2. THE CASE AGAINST HOFMANN
Although I do have fun, it's really not as romantic as it sounds. It seems like you always have people who hate you or are mad at you. (Mark Hofmann, Sunstone Review September 1982, page 17)
"Mock and jeer me, you cursed witch!" said Anselmus, "you are to blame for it all; but the Salamander will catch you, you vile beet!" (The Best Tales of Hofmann, page 58)
As I have indicated earlier, Mark Hofmann has refused to talk to investigators. He has also "refused to discuss the charges with reporters..." (New York Times, Feb. 16, 1986) At his preliminary hearing he was given an opportunity to say something in his own behalf, but he chose to remain silent. While I do not have Mr. Hofmann's side of the story, it does seem that the prosecution is building a strong case against him. I will, of course, have to wait until the trial before I come to a final conclusion.
When I first began my investigation into the documents and activities of Mark Hofmann, I realized I was taking a very unpopular course. Mormon scholars felt that I was unjustly persecuting Mr. Hofmann. The only one who gave much encouragement was A.J. Simmonds, manuscripts librarian at Utah State University. Ironically, Mr. Simmonds, like Sandra and myself, is also a non-Mormon.
Although I had no reason to fear that Mr. Hofmann was dangerous, I knew that any time a person tries to uncover fraud there is some danger of retaliation. If the police are correct in their theory that Mr. Hofmann is guilty of murder, Sandra and I may have been in real danger. Although I do not want to pass judgment until I have heard all the facts, if Hofmann is the type of man who would engage in bombings, then the thing that probably saved us from his wrath was that hardly anyone believed my findings. While I have uncovered some important circumstantial evidence indicating fraud, I could not find the hard evidence necessary to convince either historians or the police. In the pamphlet Mr. Boren and the White Salamander, I told of my frustration: "In my investigation I have been seriously handicapped by secrecy....If I had investigative power like the FBI or could subpoena documents,...I could force Lyn Jacobs or Mark Hofmann to reveal where the Salamander letter was obtained,..."
By the summer of 1985 I felt I had almost exhausted all my human resources. Although I had prayed about the matter from the beginning, I began to fervently seek God's help. Then a remarkable thing happened. A young man felt the burden of prayer and began to pray with me. He became extremely interested in my problem with the documents and prayed earnestly that God would just open up the way so that the truth about the matter would be revealed.
In my wildest imagination I would never have thought that an investigation that would lead to the truth concerning Mark Hofmann's documents would be set into motion by the explosion of three bombs. Although I do not believe that God planned the bombings (they undoubtedly came from the wicked heart of man), the result seemed to me to be a real answer to prayer. While I had previously complained because I did not have "investigative power like the FBI," it soon became apparent that Mark Hofmann was the subject of an intensive investigation. Mike Carter wrote: "The investigation is one unparalleled in Utah law-enforcement history. The number of agencies involved and the manpower assigned to work the case is unprecedented." (Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 18, 1985) The investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Salt Lake City Police Department, the Salt Lake County Sheriffs Office, the Salt Lake County Attorney's Office and the FBI. A U.S. grand jury also heard testimony concerning the case, and the laboratories of both the FBI and the Secret Service were used to perform tests on the documents. Mr. Hofmann's car, home and safety deposit boxes were thoroughly searched and many documents were confiscated by the police.
My friend had specifically prayed that some experts on documents would take an interest in the Salamander letter. In the months that followed the bombings some of the top experts in the country were called upon to examine Mark Hofmann's documents and the ink that was used in their production. Microscopes have been carefully focused on the most important documents, and the result is that charges have been filed against Mr. Hofmann. The complaint against him states that eleven documents which he sold the Mormon Church and other collectors are forgeries:
"All of the above documents were given to George Throckmorton an experienced questioned documents examiner formerly employed with the Utah State Crime Laboratory, presently employed by the Utah Attorney General Office.
"Mr. Throckmorton has done extensive scientific analysis on all of the documents described above and has concluded that none are authentic." (The State of Utah v. Mark W. Hofmann, page 6)
The Salamander letter is among the documents listed as forgeries.
WHEELING & DEALING
To understand Mark Hofmann's problems it is necessary to know something about his profession as a document dealer. Mr. Hofmann seems to have begun his career by collecting coins. As strange as it may seem, the whole thing started just after an explosion and, as I have already shown, ended in the same way. The following information appeared in the magazine section of the London Times, March 30, 1986:
"According to Bill Hofmann, his son Mark was seriously injured when, at the age of 12, he was playing with a chemistry set. Mark and his cousin were mixing a potion over a small burner when the test tube exploded. Mark was cut about the head by flying glasshis neck still bears the scarsand spent two weeks in bed recovering. During his convalescence he took up coin collecting."
In an interview published in Sunstone Review, September 1982, page 16, Mark Hofmann gave this information concerning himself:
"HOFMANN: When I was a kid I collected coins. I made the transition from coins to Mormon memorabilia when I was about 12. That's when I bought my first Mormon item: a $5 Kirtland Safety Society note (you know, the bank that folded). It was signed by Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon.
"REVIEW: How much did you have to pay for it?
"HOFMANN: At that time it was going for $250.
"REVIEW: You had $250 to spend when you were 12?
"HOFMANN: Well, even then I did a lot of wheeling and dealing. I can't say I paid straight cash for it. I probably traded half my coin collection for it. But that was the transition from coins to Mormon items. I collected Mormon money for awhile. For example, I picked up a $50 Kirtland note at an antique shop here when I was about 15 or 16. That was a pretty good find. I paid nothing near what it was worth. Then gradually I moved into Mormon documents, signed items. While on my mission to Bristol, England, I bought several early copies of the Book of Mormon in old bookstores. After my mission I went to Utah State University. I was in the pre-med program, planning to be a doctor. Well, the week before the medical admissions testthe MCAPI found the Anthon transcript. That somewhat disrupted my studies for the week so I put off taking the test. In fact, I didn't end up taking the test at all. So I'm doing this as a full time profession now."
In the same interview (page 17), Mark Hofmann said that "any Joseph Smith document, signed by Joseph himself, is a thousand dollar item." Mr. Hofmann went on to say that he was not concerned with pleasing historians and that "I'm in this for the money." Hofmann probably bought and sold many genuine documents before he announced the discovery of the Anthon transcripta document investigators believe is a forgery. Lyn Jacobs commented: "Another reason for Mark's success is the sheer volume of material he handles. He had found several documents and books before his first major find, the Anthon transcript. These items were rather insignificant things and only rarely added to our knowledge of history." (Sunstone, vol. 10, no.8, page 11) Mr. Jacobs went on to say: "You meet a lot of contacts in bookstores, libraries, etc. That's how I met Mark...He's been doing it for the past twelve years, so it's not surprising he has a network that is just incredible. Mark has friends all across the country and keeps in constant contact with most of them. That's why he had two home phones and a phone in each of his cars."
