THE EERIE IMAGE of an isolated cabin in Marion filled with children, ammunition and angry protesters will long remain in the minds of Utahns.

The internationally publicized trauma and tragedy of the Singer-Swapp saga made this bizarre rebellion against church and state 1988's top local news story.As the standoff between law officers and the polygamist clan wore on into its 13th day, Utahns watched nervously - fearing the worst.

It was a story residents had time to internalize, to speculate upon, to evaluate.

Most disasters happen suddenly. The public reacts after the fact. But the Singer-Swapp saga unfolded with agonizing, tedious detail - outlined day after day in a non-stop flow of news reports.

When Corrections Officer Fred House was killed in the eventual shootout, Utahns wept. His death marked the sad conclusion to a story of which they had felt a part.

Protesters of another kind took second place in the year's list of top stories. The demand, "No more taxes!" dominated the 1988 election, as thousands of Utahns statewide demonstrated their fury over a record state tax increase by gathering enough petitions to place three tax-limitation initiatives on the ballot in November.

While their protest met defeat at the polls, their message still resounds in Utah politics.

Interestingly, in this year of protest and political upheaval, Utahns chose to keep the status quo. Third place among the top stories of 1988 goes to Gov. Norm Bangerter's surprising comeback and defeat of Democratic challenger Ted Wilson for the state's top job.

Singer-Swapp standoff

#1- Eighty-seven sticks of dynamite placed by Addam Swapp and his brother Jonathan in an LDS chapel in Summit County began the saga that ended with the death of a lawman.

Following the explosion at the chapel, law enforcement officers surrounded the Singer-Swapp cabin. The clan was protesting John Singer's "murder" by lawmen nine years earlier, killed during a confrontation over custody of children belonging to his second wife.

Addam Swapp - who had married two Singer daughters - his brother and 12 Singer family members believed a confrontation with law enforcement was essential for their predictions of John Singer's resurrection to come true.

Officers' tactics during the standoff included sirens, floodlights and buzzing aircraft.

On Jan. 28, after Swapp refused a plea from the governor to surrender, lawmen sent a trained team with dogs to infiltrate the compound and attempt to subdue the Swapps.

When the dogs balked, Lt. Fred House was mortally wounded by a bullet fired from the farmhouse as he tried to urge the dogs forward.

Taxes

#2- The 1988 demand for tax limitation became a question of whether Utah voters wanted to lower their taxes by cutting $329 million from state and local budgets.

Utahns answered with a resounding "No," defeating three initiatives that would have rolled back the record tax increase of 1987, limited property tax rates and government growth, and given parents with children in private schools a tax break.

Utahns' rejection of the populist movement that emerged from discussions on a radio call-in program followed one of the hardest-fought political campaigns in the state's history.

For more than a year, the Tax Limitation Coalition urged voters to take the political process into their own hands and ignore what it termed "scare tactics" about the effects of reducing government spending.

Saying that the reductions required by the initiatives would go too far, Republicans and Democrats, business and labor, parents and teachers and other diverse groups opposed the measures as Taxpayers For Utah.

Election

#3- The past year offered the most interesting politics in recent memory. It began with a conservative Republican governor - Norm Bangerter - 30 points down in the polls to Democratic challenger Ted Wilson, in the most Republican state in the nation.

Bangerter - who dropped like a rock in the polls after suggesting in December 1986 the largest tax increase in the state's history - seemed doomed.

But he decided to seek a second term. He even stayed in the race after industrialist Jon Huntsman, a GOP big hitter, made the surprise announcement in mid-March that he was running for governor. Huntsman dropped out of the race a month later.

Merrill Cook jumped from the Republican Party and ran as an independent, championing the tax-cutting initiatives that Bangerter and Wilson opposed.

Bangerter trailed Wilson all the way, with Cook a distant third, until the last weekend of the campaign. Bangerter beat Wilson by 2 percentage points in the three-man race.

All other major state incumbents seeking re-election, except Attorney General David Wilkinson, won.

Thrifts

#4- Depositors and the state took a major step in 1988 toward resolving Utah's nagging thrift crisis. Both parties settled a lawsuit depositors filed against the state to recover money lost in the collapse of Utah's privately insured thrift and loan industry. Under terms of the out-of-court settlement, the state could return to depositors more than 90 percent of their money, after paying their attorneys $5.8 million.

The settlement comes more than two years after state regulators seized the Industrial Loan Guaranty Corp., a state-created deposit insurance fund, and took control of five thrifts whose deposits were backed by the insolvent ILGC. More than $100 million in deposits, belonging to about 15,000 depositors, were frozen as a result of the state action.

Recognizing the need for a legislative and a legal solution to the multimillion-dollar lawsuit, depositors embarked on an intense lobbying campaign during the 1988 legislative session. A legislative committee was formed to recommend a resolution of the dispute. Before the committee convened in June, however, internal state memos were made public revealing the state feared its handling of the thrift crisis could be perceived as a fraud and result in legal action by depositors.

After the memos were publicly aired, the committee quickly recommended settling the class action claim, and Gov. Norm Bangerter presented a settlement to lawmakers in September after months of negotiation with depositors' attorneys. The Legislature passed the Thrift Settlement Finance Act in October, and a distribution of about $29 million, the cash portion of the settlement, was made before Christmas.

Singer-Swapp federal trial

#5-The federal trial of Addam Swapp, Vickie Singer, John Timothy Singer and Jonathan Swapp had sensational elements in abundance - polygamy, religious fundamentalism, feuds with neighbors, the bombing of a Mormon stake center, shots fired at FBI agents and the killing of a state officer.

