Dan Lafferty’s July 25th, 2000 Interview Transcription

Transcriber’s Preface

This is the transcript of the video that Radio Free Mormon posted on May 28th, 2022. In the transcript RFM explains how he came to acquire it.

I do want to note a couple of choices I made while creating this transcript:

  1. RFM and the announcer Scott Winter occasionally interject to rather provide commentary or a recap of what was said. I have decided to put these sections in a collapsible element so you can choose to read it or not.
  2. I have removed the “filler words”, like “um”, “uh”, and stammering. This makes a transcript flow a bit better.
  3. I have organized it into 13 parts and added a table of contents which takes you to that section of the transcript. The hyperlinked section heading within the transcript will take you to that part in the video.

From this interview I see how the Laffertys were radicalized to the point of murdering. Dan remains such a fundamentalist that he feels no guilt or remorse for his double murders, and in fact calls the day he murdered them the best day of his life.

The interview itself is a bit harrowing; hearing the cavalier tone of Lafferty is difficult. I decided to write a transcription so that people are able to read it.

The Restoration has produced many people like the Laffertys. If we want to prevent more from arising, we have to know where we failed them as a people, so we can prevent further radicalization.

Table of Contents


Political Involvement

Descent to Fundamentalism

The Removal Revelation

The First Attempt to Murder Brenda and Erica Lafferty

The Murder of Brenda and Erica Lafferty and Allen Lafferty’s Warning


Crazy Theological Justifications for Murder

No Guilt or Remorse

The Failings of Allen Lafferty

The Question of Sanity and Doubt

If Parole were a Possibility




Testing 1, 2, 3, testing 1, 2, 3. This is radio free Mormon on the air broadcasting behind enemy lines.

Tonight’s episode, the Dan Lafferty interview from the year 2000. On July 24th, 1984, Dan Lafferty brutally killed his sister-in-law Brenda Lafferty and his niece, 14 month old Erica Lafferty. Dan Lafferty killed them both in order to fulfill a “revelation” that his brother, Ron Lafferty, said he had received from God.

The story of these murders is currently being broadcast on the Hulu network in a seven part series starring Andrew Garfield titled “Under the Banner of Heaven”. The series is based on the book of the same name written by Jon Krakauer.

On the 16th anniversary of the murders reporter Tom Barberi was able to gain access to interview Dan Lafferty while he was serving his sentence of life imprisonment at the Utah department of corrections and where Dan Lafferty continues to serve his life sentence, even today, as of 2022.

I need to put a trigger warning at the beginning of this episode. It should be clear by this point that what is going to be talked about are two grizzly murders of two completely innocent individuals, including a 14 month old child. If you do not want to hear Dan Lafferty relate how he committed these murders, then turn this recording off now; go no further.

What follows next is Tom Barberi’s interview of Dan Lafferty.

Play the tape.

Scott Winter

This is Feedback with Scott Winter on the Spectrum Public Affairs Network.

It was one of the most infamous crimes in Utah history. It involved politics, religion, and the family. It was the brutal murder of Brenda Lafferty and her 14 months old baby, Erica.

Good morning. I’m Scott Winter, and this is a special edition of Feedback on the Spectrum Public Affairs Network. Brenda Lafferty’s brother-in-law, Ron Lafferty, orchestrated her murder and the killing of her daughter after he says he received a “revelation” from God. The brutal slaying was carried out by his brother, Dan Lafferty.

This last July Call 9-10 AM, radios morning show talk host, Tom Barberi, had a unique opportunity to talk with Dan Lafferty on the 16th anniversary of this crime. This special edition of Feedback is a rebroadcast of that live telephone interview from the Utah state prison. Now Tom’s original interview with Daniel Lafferty was over 80 minutes long; This version has been slightly edited for time, but not for content.

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Barberi: And then we have with us on the line, Dan Lafferty, who is out in front of the mountain and it convicted murderer, for those of you who don’t know. I want to ask you, first of all, you do not dispute the fact that you committed this act.

Lafferty: No, no. I’ve explained that. In fact, with certain events that have taken place, I felt like it was a proper time to begin to talk about. I guess, coincidentally, it’s fallen into harmonious relationship with what Mike (King)’s doing. But yes, I’ve spoken quite clearly about it now.

Barberi: You committed this act how long ago?

Lafferty: Let’s see. I think it’s been 16 years ago, yesterday.

Barberi: 16 years. And for those who are not familiar with the Lafferty case, you slashed the throats of your sister-in-law and niece.

Lafferty: That’s correct. Yeah.

Barberi: Walk us through; when did the idea first occur to you and your brother that these two individuals should be murdered?

Lafferty: Well, the simple answer to that is that it came through a “revelation” my brother received, but it has so much more background that leads up to that. Essentially –

Barberi: Go ahead, take your time.

Political Involvement

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Lafferty: All right. Let me see if I can sense kind of what may be of interest here. I came from a background in the LDS church, and in due course I saw myself evolve through some interesting changes as my personal life evolved. I served a mission for the church, I later went to college to become a doctor like my father was, and I think when I returned back from California is when I began to see some of the major changes that began to happen in my life. I became a member of a tax revolt group when I was upset over the way my efforts to support my family while I was going to school was I was confronted with some obstacles with government and that made me quite upset. And in the process, I started looking at ways to satisfy my confusion, and that’s when I think I saw myself begin to, first of all, step out of mainstream Mormonism, whereby everything –

Barberi: About what age were you then?

Lafferty: Probably would have been about right around 30 years old, I think.

Barberi: You were not young; you were an adult.

Lafferty: Yes, I was an adult. I was a little older when I finally went back to school and that I had my years of –

Barberi: Let me ask you this: what did having difficulty understanding why you had to pay somebody taxes – what did that have to do with your religious change of direction?

Lafferty: To tie that together, ultimately, it was that that led me to being excommunicated from the church and my excommunication then led to my fundamentalist investigations, which ultimately culminated in these events, which opened the next chapter of my life, which is prison.


This is radio free Mormon inserting myself into the interview, which unfortunately I’m going to have to do every five minutes or so in order to make some commentary, I will try not to break up the flow of the interview too much.

But the reason for this is that I think this is a very important interview for the public to hear it has been out of circulation for two decades now, as far as I can tell. We have made efforts to contact Tom Barberi and the producer of the show on which this was broadcast back in the year 2000, those efforts have been unsuccessful, but nevertheless, I would not want this interview to be flagged for copyright violation. And therefore I want to make a few comments along the way, so it will qualify as fair use.

Having said that much. It does appear that this recording this interview originally occurred on July 25th in the year 2000. I say this because Dan Lafferty has just identified “yesterday”. I E the day before the interview as being the 16th anniversary of the murders. The 16th anniversary would have been July 24th, 2000; the day after would be July 25th, 2000.

Going on with the interview

Barberi: Was your brother with you every step of the way in this conversion, in this change?

Lafferty: No, he wasn’t. During my political issues – during the time that I was involved in the tax revolt issues – and ultimately I ran for sheriff seeing the significance of having a constitutional-type sheriff convening, common law juries, and I won’t go into a lot of unnecessary detail there unless someone’s interested in it.

During that time, my brother, Ron was embarrassed by the things I was doing. I remember as I campaigned for sheriff, I was in the Utah county parades and that, which are going on this time of year. I remember he was quite embarrassed by all of that.

