuesday. (Utah Department of Corrections) Addam Swapp was returned to the Utah State Prison on July 3 after serving much of his 25 years of incarceration in federal and state prisons outside of Utah. He was transferred to the Sanpete County Jail recently in preparation of his release. He was released from prison Tuesday. (Utah Department of Corrections)

"We did that basically because it's closer to his family. It's more convenient for them to pick him up. And also just to basically accommodate his needs," said Department of Corrections spokesman Steve Gehrke.

Swapp will now be on parole and is required to check in with Adult Probation and Parole. He will have an agent assigned to check up on him at his home periodically.

In Swapp's hometown of Fairview, Sanpete County, a large sign that read "Welcome home, Addam" hung on the front porch of his family's log cabin home.

Heidi Johnson, a lifelong Fairview resident who lives two doors down from the cabin, said she knows the Swapp family well.

Utah Department of Corrections spokesman Steve Gehrke speaks with the media after Addam Swapp is released from custody, Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Swapp was released in Sanpete County. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Utah Department of Corrections spokesman Steve Gehrke speaks with the media after Addam Swapp is released from custody, Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Swapp was released in Sanpete County. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

"I hope he can come home to peace," Johnson said. "Because I feel like he's paid his dues."

After the church bombing, the Singer-Swapp clan, as they became known, were involved in a 13-day standoff with law enforcement officers that ended in a shootout and House's death.

Although Swapp did not actually shoot House, he accepted responsibility for the man's death, saying that it never would have happened if not for his actions.

Last year, during a parole hearing, House's widow, Ann House, submitted a letter to the parole board saying she believed Swapp had served his time.

Tuesday, she reiterated those feelings in a prepared statement.

Materials are moved into the Utah State Prison, Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Addam Swapp was released from custody Tuesday in Sanpete County. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Materials are moved into the Utah State Prison, Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Addam Swapp was released from custody Tuesday in Sanpete County. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

"I believe that in the past 25 ½ years, Addam Swapp has had time to ponder his actions and beliefs. He indicates that he feels great remorse for the events that led to my husband's shooting. This has helped me come to a place of forgiveness and peace with his release. There has been much suffering by both of our families in the past years. Addam deserves a chance to reverse the damage done by doing good and now being an asset to his family. "

During his last parole hearing, Swapp said being incarcerated had actually been beneficial because it exposed him to so many different cultures. Swapp said he would likely move back to the Fairview area where he still has many family members.

The Singer-Swapp saga began in 1979 when polygamist John Singer was shot and killed by police officers attempting to serve a warrant. 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.

The Utah State Prison, Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Addam Swapp was released from custody Tuesday in Sanpete County. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) The Utah State Prison, Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Addam Swapp was released from custody Tuesday in Sanpete County. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

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 that ended on Jan. 28, 1988.

John Timothy Singer, John Singer's son, was the one who actually shot and killed House. He 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.

The Utah State Prison, Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Addam Swapp was released from custody Tuesday in Sanpete County. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) The Utah State Prison, Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Addam Swapp was released from custody Tuesday in Sanpete County. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

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.

But at his last parole hearing, Swapp apologized to everyone from law enforcement officers to the town of Marion to Fred House himself.

"If I could, I'd like to tell you, Fred, publicly, I'm so sorry for causing your death. I was so wrong with what I did, by blowing up the church and resisting arrest. I know now that you only wanted a peaceful end to the standoff. I'm sorry that I've caused you to miss out in the life of your family … especially in the lives of your children and the love and companionship with your wife. I hope somehow on the other side, God will let you hear these words from my heart. Dear Fred, I am so very, very sorry for causing your death."

Utah Department of Corrections spokesman Steve Gehrke speaks with the media after Addam Swapp is released from custody, Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Swapp was released in Sanpete County. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Utah Department of Corrections spokesman Steve Gehrke speaks with the media after Addam Swapp is released from custody, Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Swapp was released in Sanpete County. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

It was during that hearing that Swapp said he was no longer a danger to society.

"I am fully determined to live a life of peace, to be a blessing to my fellow man. When I finally am buried and people reflect upon my life, I want it not to be what happened to me in 1988, but the man that I've become since I got out of prison so I can be a blessing to my fellow man. And that when people talk about me, it will be with love in their hearts, not as some radical, not as some fanatic, but as someone who truly reflected the teachings of Christ."

The parole board member conducting the hearing warned Swapp that he would need to continue to seek mental health treatment once he was released, particularly for treatment of radical theories and beliefs.

"Addam, whatever happens in your life, you do not want to start up with those type of deep held and radical thoughts. Because Addam, I'm here to tell you, if that starts again, you will be remembered as the guy from 1988," he said.

Utah Department of Corrections spokesman Steve Gehrke speaks with the media after Addam Swapp is released from custody, Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Swapp was released in Sanpete County. (Ravell Call, Deseret News) Utah Department of Corrections spokesman Steve Gehrke speaks with the media after Addam Swapp is released from custody, Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Swapp was released in Sanpete County. (Ravell Call, Deseret News)

Contributing: Andrew Adams

Email: preavy@deseretnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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