Mark Hofmann not only dealt with Mormon documents, but he had moved into many other fields as well. The Deseret News for Oct. 18, 1985, reported:
"A man who asked not to be identified said Hofmann bought the one-page document, called 'Oath of a Freeman,' in New York sometime within the past year and has been trying to sell it for approximately $1 million.
" 'Oath of a Freeman' is recognized by historians as the first document printed on a printing press by American colonists. However, until Hofmann's discovery, no one was sure if an original copy existed....
"Another source said in addition to the 'Oath of a Freeman,' Hofmann has collected letters from some important early American figures that he planned to sell, including documents written by Edgar Allan Poe and Abraham Lincoln.
"Hofmann dealt heavily in early American books and documents. 'The Mormon stuff is probably only 20 percent of his business activities,' the source said."
It was later reported that Mr. Hofmann said the Oath of a Freeman was actually worth 1.5 million dollars! Investigators now believe that it is a forgery. On November 8, 1985, the Los Angeles Times gave this information:
" 'There were many, many deals,' said Alvin Rust, a Salt Lake coin collector who often financed Hofmann's purchases. 'It started with early Mormon documents, but that wasn't all. There were Abraham Lincoln deals, there were Charles Dickens deals, there were Van Gogh deals.'
"The truth is, Hofmann's activities were something of a phenomenon in this city. The prospect of big profits attracted some of Salt Lake's most prosperous business leaders and excitement of his document discoveries stirred the intellectual community....
"It was, for Salt Lake, a subterranean economy that bustled with continuous deals but remained largely out of public view. The man who created the economy was himself elusive, appearing at his associates' doorsteps at odd hours and then disappearing for days....Hofmann managed to establish great trust between himself and his many business partners. 'I trusted him implicitly,' Rust said....
" 'It was a market that Mark created, and then he manipulated it, playing buyers off each other,' said Allen Roberts, one of the founders of the Sunstone Foundation, a liberal Mormon group. 'First the deals were in the hundreds of dollars, then the thousands, then the hundreds of thousands. People were getting greedy.'...
"In recent years, the Mormon emphasis on history has led to several agonizing episodes;...some researchers who believe it is proper to reveal quirks of the founders have complained of church officials attempting, as one put it, 'to intimidate legitimate scholarship.'...this conflict has brought Mormon leaders into close contact with Hofmann, the man who seemed to own the franchise on the document business. Hofmann traded or sold so many documents to the church that he regularly bypassed the archives department and dealt directly with the highest of the General Authorities, the inner circle of men who watch over the church and its 5.8 million members."
From all appearances Mark Hofmann had a very successful document business. Not too long before the murders, he "put down $5,000 in earnest money on a $550,000 Cottonwood home." (Utah Holiday, Jan. 86, page 47) While Hofmann had made tens of thousands of dollars on some of his early document deals, in 1985 be began dealing in transactions involving hundreds of thousands of dollars. In fact, as I have already mentioned, he claimed that a copy of the "Oath of a Freeman" was worth $1,500,000. As the amount of money involved in the deals increased, so did the concern of the investors. Before the bombings, some of the investors found that Hofmann was misrepresenting how he was using their money. Pages 23-24 of The State of Utah v. Mark W. Hofmann, contain some very revealing information concerning Hofmann's document dealings:
"On May 9, 1985, Mark Hofmann completed an agreement with Thomas Wilding wherein Thomas Wilding agreed to put up $160,000.00 in order to have Mark Hofmann purchase a Charles Dickens 'Haunted Man' manuscript....Later, Mark Hofmann assured Mr. Wilding that the manuscript described above had been purchased by Mr. Hofmann and re-sold to an investor in Japan. Your affiant has learned from Justin Schiller, that Mr. Schiller has possession of the above described manuscript due to the fact that Mr. Schiller invested $170,000.00 of his own funds to purchase the manuscript. Mark Hofmann never gave the monies given to him by Mr. Wilding to Mr. Schiller for the acquisition of the manuscript....Thomas Wilding...gave the following information: On September 12, 1985, Mark Hofmann completed an agreement to purchase the 'Oath of a Freeman' from Lynn Jacobs in New York State. This is the first time Mr. Wilding had heard the name, Lynn Jacobs. Mr. Wilding gave Mark Hofmann $170,000.00 in order to purchase the 'Oath of a Freeman' from Lynn Jacobs. The next day, Thomas Wilding tried to verify if Mark Hofmann had traveled to New York and found that he had not. It has been determined by your affiant that the monies received by Mark Hofmann in this above described transaction did not go to Lynn Jacobs...
"On the evening of September 13, 1985...Syd Jensen, Tom Wilding and Mark Hofmann met in Tom Wilding's office. Mark Hofmann admitted to Mr. Wilding and Jensen that the 'Oath of a Freeman', had not been purchased...Mr. Hofmann further confessed that the money purported to be obtained by Mr. Hofmann to purchase the Charles Dicken's manuscript as described above had not gone for the purpose intended."
On November 7, 1985, the Deseret News reported:
"At least four different individuals or groups apparently gave unknown hundreds of thousands of dollars to Mark Hofmann to purchase a Charles Dickens manuscript, 'The Haunted Man.'
"An individual involved with one group told the Deseret News he is aware of two other groups or individuals who invested last spring....
"A minority investor who, in July, gave Mark Hofmann an undisclosed amount as 'the brick he needed to complete his house' in purchasing 'The Haunted Man' said he concluded from media reports about another group of investors that he may be a victim of double dealing."
Arizona business man Wilford Cardon was conned into investing $110,000 into "The Haunted Man" manuscript. (Salt Lake Tribune, May 7, 1986)
One major deal that Mark Hofmann was supposed to have been working on at the time of the bombings had to do with a collection which was supposed to have been owned by an early Mormon Apostle by the name of William E. McLellin. Investigators now believe that Mr. Hofmann never had such a collection. In any case, Hofmann persuaded Alvin Rust to invest "$150,000 to purchase the documents" (Salt Lake Tribune, Oct 23, 1985). Hofmann, however, used this money for other purposes. Later he told Steven Christensenthe man who was killed in the first bombingabout the McLellin collection and "Christensen, solicited the help of Elder Hugh Pinnock of the LDS First Quorum of the Seventy in securing a $185,000 loan from First Interstate Bank for the purpose, Hofmann told Pinnock and Christensen, of purchasing the McLellin collection." (Utah Holiday, Jan. 1986, p. 47) We will have a great deal more to say about the McLellin collection later in this book.
As Hofmann found himself further in debt, he must have been very concerned that his fraudulent business deals would become known. Allen Roberts and Fred Esplin observed:
"For Mark Hofmann, thirty, the screws were being turned in several potential business deals that applied intense financial and psychological pressure....