Barberi: Why was he embarrassed if you were running for sheriff? I mean, running for sheriff is a noble goal.

Lafferty: It wasn’t a conventional campaign. I was stirring a lot of – anyway, I was throwing up a lot of commotion and it wasn’t conventional, but it was about that time that Ron, my older brother, Ron, kind of at the behest of his wife, came to try and straighten me out. I really should say “us”. What was happening was I have four younger brothers also who I guess possibly because they look up to me as an older brother or something, they were curious at least about my activities, and as a result –

Barberi: Your philosophy and politics at the time.

Lafferty: Right. And were drawn into it to some extent, and it may have appeared to some people that we were having meetings and things to try and resolve these things, but there was nothing organized in any form. But apparently for some reason, Ron’s wife took a personal interest in what we were doing and not a positive one, and at a certain point she basically instructed him to come and straighten us out, so to speak.

Well, he came one day to the office where we happened to be meeting, talking about these kinds of things, and he tried to straighten us out, but we said, “Fine, if you can, that’s all we’re trying to do is straighten our own minds out. So if you have something that’s going to add to what we’re doing, you know”, it looked like – well, in any case, he said, “Well, it’s from what it appears, it looks like what you’re doing is right, and what everybody thinks you’re doing is wrong”.

Barberi: So up until this time, he was not a big supporter of what you were doing, but then after chatting with you about this, he became a like-mind of yours.

Lafferty: That’s when the change came for him, yes.

Barberi: Okay. Now, how do we move from running for sheriff to a religious conversion or shift of gears, if you will.

Lafferty: Okay. His change of mind led to his and mine and one other brother’s excommunication, which followed quite shortly after that, within a matter of, not very long.

Barberi: And what did you do to a grade to get excommunicated?

Lafferty: Well, what they told me – the explanation or reason given for my excommunication was “conduct unbecoming a member of the church”. I was told specifically by the council that held my excommunication court that I wouldn’t be excommunicated if I would conform and quit doing things that were embarrassing to the church, specifically “obey the law” was the quote they used. And I said, “well, I think I am obeying the law as I understand it”.

Barberi: So What laws did they think you were breaking?

Lafferty: Okay, well, I was challenging licensing laws. I was challenging the regulations that made me feel like they were violating the free agency issues, which I picked up from my growing up years in the church.

Barberi: Like having to have a driver’s license.

Lafferty: Yeah. Those things, I returned my driver’s license, I had returned my marriage license, and a lot of those things. I saw licensing as a means of control by government.

Descent to Fundamentalism

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Barberi: So once you’re excommunicated, did you confer with your brother about what was going on and was he of like-mind to you to follow this other path?

Lafferty: No, it’s a very fascinating too – it’s fascinating for me to reflect on these things. In fact, as you bring them back to my mind as with so many things in my experience, there were coincidences as if that’s — I use coincidence, probably a little different than most people. It’s kind of a coinciding of events that take place that are quite fascinating, but I, by no effort of my own, I began to be approached by people who were fundamentalists. I don’t have any idea how they knew who or where I was. I was living fairly privately after these things. I had lost my practice and I’d moved away from where I had been known, in that I was pretty remotely located.

Barberi: You say “practice”, and I don’t want to digress here, but your profession at that time was what?

Lafferty: I was a chiropractor.

Barberi: you were a chiropractor, okay.


Now This is RFM again, breaking into this interview briefly to let you know how it was that I came into possession of this interview.

A listener to the show whose first name is Jerry. I won’t mention his last name. If he wants to mention his last name, he’s free to do so. But Jerry contacted me and let me know that he actually personally recorded this interview when it broadcast on the radio, back in the year 2000. He recorded it with a cassette tape. He sent me the cassette tape, which I was then able to convert into an MP3 file, so as to format it for this podcast.

I want to thank Jerry for sending this to me. This is an incredible interview with Dan Lafferty. Tom Barberi does a sensational job in the interview, and I want to give him kudos too.

Now, let’s continue with the interview with Dan Lafferty.

Barberi: Now, when you say people found you, what kind of fundamentalists?

Lafferty: Particularly at this time, polygamists, I think would probably best – although that usually if they’re involved in polygamy, there’s a number of the fundamental issues that are usually involved, but polygamy probably would be the best way to

Barberi: Did you join their organization or…?

Lafferty: yeah, They did. It seemed like, at least to give me, an opportunity to began to evaluate fundamental issues, which prior to that, I had never allowed myself to think about because of my commitment to the LDS church.

Barberi: When did you and your brother become cohorts, I should say, or followers of the same path?

Lafferty: By this time, Ron had become involved, as I’ve mentioned earlier, to a certain degree, but I met two or three different people who were involved in the polygamy movement, and I started visiting with them asking questions. Now about that time, another coincidence was a gentleman from Canada, whose name was Bob Crossfield, came – well, we met him and he said he’d been sent by God. He was claimed to be a prophet sent by God. He said the name God to give him was “Onias”, by the way, and he had been sent to meet with us specifically, according to his explanation.

Barberi: For what purpose?

Lafferty: To set up The School of Prophets

Barberi: The School of Prophets.

Lafferty: Yeah. Now that probably is what you’re asking in the essence, an answer to your question, where it got involved in. The school of prophets was established. Anyway, a number of us were ordained prophets in that school and during that time, according to Onias, that was one of the purposes of it was to teach us in the school, how to receive revelation.

Barberi: What revelations did you have then, if any, and how did your brother come to involve you in this, this act?

Lafferty: Okay. I, like I say, I never did have any revelations before that, and the revelations, maybe this is kind of what you’re hoping to lead to it; I’ll just kind of feel along here as I go, the revelations got fascinating and interesting, and then Ron began to receive a revelation that he was, it was scaring him. I could see it was, and each person received revelation, they’d kind of work with it. If they were interrupted, it just would pause. And they pick up after they finished, whatever, it’s, it’s quite a fascinating phenomenon in any case, but –

Barberi: You would this in the presence of others or would you do this in the privacy of your yourself?

Lafferty: Either and both apparently, and that’s what made it so fascinating. Like a person – I mean, one time, one of the people were asked, “have you received in revelations lately?” and he says, “well, I got a half one here”, and he pulled it out of his pocket. And I said, “half a one?”, he says, “yeah, well, I just got interrupted by a phone call or something and I’ll get the rest of it here as soon as that’s quiet again”.

Barberi: So you can put a revelation on hold if the phone rings?

Lafferty: Apparently so, and that’s fascinating to know –

Barberi: Now your brother was involved in The School of Prophets too, I understand, after a period of time.

Lafferty: Ron?

Barberi: Yeah.

Lafferty: Yes. Once we became connected, so to speak, with the events that I told you about earlier, he and I pretty well remained connected from that time up until we were separated by when I came into prison and he went into the hospital with a suicide attempt that separated us. We’ve never been back together since then.

Scott Winter

You’re listening to a special edition of Feedback on the Apectrum Public Affairs Network. I am Scott Winter.

Acting under the belief that Ron Lafferty was a prophet of God, his brother Dan murdered Brenda Lafferty, their brother Allan’s wife and her 14 month old baby Erica, because Ron had said that God wanted them killed.

