Today’s Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune run a story harkening back to yesteryear in Utah history. From the Deseret News:
Addam Swapp wants forgiveness.
The Summit County polygamist, convicted for his role in the 1988 bombing of an LDS stake center in Kamas and a 13-day standoff at his family’s ranch in Marion, has penned a pair of letters offering “a sincere apology.” . . .
“I am truly sorry for bombing your church; I am sorry for resisting arrest for 13 days, and I am so very sorry for the death of Officer Fred House,” Swapp wrote. “I am also sorry for the fear that I engendered in the people of the Kamas Valley during that time. I am truly sorry for what I did, and I humbly ask for your forgiveness.”
Swapp is serving a 20-year prison sentence in Arizona for the bombing and the siege at the Singer-Swapp ranch in Marion, which ended in the death of Utah Department of Corrections Lt. Fred House.
John Timothy Singer, convicted of firing the fatal shot, is due to be released from prison in a couple of weeks. The Utah Board of Pardons and Parole said Monday that Swapp likely would have a parole hearing next year.
From The Salt Lake Tribune:
After more than 18 years in prison – and the past eight months spent poring over scriptures while alone in 24-hour lockdown – polygamist Addam Swapp has written letters asking forgiveness for his role in a standoff that left a Utah Corrections officer dead.
In one letter, dated Sept. 6, Swapp said it was wrong of him to take the law into his own hands, wrong to resist arrest and wrong to bomb a Kamas church building.
“What I did . . . went contrary to the teachings of Jesus,” Swapp wrote. “And I am sorry that I have been blind to this fact for so long. And sorry that I did it.”
Swapp also said he was “so very sorry for the death of officer Fred House” and for “the fear that I engendered in the people of the Kamas Valley during that time. I am truly sorry for what I did, and I humbly ask for your forgiveness,” he wrote.
In order to more fully appreciate and understand the Addam Swapp story, you have to go back still further into Utah history to the John Singer saga. John Singer’s history is briefily summarized here, courtesy of Online Utah:
John Singer was born in New York on 6 January 1931. He was a member of the Mormon Church who was later excommunicated for his fundamentalist beliefs, including the practice of polygamy. Singer gained public notoriety because of his stand against what he felt was the immorality of the school system . . .
In 1964 Singer married Vickie Lemon, who shared his religious views. They quickly began a family which grew to seven children. Singer raised his family in Marion, Utah, on a 2.5-acre farm, much like a nineteenth-century homestead. Religion was important to Singer and his family. He entered into a plural marriage in 1978 with Shirley Black, an already married woman with four children . . .
Singer’s defiance of the law and his determination to have his children removed from the public school system led to his ostracism in the community and eventual excommunication from the Mormon Church . . .
Singer faced new legal problems after 19 October 1978 when a district court awarded Dean Black a decree of divorce from Shirley Black and temporary custody of the couple’s children. When authorities went to the Singer farm to pick up the children, Singer refused to surrender them . . .
On the morning of 18 January 1979 Singer was confronted outside his home by Utah law enforcement officers. His home was surrounded and he was told to surrender his weapon. Singer pointed a pistol at the officers and the officers responded killing Singer with multiple gunshot wounds . . .
Addam Swapp later entered into a polygamous relationship with Singer’s daughters, Heidi and Charlotte. He believed that by bombing an LDS Stake Center, it would be the catalyst to usher in Christ’s Second Coming and also the resurrection of his father-in-law, John Singer. Another fascinating source of the Swapp/Singer history is on the Utah Highway Patrol’s site here.
The Tribune details the bombing and followup standoff with Swapp and another Singer:
After the bombing, Swapp holed up at the Singer ranch in Marion, Utah, with his wives, his brother Jonathan, mother-in-law Vickie Singer, brother-in-law John Timothy Singer and other family members.
A standoff between the Singer-Swapps and law enforcement ensued, ending on Jan. 28, 1988, in a shoot-out that started when House and other officers tried to set a dog on the Swapp brothers. A bullet fired by John Timothy Singer struck and killed House; Swapp was wounded.
Both Swapp and John Timothy Singer were convicted on a federal explosives charge and a state manslaughter charge. On Oct. 10, John Timothy Singer, now 40, will be released from an Arizona facility after nearly 19 years in prison.
Swapp completed his federal sentence on Jan. 27 at a Phoenix facility, serving 18 1/2 years of a 20-year sentence. He was then moved to Florence to serve up to 15 years on the manslaughter charge. He has a parole hearing in January.
In 1992, the movie, Children of Fury was made, that depicted the Addam Swapp story and stand off. In all, a very tragic story for many families. I was attending BYU at the time John Singer was shot. At the time I was quite critical of Utah’s handling of John Singer and his death. I suppose over the years I have mellowed; but, I can’t help but think that had there been more restraint in dealing with John Singer, with perhaps more innovative ideas on how to “bring him to justice” short of shooting and killing him at his mailbox, perhaps some of the subsequent bloody history in this tale might have been avoided.