"By September, after having already paid $18,000 toward his debt to Rust, Hofmann wrote a check for $132,000 to Rust. The check bounced. Rust says that Hofmann asked for more time to complete the transaction and added, 'I'm losing everything. They're coming to take my home and my car.'
" 'He was nearly in tears,' says Rust, who agreed to give Hofmann until November 1 to pay off his debt but warned Hofmann that he would retain an attorney to begin debt collection if payment was not made by that time." (Ibid., pages 42 and 47)
Alvin Rust testified as follows at the preliminary hearing:
AThis occurred at the Salt Palace....Mark came running in to my table and indicated that it was urgent...that he would talk to me.
QNow, had you seen him or had a conversation with him in between the time that you had tried to collect on the check and this date?
AI don't know if I called him on the check bouncing or not....I don't recall.
QDid you say he came running in to see you?
QWhat was his demeanor or condition?
AWell, he was very distraught. He was very upset. I had never seen Mark in, under the trauma of, of his behavior...like that. He was desperate....
Q...did he have a conversation with you?
AWell....I followed him out. He said, "I need to see ya. It's very important."...I followed him out, and we went over to a table...and he threw his hands up and he said, "I'm losing everything. I'm losing my home. I'm losing my car. They're coming to lock my house down." He says, "I, I'm losing everything." And...I said, "Well wait a minute, Mark. Calm down. What's going on? And he says, "I have a bank foreclosing on me for $185,000 and I...gota...raise some money...to stop them from taking over my home and everything that I have."
An investor in "The Haunted Man" was very upset with Mark Hofmann, and on the day before the bombings (Oct. 14), demanded that Hofmann meet with him and "bring to the meeting money toward repayment of the investment, title to his car and a legal description of his home so a lien could be placed on them as security for his investment.
"At 3 p.m. Hofmann met with the investor and his attorney, but failed to bring the money, title, or property description. After a brief meeting, Hofmann agreed to bring the paperwork by the attorney's home that evening. Without calling to cancel, Hofmann failed to take the papers to the attorney that night." (Utah Holiday, Jan.1986, p.49)
Mark Hofmann had always been concerned that someone was spying on him. As I indicated earlier, in my first conversation with him he suggested that the Mormon Church might be bugging his phone. Over three years later (Dec. 15, 1983), Mr. Hofmann told me that when he was attempting to place a telephone call late one night, he heard a strange voice on the line which said something like, "Why is he calling out so late?" He indicated that he feared that someone was spying on his document business. He commented also that agents of the IRS might be tapping his phone because of a problem he was having with them. They were apparently disturbed that he was involved in secret deals which could not be traced with any records. Hofmann said he told them that this was the way that some people he dealt with operated and that the IRS would have to take his word as to the amount of money that exchanged hands in these transactions. Mr. Hofmann did not acknowledge any crime on his part nor did he tell me that the untraceable deals involved the Mormon Church. One of Mr. Hofmann's friends told me that he used the phone in his van because be believed his home phone was tapped. Dawn Tracy reported that "Friends said Mr. Hofmann changed telephone numbers frequently, contacted those who called him rather than answering the phone, and abruptly left town to pursue shadowy leads that sometimes led to spectacular discoveries." (Salt Lake Tribune, Oct. 17, 1985) On Nov. 8,1985, the Los Angeles Times reported:
"In the last year, Hofmann seemed to become more withdrawn, secretive....
"Shannon Flynn, a 28-year-old associate of Hofmann, said the dealer was security-conscious. He had once changed his telephone number, suspecting the line was tapped.
" 'What we were subjected to,' Flynn said, 'was nothing different than corporate spying.'
"Brent Metcalfe, who went to work as a researcher for Hofmann in mid-August, said the dealer claimed to have received a death threat about a week before the bombings....
"A business associate who asked not to identified told of happening upon Hofmann in a church parking lot. Hofmann was hunched down in his car.
" 'He was there all alone. He was clearly surprised...and his face was white as a ghost. I was worried. I said, 'If there's anything we can do, let us know...if this [the paycheck] is too much for you, I could get another job.'
" 'His reaction was, 'Coming up with the money to pay you is nothing compared to my problems.'
" 'I looked down at his lap. He was working on his will in the car.'...
"Not all Mormons, including many of Christensen's closest friends, suspect he was killed by Mark Hofmann. Some who knew the principals believe it more likely the bombings were the work of a fanatic who thought a sale of the McLellin Collection would drag the church into devastating controversy.
"Others subscribe to the so-called 'apostate theory.' They suspect that the bombs were planted by people radically opposed to the teachings of the Mormon Church, that the explosions were in fact a modern echo of violence directed against the church in its earliest days....
" 'There is nothing as dangerous and as hostile as a Mormon who used to be,' said Tom Moore, a friend and former business associate of Christensen. "I have seen so many times, throughout the history of the Mormon people, groups which have done their best to try and destroy the Mormon Church. They would want to make sure that if there were damaging documents to be purchased and given to the church, that they be exposed.' "
Since Mr. Hofmann normally received calls on his answering machine and no threat was recorded there, it seems somewhat unlikely that he received such a call. On the other hand, we know that there were some people who were very upset with the contents of some of Hofmann's documents, and it is impossible to entirely rule out the possibility of a threatening call. While the report of Hofmann making out his will may be used in support of the idea that he believed his life was in danger, it is also possible to believe that he might have been contemplating suicide to save himself from the embarrassment of exposure and criminal charges. In the list of charges against Mark Hofmann we find this information:
"Affiant has been informed by Curt Bench that he has known Mark W. Hofmann for several years on a professional basis. That in the months preceding the bombing Curt Bench knew that Mark W. Hofmann's personal debts exceeded the hundreds of thousands of dollars owed to several groups of people as a result of document dealings. Around the middle of September, 1985, Mr. Bench saw Mr. Hofmann and observed that Mr. Hofmann was highly agitated and [in a] distraught condition. When Mr. Bench inquired of Mr. Hofmann the reason for this condition, Mark W. Hofmann told Curt Bench that he owed a great deal of money and could be facing serious consequences, including criminal charges, if he could not get his financial problems solved." (The State of Utah v. Mark W. Hofmann, page 16)
Just prior to the bombings, strong pressure was being exerted on Hofmann from at least three different directions:
"In the months immediately before the bombings, Stott said, several investors were demanding repayment.
"The Thomas R. Wilding group was seeking $450,000 and had threatened to take Hofmann's home and car....
"Coin dealer Alvin Rust wanted back the $132,000 he paid Hofmann for the purchase of the McLellin Collection.