The trial began on April 12, with U.S. Attorney Brent D. Ward charging the defendants wanted to start a revolution to destroy the nation, state and LDS Church.

Among the trial's highlights were evidence such as a table loaded with the Singer-Swapp family's private armory, a forklift carrying bundles of thousands of rounds of ammunition; the doorway from the Bates home, riddled with four bullets from the shootout.

The trial even had its own "revelation," when Addam Swapp predicted, "God will come forth and cleanse this nation."

On May 9, after lengthy deliberations, the jury found all four guilty. U.S. District Chief Judge Bruce S. Jenkins sentenced Addam Swapp to 15 years in prison, Jonathan Swapp and John Timothy Singer to 10 years; and Vickie Singer to five years.

Arthur Gary Bishop

#6- Saying he wanted the families of his victims to find peace, convicted child killer Arthur Gary Bishop willingly went to his death at the Utah State Prison - the second person executed in Utah by lethal injection in the past two years.

From 1979 to 1983, Bishop molested young boys, killing five of them to prevent them from going to authorities. Bishop, who was a friend of the fifth victim, confessed to the crime during a police interrogation.

Salt Lake County boys began disappearing in 1979, when 4-year-old Alonzo Daniels vanished from a Salt Lake apartment complex. In 1980, Kim Petersen disappeared from South Salt Lake. The next year, 3-year-old Danny Davis vanished from a supermarket.

Two years after that, two children - Graeme Cunningham and Troy Ward - disappeared within weeks of each other. Bishop led authorities to the bodies of all five victims.

Bishop's last words: "Give my apologies to the families of the victims."

Dave Watson

#7- Early on the morning of Sunday, May 15, a South Salt Lake police officer spotted a car driving erratically on State Street near 21st South. The routine traffic stop and the subsequent discovery of a vial of white powder led to the arrest of Salt Lake County Commissioner Dave Watson, who was booked into jail on suspicion of drunken driving and cocaine possession.

The lone Democrat on the three-man county commission was released shortly thereafter on his own recognizance. But later that day the story was already on local newscasts, and calls for Watson's resignation soon were pouring forth - even from Democratic Party officials.

Watson announced his intention to serve out the remainder of his two-year term. But he quickly dropped a re-election bid, citing a physician's excuse that campaigning would be too stressful. He withstood a court challenge intended to force him from office, and pleaded guilty to reduced charges of misdemeanor drunken driving and attempted drug possession.

He was sentenced to a total of 150 days in jail, all suspended, five days of community service work and fines of $1,400. Watson eventually resigned his commission seat in September, saying he and his family needed to escape the public spotlight and get on with their lives.

Timpanogos Mental Health Center

#8- Three former top administrators of the Timpanogos Mental Health Center in Provo were charged in August with 117 felony counts for alleged theft of $3.5 million in public funds. The charges followed a six-month criminal investigation by the state attorney general's office.

Prosecutors say the center lost millions to three defendants - former executive director Glen Brown, former specialty programs director Carl V. Smith and former business manager Craig W. Stephens - through unauthorized contractual and credit-card expenditures.

Four additional employees were suspended in the scandal, which has given publicly funded mental health programs a bad name statewide and forced increased scrutiny of Timp Mental Health operations and expenditures by the center's authority board.

Allan Hadfield

#9- The sentencing March 4 of convicted child molester Allan B. Hadfield to probation set off a still-reverberating debate over the Utah law mandating minimum prison sentences for adults who sexually abuse children. Hadfield, 38, was convicted in December 1987 on seven counts of child sex abuse and child sodomy involving his son, now 13, and a daughter, now 11.

But he escaped the mandatory 10-years-to-life sentences when a 4th District judge ruled Hadfield met all 12 criteria necessary to qualify for probation under the the so-called "incest exception" to the mandatory prison sentence. Hadfield completed a six-month jail term and must continue to undergo psychiatric counseling as conditions of his 10-year probation.

The Utah attorney general's office appealed to the state Supreme Court for an order that Hadfield be resentenced to the minimum mandatory prison time, but was rebuffed. The former Lehi man has repeatedly proclaimed his innocence while prosecutors, legislators and child abuse prevention groups sort through the fallout from his sentencing.

A state criminal and juvenile justice task force recently recommended the law be amended to exclude minimum mandatory sentences for sex crimes against children. But children's rights groups have vowed to battle any attempt to repeal the minimum-mandatory provision.

Mark Hofmann

#10- Mark Hofmann, who has grabbed top headlines the past four years, continued to capture Utahns' attention in 1988.

In January, the master forger and confessed killer sat before the board of pardons and cooly described his calloused motive for killing two people with handmade bombs in October 1985.

"It didn't matter if the bomb killed Mr. Sheets, a child, a dog or whatever. It was a game. There was a 50 percent chance the bomb would go off and 50 percent chance it wouldn't," Hofmann told the board.

It was his chilling aloofness toward his crimes and his calloused disregard for life that convinced the board that Hofmann should spend the rest of his life in prison.

Nearly eight months later, Hofmann was found comatose in his prison cell, the result of an overdose of a tricyclic anti-depressant drug. Rushed to the University Hospital, he was revived from his suicide attempt.

"Maybe Mark Hofmann has discovered life in prison is a fate worse than the death penalty," surmised prosecutor Robert Stott.