John Singer (homeschooler)

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John Singer (January 6, 1931 – January 18, 1979) was a homeschooler in Utah who was killed in a stand-off with state government authorities who were attempting to arrest him.


Singer was born in New York. His parents, who were German immigrants, returned to Dresden in 1932 where his father was a Nazi and joined the Schutzstaffel. Singer's mother was Mormon but her husband forbade her from practicing her religion. They divorced in 1945 and Singer returned to the United States with his mother. Singer married Vickie Lemon in 1965 with whom he had seven children and lived on a 2.5-acre (10,000 m2) farm in Marion, Utah in Summit County.

In 1970 Singer was excommunicated from the LDS Church for his support of polygamy. In 1978 he entered into a second marriage with Shirley Black, who was still married to another man with four children.

One of the main reasons Singer cited for removing his children from public school was his objection to pictures of black and white children together. The authorities did allow him to have his children home-schooled in a supervised situation. However in 1978 his second wife's husband won custody of their children.

It is unclear if it was the issue of his not giving up custody of the children or of his home schooling actions that led to the standoff where Singer was killed. In January 1979, after Singer refused to release the children, Utah law enforcement officers returned to arrest him and surrounded his home. After refusing to surrender, he reportedly pointed his pistol at the officers who then shot him multiple times, killing him.[1]

1988 standoff

In 1988, on the ninth anniversary of Singer's death, his son-in-law and "spiritual heir," Addam Swapp, bombed an LDS Stake center at Marion with 50 pounds of dynamite with a booster of ammonium nitrate, and then holed up in the Singer-Swapp compound, leading to a second, 13-day stand off with state authorities, the FBI, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. It was reported that Swapp believed this would start a chain of events that would culminate in the resurrection of John Singer and the downfall of the United States government.[2][3][4] At that time, Singer's son, John Timothy Singer, shot and killed Lt. Fred House from the Utah Department of Corrections who was directing a police dog to move in.

John Timothy Singer and Addam Swapp both received sentences for federal prison terms.[5][6] In addition, they were each convicted of manslaughter at the state level. Vickie Singer was sentenced to 5 years in prison followed by 5 years of probation.[7]

At his sentencing, Swapp declared that God had revealed to him that he would not serve any time.[7] He completed his federal sentence in 2006, and began serving time on the manslaughter charge. He was denied parole by the State of Utah in 2007. Another parole hearing was slated for 2012. He was released on parole on July 9, 2013.[8][9]

John Timothy Singer was released from a Utah prison in October 2006 after serving both of his terms.[10]

Vickie Singer served 6 years in a California prison before being released.


  1. Weinriter, Kelsey (1994). "John Singer". In Allan Kent Powell (ed.). Utah History Encyclopedia. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. Retrieved 2009-09-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Standoff Goes On at Polygamist's Utah Compound". New York Times. January 19, 1988. Retrieved 2009-09-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "1980 - 1989 / Return to Marion". Utah Department of Public Safety. Retrieved 2009-02-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Irwin Altman, J. Ginat. Polygamous Families in Contemporary Society.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Polygamist Swapp Serving Time in Arizona". The Salt Lake Tribune. March 17, 2006. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Polygamists' Murder Trial Is Ending". The New York Times. 1988-12-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1 "Swapp is Given 15 Years in Prison, Vickie Singer Gets 5-Year Term; 2 Family Members Still Face Sentencing". Deseret News. September 2, 1988.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "Polygamist Swapp Serving Time in Arizona". The Salt Lake Tribune. March 17, 2006. |access-date= requires |url= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. "Parole Denied for Addam Swapp". KSL News. April 30, 2007. Retrieved 2009-09-17.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. Pat Reavy (October 10, 2006). "Prison term ends today for Singer; he's Utah-bound". Deseret News.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


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