DRAPER — The man responsible for a 13-day standoff at a polygamous compound was released Tuesday morning after spending 25 years in prison.
A spokesman for the Utah Department of Corrections, Steve Gehrke, said Addam Swapp was accompanied by family members as he was released from Sanpete County Jail Tuesday morning. Swapp had been transported there from the Utah State Prison in Draper. Corrections officials elected not to disclose Swapp's actual release point over safety concerns.
Swapp 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 spent the past five years serving a 1-to-15-year sentence for a state manslaughter conviction. He was incarcerated in an Arizona prison instead of the Utah State Prison.
Swapp, now 51, was transferred back to the Utah State Prison from Arizona on July 3 in preparation of his release. He was taken to the Sanpete County jail and released shortly before 8:30 a.m., according to prison officials.
"We do want to focus on the victim in this case and not lose sight, but at the same time we have an obligation to Mrs. Swapp here and hope he can start life again," Gehrke said. "It's a really hard transition for anyone ... moving from prison back to the community."
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.
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.
"Addam deserves a chance to reverse the damage done by doing good and now being an asset to his family. "
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, following a shootout that resulted in the death of corrections officer Lt. Fred House and injured Swapp.
Although Swapp did not actually shoot House, he accepted responsibility for his death, saying that it would never have happened if not for his actions.
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.
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.
Since then, Swapp has apologized for his actions. Fred House's widow, Ann House, accepted the apology. She issued a statement:
"I believe that in the past 25 1/2 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. "
In a September 2012 hearing Swapp apologized to many people and asked for their forgiveness.
"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 sorry."
Also during that hearing, 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.
When asked what he would do once released from prison, Swapp said he likely would move back to the Fairview area where he has many family members.
Contributing: Pat Reavy