"Christensen was pressuring Hofmann to repay the $185,000 bank loan." (Deseret News, May 21, 1986)
David Hewett observed that "Mark Hofmann was juggling a huge number of balls in the air over his head during the hot summer months of August and September, 1985. Some of them were due to start falling." (Maine Antique Digest, July 1986, Section C, pages 5-6) The investors, who had originally treated Mr. Hofmann with a great deal of respect, were becoming increasingly impatient with him. Mr. Rust was threatening legal action, and the Wilding investors were pressing him very hard:
"In an interview with The Tribune, Salt Lake City investor Thomas R. Wilding said that he represented a group of anonymous investors...Those promissory notes came due Oct. 14 the day before the homicides.
"Mr. Wilding said that Mr. Hofmann was to be penalized a total of $4,000 per day, plus interest, after that due date." (Salt Lake Tribune, November 11, 1985)
Testimony given at the preliminary hearing shows that the Wilding investors were beginning to watch Mark Hofmann's actions very closely and finally one of them became so angry that he "slugged" him:
"However, on Sept. 12, things began to unravel. Wilding gave Hofmann $173,870 to be used to purchase a second copy of the 'Oath of a Freeman'purported to be the oldest printed document in America. Hofmann took the money and said he was going to New York that night to purchase the document, which he claimed was worth 1.5 million.
"Later that day, Wilding and his partner, Sid Jensen...went to the airport but found Hofmann had not taken any flight to New York.
"Wilding camped out in front of Hofmann's house at 5:30 a.m., finally confronting him about 7:30. 'What's the big deal?' he quoted Hofmann as asking.
" 'The big deal is there are a lot of things that don't jibe,' said Wilding demanding that his money be returned. Wilding accompanied Hofmann to Hofmann's bank where Hofmann withdrew $18,000 but was very ambiguous about where the remaining $155,000 was....
"After Hofmann, accompanied by Wilding, spent the entire day trying to raise the additional funds, the pair met at Summit Financial with Jensen." (Deseret News, May 6, 1986)
Thomas Wilding testified that Mark Hofmann sat with "detached arrogance" during the meeting, and this eventually led Mr. Jensen to hit him:
QWas there any frustration on your part or Mr. Jensen's part concerning the inability of Mr. Hofmann to return your money during that day?
AThere's a large amount of money at risk there. A lot of people involved, so there was a great deal of frustration.
QWhat was Mr. Hofmann['s]...attitude during the first hour of that meeting?
AI would say almost a detached arrogance.
QAnd what, if anything, did that cause in yourself and Mr. Jensen?
AIt caused...me a great concern and it caused Mr. Jensen anger.
QDid Mr. Jensen do anything at that meeting because of that anger?
AYes, he did.
AHe slugged Mr. Hofmann.
QWell, what was Mr. Hofmann's response to that?
AHis statement was, "No one's ever struck me before."
Mr. Hofmann may have begun to view the investors, who had previously treated him with deference, as his enemies. In the Salt Lake City Messenger for January 1986, I wrote the following:
"It is possible also that there could have been some tension between Christensen and Hofmann over the $185,000 loan from First Interstate Bank that Hofmann had not paid back. It is claimed, in fact, that 'Shortly before the murders Christensen waited in his car several nights in front of Hofmann's home trying to catch up with him.' (People magazine, Nov. 4, 1985, p. 123) The Deseret News for Dec. 8, 1985, reported that 'Under pressure from Pinnock, Christensen had gone with Hofmann to collect a $20,000 check which was turned over to the bank.' According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Nov. 28, 1985, Shannon Flynn claimed that 'at one point, Mark Hofmann and bombing victim Steven Christensen came to him [his?] home at 12:30 a.m. to pick up that $20,000 check.' Futhermore, Christensen asked David E. West, the attorney representing the anonymous person who was supposed to buy the McLellin collection, to 'add his name to the $185,000 check for Hofmann,...' (Deseret News, December 8, 1985) Christensen apparently wanted to be absolutely certain that Hofmann would use the check to pay his debt rather than use it for his own purposes. While Steven Christensen was undoubtedly justified in his actions, Mr. Hofmann probably felt that he was overbearing and may have resented his parental-like intrusion into his affairs. Under these circumstances it is easy to believe that there could have been friction between the two men. At this point, however, I have no evidence to show that this would have provided a sufficient motive for such a brutal murder.
"While one could possibly theorize that Mark Hofmann would kill Steven Christensen so that he would be able to cash the $185,000 check without having to get his signature, we cannot prove that Hofmann knew that Christensen had asked for his name to be added to the check. Moreover, it is improbable that Hofmann could have obtained the check anyway unless he had some actual documents or forgeries that Donald Schmidt could have examined....
"While it seems very hard for me to believe that a quiet and mannerly man like Mark Hofmann could be involved in such violent crimes, I have often heard of people who lived very peaceful lives suddenly going berserk over small matters and killing innocent people. Sometimes people keep things within them until they suddenly explode....
"Mark Hofmann was not only having a difficult time financially, but his dishonesty with regard to the McLellin collection was about to catch up with him. His entire reputation as a Mormon document dealer was at stake. Mr. Hofmann had already shown signs of irrational behavior when he broke up the Rendell papyrus for the purpose of deception. Under the mounting pressure, he could have decided to take more desperate action in an attempt to save himself from ruin."
In The State of Utah v. Mark W. Hofmann, pages 16-17, we find that weeks before the bombings Steven Christensen warned Mark Hofmann that he may be facing criminal charges:
"Curt Bench was also an acquaintance of Steven Christensen and had been informed by Steven Christensen that he needed Mr. Bench's assistance in contacting Mark W. Hofmann over a very serious matter which could result in 'legal action', possibly 'criminal charges,' and Hofmann would lose his membership in the L.D.S. Church as well as lose his ability to do business with anyone in the L.D.S. Church forever. Steve Christensen told Curt Bench that he wanted Mr. Bench to relay this information to Mark Hofmann even though Steven Christensen had already told Mark Hofmann this as well.
"Your affiant has been informed by police investigators and reports that Mr. Robert Pitts, a business associate of Steven Christensen, who met with Steven Christensen at the Judge Building in the morning hours of October 10, 1985. At that meeting, Mark Hofmann came into the office of Steven Christensen and asked to speak to Steven 'privately'. Mr. Pitts relates that both Steven Christensen and Mark Hofmann went to the outer office and left Mr. Pitts, alone, in the office of Steven Christensen. As Mr. Pitts sat waiting he overheard Steven Christensen say to Mark Hofmann in a loud and agitated voice 'You can't hide that!' This is the only part of the conversation that was overheard due to its loud nature. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Pitts saw Mark Hofmann leave the office in a 'solemn mood'."
In his testimony at the preliminary hearing, Curt Bench said that Steven Christensen even used the word "crook" when he referred to Hofmann:
QLet me direct your attention to the 24th day of September of 1985. On that day or evening, did you have occasion to receive a phone call from Mr. Steven Christensen?
AYes, I did.
QCan you tell us what he said on, what he said...?
