Destroying Angel


An entire family is murdered during a bizarre home intrusion in a quiet, middle class neighborhood in southern Utah. All members of the household are found hanged in the garage, their wrists bound, mouths taped, nooses strung over the ceiling joists. Neatly lettered on the wall in marking pen are the words:


But then, ...
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An entire family is murdered during a bizarre home intrusion in a quiet, middle class neighborhood in southern Utah. All members of the household are found hanged in the garage, their wrists bound, mouths taped, nooses strung over the ceiling joists. Neatly lettered on the wall in marking pen are the words:


But then, less than a week later another household is found murdered, with the same cryptic message but mentioning a different pioneer ancestor. A few days later there is another. And then another, and another . . .


Someone was systematically killing - by vicarious execution - the descended families of the perpetrators of the Mountain Meadows Massacre.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781933990156
  • Publisher: Zyrus Press Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/1/2008
  • Pages: 480
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Read an Excerpt

Orrin was on his cell phone as he pulled up the driveway in front of the Hilton. He didn't need to wave Bill over from the front door; the federal agent had jerked the car door open and slid into the front seat before Orrin could even come to a full stop. So he just kept rolling and drove back out onto Second West, headed for the airport.
"How long in the air?" he asked Bill.
"About twenty minutes," Bill told him.
"Twenty minutes in the air," Orrin relayed into the phone. "Make it-say, forty-five minutes from now . . . Right." He took the phone from his ear and snapped the cover shut. "Christ Bill," he said. "This is a bad one. There was a baby."
Bill felt sick. "Was it . . . ?"
"Yes," Orrin answered, clenching his teeth to keep his lip from trembling. "The baby was hanged, too."
The city of Logan lay in the Cache Valley north of Salt Lake City, just twenty miles from the Idaho state line. For the third set of killings to have occurred there, at the extreme opposite end of the state from the first two, meant that their southern Utah focus was out the window. The killer was letting them know he could strike anywhere.
Orrin received the particulars over his cell phone as they were taxiing out to the runway for takeoff. The third family had been murdered "for and on the behalf of Isaac Haight," the murdered father's great-great grandfather. Five more people were dead. Everything else at the scene was like a surreal carbon copy of the others.
By this time both men recognized the investigation had been growing more and more discouraged by the hour. The researchers working with the Office of the Attorney General had nearly completed the tedious work of sortingthrough the entire list of William Dame's descendents and hadn't been able to come across a single person who looked like they fit the profile as a target of fundamentalist retaliation the way the former governor had. Bill and Orrin had put together a great deal of information on currents and moods within various parts of the fundamentalist culture, but while it was obvious that there was enough feeling and growing activism present to fuel something, they'd come no closer to being able to say with certainty that they were looking for a fundamentalist-inspired motive for the killings than they were when they started. It was as though that theory went only so far and then hit a wall. They had the link with Leavitt's family for the first murders, the writing on the walls and the same scriptural reference at all three crime scenes, and a total of fourteen bodies-so far. That, and the polygamous ancestors. All of the men whose names had been written on the wall had been polygamous pioneers who went on to have huge families, and all of the families killed had been directly descended from them.
Still, if the fundamentalist connection wasn't there, what else was there? Could the three old pioneers have something else in common, besides having been polygamists? And if the writing and the reference to God's curse in Daniel 9 verse 11 didn't tie the motive for the murders to the modern polygamists, then what was it supposed to mean? Was there some other interpretation they didn't understand, that even the FBI profilers hadn't been able to pick up on?
As the little aircraft climbed to cruising altitude and Bill set his heading for Logan it was starting to look like Parley Thurman's protests could be correct-perhaps the fundamentalists were being framed to make it look like they were the ones responsible for the killings. But if someone wanted to do that, then why did the connection to the motive seem to break down right after the first murders? One would think someone trying to put the blame on the fundamentalists would want to be a little less oblique and a lot more blatant about it. They were obviously missing something critical.
"It just wasn't like Clayton or his family to m-miss church," the little red-eyed man with the receding gray hair was saying. "So when he wasn't there for Priesthood this morning, I asked my wife, Ethel, if she'd seen Susan during Relief Society. And she said no, wasn't that odd, but maybe they were just running late because of their son and his wife moving into their basement, what with the boy losing his job in August and their baby and all . . . "
The man had to stop a few moments before he would be able to continue, and Bill and Orrin waited patiently. Both had long ago developed the special skills needed to interview witnesses who were still in shock, and the things this witness had encountered were going to profoundly disturb him for the rest of his life.
Swallowing a few times, he went on. "So she said to me, she said see if they're here for the Sunday School service, so we waited. But they weren't there either, and we were starting to get concerned because-well, because it just wasn't like Clayton or his family to miss church, you see. And, and then when they weren't at Sacrament Meeting either we thought-I mean, Ethel said to me, she said I ought to go see if they're all right, you know?"
"So you and your wife were fairly close to the Haights?" Orrin asked.
"I've been their Home Teacher for the past four years," he answered, as though that should explain everything. "Visited them every month, you know. Check up on how they're doing, what's going on in the family, give them the message from the Bishopric, that sort of thing."
Bill nodded. He recalled hearing about the Home Teaching program the Mormons had during one of his Temple Square tours. Every month every member was supposed to be visited by someone; it was very well organized, he'd been told. Privately he'd thought it sounded like a remarkable way for an organization to keep constant tabs on everyone in it, but unfortunately it didn't seem like it could have done anything to prevent what had happened to the Haight family.
"So me and Ethel-I mean, Ethel and me," he corrected himself, "we drove over by their place after church was over to see if they was all right. I mean, wouldn't you?"
"Of course," Orrin assured him. "Especially if I was a good Home Teacher. You and your wife did the right thing, Brother Monroe."
The man nodded as if to reassure himself of that fact. "We thought maybe they'd caught a bug-there's a bug going around, you know. Or maybe their boy's baby was being extra fussy . . . " He paused again, shaking his head sadly. "But we just couldn't ever imagine anything like . . . this," he continued, heaving an involuntary shudder. "Never in a million years."
Bill knew the man was picturing the family again the way he and his wife had discovered them, all hanging in a neat row together from the stairway landing above their living room, and he wanted to try to move him past that image if he could. "Do you know anything about this other person, this Isaac Haight, the family's ancestor?" he asked. "He would have been a pioneer back in the old polygamy days. Did you ever hear Clayton mention him?"
He thought about that for a few moments. "No," he said finally, "I can't recall I did. All of Clayton's ancestors were pioneers. He's from a big, old family, you know. Goes all the way back to Nauvoo, Illinois. Maybe even before, I'm thinking."
Before the Mormons even made their trek westward, Bill concluded silently to himself. Another pioneer line that could have eight to ten thousand living descendents to have to examine to try to identify the killer's target of intimidation-if that was even what the killer was really up to. He had his doubts anymore, and this entire direction was starting to seem hopeless.
"Lots of pioneers in that family," the man was saying. "Big old family, been with the Church for a long time. Why, Clayton is even related to one of the Apostles, you know. David B. Haight, the oldest one living. He was always so proud of that . . . "
The two investigators received the words like an electric shock as their eyes met and communicated the same thought. Could this modern Mormon leader be somehow associated with what Leavitt had started when he'd been Governor? There was a very good chance that he just might. It was no great secret that the line between civil and ecclesiastic leadership in Utah had always been considered a fine one. It wouldn't be at all unusual or even improper for an LDS governor to find a way to see to it that a position expressed by his own church leaders was translated into an official state policy-especially since it also conformed to state law. Suddenly it looked like the investigation was back on the right track with the original theory of motive after all.
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