We continue this special edition of feedback, a rebroadcast of Call 9-10 Radios, Tom Barberi’s interview with Dan Lafferty.


Now, as most students of Mormon history know, the idea of having a “School of the Prophets” was not original to the Laffertys. The School of the Prophets was originally instituted by Joseph Smith in the 1830s, when the saints were located at Kirtland, Ohio. The School of the Prophets generally met during the winter months when there wasn’t as much work to do for the men, they would gather together and have lessons in which, among other things, they studied history, current events, reading and writing, mathematics, and doctrinal teaching, including the lectures on faith which were originally given and taught during The School of the Prophets session in 1835.

And it was in the 1836 session of The School of the Prophets in Kirtland that they hired the services of a Jewish rabbi named Joshua Sacious to instruct the participants in Hebrew. Going from the LDS church’s own website, under church history topics, School of the Prophets in December, 1832, Joseph Smith received a revelation, directing him to establish a school for the elders of the church in Kirtland, Ohio. Joseph Smith and his contemporaries use the term “School of the Prophets” to describe this new school. This term was commonly used to describe the seminaries at Harvard and Yale, as well as other schools at which clergy received training for their ministry. So it wasn’t even unique to the Mormons.

For some, the name called to mind, the Old Testament “Company of the Prophets”, which gathered around such figures as Samuel, Elijah, and Elisha, and Elijah will figure prominently later on in the interview with Dan Lafferty in a perhaps surprising way.

The Removal Revelation

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Barberi: Take us, take us through the process when Ron comes to you and says, “I had a revelation and you have to go kill your sister-in-law and niece”.

Lafferty: Okay. It was never like that, exactly. He received this revelation and he came to me actually trying to find some consolation, I guess. He said, “I’m receiving a revelation that’s frightening me”, and I said, “Well, does it seem the same as the ones you’ve had before?”

I didn’t want to pressure him or make him uncomfortable in a way. I determined that he felt like he was receiving it in the same way, and I said, “well, when you feel comfortable, you can talk to me about it”, and then in due course, he told me it was talking about taking lives.

And I says, “Oh, my, that is heavy; I can see why it’s concerning you. All I can say is just continue to be as sensitive and careful as you can be. Don’t err on the side of care either; you don’t want to offend God by not being willing to accept what he’s telling you, but at the same time don’t tip over the other side either. And in due course, he told me about this revelation where it said that it was talking about “removing” these two individuals who had become obstacles. It didn’t say who was to do it or anything at that time, and when we took it to The School of Prophets, as we normally did, that shattered the school; that was too much for anyone in there to handle.

Barberi: When you revealed the revelation that Ron had at the school, were you specific about who the victims were going to be and the means by which they would be killed?

Lafferty: The means by which they would be killed? No. The specifics of the individuals were listed? Yes, but –

Barberi: And did, did they question your sanity?

Lafferty: Yes.

Barberi: Did they ask you why on earth would you do this?

Lafferty: Right, so that, that was part of the question that was in their eyes, obviously, and later in the trial, I could see that even people who claim to be willing to do anything that God wanted to do – see sometimes I notice that there are a lot of people in the world who talk, but really aren’t serious about what they say, and I saw that to be the case. I was surprised! I was as surprised to see their responses. They were here to hear the revelation!


Among a number of things that are hard for me to comprehend about this story is the fact that this “revelation”, that Ron Lafferty said he received, which designated people who were to be murdered because they had become obstacles to the cause. And that specifically listed were Brenda Lafferty and her 14 month old baby Erica, that this revelation was taken to other individuals in The School of the Prophets and shared with them. And even though this revelation apparently broke up The School of the Prophets, because it was too much for them, yes, I can understand it being too much for them. But the thing that I cannot comprehend is that nobody, not one of them, contacted police about this matter. If one of them had had the guts to do so, this whole tragedy might have been averted.

So while it is obvious that some of the latent violence in LDS history may have lain at the root of this horrible act, it appears that the systemic culture of secrecy within the LDS church may have played a role as well.

The First Attempt to Murder Brenda and Erica Lafferty

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Lafferty: But when it came right down to it, it never was something I anticipated doing. If you’d like, I’ll explain what I consider one of the most, most phenomenal days of my life was the 24th of July in ’84.

Barberi: And the 24th, I understand has great significance, so if you would do that and tell us about the 24th.

Lafferty: Okay. We spent the prior night at my mother’s home and the morning of the 24th, Ron was saying basically that today is the day. He’d been talking about this revelation quite a bit leading to it. He seemed to see some significance. I tried to be careful not to influence him or anything, but he seemed to make, be making implications that 24th of July was an important day and it was going to coincide here with this event, and ultimately it did obviously.

But the way it came out is we, around noon time, we went to American Fork to, actually we talked about going there to pick up one of my father’s guns from my younger brother, Allen, whose wife and child were listed to be whose lives were to be taken. And so we drove to American Fork and on the way I was praying and wondering if I should be involved with using this description I gave to you earlier, and I felt that it was the right thing to be doing, so I tried not to let myself get emotionally uncomfortable.

When we arrived at the house at some point, at least, I hope this is not offensive to Ron. He made a statement to the effect, “I guess we shouldn’t ask someone to do something that we’re not willing to do ourselves”. And Ron left the car and went to the door of the house, the apartment there, where my brother and his family lived with the intention of fulfilling the revelation. He knocked on the door several times, very loudly. I was sitting in the car at the curb in front waiting and watching and praying.

I remember my prayer at that time was, specifically, “If this is your business, God, that’s fine. If it’s not your business, you better be involved here and you better let us know. I’m willing to, if you’ll guide me, I’ll go, whichever way is right or wrong, I don’t want to do what’s wrong, but I don’t want to offend you by not being willing to do what’s right either.” Those were the kind of

Barberi: And you were prepared to commit murder at that point?

Lafferty: I was; absolutely. And secretly in my heart, not secretly, but I was thinking the thought at least came into my mind per “hopefully it’s just a test”, and the longer he knocked without an answer, the more this thought came to my mind: “Perhaps this is a test, like it was for Abraham, who was willing to take his own son’s life”.

When my brother turned around with a perplexed look on his face, he returned to the car and I was thanking God that it was just a test like Abraham. Ron got back in the car and I said, “Well, I guess we may have passed the test”. I was driving the car. And this is when what I can only describe as the most peculiar phenomenon took place. We began to drive away from the apartment and got about two blocks away, when suddenly I was overcome by a strong feeling, is the only way I can describe it, to turn the car around and to return to the apartment. It didn’t make much sense to me.

I’ve tried to describe this – when I’ve tried to describe this, the few people I’ve tried to describe this to, they become confused by it. And I have found the easiest way to describe what I was experiencing is to quote from the book of Mormon, when Nephi was describing his experience of taking Laban’s life, where he was clearly feeling the directions, but wondering if it was right. Now different than with Nephi, I didn’t resist in any way that feeling.


Here, Dan Lafferty references a story that is told at the beginning of The Book of Mormon, a book that Mormons considered to be scripture on par with the Bible. In the story, the hero whose name is “Nephi” is directed by the spirit of God to kill a man named Laban so that can get the records of his people, which are written on brass plates. When Nephi stumbles upon Laban, it is in the middle of the night, it is in the streets of Jerusalem, and Laban is passed out drunk. Nephi then gets the revelation from God that he has to slay Laban, and he does so by taking Laban sword and cutting off Laban’s head with it.