AHe said that a certain general authority who was a member of the First Quorum of Seventy and an apostle, whom he did not ever name to me, were upset because Mark had defaulted on a loan to a bank and had written a check and the check had bounced and...was supposed to be in touch with the bank regarding the loan and had not made contact. They were quite upset over this and said some very serious things could happen as a result of that not being taken care of. They were interested in Steve getting a hold of Mark and letting him know the seriousness of the situation so he could take care of it.
QDid he mention what some of these serious things were that could occur?
ASteve told me that various things could occur if Mark didn't make good and some of them were he would certainly lose his credibility and credit with the Church and with President Hinckley, that criminal action could be taken, that he could conceivably go to jail, he could also be sued by the bank or even by the Church if the Church was sued. He could lose his membership in the Church. It was very serious. And Steve wanted me to convey that to Mark because I had been able to get a hold of him and I saw him more frequently than Steve did.
QDo you remember anything else be told you?
A...On that occasion, he indicated that these general authorities were going to tell President Hinckley the next morning, that they had apparently concluded that Mark was not going to make good....Steve used the term crook. They could only assume the worst because they hadn't heard from Mark....
QAfter receiving this phone call, what did you do if anything?
AI went to Mark's house.
QDid you mention all those possible consequences that Steve Christensen had told you over the phone?
AYes, I did. I was very specific with Mark.
QYou told him each and every one?
When Curt Bench was examined by Mr. Hofmann's lawyer, he testified that Steven Christensen showed "concern and bewilderment" over Hofmann's actions. Although Christensen was not using a "malicious approach, he was very frustrated" and I'd say angry...
Mike Carter reported the following in the Salt Lake Tribune, May 21,1986:
"Deputy Salt Lake County Attorney Robert L. Stott, in summarizing the state's case against Mr. Hofmann, said the documents dealer was under incredible pressure to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars he owed and feared he would be exposed unless he could relieve that pressure. He did so by murdering Mr. Christensen...
" 'He had to get rid of Steve Christensen. He was the center of the pressure,' Mr. Stott told 5th Circuit Judge Paul G. Grant. 'Maybe it wouldn't solve all the problems, but at best it would buy him some time. And we all know the only thing a con artist needs is time...maybe just one more day.'...
"In all five cases filed against Mr. Hofmann...he obtained $944,420 'through fraudulent means,' the prosecutor said. He attempted [to] obtain almost twice that amount, Mr. Stott told the judge."
The fact that Mr. Christensen would be murdered the very day that Hofmann was supposed to produce the McLellin Collection certainly makes one suspicious that the transfer of the collection had something to do with the bombings. This is especially true since the evidence seems to show that Hofmann had no collection to produce. The murder of Christensen might also release pressure from the Thomas Wilding group and Alvin Rust. Hofmann may have reasoned that these people would understand that there would be another delay in their receiving money because of the murder of a key figure in this major financial transaction.
At the preliminary hearing, Detective Jim Bell said that the only motive for the Sheets' killing "would be diversion." He said that "Mr. Hofmann contacted Brent Metcalfe over the phone and indicated that, hey, everybody can rest easy now because the bombings aren't related to the Mormon document end of it, they're related to the CFS end of itend of the deal."
MACHINE GUN AND BOMBS
Before the bombs exploded in Oct. 1985, I had never heard that Mark Hofmann had any interest in either bombs or guns. In fact, I was rather surprised to read that he was charged with the possession of an unregistered machine gun. On Oct. 20, the Salt Lake Tribune announced that one of Mark Hofmann's business associates, Shannon Flynn, was arrested for possession of an "Uzi machine pistol." On Nov. 1, the Tribune reported that Hofmann himself was charged with the possession of the same unregistered "Uzi machine pistol taken from the home of Shannon Flynn." Hofmann, however, "pleaded innocent to a charge alleging he possessed a unregistered machine-gun. He was indicted for the crime Wednesday by a federal grand jury in U.S. District Court for Utah....
"Mr. Hofmann and Mr. Flynn are charged with illegally possessing the same Uzi machine-pistol. According to police sources, Mr. Flynn...purchased the legal, semi-automatic weapon from a Kaysville gun distributor with money given him by Mr. Hofmann. The men, police said, then converted the weapon to a machine-gun at Mr. Hofmann's home."
It is alleged that "Detectives confiscated parts from the weapon from Mr. Hofmann's home during a search." (Ibid., Nov. 1, 1986) Mr. Hofmann's friend, Shannon Flynn, pleaded guilty to the charge but has not been sentenced. Hofmann's trial relating to the machine gun has apparently been delayed so that he can prepare to face the murder and fraud charges.
On December 1, 1985, the Tribune reported: "ATF agents have been questioning friends of Shannon Patrick Flynn, an associate of Mr. Hofmann's, regarding allegations that he picked up two blasting caps from a man in Richfield last winter. Those blasting caps, however, apparently were fuse detonated and in no way have been connected to the bombs that went off last month, sources said." The same day blasting caps were mentioned in the Tribune, the Deseret News printed the following information:
"Hofmann's attorney, Bradley Rich, said last week that it was his understanding that Hofmann and Shannon Patrick Flynn, 27, a friend and associate, had discussed building a bomb....
"Flynn's attorney, James Barber, also said his client obtained two blasting caps earlier this year, but the lawyer declined to say what Flynn did with them. Attorneys for both men said the blasting caps have nothing to do with the bombings.
"Police have said they found no evidence in Hofmann's home that he constructed the bombs....
"Police are now optimistic they have located that site in a workshop of an Emigration Canyon home that Hofmann had been trying to buy. Searchers found evidence that someone had broken into the workshop adjacent to the vacant home.
"A drill had been left on the counter and a light had been left on. Metal shavings were recovered from a work bench, and 'other items of interest' were confiscated.
"Police say they have a room about 20 feet by 14 feet filled with evidence in the case,..." (Deseret News, December 1, 1985)
After Mark Hofmann was injured in the bomb blast of Oct. 16, 1985, he told Detective Jim Bell that that morning he had "gone to a restaurant for breakfast at 8 a.m., then 'just drove around' in Emigration Canyon 'just thinking about things.' " (Ibid., May 14,1986)
The idea that Mark Hofmann may have discussed making bombs with Shannon Flynn is supported by the fact that a book which told how to make bombs was found when police searched Flynn's home. Detectives learned that Hofmann was with Flynn when he bought this book:
"The investigation of Hofmann led officers to Shannon Flynn...About eight months ago, Flynn accompanied Hofmann to purchase a machine gun, which both converted to a fully automatic weapon. Several days before the bombings, the pair purchased 'Anarchists' Cookbook,' a book on how to make bombs, from the Cosmic Aeroplane." (Deseret News, Oct. 23, 1985)
It is true, of course, that everyone who buys the Anarchists' Cookbook does not actually make bombs. Brent Metcalfe, in fact, reports that he saw a copy of this book in the possession of Mormon Church security when he worked there. The Church has received many bomb threats and may have used the book to inform its personnel concerning the different types of bombs they might encounter. At any rate, it does seem strange that this book would be purchased just days before the bombings.
