Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
Ex-Detective Throws Book At Polygamy
Salt Lake Tribune 24Mar00 A5
By Greg Burton: Salt Lake Tribune
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- John R. Llewellyn, a retired sheriff's
detective, father and storyteller, has written, "Murder of a Prophet:
The Dark Side of Utah Polygamy." This fictionalized drama of
doomsday polygamists has angered some of the region's polygamists.
Leaders in Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah, areas where a
large tenet of plural marriages prevail, are banning the book.
The story is a chronicle of a violent plot to unite all polygamists and
topple the Mormon Church. It has drawn praise for its
true-to-life-portrayal of the social fabric of Utah's religious subculture.
Llewellyn has drawn on his 66-year-old life experience brimming with the
miscellany of crime and impropriety in Utah. He is the character in many of
the tales he tells, stories he has drawn on from his days as a sheriff's
detective and some on his own life's experience.
Before retiring from the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office in 1982,
Llewellyn was a Mormon convert living a secret plural life with two women.
Eventually, he was excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints. "I retired to save the sheriff's office and my family
the emarrassment," he says today. "I'm at a point now where testosterone is
not running through my body. Back then, though, to have more than one woman
want to be married to you, that was a heck of an ego builder."
Llewellyn was a county gumshoe for 28 years, assigned to Utah's first unit
for sex crimes investigations. It was called the "Morals Squad," when the
unit began fielding calls about Utah's polygamists in the 1970's. In 1976,
Llewellyn began compiling a profile of Ervil Morel LeBaron, a radical
polygamist. He had a cult called, The Church of the First Born of the Lamb
of God. A year later, LeBaron ordered the murder of rival polygamist Rulon
Allred of Murray in a plot that targeted the leaders of the Kingston clan.
During this time, Llewellyn was not a polygamist and not a very devout
Mormon. "I was a bohemian, and a damn good one, just like most cops," he
said. "But along the way I became infatuated with the polygamist
Today, Llewellyn is the father of 13 children and says he has a platonic
relationship with two women. He is a friend to many of Utah's independent
polygamous families and a foe to most of the state's organized groups. He
is also working as an investigator in lawsuits against the Apostolic United
Brethren and the The True and Living Church in Manti.
"These polygamist cults have every angle for a good writer....conflict,
crime, subterfuge," Llewellyn said. "And while I have many friends who are
polygamists, this book might be a warning to other people from going into
polygamy. I would tell my own children not to, but they may anyway."