Man who bombed LDS meetinghouse paroled

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SALT LAKE CITY — Twenty-five years after one of the most infamous standoffs in Utah history, the man responsible for that event will be released from prison.

The Utah State Board of Pardons and Parole announced Tuesday that Addam Swapp, 52, will be paroled from prison on July 9.

Swapp has spent the last 2 ½ decades behind bars for his roles in the Jan. 16, 1988, bombing of a stake center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Marion, Summit County, and the shooting death of Utah Department of Corrections Lt. Fred House.

Swapp has already served 17 years in federal prison. He is currently serving a 1-to-15 year sentence for state conviction of manslaughter. He began serving that sentence in 2006. Swapp is currently incarcerated in an Arizona prison instead of the Utah State Prison, where some of House's relatives and colleagues still work. When he was sentenced, the judge recommended he serve no more than 30 total years for the state and federal cases.

The Singer-Swapp saga, as it was known, began in 1979 when polygamist John Singer was shot and killed by police officers serving a warrant. Swapp later became part of the Singer family and took two of Singer's daughters as his polygamous wives.

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.

–Jesse Gallegos, parole board member

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. 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 with police at the Singer-Swapp compound in Marion. It ended on Jan. 28, 1988, following a shootout that left House dead and Swapp injured.

John Timothy Singer, John Singer's son, was the one who actually shot and killed House. But Swapp said if it weren't for him, none of it would have happened.

John Timothy Singer was paroled in 2006 after serving federal time and nearly 10 years on 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.

During his last parole hearing in September, Swapp still spoke with religious overtones, but spoke as a born-again Christian. He said he fully accepted responsibility for what happened and tearfully apologized to everyone from the Fred House family to the town of Marion.

But parole board member Jesse Gallegos said the most compelling piece of information he received during that parole hearing was a letter written by House's widow, Ann House. She said, in essence, that she felt Swapp had served his time and should be released.

In making its decision, the full board Tuesday listed both mitigating and aggravating factors that they used to make a decision. Among the reasons to keep Swapp in prison were the serious nature of the crime, his role as the leader in the events, and the fact that there were multiple victims.

But the board noted that in Swapp's favor: he had accepted responsibility; it was his first incarceration; he had shown great remorse; and he had a good support system waiting outside of prison.

Swapp said in September that if he were released he would likely move back to the Fairview, Sanpete County, area where he has family. Gallegos warned him that adapting back into society would not be easy. And he advised him to continue seeking mental health treatment to avoid returning to 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.


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Pat Reavy


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