Police claim that the bombs used were pipe bombs placed in shoe-box sized containers with brown wrapping paper around them. The names of the victims were written on the packages with a felt marking pen. The Deseret News, December 1, 1985, reported: "Police have maintained that Hofmann was injured by a bomb of his own making, and they claim their evidence is substantial. Following the Oct. 16 blast, investigators searched Hofmann's car and recovered a number of items, including pieces of pipe, brown butcher paper, a felt marking pen and surgical gloves." Whether the pipe, wrapping paper and marking pen involved in the bombings are identical with the items found in Hofmann's car remains to be seen.
In the charges filed against Mark Hofmann we find the following:
"...a bomb exploded inside a vehicle belonging to Hofmann, injuring the defendant. The defendant stated to detective J.F.G. Bell that when be opened his vehicle door, a package fell on to the vehicle floor and be went to grab for it, then there was an explosion....
"Investigation by agent Jerry Taylor, an explosives technology expert and reconstruction expert for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms reviewed all the physical evidence and laboratory reports and concluded that the position of the bomb at the time of detonation in defendant's car was on the driver's seat, against the console in contrast to defendant's statement that it was on the floor.
"On search of defendant's car by law enforcement officials a galvanized steel pipe elbow was found with a 2 inch threaded opening." (The State of Utah v. Mark W. Hofmann, page 14)
(click to enlarge)
A photograph depicting the bombed out remains of Mark Hofmann's car. (photo from the Los Angeles Times Magazine, March 29, 1987)
At the preliminary hearing some very startling information came out that seemed to link Mark Hofmann to the construction of the bombs. The evidence showed that Hofmann used the alias "Mike Hansen" when ordering material for his forgery operation and that the same name was used by the person who bought important electronic components which were probably used in the bombs. The name "Mike Hansen" was originally discovered on a manila envelope found in Mark Hofmann's basement. The name of a company, Utah Engravings, appeared on the opposite side of the envelope. Jorgen Olsen of Utah Engravings "identified the writing on the envelope as his own. He explained that the company uses previously used envelopes to put customer orders in, putting the customer's name on the reverse side." (Deseret News, April 17, 1986) Olsen said that the name he wrote on the envelope was the name given to him by a customer who ordered an engraved plate for printing. When investigators searched through boxes at Utah Engravings, they found a negative used to make a plate to print the "so-called Jim Bridger notes allegedly sold by Mr. Hofmann to several investors for as much as $5,000." Hofmann sold the Jim Bridger notes as authentic documents actually signed with the American frontiersman's "X." Microscopic examination of the negative, however, proved beyond all doubt that Hofmann's Jim Bridger notes were nothing but modern forgeries. Negatives for other forged documents were found at other engraving companies:
"A Salt Lake engraver testified Thursday he prepared two magnesium printing plates for 'Mike Hansen'a man prosecutors identified in earlier court testimony as Mark W. Hofmann....
"Jack Smith, DeBouzek Engraving and Colorplate Co., told the court that on Dec. 5, 1984, a man who said his name was Mike Hansen ordered an engraving plate with the signature of famed American novelist Jack London. On Nov. 1 of the same year, Mike Hansen ordered an engraving that police later found reproduced on the back page of a hymn book belonging to Emma Smith, wife of the founder of the LDS Church.
"Prosecutors said Thursday they will tie the two engraving plates to six felony theft and fraud counts Hofmann faces." (Deseret News, April 17,1986)
Employees of Salt Lake Stamp testified that Mark Hofmann obtained four rubber stamps from them in 1982. These stamps have now been linked to the forgery of notes Mark Hofmann sold which were known as the "Spanish Fork Notes." In December 1984 a "Mike Hansen" ordered another stamp which was used to falsify a book by Jack London to give it more value. The Salt Lake Tribune, April 18, 1986, reported the following concerning the receipt for this transaction:
"The fingerprint of Mark W. Hofmann was found on a receipt bearing the same name investigators believe Mr. Hofmann used as an alias when he allegedly bought components used in last October's deadly bombings, an expert testified Wednesday.
"State Crime Laboratory Latent Print Examiner Scott Pratt told 5th Circuit Judge Paul G. Grant that a single print found on a receipt for a rubber stamp from the Salt Lake Stamp Company that was purchased by a 'Mike Hansen' in December 1984 matched the print of Mr. Hofmann's left hand ring finger.
"It was the most substantial piece of evidence thus far in the prosecution's attempt to link Mr. Hofmann to the purchase of mercury switches and battery packs experts have said are identical to those used in the shrapnel bombs..."
Barbara Zellner, of the Denver based Cox-Clark Engraving Co., testified that a "Mike Hansen" ordered plates for the Deseret Currency. Investigators later determined that these plates were used to print counterfeit copies of this early Mormon currency. Mark Hofmann made tens of thousands of dollars when he sold these forged notes.
It is interesting to note that "Mike Hansen" gave the following address to the engraving company in Denver: 2730 West 25th Street. When I checked this address on my mailing list of those who receive the Salt Lake City Messenger, I found that it was very close to an address I hadi.e., 3730 West 25th Street in Denver. That the address only differed in the first digit seemed very suspicious. I later learned that the address on my list was that of Mark Hofmann's brother-in-law. It appears, then, that when Mark Hofmann (using the alias "Mike Hansen") was asked for an address by the engraving company, he just gave his brother-in-law's address with one digit altered.
In his testimony at the preliminary hearing, Detective Jim Bell claimed that investigators had found that Mark Hofmann also did business with an engraving company in Kansas City using the alias "Hansen." In addition, he testified as follows: "We have a couple of the engraving companies where Mark Hofmann has gone in, ordered things under the name of Mike Hansen, paid cash and then turned around and also paid the rest of the balance with a check with his name Mark Hofmann and address and his phone number on it." Detective Bell said that there were "a total of three" items seized from Hofmann's home that had the "Mike Hansen" name on them. One receipt had a date of "1982" on it.
When taken together, the evidence clearly establishes that "Mike Hansen" is Mark Hofmann. One alternative to this conclusion might be to say that Mike Hansen is one of Mark Hofmann's associates. If this were the case, however, Hofmann would have to know who this individual is because be ended up with and sold the forgeries that came from the plates. This explanation does not really hold water because Mark Hofmann's fingerprint appears on a "Mike Hansen" receipt.
The link between the bomber Mike Hansen and Mark Hofmann is clearly brought out in an article by Mike Carter:
"...Detective Bell said, almost a dozen agents were sent out to canvas area Radio Shack stores after an ATF agent, searching the scene of the Sheets homicide for the second time, located a mercury switch identical to a brand sold by the retail electronics firm. In that search, investigators turned up two receipts from different stores for the purchase of mercury switches, battery cases and 12-volt lamps that an ATF agent later testified could be used to test a bomb's firing circuitry.