In the story, there are several times that Nephi resists the divine command to slay Laban, but ultimately Nephi relents and murders Laban in cold blood. Dan Lafferty tells his story as partial justification for his slaying of Brenda and Erica, but puts himself in a light better than Nephi, at least better in Dan Lafferty’s point of view, because Dan Lafferty says that whereas Nephi resisted the divine direction to kill, Dan Lafferty never did. Not once.

The Murder of Brenda and Erica Lafferty and Allen Lafferty’s Warning

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Barberi: Now, how long had you driven away from the house? How much time and how much distance had elapsed before you had this –

Lafferty: Just moments. I was maybe two blocks away. The car – we drove in the same direction the car was facing. So it was however long it takes to drive about two blocks.

And I said, “I’ve got to go back to the apartment, but being led by the spirit is the only way I can describe this. So I’m being led by the spirit, I drove back to the apartment, stopped at the apartment, went to the door and first knock, the door was opened by Brenda.

Barberi: Who knocked? You or your brother?

Lafferty: I Did. I went alone. Everyone else was in the car. I’m being led by the spirit now, and nobody else really knows what’s going on, except me and God, I guess is the way to describe this.

Barberi: And so they stayed in the car, you went to the door, knocked, Brenda opened the door.

Lafferty: Right. Brenda opened the door, and I just pushed; I felt led by the spirit to enter the house, and I kind of had to push past her to do it. I just continued for the next, probably 10 minutes or so. I don’t know how long it took. It was kind of, uh… I was just basic led by the spirit.

There was some conversation between Brenda and I, because I obviously had intruded. She made some statements that were quite revealing.

Barberi: What kind of statements? Did she wonder what you were doing there?

Lafferty: Uh, yeah. Well, it was even more bizarre than that. She, I remember one of the statements that she made, she said, “I knew that you were going to do something that no one could stop”. And I thought, “Well, that’s curious”. She said – she started making a lot of apologies about things she’d done. She’d been very involved in trying to break up our families and things.

Barberi: She was married to your brother, younger brother.

Lafferty: Yeah. She was married to my youngest brother.

Barberi: Where was he when this whole process occurred?

Lafferty: At the time he was working in Ogden. It was a holiday, I know, and there’s been questioned whether he was involved, but he didn’t – he wasn’t involved.

Barberi: Did you ever discuss with him your revelations?

Lafferty: Yes, I had. I had told him about it a couple of months earlier.

Barberi: Did he express any dismay at the fact that you had revelations that were going to take his wife and daughter’s life?

Lafferty: Yes, he did, but I felt prompted to tell him about it. It just seemed like the right thing to do. The moment; I remember it was in my father’s house when I did it, and it was just the right moment for it, I guess. Ron was with me when it happened. I said, “Allen, I just feel like I needed to tell you that Ron has received a revelation that talks about taking your and your child’s life”.

Barberi: And his reaction was?

Lafferty: He was quite shocked, obviously, but he knew what we were involved in. He knew we were involved in serious issues with The School of Prophets and things, and he made a comment without quoting him specifically, that let me know that he was concerned about God’s business and wanting not to offend God, and I was very impressed by his –

Barberi: He didn’t go off the deep end and try to do everything possible to protect the life of his wife and baby from his brother who was bent on killing them?

Lafferty: No, he didn’t go off the deep end, as you may be describing it here. What essentially – let me try and describe what happened. He made a statement that let me know that he wanted to do what God wanted. He wanted God’s business to be done, but he said, “Now you also must understand”, he says, “I will defend my family with my life. If you were to try and fulfill this revelation and I was around, you’d have to take my life too, because I would defend my family”, and I said, “I understand that, Allen. I just feel like I should tell you, I don’t know why necessarily. I don’t know that this will ever happen. I’m just telling you what I know at this point.”

Barberi: This conversation did not get heated in any way? He didn’t –

Lafferty: No, there was never –

Barberi: No. He never showed a great passion for the safety of his wife and baby?.

Lafferty: No, it didn’t get heated, but it got emotional. There were tears involved.

Barberi: I’m just trying to understand Dan, as you can imagine being a husband and a father, if a relative or anybody came to me and says, “I have a notion to kill your wife and baby”, that there would be no end to the emotion that was going to be displayed.

Lafferty: Well, he’s a special person. That’s all I can say.


The first thing I want to say is that I am absolutely sickened by Dan Lafferty talking about Brenda, after he had pushed his way into her house, obviously bent on violence, Brenda could tell it, anybody could tell it in that situation. And Dan Lafferty says that Brenda began to apologize for a lot of things. Now, Dan Lafferty is taking that as “Oh, Brenda has done a lot of bad things. She’s committed a lot of sins, and so she’s apologizing to Dan sincerely because Brenda has been an obstacle. She realizes now that she’s been an obstacle and she’s apologizing for being an obstacle.”

I’m seeing it as someone begging for their life and for the life of their baby. So that’s one thing. The other thing is that Alan Lafferty, Brenda’s husband, knew that she was marked for murder, knew that his own daughter was marked for murder and did nothing about it. All he said was that, “Well, if I were there, when you tried to do it, I would have to protect them, and I would lay down my life for them”, thus signaling of course, to Dan and Ron, that when they went to the house to murder Brenda and Erica, Allen needed to not be home. And that was obviously part of the plan because Dan just got done saying that it was a holiday. It was pioneer day. It was July the 24th, 1984. But that he knew that Alan was away from home working in Ogden, Utah. He knew that Alan was not there. He knew the coast was clear. He knew the time was right to commit the murders and Allen never did one damn thing to stop it.

Barberi: So you’re in the apartment with Brenda and your niece. How long did you have a conversation with her and how did it degenerate into a murder?

Lafferty: I don’t know how much of the detail I’ve gone into the complete graphic detail with with Mike King and the others, and those who he has had me share this with, for their purposes. By the way, I’ve never misled them. I haven’t I feel that there’s a purpose for sharing all this and I won’t digress into that right now, but he suggested perhaps it wouldn’t be necessary or maybe appropriate to give some of the details.

Barberi: No, I don’t think that’s necessary. I think everybody knows the details. I just trying to understand, how long did you carry on a conversation with Brenda before you murdered her?

Lafferty: Okay. It wasn’t long. It was probably a matter of maybe a couple of minutes or so and the whole scenario continued on rebel. I’ll go through it as much as I feel like.

Barberi: Go ahead.

Lafferty: There’s nothing I’m ashamed to describe to you. It’s just that I don’t want to offend the sensitivity of who may be listening and more than they maybe already have been, I don’t know. I’ll just feel my way through this. I should –

Barberi: It’s a little late for that.

Lafferty: Well, alright. Well maybe I’ll just spill it all to you then.

Barberi: Go ahead.

Lafferty: Okay. Well, as I stood there and she talked to me, I felt inclined to hit her and I did. I hit her as hard as I could. I intended to knock her unconscious. My thought was, if I knocked unconscious, then she wouldn’t have to suffer when I took her life. She wasn’t knocked unconscious.

In fact, in fact, all it did was made her talk more and she revealed a lot of fascinating aspects about her personality, which I wasn’t not particularly concerned about. I didn’t particularly like or dislike Brenda. I didn’t know her. She avoided me because she didn’t like me. I tell you that, to be honest with you. As a result, I didn’t really know her. I didn’t know the child and maybe that’s okay in the end anyway.

