On 16 August 1981, Ervil Morrel LeBaron was found dead in his cell at the Utah State Prison, the victim of a massive heart seizure. At one time he was recognized by a small group of zealous disciples as “The One Mighty and Strong”—a divinely anointed prophet who was called to usher in the second coming of the Lord. For others, however, including his religious opponents and a host of law enforcement officials, Ervil LeBaron was Satan incarnate—the accused perpetrator of death and destruction throughout the western United States and in Mexico. But wherein does the truth lie? In Prophet of Blood, two skilled journalists try to answer that query. It is an intriguing and disturbing tale of polygamy, lust for power, conspiracy, and murder.
The Lambs of God,the name assumed by Ervil LeBaron’s followers, constituted a socio-ideological subculture of Mormonism which advocated the continuance of the practice of plural marriage. Although polygamy was officially suspended by the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints late in the nineteenth century, “the principle,” as practitioners choose to refer to it, continued unabated by a scattering of devotees. Acting on the assumption that the prophetic mantle of Joseph Smith, which sanctioned polygamy for the faithful, had been secretly passed on in the 1880s to a small group of men specifically chosen to preserve it, the practice continued to thrive in isolated pockets of rural Mexico and the American Southwest. And it was from this heritage that Ervil LeBaron would eventually emerge.