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First-Edition Book Of Mormon Goes Missing From Ariz. Store

An 1830 first-edition Book of Mormon owned by retired bookstore owner Helen Schlie.
Matt York
An 1830 first-edition Book of Mormon owned by retired bookstore owner Helen Schlie.

The first-edition Book of Mormon brought faithful from around the country to a book store in Mesa, Ariz.

As the AP describes it, the book is one of 5,000 printed "after Joseph Smith found the gold plates that he translated into the Book of Mormon, which members of the faith consider to be scripture alongside the Bible."

So when people came to take pictures with the book Helen Schlie, a converted Mormon, would always oblige, telling people when they touched the book they shared "their DNA with Joseph Smith himself."

Now, the book has gone missing and Schlie says it's been stolen.

The AP reports:

"When she discovered the book was missing Monday, 'it really hurt my heart,' Schlie said. 'I'm hoping someone will bring it back, let it finish its mission.'

"Mesa police Sgt. Tony Landato confirmed that Schlie reported the theft about 3 p.m. on Memorial Day and said a detective has been assigned to investigate.

"'Certainly, it is someone who had access and knowledge of it,' Landato said.

"Schlie said the fact that she owned an original Book of Mormon was well-known within the Mormon community locally and that hundreds of people have stopped by the bookstore, which more resembles a storeroom filled with stacks of books, to see it.

Now what struck us is what the East Valley Tribune reports: The book — invaluable sentimentally and estimated to be worth $100,000 — was stolen from the spot it was usually kept, "an unlocked bottom drawer of a filing cabinet in a back room of the shop."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.