"One of those receipts has been entered into evidence at the hearing, but the clerk who made the sale was unable to identify Mr. Hofmann as the buyer.
"That receipt bears the name 'Mike Hansen.' Detective Bell testified the second receipt is made out to 'M. Hansen.' The address on the receipts, 2034 E. 3900 South and 2056 E. 3900 South, are vacant lots, he said." (Salt Lake Tribune, April 17, 1986)
At the preliminary hearing it was revealed that "Mike Hansen" was not the only alias Mark Hofmann used. He also used the name "Mike Harris," and when Detective Bell was asked if there were any other aliases, he said that Hofmann had used the name "Bill Edwards":
QOther than the name Mike Hansen, do you have any evidence of any other aliases that you believe Mark Hofmann to have used this date?
QWhat is that name?
. . . . .
QDo you know where that name was used?
ARadio Shack in Logan, Utah.
This could relate to the purchase of other parts for the bombs, but we will have to wait until the trial to find out the details. A scholar who knows Mark Hofmann has told me that Hofmann was in Logan the very day the "Bill Edwards" alias was used at Radio Shack.
In any case, Deputy Salt Lake County Attorney Robert L. Stott did a very good job of summing up the importance of the link between Mark Hofmann and Mike Hansen:
"On the 6th and 7th of Octobertwo different occasionsa person using the name M. Hansen or Mike Hansen, ...purchased from Radio Shack mercury switches, ...C-cell battery packs [and a] light tester. Now why are these so important? Well, Jerry Taylor testified that the bombs contained Radio Shack battery holders identical to the ones purchased by this...Mike Hansen. All three bombs. Why? Because the logo Radio Shack was right on the component itself. He also testified that these...three bombs contained mercury switches, found one at the Sheets' and it was identical to the one purchased at Radio Shack....
"Well, who's Mike Hansen? Well, this Mike Hansen who bought the materials,...consistent with the materials used in the bombs, gave a false address. Both addresses he gave, two different addresses, are barren lots. I think we have pictures of those two lots. Trying to hide his identification. Well, Mike Hansen is Mark Hofmann. Mike Hansen ordered...a number of stamps and engraving plates that shortly after a Mike Hansen picked them up, Mark Hofmann was in possession of the actual document that was made from the engraving plate or the stamp....We're talking about the Jim Bridger notes, the Deseret Currency notes, the Austin Lewis stamp, the 2 Buck engravings in the Call of the Wild book. We're talking about the Spirit of God which is the last page of the Emma Smith hymnal, and we're talking about the second Oath of a Freeman. In Mark Hofmann's possession, after the bombing, was found an envelope from Utah Engraving with the name Mike Hansen written on it. We had found in his possession a slip of paper with the name Mike Hansen written on it and next to it an engraving company's name. We had a Jim Bridger note, not a Jim Bridger note but a xerox copy of a blank Jim Bridger note, found in his possession. Under the Jim Bridger note is the name Mike Hansen. Jim Bell also testified that there was a tire bill, a receipt for a tire, with the name Mike Hansen in Mark Hofmann's possession. And finally, if that isn't enough, Mark Hofmann's finger print was found on the piece of paper containing the artwork submitted by Mike Hansen to Salt Lake Stamp for the Austin Lewis stamp. [A] fingerprint of Mark Hofmann on the document given to Salt Lake Stamp by Mike Hansen....I think it's clear...that this Mike Hansen is Mark Hofmann and that just as a pattern of using Mike Hansen to commit crimes, the engraving crimes, the stamp crimes, he used that pattern to commit another crimeprepare to commit another crimebuying bomb components."
Besides the evidence concerning the alias "Mike Hansen," prosecutors have some evidence which could place Mr. Hofmann near the scene of the first two bombings. In The State of Utah v. Mark W. Hofmann, page 13, we find this information:
"On October 15, 1985, 8:10 a.m., Steven F. Christensen was killed by a bomb blast....According to Janet McDermott Reynolds, the brown package containing the bomb was placed outside the office door in the hall and she nearly picked-up the package to hold for Christensen. She was also injured as a result of the blast. Said package was addressed to Steve Christensen. On the same morning approximately 1 to 2 hours earlier, Bruce Passey saw a person who he identified as Mark Hofmann carrying a brown package address[ed] to Steve Christensen in the elevator of the Judge Building."
At the preliminary bearing, Bruce L. Passey "positively identified Mr. Hofmann, who he said was sporting a Kelly green high school letter jacket, as the man he rode with in the elevator early that morning." (Salt Lake Tribune, April 15, 1986) When asked if the person was present in the court room, Mr. Passey responded: "He is sitting next to Mr. Yengich, wearing glasses and a blue suit." Mr. Hofmann's attorney, Ronald Yengich, argued that Mr. Passey had originally told police the jacket had brown sleeves, while Mr. Hofmann's jacket has gray sleeves. Nevertheless, "Mr. Passey did not budge on his identification of Mr. Hofmann as the man who carried a package into the Judge Building that morning. And his insistence about the letter jacket was bolstered by another prosecution witness who said that she saw Mr. Hofmann shortly after the first bomb exploded and that he was wearing that jacket.
"Margene Robbins, a broker's assistant at Summit Financial Concepts, said Mr. Hofmann stopped in to see Thomas R. Wilding that morning about 9 a.m.barely a half-hour after Mr. Christensen was killedand that he was wearing that letter jacket." (Ibid.)
The Deseret News for Feb. 7, 1986, reported: "The day after Christensen was killed, police found a letterman jacket matching the description the Passeys gave turned inside out and hidden in a closet in Hofmann's home, the prosecutor said." At the preliminary hearing, Detective Jerry Thompson, of the Salt Lake County Sheriffs Office, testified that the jacket was found at the back corner of a closet and that it was "inside out." He said that the sleeves were either "gray" or "light tan" depending on the light it was viewed in. Before Mark Hofmann retained an attorney Detective Jim Bell was able to ask him about the jacket:
"Bell then asked him if he had set the bombs. 'He said he didn't do it,' Bell said. The detective then told Hofmann he was fairly confident he (Hofmann) had set the bombs because they had found Hofmann's green jacket.
" 'That set off the medical alarms,' said Bell, and he was ordered by hospital personnel to leave the trauma care unit where Hofmann was being cared for." (Deseret News, April 17,1986)
Thomas Wilding met with Mr. Hofmann the morning Steven Christensen and Kathleen Sheets were murdered. At the preliminary hearing, Wilding testified that Hofmann "seemed upset...breathing very heavilyalmost to the point of overventilating, so to speak."
