Polygamous sect leader dies in state prison

Arvin Shreeve. He led the Zion Society, and was convicted of abusing a child.

The Salt Lake Tribune/August 12, 2009

A polygamous sect leader from Ogden has died at the Utah State Prison.

Arvin Shreeve, 79, died Monday of natural causes, said Utah Department of Corrections Deputy Director Mike Haddon. He had been convicted of child abuse in 1991.

His death was reported at 5 p.m. by medical personnel at the Wasatch Infirmary at the prison's main site in Draper. Shreeve was moved to the infirmary on July 8.

"We knew that he was going to pass pretty soon," Haddon said.

He was previously housed at the special service dorm for sex offenders since being imprisoned on Dec. 24, 1991.

Shreeve was the leader of the Zion Society, a cult whose religious teachings included group and lesbian sex instructions. At its height, the cult claimed about 70 followers, with about half of them children of the "sisters" of the Zion Society. He told his followers the world would soon be in chaos, but they would be saved.

Prosecutors said at least 10 children were molested by Shreeve and his followers, 10 of whom were later charged with child sex abuse.

Police raided the group's headquarters in 1991. They found guns, survival gear, hidden rooms and a bomb shelter stashed in a meticulously neat enclave of homes in northern Ogden.

A retired landscaper, Shreeve was thought to have founded the cult about 10 years before the raid. In November 1991, Shreeve pleaded guilty to two counts of sodomy of a child and two counts of sex abuse of a child. He was sentenced to a minimum of 20 years in prison.

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