She began to talk about all the things that she was doing to try and break down our families. For whatever reason, she made that her personal issues. And I thought, “Well, I’ll be darn. I’m surprised. There’s a lot of these things people were saying are true that she was, more mischievous and deceiving.

Barberi: It never occurred to you that she thought you were nuts?

Lafferty: That who did?

Barberi: Brenda.

Lafferty: That she thought I was nuts? I’m sure she thought I was nuts.

Barberi: So that didn’t in any way, shape your mind thinking “Well, there’s a reason why she’s saying these things because she thinks I’m crazy”?

Lafferty: No, I don’t think I ever allowed myself to. At this point, certainly I didn’t, at this point I could tell I was involved in doing something that I wasn’t going to let anything distract me from. I was kind of just being led by the spirit as best way to describe it. And I

Barberi: So when you killed her, what was your feeling immediately upon committing that act?

Lafferty: I didn’t experience any feeling. I – okay. I’ll explain to you a little more.

Barberi: Was it accomplishment, relief, remorse, second guessing with what, was there anything that went through your mind at that incident when she lied there dead, that you had done something right [or] wrong?

Lafferty: Oh yeah, accomplishment. Now maybe I could best couch that by telling you what, at a certain point, Ron, I guess it became a little heavy for Ron and he suggested we leave. This was before I’d taken her life.

Barberi: So he came into the apartment; you told me in the beginning that you were there alone.

Lafferty: Right. Okay. Let me back up. I think the best way to answer your questions is to go on and pick up where I left off and finish it.

Barberi: Okay, go ahead.

Lafferty: Okay. So I struck her intending to knock her unconscious unsuccessfully. She continued to talk about things. So I took her and I threw on the ground and held her at that point. It was right there by the door. Ron came, apparently they could hear me throw her on the ground. Ron came to the door and had to push his way in. He asked me what was going on. Essentially I was actually holding her down and I said, “I’m just following the directions I’m being led to do”, and he says, “Well, what do you think you’re going to do?”, and I said, “Well, I’m going to take her life”, and he says, “How are you going to do it?”, I said, “Well, I’m not sure yet. Let me pray about it here and I’ll tell ya”, and I said, “I’m going to take her life. I’m going to cut her throat”. and he says, “How are you going to do it? What are you going to use in the room?”

What he meant by that was I had a buck knife on my belt that I carried with me all the time, and he had a knife which was actually the knife that was used. I said, “I’m gonna use that new knife that you just purchased”, and he took it out of his boot and set it on the floor by me.

As I continued at that point, Ron, for whatever reason began to, well, I don’t feel very comfortable in that. Essentially what happened short time later, Ron said, “Let’s just get out of here”, and I turned around, I says, “Ron, you do what you feel like you need to do. I’m going to do what I feel like I need to, and then I’ll be ready to leave”, and I think that kind of answers that.

So essentially what happened, ultimately Brenda passed that she fainted, and when she fainted I didn’t want her to regain consciousness because that had achieved what I intended to avoid her having to suffer more than was necessary. So I wanted her to be kept unconscious, and then I tied a cord from the vacuum cleaner around her neck to keep her from regaining consciousness. And then, being that by the spirit, I went back to the back bedroom and where the baby was and walked into the baby’s room. I spoke to her briefly and then took her life.

And then I returned to the kitchen where Brenda was, and I untied her neck and took her life. And then I turned to Ron and said, “Okay, let’s go now”. I don’t know what he was doing in between time, but then we left, and I did feel a sense of accomplishment. I didn’t feel emo[tional] – it was cold blooded. It was a cold blooded killing.


Throughout Dan Lafferty’s description of the double murder that he committed, he keeps using an expression, “I was led by the Spirit”, “I was led by the Spirit”, “I was led by the Spirit” at every step of the way. The thing that is chilling about this is that this is another reference to the story in The Book of Mormon of Nephi killing Laban. The story says that Nephi went to Jerusalem by night. He needs to get the brass plates. He doesn’t know how he’s going to get those brass plates from Laban, but he went into the city and was “led by the Spirit” every step of the way.

The exact language from 1st Nephi 4:6, writing in first-person states: “And I was led by the spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do.” Verse seven: “Nevertheless, I went forth and as I came near entered the house of Laban, I beheld a man and he had fallen to the earth before me for, he was drunken with wine. And when I came to him, I found that it was Laban.” Verse 10″ “and it came to pass that I was constrained by the spirit that I should kill Laban.” And then finally, after several verses of Nephi resisting the admonitions of the Spirit to kill Laban in cold blood, verse 17 states: “And again, I knew that the Lord had delivered Laban into my hands for this cause that I might obtain the records according to his commandments. Therefore I did obey the voice of the spirit and took Laban by the hair of the head. And I smote off his head with his own sword.”

It is that phrase from verse 6 of 1st Nephi, chapter 4, “And I was led by the spirit” that Dan Lafferty continues to say over and over in recounting this story, making the link directly in his mind to the story from The Book of Mormon, which serves as a justification for his murders.


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Barberi: What did you think was going to happen after these murders occurred that you committed? What did you expect?

Lafferty: Here again, I have to refer to my personality, whereas I don’t really much care about things that happen. When I sent something as correct, I’m really not that concerned about the consequences. Even like when I came to prison, ultimately when they were bringing me to the prison, there were people threatening my life and the people with the news media turned to me and said, “Does that frighten you, that they’re threatening your life like that?” I said, “No, it doesn’t frighten me. It’s just a whatever happens, you know? I’m not ashamed of what I’ve done, and I really don’t care what people say or do or think I really care about doing what’s right.”

Barberi: You said you had a feeling of accomplishment. What was the motive? Why did these two individuals, as opposed to any two other individuals on the planet or 10 individuals deserve to die at your hand? What did you accomplish?

Lafferty: That is a major question that I have only been able to answer satisfactorily more recently. At the time I certainly didn’t have answers to it, and those questions ran through my mind and were asked to me by other people who I communicated with. Although I didn’t really talk to too many people ever for a long time, at least, but I wanted that same question. Ultimately, now I think I know answers. I think it was important that I came to prison. That’s part of the answer. Then you might ask, why was it important for me to come to prison?

Barberi: You can go to prison by doing any number of things without murdering a child and her mother.

Lafferty: That’s true. That’s true.

Barberi: So what did you accomplish? Why did these two people have to die in your mind? Why were they singled out to die?

Lafferty: Other than “Because I believe God wanted it”? I think you want an answer besides that. Because I am convinced I’m of the belief still that it was something God wanted, but why? It’s a bigger question then. It’s not something you can answer so simply, but I will try and get around it for you here If I can.

Scott Winter

You’re listening to a special edition of Feedback on the Spectrum Public Affairs Network. I’m Scott Winter.

On July 24th, 1984, Dan Lafferty, acting on a “revelation” supposedly received by his brother, Ron, brutally killed his sister-in-law Brenda Lafferty and her 14 month old baby Erica. As we continue this rebroadcast of an interview on Call 9-10, Tom Barberi’s show, Tom asked Dan Lafferty by phone from the Utah state prison, “What was the reason for you to commit these murders?”

