Rare 1st edition Book of Mormon believed stolen

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Book of Mormon By Jennifer Thomas Book of Mormon By Jennifer Thomas

MESA, Ariz. -- Helen Spencer Schlie, 88, has spent most of her life in the rare book business.

"It's old and rare books," the snowy-haired octogenarian said as she sat at a desk in a corner of her tiny, cluttered Mesa store.

"I'm old and rare and so this is old and rare," Schlie said, referring to the rarest book she has ever owned -- a first edition Book of Mormon published more than 180 years. It's a book valued, Schlie said, at about $100,000. She said it was stolen earlier this week.

"I'm sick to my stomach," Schlie said. "I just can't comprehend anybody doing this. It has always been where we could share it with people. Literally, hundreds of people have held it and felt the spirit of it."

Schlie believes the theft happened some time on Monday and was carried out by someone who knows the layout of her East Valley business.

Mesa police Sgt. Tony Landato said an investigation is now under way.

"Obviouly, this is something near and dear to the hearts of many in our community," Landato said. "We take it seriously."

Schlie said the book was not insured and at this point she is not sure what she will do next, but she does have a message for the person who took it.

"Just bring it back and let it finish its mission," she said.