The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had disavowed polygamy late in the 19th Century and the practice had been illegal for several decades by the Depression of the 1930’s.
I was unable to determine if there was really an Anti-Polygamy Squad in Salt Lake City during the Depression but I did find online Polygamy in Utah and the Surrounding Area Since the Manifesto of 1890. It is the master’s thesis of Jerold A. Hilton written in 1965 when he was a student at Brigham Young University.
The Manifesto set out that polygamy was not a part of the Church of Latter-day Saints. Here are some excerpts from the Manifesto:
I, therefore, as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, do hereby, in the most solemn manner, declare that these charges are false. We are not teaching polygamy or plural marriage, nor permitting any person to enter into its practice, and I deny that either forty or any other number of plural marriages have during that period been solemnized in our Temples or in any other place in the Territory.
Inasmuch as laws have been enacted by Congress forbidding plural marriages, which laws have been pronounced constitutional by the court of last resort, I hereby declare my intention to submit to those laws, to use my influence with the members of the Church over which I preside to have them do likewise.
There is nothing in my teachings to the Church or in those of my associates, during the time specified, which can be reasonably construed to inculcate or encourage polygamy; and when any Elder of the Church has used language which appeared to convey such teaching, he has been promptly reproved. And I now publicly declare that my advice to the Latter-day Saints is to refrain from contracting any marriage forbidden by the law of the land.
A significant number of Mormons rejected the decision of the Church and continued to have plural marriages.
A Killing in Zion includes as part of the plot issues that are currently featured in the debate on plural marriages.
Teenage girls as young as 13 years of age were and are being married to men often decades older.
With the number of wives being taken by men, especially older men, there are more boys growing up than there are women available for marriage. Senior members of fundamentalist Mormon groups banished teenage boys from the community leaving them to fend for themselves. Those leaders assert the shortage of marriageable women in the groups is not the reason for banishment.
While these actions with regard to teenagers are objectionable, even abhorrent, to many there were no major legal efforts against polygamists from 1890 through the 1930’s.
Hilton’s thesis provides the annual statistics from 1896 through 1962 on Utah prosecutions for polygamy (which includes bigamy) and illegal cohabitation.
For the 66 years of the stats there were a total of:
1.) 63 people charged and 38 convicted of polygamy
2.) 35 people charged and 27 convicted of unlawful cohabitation (of the total 19 charges and 16 convictions occurred in 1943 – 1944).
During 1933 – 1934 which includes the months when A Killing in Zion takes place there were but 2 charges and 2 convictions for polygamy offences in the whole state of Utah. There were no charges of unlawful cohabitation.
There were thousands of polygamists in Utah during the Depression. In the 1950’s it is estimated that there were 2,000 to 20,000 polygamists. While they maintained a low profile in the 1930’s there was no legal offensive to eradicate polygamy
After examining the above stats it is no surprise that no charges were laid against anyone in A Killing in Zion. There was general disapproval of plural marriages but no public outcry for prosecution.