Crazy Theological Justifications for Murder

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Lafferty: Yeah, the answer to that question is because these events are all preparatory and they had to be of a magnitude that would get such attention, that they would be important for what they are preparatory for. And that’s really what it’s all about.

Barberi: And that would be what?

Lafferty: Okay. It’s difficult for me to talk about this a little bit because I don’t like to sound presumptuous, but because I’ve since learned who I am and what, I am to do, I believe that is will make all of this really small potatoes.

Barberi: And what would that Be?

Lafferty: Okay. I’ve come to believe – to understand – that I’m Elijah, which is just a title. The Elijah referred to in the last two verses the Old Testament that “will be instrumental in turning hearts of the fathers, to the children and the children, to the fathers in preparation for the second coming of Christ”, which hopefully is drawing near. These are all just things that are of a magnitude that would weigh in with the magnitude of that kind of an event. And that’s really the capsulized answer to that, but I’m not sure that’s what you want.

Barberi: Well, no, I wanted your answer and whatever that is.


Here, Dan Lafferty explains that he did not have any idea as to why it was that God wanted him to kill Erica and Brenda, although he’s previously stated that the reason is because they had become “obstacles”, they were an obstacle of some sort, they were interfering with the goals of the family and therefore they had to be put out of the way.

Now in this interview, 16 years later, that seems to have changed somewhat in his mind. Now he does not know why it was that they had to be murdered, but instead he has learned since going to prison that actually he is “Elijah” and that the murders must have been done so that he would go to prison and they must have been done in some way that he has no idea what it is to help him fulfill his role of Elijah.

Now, Elijah in Mormon theology is a very significant character. It is also an office as Dan Lafferty mentioned. So he’s not just a person, a character from the old Testament, it is also an office which can be filled by multiple people. But what Dan Lafferty said is that his role as Elijah is to do something as prophesied in the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, that Elijah would return and that his return would have something to do with the turning of the hearts of the children, to the fathers and the turning of the hearts of the fathers, to the children in preparation for the second coming of Jesus Christ. Now this prophecy about Elijah from the book of Malachi is well-known to all Mormons. It is frequently quoted by Mormons, but generally applied to the appearance of Elijah to Joseph Smith and the Kirtland temple in 1836, and it is generally understood by Mormons to be an appearance by Elijah in the temple to confer on Joseph Smith, the keys necessary to seal families together forever. That is the common Mormon understanding of the appearance of Elijah.

Obviously Dan Lafferty sees himself as another fulfillment of this office of Elijah, and indeed the idea that Elijah is an office is also part and parcel of Mormon theology.

Barberi: So it required you to take these two lives to create what? Something in the public eyes so you would become known?

Lafferty: I think that has to be considered as part of it. Yes.

Barberi: Why do you have to be known for murder? Why couldn’t you be known for speaking your mind as to what you feel is coming?

Lafferty: Only because I believe that’s God’s plan – His strange plan. He would most agreeably admit – he says he has a strange plan and a strange purpose. This is very strange, but I believe that I see it now that, hopefully soon and perhaps this forum today is in some way significant to beginning to prepare for the calling of Elijah, which is an essential work that has to be done before Christ returns –

Barberi: Now to get known for what you did. Did you immediately go and turn yourself in and call chief Cooper and say “I committed these murders” or did you have to get caught?

Lafferty: We were caught.

Barberi: If you were on the lam, I thought this was supposed to be something to garner you attention. Why didn’t you stand outside and proclaim what you did? Why would you go and hide?

Lafferty: Well, we weren’t hiding. In fact, ultimately we did – I was basically following what Ron felt led to do at the time.

Barberi: But didn’t Ron tell you it was time to get out of there and not commit the murders? Then why did you go forward with it?

Lafferty: Oh, well, that’s a very fair question, and pretty insightful question. I don’t know that I could describe it in enough detail to satisfy that. There are – well, I’m going to tell you this now:

Ron was an important instrument involved in the whole issue, but Ron is not that important ultimately. I don’t know quite how to couch this. I told him, so I’ll maybe it’s time. Maybe it’s time to be more frank about this. Ron, I’ve told him and I’ll make it now public moreso. Ron in my opinion is a son of perdition, and he’s doing the work of his father and I’m doing the work of my father and they, we have different fathers. So perhaps at that point, things began to – well, Ron fulfilled an important part. He had things – without Ron it wouldn’t be as it is supposed to be.

But then again, the way I can maybe best – if it’s not too presumptuous – help you to understand what I’m saying. Christ would not have been crucified, had it not been for Judas, Iscariot. Judas Iscariot who played an important role, but he was a son of perdition; Christ identified him as such. I believe Ron is the same; he played an important role and the most common question to me that it would rise to your mind, “Well, how would God use him as a prophet? If he was -” in a similar way, “Why would God use Judas Iscariot to do God’s business?”, but God works in strange ways.

I do believe though, essentially, he is a son of perdition and his purposes are pretty much passed, I believe.


So here we get a remarkable insight into the mind of Dan Lafferty, at least as his mind was back in the year 2000. He knows in his mind that God wanted him to commit these murders. And so now he has to come up with some kind of rationale as to why it was that God commanded him to commit these murders in light of the way that things played out for the past 16 years, when he is serving a life sentence in prison.

Dan conceives of himself as Elijah, who must perform a great work preparatory to the second coming of Jesus Christ. Unless Dan gets out of prison, he can’t perform this great work, unless he performs this great work Jesus can’t come again, and therefore he is expecting at any time for Jesus or God to come give him a helping hand to get them out of prison.

He has also come to see his brother, Ron, as being a “son of perdition”. He says that Ron has one father, and that Dan has a different father. What he means by that is that Ron’s father is the devil, Satan, and Dan’s father is God, and Dan likens himself unto Jesus Christ, who was betrayed by Judas, with his brother Ron of course fulfilling the role of Judas Iscariot. Delusions of grandeur, much?

No Guilt or Remorse

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Barberi: I’m still trying to understand, and maybe you are trying to understand yourself in the 16 years since you’ve committed these acts what you did and why you did it. If this date, this, this long time after I hear no remorse in your voice.

Lafferty: No, I don’t. I don’t have any remorse.

Barberi: You ever think that your niece would be 17 years old now, or 18 years old and might be going on to college and having babies of her own and raising a family? You have no thoughts about this at all? Taking that child’s life?

Lafferty: No, I never have thought about that.

Barberi: You want to think about it now?

Lafferty: I’ve thought about it while you said it; that’s about as much as I think it’s worth of thinking about. I don’t Think there’s any advantage in dwelling on unnecessary details. I try to avoid, whether it’s intentionally I try to avoid, I find that I don’t bother. I think this fits in my personality trait, which is that I don’t worry about consequences when I determined something’s appropriate, so I don’t feel there’s much need to worry about alternatives and things like that, I guess.

Barberi: You don’t ever second your actions.

Lafferty: Well, I wouldn’t say I don’t second guess them because I have had some good long talks with God about this, and I’ve been willing to. In fact, I had a good talk with God about, I said, “If this isn’t your business, God, and I have done wrong, it’s not because I did intentionally wrong. If I had done wrong, you need to let me know, and maybe I’ve gotten into a hole too deep to dig my way out of, but I’ll do whatever I can If you’ll let me know that I’ve done wrong”, because God knows that I never did anything intentionally wrong, “and if I’ve been deceived, I need to know that if there’s anything I can do about it”.

