Author of book about Colorado City reports threat to sheriff's office

Kingman Daily Miner/February 10, 2004
By Linda Stelp

The Mohave County Sheriff's Office is investigating a threatening letter mailed to a Colorado City author who has published a book about the polygamous community.

Ben Bistline said he received the letter Jan. 21 and "turned it over to the Mohave County Sheriff's Office right away. They said they would investigate."

Bistline, 68, who said he is 90 percent blind, wrote and self-published the 450-page book last year.

"The Polygamists: A History of Colorado City, Arizona" is currently sold through, a company in Scottsdale that publishes historic books. In March, the book will be released through and be available at Barnes & Noble stores.

The author said he is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which no longer practices polygamy.

However, polygamy is widely practiced by members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, an offshoot of the Salt Lake City-based Mormon Church.

Bistline said he lived in Colorado City up until a year ago, when he moved to Cane Beds two miles to the south.

"There has never been a correct history of Colorado City written," he said.

The letter, a copy of which was received by the Miner, states in part, "The prophet says the only hope for a person who disobeys is blood atonement. He hasn't told anybody to kill anybody else."

Bistline said he is not intimidated by the threat.

"I am not perfectly at ease with the death threat," he said. "But I am not going to go around being scared."

The letter also states: "I know you're an evil man and you're not a friend to the righteous in Colorado City or the UEP (United Effort Plan), but sometimes God uses the evil to do a righteous purpose.

You stand for apostates (those who break from the church) and gentiles and you as well as your kind should take this letter as a warning."

The letter continues: "I'm from Colorado City and that means that you view me as a polygamist. We don't believe in polygamy. We believe in plural marriage, which in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage was laid down by the prophet Joseph Smith. ... The truth is, you're jealous because you can't have what we got. We got priesthood, and that makes our woman and children obedient to us."

Jay Beswick, who is with Help the Child Brides and Child Protection Project, agencies that target abuses within the polygamous community, said he has studied the letter.

"The references to priesthood meetings and 'we young priesthood boys' on page two suggest that the author is young and under 18," he said.

Sheriff Tom Sheahan said the original letter is being held as evidence, and the threat is being taken seriously.

"We are working on it with the (state) Attorney General's Office," Sheahan said.

"Additional Mohave County sheriff's officers will continue to be stationed in the Colorado City area," he said.

A power struggle in which 21 men where excommunicated from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, including Mayor Dan Barlow, the only mayor in the city's 19 years of incorporation.

Allegations of child abuse, incest and welfare fraud have forced public officials to take a closer look at the secretive society in which teenaged girls are forced to marry older men in what community members call 'spiritual' marriages."

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