IDAHO FALLS — An Arizona family is desperate for their loved ones to return home after they abruptly bought thousands of dollars of survival gear, boarded a plane for Idaho and cut off all communication because they believe the Second Coming of Jesus Christ is imminent.
At the center of the situation is 16-year-old Blaze Thibaudeau, who has been reported missing to law enforcement and may be in danger, according to his father, Ben Thibaudeau.
“They see him as a Davidic servant (chosen individual) who plays a significant role in the Savior’s return. They feel they needed to take him to an undisclosed location where he would receive his calling and understand his role in the Second Coming,” Ben tells EastIdahoNews.com. “I fear for his safety, especially if my son is contentious, rebellious or belligerent. I fear that my brother-in-law would restrain him or do something that would incapacitate him.”
Blaze is with his mother, Spring Thibaudeau; his 23-year-old sister, Abi Snarr; and his uncle Brook Hale, who is Spring’s brother. Nobody in the family knows where they are and none of them have been heard from since Monday, although the boy is legally required to be returned to his father.
Fascination with the Second Coming
Ben says his wife, Spring, became interested in end-of-days religious topics in 2015. The couple regularly attended The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and she gradually became obsessed with authors who wrote about the Second Coming, according to Ben. Spring began participating in energy healing sessions, and Ben became concerned.
“I requested that we go in and talk to our ecclesiastical leader. The bishop essentially told her she needed to stop if she wanted the marriage to survive,” Ben recalls.
The church’s General Handbook discourages members from participating in “miraculous or supernatural healings from an individual or group that claims to have special methods for accessing healing power outside of prayer and properly performed priesthood blessings. These practices are often referred to as ‘energy healing.'”
Spring took a step back, but not for long. She started to claim she was having dreams, and around two and a half years ago, “she brought my daughter (Abi) into it,” Ben says. Abi also claimed she was having dreams and she and her mom felt an urgency to stock up on emergency supplies, he said.
Brook, Spring’s brother who lived in Provo, Utah, was also fascinated with doomsday teachings. He, Spring and Abi spent hours on the phone every day.
“She started spending a significant amount of money on food prep. She was buying a lot of winter gear, even though we live in Arizona. She was buying tents. She was convinced that the saints would have to gather in the last days up in the mountains, and she was preparing for that,” Ben says.
Although Abi was interested in the Second Coming, Ben says none of his and Spring’s other four kids were – especially Blaze.
“He is in no way a supporter of anything she’s ever believed. He is your typical teenager, and all he wants to do is hang out with friends and be on his phone,” Ben says. “He’s on the football team and has worked so hard to be on that football team. They still have games left this season. There’s no way that he would he would have gone along with it.”
In April, Spring asked Ben if they could live apart. He moved out but the family still had dinner and went to church together. He says his relationship with Spring was cordial and he moved back in with his wife at the beginning of October.
Braydon Snarr grew up in Ammon and married Abi in June 2021. About six months later, she told Braydon she had a dream about the last days and they ended up buying two years’ worth of food storage.
“I was comfortable doing it because I think preparedness is something that we should strive for. But over time, it started to get more and more, for lack of a better term, radical. It started to get more deep, and she connected with a bunch of different individuals with similar beliefs,” Braydon tells EastIdahoNews.com.
Latter-day Saints are taught to have a “basic supply of food and water and some money in savings” without going to “extremes” so they can support themselves and those around them in case of disaster or troubled times.
Braydon says his wife watched videos of pastors prophesying of the last days, and she was always speaking with her mom and uncle about the Second Coming. Earlier this year, she asked her husband if he would be willing to leave their home if necessary.
“My response to her was yes, if we were to be invaded by another country or our lives were in jeopardy, I would obviously not be in Phoenix in my apartment. I would leave — thinking that’s what she meant by that,” Braydon says. “But her beliefs continued to spiral down and down to the point where on Monday morning she said, ‘It’s time to go.'”
He was at work when Abi called and told him he needed to come home immediately to take her to the hospital. He rushed to their apartment but there was no medical emergency; instead, he found their Ring doorbell had been removed and his wife was inside frantically packing suitcases.
“The apartment was a mess. She had gone and purchased a bunch of hunting and utility camping gear from Sportsman’s Warehouse. And in utter shock, she told me that it’s time for us to leave and that I needed to go with her,” Braydon recalls. “I was just baffled.”
Abi said they had to get to the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport immediately because they, along with her mom and brother, had flights booked for Boise, where her uncle was picking them up. He asked where they would then go and she said she couldn’t tell him until they got to Idaho, Braydon says. He was confused and upset.