Barberi: This of course is your opinion. You have no idea. You haven’t gotten any written texts from God or anything else. This is just your inner internal feelings.

Lafferty: That’s primarily what has been my guiding influence. Yeah.

Barberi: And if you’ve never gotten any messages, however they come to you, saying that you did the right or wrong thing, or has God ignoring you?

Lafferty: Not on that subject. Well, God didn’t ignore me. Cause I feel like I got to a comfortable place on that subject I was discussing with Him. When I finally felt like “I probably should address it”, I had acknowledged very few people ever considered that I had done right. I thought, “Well, maybe I’m equally in error to never think that I’ve done wrong. I better consider the possibility.” So I had been through that.

Barberi: And you came to the conclusion that you did nothing wrong –

Lafferty: I was able to resolve completely to my own satisfaction that it was God’s business, and I’ve been comforted in that.

The Failings of Allen Lafferty

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Barberi: Where have you had any contact with Allen since the murders?

Lafferty: No. I’ve written to him, but he apparently isn’t comfortable writing back to me and that’s fine.

Barberi: And you have no feelings at all for your brother’s loss?

Lafferty: Oh, I wouldn’t say that. Yeah. I realized he suffered, but I don’t let myself –

Barberi: That doesn’t bother you?

Lafferty: Well, no, to be honest. I don’t think it does bother me. No, because I kind of don’t know whether it’s because it’s not supposed to bother me or because I won’t let it bother me. I don’t know.

Barberi: Do you think that Allen approved of what you did?

Lafferty: No. I’m sure I have information now, sufficient to understand that he does not approve of it, that he –

Barberi: Are you surprised that he allowed them to be in such close proximity and accessible to you to commit this act?

Lafferty: I wouldn’t be at all surprised, like I say, I haven’t talked to him, so I don’t know for sure, but I presume from what I’ve heard him say through my mother, basically – he lived with my mother after that for a long time – and she shared some of his thoughts and feelings because he wouldn’t talk to me personally that he couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t repent. I remember that was the thing that really puzzled him because he loves me. He told me he loved me. I did see him in the trial. He told me he loved me.

When he was explaining to mom, I remember her saying, “Why won’t he repent? Why won’t he repent?” Because my brother loves me.

Barberi: But asking for repentance is a little different than having anger for murdering his wife and baby. Do you understand why I have a hard time understanding what you Laffertys say is what your thought processes are. I don’t understand this. I don’t even think any normal people walking the street can understand how a person can let his brother say that “I’m going to murder your wife and baby” and not call the police or not do anything to intervene. Do you understand what I’m saying?

Lafferty: I do understand what you’re saying, and I’ve done the best I can to try and put my mind into what Allen’s thinking.

Barberi: So what? Does Allen just think you were joking? And if he didn’t think you were joking and you were serious, why wouldn’t he have done everything humanly possible to protect his family from his murderous brothers’ ideas?

Lafferty: Okay. The most specific reference I can return to is: I sensed that he, whether he believed that or not, was probably of the mind that it may be part of God’s business, and I guess that, for that reason – I don’t think he wanted to probably say anything to law enforcement or something. That would be my best guess, but I don’t know.

Barberi: So he was going along with the “God’s business” business in thinking that “If this happens, it is okay”?

Lafferty: No, I don’t think he would say that it was okay.

Barberi: Or it’s God will? Then if you do fulfill this act that you had told him you were going to do, it would be God’s will?

Lafferty: I have to think at that thought must have run through his mind in some fashion.

Barberi: Does this make you think that maybe your brother’s a little “off”?

Lafferty: Which, Allen?

Barberi: Yeah, that he would allow his wife and baby to be murdered because of an alleged message from God or whoever you understand what –

Lafferty: (Chuckling)

Barberi: I’m being serious.

Lafferty: The reason I’m chuckling is the thing that I imagined myself saying that somebody else was “off”. That’s what got me.

I never thought about him being “off” because I guess maybe I’m so far “off”.


In the Hulu series “Under the Banner of Heaven”, the part of Dan Lafferty is played by Kurt Russell’s son, Wyatt Russell, and he does a pretty good job of portraying that character. He is portrayed as being very emotional; very susceptible to anger. And even though I think that why it, Russell does a really good job of portraying the character of Dan Lafferty. It does not and cannot capture the true chillingness of Dan Lafferty.

As we listened to him in this interview from the year 2000, describe the murder of his sister-in-law and her 14 month old baby girl that he himself committed as calmly and as dispassionately as if you were talking about an unusually colored bird that he happened to spot while walking to work that morning. That’s what chills me to my bones. That’s what’s scary. Not ranting, not raving, but describing a brutal murder as calmly as an unimportant business transaction

The Question of Sanity and Doubt

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Barberi: Did you ever think you’re off?

Lafferty: (Kind of chuckling in disbeleif) What?

Barberi: Do you ever think that your off you ever get the feeling that “Gee whiz, maybe I’m not really cinched down too tight here. I have some things that if the rest of the world -“

Let me ask you this, Dan, if the rest of the world would look at you and look at the story and say, “This guy has got a screw loose”, wouldn’t you maybe think that this majority vote might have a basis in fact?

Lafferty: I have thought about it, yes, but what can you do? I mean, I like where I’m at. If I’m insane, I’m happy to be insane.

Barberi: You’re pleased with who you are and what you’ve done.

Lafferty: I’m not unhappy with who I am, no.

Barberi: What do you expect will happen to you next, now that you’ve gone through this, 16 years you’ve been in prison, you have no remorse for the murders of Brenda and her child, and what do you think is going to happen to Dan Lafferty now?

Lafferty: Well, that’s a good question. I never would have expected to be in prison for as long as I have been, first of all.

Barberi: What’d you think? They’re gonna let you go and say, “Gee whiz, Dan, have a nice day”?

Lafferty: (chuckling) No. To be clear –

Barberi: I mean, you say you don’t care about consequences. What did you think was going to happen to you after you committed this act?

Lafferty: I represented myself to jurors and others who were present that I said, “My only interest is the kingdom of God, and the Lord says that when the kingdom comes, he’ll have to open the prisons and get his children out.” So I said, “I can wait for the kingdom in prison and as easily as I can out here.”

And then I was asked, “So do you think God’s going to come get you out of prison?” And I says, “Well, if he does, that’d be cool”, and I guess that’s primarily what my thought has been over the years that I’ve hoped that somehow God would intervene and bring me out of prison. I’ve used the example of Peter who had an angel come and deliver him from prison, and I said, “Maybe it’ll happen like that”, but I don’t know; I’m only guessing.

In answer to your question, what I think will happen, I’ll remain in prison until, and if God ever comes and takes me out of prison, that’s all I can think.

Barberi: And that could be by natural causes or maybe at the hands of another inmate.

Lafferty: Oh, well, yeah, anything I guess is possible. I was more inclined to think that hopefully it would be some miraculous means. Especially like I say, with what I think I understand now. If in fact I am the Elijah, then there’s an important part to be played by that individual the whole story of God’s plan, and so I can’t imagine it being done from here in prison. So therefore again, I have to think that somehow there will be some intervention with God to fulfill it.

