It’s September 1977 in Surrey, England, and missionary Kirk Anderson is last seen standing outside a Mormon meeting house. Then, he disappears, swept away into a scandal that will entrance the tabloids for years to come. Three days later, he appears almost 200 miles away – with a shocking tale to tell.
The story began in the mid-1970s at Brigham Young University in Provo, a city on the shores of Utah Lake, Utah. Subsidized by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, the institution was known as a place where young men and women of the faith could meet and make a match. And there, a 19-year-old Anderson first encountered Joyce McKinney – a woman six years his senior.
Born in August 1949 in Avery County, North Carolina, McKinney grew up in a small town in the picturesque Appalachian Mountains. Apparently, she exhibited an unusually high IQ as a child, and was moved ahead in her classes at school. Meanwhile, she indulged a passion for cheerleading and became a drum majorette in her spare time.