“I love her. She’s the love of my life. And she comes in and says, ‘It’s time to go, and I’m not coming back.’ It’s one of those experiences where part of you is like, ‘I can’t let you go. I have to go with you even if it makes no logical sense’ because that’s the one you love. She’s everything that I have,” Braydon says. “But deep down inside of me, I knew that this couldn’t be. The world is going to continue to keep spinning. I told her I just can’t do it. I can’t do it.”
Abi called her uncle Brook, and he read scriptures to Braydon trying to convince him to catch the flight.
“He was basically telling me that I will receive a witness after the trial of my faith and to trust God — that I’m a part of this with them, and it’s supposed to be the five of us,” Braydon says.
Braydon was emotional and went outside to his car. Spring and Blaze showed up, Abi loaded up her suitcases and they left for the airport. Braydon called his dad in Utah and asked for him to fly to Arizona so he wouldn’t have to be alone.
Braydon says he texted Abi and tried to explain that their plans didn’t make sense. She responded by saying it wasn’t too late for him to catch the flight. He responded that he loved her.
“She texted, ‘I love you. We will be back in a few years. And if you’re still around, I’ll come find you.'”
The text messages stopped.
Blaze is gone
Ben was at work when Braydon called and said, “Our worst nightmares have come true.”
“I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ He said, ‘They’ve left. They’re gone.’ And I said, ‘Who’s left? Who’s gone?’ He said, ‘Abi, Blaze and Spring,'” Ben recalls.
Ben immediately called his son, wife, daughter and Brook, but nobody answered. On Tuesday, a judge in Arizona issued an emergency order demanding Blaze be returned immediately to his father, who is the temporary sole custody parent.
“I’m very concerned about that my son is in danger and that his uncle could be the aggressor if things don’t go the right way,” Ben says.
Before the group left, Brook wrote a two-and-a-half page “last will and testament” letter to his kids, withdrew about $50,000 in cash and divided his assets between his children, Ben says. In the letter, provided to EastIdahoNews.com, Brook wrote about his faith and beliefs in Jesus Christ.
“If you are reading this right now, it means that I am gone. I don’t know where I am going. I was not told. You will not see me for some time. How long I do not know but I WILL see you again,” he wrote.
Ben says the letter is “very concerning” and shows the seriousness of the situation. The group is living off the $50,000, plus around $4,000 Abi took with her. There has been no known activity on any credit or bank accounts.
Searching for answers
Ben arrived in Idaho on Tuesday and contacted Boise Police, who confirm to EastIdahoNews.com that a report was taken about Blaze’s disappearance but referred questions to the jurisdiction where he was reported missing, which is the Gilbert Police Department. After this story was published, Gilbert Police responded to EastIdahoNews.com with a statement.
“On Wednesday, October 25, 2023, the Gilbert Police Department began investigating an alleged custodial interference involving 16-year-old Blaze Thibaudeau. Thibaudeau is believed to have been taken out of Arizona by his mother, Spring Thibaudeau, and the pair are believed to be traveling with two family members,” the statement said.
In working with Idaho law enforcement, Ben learned surveillance footage showed Blaze, Spring and Abi did land at the Boise Airport on Monday. They got into a white Lexus SUV with pink tow hooks on the front driven by Brook. A dealer plate was on the back of the vehicle, according to Ben.
“It’s been outfitted for off-roading, so it has big 33-inch tires and a lift. We think they’re commuting still, so we don’t think they’re hunkered down in the mountains,” Ben says.
EastIdahoNews.com called Abi and Brook Thursday but their phones went straight to voicemail. Spring’s phone appears to have been disconnected. Hours later, Ben received credible information that the group used passports to enter Canada, which makes sense to Braydon.
“The stuff that she purchased at the sporting goods store was all heavy gear, heavy wool socks, insulated boots, stuff of that nature,” Braydon says. “I believe their purpose is just to try to wait this out. They’re thinking events are going to be happening soon and they need to be away for safety.”
Ben isn’t sure how long he will stay in Idaho. He bought a one-way ticket but has other children and a career back in Arizona.
“I have a full-time job back home (but) I’m just going day by day and trying to feel things out,” he says through tears.
Although Ben and Braydon worry about Spring, Abi and Brook, they are most concerned about Blaze. They believe his mother told him when she checked him out of school that they were going on a trip for his birthday.
“My hope is that he realizes that’s not what’s going on. He can either play into it a little bit or figure out a point when they’re vulnerable and escape. Then we can find him and work that direction,” Braydon says. “It’s my prayer he can somehow get away.”
Ben adds, “They’re all good people. They’re all wonderful people. But getting into these dark topics has really corrupted them in a really horrible way. But they are genuinely just loving, kind people.”
Anyone with information on the whereabouts of Blaze Thibaudeau is asked to call the Gilbert Police Department at (480) 503-6500 and reference report number 23-161023.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was updated Friday at 8:20 a.m. to include a statement from the Gilbert Police Department and information from the Latter-day Saint General Handbook about energy healing.