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John Hollenhorst ReportingThe leader of one of the nation's largest and most public polygamist groups passed away last night at his home in Bluffdale. Owen Allred took over one of the largest fundamentalist churches when his brother was assassinated, and he led the group for nearly three decades.
Owen Allred was cut from a different cloth than most polygamist patriarchs. He was a genial man, so open about his beliefs he once held a news conference and testified on Capitol Hill.
A dark chapter in the fundamentalist movement propelled Owen Allred into power. His brother, Dr Rulon Allred, was gunned down in1977, one of at least 28 murders carried out by the fanatical cult of Ervil LeBaron. Years later Owen told us, before the murder, his brother designated him to lead.
Owen Allred, May 1993: “He made that statement, ‘Where I am not, Owen will preside. And when I am gone Owen will take my place.’ And I said, ‘I don’t want that position Rulon. I don’t want to be here after you’re gone.’”
But he held the reins of the Apostolic United Brethren for 27 years. As controversy grew about sex abuse, teen brides and welfare fraud, Allred met with state leaders and publicly disassociated his fundamentalist group from others. He said his people are taught to be law-abiding.
Owen Allred, Aug 17, 1998: “As a people we try our best to be so. And whenever there is a person who breaks the law, other than polygamy if you want to say that, they ought to be handled by the law.”
Although he lived and presided for many years in Salt Lake County, his funeral Saturday will be held in Juab County in a growing community of polygamists.
He once told us he had 21 kids, four houses, and at least four wives. He called them his LOL's--Little Old Ladies. He told us the group tripled in size to 6,000 after his brother's murder.
Owen Allred, May 4, 1993: “God had a purpose in it and I’ve got a responsibility to fill. And I’ve got to do the best I possibly can.”
Owen Allred was 91 when he died last night. His successor as leader of the Apostolic United Brethren is reportedly a long-time associate, LeMoyne Jensen.