Barberi: In your quiet, darkest hours, late at night, early in the morning, or whenever, when you’re your introspective, does it ever have a ever have a nagging thought in the back of your mind that maybe, maybe you were not Elijah and then maybe you are nothing other than Dan Lafferty who wound up killing his sister-in-law and niece for no reason other than the fact that you had a feeling?

Lafferty: Well, that’s been asked me a number of times, and I am honest enough to say; this is something I had to kind of progress through. I don’t know these things are true. I don’t know there’s a God, I’ll be honest. That’ll probably give you, there’ll be shocking enough statement to let you understand where I’m coming from.

Barberi: At this stage in the conversation I find that quite shocking.

Lafferty: Yeah. I thought it would be, but it will help me to explain what I’m trying to say here. I don’t know much of anything, and the reason I say as significant as they being raised in the LDS church, we were taught to say, “I know that this is a true church”, “I know that there’s a Santa Claus”, you know what, all these kinds of things. And we don’t really know much of anything. I’ve come to understand in my analysis of things that we only know what we have experienced with our senses, our natural senses; the five senses. Primarily the only things we can really say we know anything about.

I don’t know that I am in this Elijah, I don’t know that there’s a God, I don’t know any of these things, but I have good feelings. I’m at a point now where I would be surprised tremendously if there’s not a God. I’d be surprised. Now I’m at a point now where I would really be surprised if I’m not Elijah, but I don’t know these things. And so therefore that not knowing does leave room for wonderment, and there are times when, I’ll be honest, that I think, “Well, maybe I am just insane. Maybe if I am”, I think to myself, “So what can I do about it? I don’t know. I guess I’m not all that unhappy. I’m not extremely happy, but I’m more happy when I think about the things that I hope will happen, which are, they may be just dreams and fairy dust and stuff. I don’t know.” It’s just, it does make a lot of sense to me. I have good feelings about things.


We are rapidly winding down to the end of this interview with Dan Lafferty. But I have to comment that it is interesting that an individual such as Dan Lafferty, who believes so strongly in the “revelation” from God to kill his sister and niece, that he feels absolutely no remorse about it even 16 years later, and apparently has never felt any remorse about it, and even go so far as to say he’s not ashamed of it. That Dan Lafferty would nevertheless mock his Mormon upbringing, where he was taught to testify that he “knows that something is true”, he “knows the LDS church is true”, he “knows the book of Mormon is true”, he “knows the president of the church is a prophet of God”; that he will mock Mormons for such claims of absolute knowledge and certainty of things that they have had revealed to them by the Spirit. And yet try and distinguish himself as somebody who does not know any of these spiritual things. He says, he doesn’t know that he is Elijah, he says he doesn’t know that his murders were directed by God, and yet he would be very surprised to find out differently.

I sense that he is making this distinction in order to present himself as more rational than he may actually be, because I cannot fathom how somebody could commit a double murder in the name of God without absolutely knowing that it came from God. If there were any question in his mind, why would he have committed the murders in the first place? This seems to me, part of the rewriting of history that sometimes happens in a person’s life, not only to justify things they may have done in the past, but also to make themselves look better in the present.

It is also of course possible that he is in the process of trying to deal with the question of how it is that God could have commanded him to commit these murders. And yet God has not intervened to release him from prison in the 16 years, since it is now 2022; 22 years after this interview is given one can only wonder what has gone through his mind in regards to this in the meantime, and why hasn’t God released him from prison even now.

And I personally wonder if Dan Lafferty has ever considered another story in The Book of Mormon from the Book of Alma chapter 30, where it talks about an antichrist named Korihor, who went about teaching false doctrine and leading the souls of many away from God and God’s church and was ultimately trodden down even until he was dead. This from Alma chapter 30, verse 60: “And thus, we see the end of him who perverteth the ways of the Lord. And thus, we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily dragged them down to hell.” It has now been 38 years since Dan Lafferty committed these murders, and God has not lifted one finger to rescue him or get him out of prison. And so I wonder if perhaps by this time he has begun to think that maybe it wasn’t God directing him at all, but actually it was the devil who was directing him to commit these murders, because according to The Book of Mormon, God does stand up for those who do his will. God does bless and protect and deliver those who do his will. It is the devil on the other hand, who will not support his children at the last day. This connection is brought only more sharply into focus by the fact that even though Korihor claimed that it was an angel of God who taught him these doctrines and things to teach and do he admits at the end shortly before his ignominious death, that it was the devil who had appeared to him as an angel of God, and it was the devil who had deceived him.

If Parole were a Possibility

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Barberi: If you were let out of prison tomorrow, and you could assume a life as a citizen, what would that be?

Lafferty: I recently wrote to my children and told them what I would do is I’d get me a job. I think my highest preference would be to get a job as a bagger at a grocery store, and just keep a mundane job and survive the best I can out there. I wouldn’t want to become a doctor again, that was too complicated, too many secret combinations involved. I like to be involved in something that has low stress levels, and just go to work my nine-to-five job, and go home at night and relax, and go back to work. Something simple like that. That would be my ideal job.

Now, I was going to talk about going before the board, by the way. They liked to, if they ever are going to release you – so when you’re talking about release, I had to think through this – The board likes to hear what your plans would be. And I jokingly said, “I’d like to do something legitimate. So I think I’d go to Nevada and run a whore house, and appear legitimate and sell pot out the back door and have all my girlfriends in the work there, and have a big playground in the back for all the kids”. That would be pretty ideal in my mind, but more realistically –

Barberi: That’s good as answering any, I suppose in your condition.

Dan, would you have another last quick question for a short answer, because I’m really out of time.

Lafferty: Okay.

Barberi: Would you have any thoughts to tell somebody who thinks that they are getting these kinds of messages to commit this kind of an act?

Lafferty: Well I’ve had that question posed to me before, and all I can say is I wouldn’t – you know, people have got to do what they feel is right. I couldn’t see myself trying to prevent someone from doing something that they thought was right, as long as it didn’t involve me, I guess, but I really don’t know that I have any kind of useful advice there. I’m big on free agency, so that opens up pretty –

Barberi: Even if that agency would take the life of another individual?

Lafferty: Well, here’s the problem: what if it is God’s business? If someone says, they think God let them do something, I surely wouldn’t want to be standing in God’s way. That’s not a good place to be.

Barberi: And what if it isn’t?

Lafferty: Then I guess consequences will follow.

Barberi: You say, “Oops”.

Dan, I’m out of time. Thank you for visiting with us and sharing this time. I hope this is help explain an awful lot, uh, as to what goes on and what has happened.

Lafferty: I’m glad to have had the chance to do it.


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Ron and Dan Lafferty were arrested several weeks after the killings and convicted of murder in separate trials. The jury that heard Ron Lafferty’s case sentenced him to be executed. He is currently on Utah’s death row. The jury that heard Dan Lafferty’s case could not agree on a sentence. Dan Lafferty is currently serving life without the possibility of parole at the Utah state prison.


So that concludes the interview by Tom Barberi of Dan Lafferty on the 16th anniversary of the double murder committed by Dan Lafferty and as recounted in “Under the Banner of Heaven”.

Thank you for listening. I invite anyone with comments to make about this interview, to write them in the comment section below.

That’s about all for tonight until next time. This is Radio Free Mormon signing off the air.