In The State of Utah v. Mark W. Hofmann, page 13, information is given which could show that Hofmann's van was seen in the vicinity of the Sheets' home before the bombings:
"On the same date at approximately 9:45 a.m. Kathleen W. Sheets was killed by another bomb blast at 4630 Naniloa Drive, Salt Lake County. Investigation showed that the bomb was housed in a brown package delivered outside at the Sheets residence...addressed to Gary Sheets. Witness Aaron Teplick stated that approximately nine hours before the 9:45 blast a Toyota vehicle, identical to one registered to the defendant was seen in a driveway common to the Teplick and Sheet's residence. Teplick also stated that such [a] vehicle had not been seen there before and investigation showed that there are no identical vehicles belonging to any of the neighbors. Interview[s] showed that no one at the Sheets' nor Teplick residences had any visitors that late at night no less any visitors specifically in such a vehicle.
"A vehicle similar to the defendant's vehicle was again spotted by Kathi Wirthlin, a neighbor, driving up and down Naniloa Drive in front of the Sheets residence at approximately 6:00 a.m. that same morning."
According to the testimony of Shannon Flynn, Mark Hofmann was driving his van the night Aaron Teplick saw a van matching that description:
QHow did you get there?
AWe drove in a vehicle.
QAnd whose vehicle was it?
QAnd what vehicle of Mr. Hofmann's was it?
AIt was...what is commonly known as a Toyota mini-van.
QAnd do you know approximately what time you left the presence of Mr. Hofmann in that particular van that evening?
AWell, I believe it was approximately 10:30 [p.m.].
The Deseret News printed the following information on April 15, 1986:
"Also on Tuesday morning, Aaron Teplick, 15....testified that late on the night of Oct. 14 he saw a gold Toyota 'wonder wagon' drive slowly along the private lane shared by the Teplick and Sheets houses. Ho[f]mann owns an identical gold-colored Toyota. Mrs. Sheets died instantly when she picked up a booby-trapped bomb in her driveway the following morning.
"Teplick described in detail how the van drove slowly along the lane, stopped, turned around and then sped away. He was able to identify a photograph of a gold Toyota 'wonder wagon' as the car he saw that night. 'That's what came down our driveway,' Teplick said."
Since the van seen near the Sheets' residence could have been used to transport the bomb, investigators combed Mr. Hofmann's van for evidence. Jerry Taylor, of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, testified that "One of the laboratory reports stated that a flake of smokeless powder, Hercules Bulls Eye" was recovered from the van. He was asked how this compared to the gunpowder used in the bombs:
QHow did the Hercules smokeless double-base powder taken from the van compare to the Hercules double-base smokeless powder which was used in the Hofmann bomb, the Sheets bomb and the Christensen bomb:
Jerry Spangler observed that "The Hofmann case has become arguably the biggest crime story in Utah historypipe bombs, dead bodies, a critically injured suspect and a passel of forgeries involving everything from rare Mormon money to a pilgrim oath purported to be the oldest printed document in American history." (Deseret News, May 24, 1986) The day after the third bomb exploded (Oct. 17, 1985), the Deseret News reported:
"Tales of shrapnel bombs and terror are hardly the normal sustenance of the tight little community of Mormon historians, publishers and collectors.
"But that community reeled with shock, terror, then aftershock Thursday as violence blew it open this week. One might expect bombs and violence among cocaine smugglers or international terroristsbut not among Utah's small cadre of mild-mannered historians and collectors....
"When Hofmann became a suspect in the bombings, as well as a victim, the besieged community reacted with disbelief, bafflement and horror....
"Hofmann's name has become the history buffs household word in the last five years, for be reawakened the Mormon past with significant, and sometimes controversial, documents....This week scholars on both the traditional and nontraditional sides of the 'white salamander letter' have been threatened and have fled with their families, sources in the community say. Others fearfully evacuated homes or businesses with or without a telephoned warning....Utah's Mormon intellectuals agreed to talk to the Deseret News only if they were not quoted by name."
Linda Sillitoe commented as follows in the Deseret News, Oct. 27, 1985:
"A pall, acrid as bomb smoke, drifts over a community that only two months ago met by the hundreds to share information and celebrate their very existence. Now, in late October, grief and suspicion have replaced August's excitement.
"In their wildest dreams, no one in the tight group of Mormon document collectors and scholars could have imagined that bombings and talk of forgery and missing documents would shatter their scholarly world.
"Two months ago, the seventh annual Sunstone Symposium, an unofficial forum on Mormon thought and history, met 1,200 strong in the Westin Hotel Utah....
"At the August symposium, the Martin Harris 'white salamander' letter was the topic of several lively sessions and dominated the informal hallway debates....
"Two months later, the McLellin collection and the Martin Harris letter are media copy, tied to rumors of forgery, fraud and to a brutal double murder. Many people connected with the Martin Harris letter have somehow been labeled 'victim,' 'target,' 'suspect,' or 'potential witness.' "
Because many Mormon historians were personally acquainted with Mark Hofmann and have promoted his discoveries, they have found it very difficult to believe that he is guilty of either forgery or murder. Many anti-Mormons feel exactly the same way. Consequently, a number of theories have been set forth in an attempt to exculpate Mr. Hofmann. Jerry Spangler wrote:
"...many court watchers, history buffs and LDS Church adversaries aren't buying the prosecution's neatly packaged contention that forgery and fraud created a scenario that led to murder.
"Among the theories being batted about by those claiming insight to the Hofmann case is one that Hofmann was the victim of an elaborate frame orchestrated by organized crime figures who had been burned by bad deals with CFS Financial. Those mafiosos, according to that theory, wanted to even the score with J. Gary Sheets and Christensen, a former vice-president in the company. By framing Hofmann and then targeting him (he was only injured in the third blast), police would pursue the investigation exactly as they have done, virtually dismissing the organized crime motive.
"Other theories attribute the killings to fundamentalist groups who have broken away from the LDS Church. The groups, the theory says, violently dislike any document that diminishes the orthodox view of LDS Church founder Joseph Smith.
"Some of the theories border on the unbelievably bizarre. One suggests that the LDS Church was angry at the discovery of embarrassing historical documents that challenged orthodox historical interpretations of LDS history.
"One proponent of this theory even goes as far as to claim that local and federal law enforcement officers were co-conspirators in the murder plot and were the ones who actually framed Hofmann." (Deseret News, May 24, 1986)
The Los Angeles Times for November 8, 1985, reported concerning the theory that "the bombs were planted by people radically opposed to the teachings of the Mormon Church." In the Salt Lake City Messenger, January 1986, 1 gave my reason for doubting that the murders were committed by anti-Mormons. I also commented on the idea that the Church itself was behind the crimes: "Another theory is that a Mormon (or Mormons) committed the bombings to retaliate against those who were bringing embarrassing church documents to light. Some even feel that the church itself is involved in the murders. This idea seems to be very popular with those who are opposed to the church. While I must agree that the church was deeply involved in the financial transactions which may have led to the murders, it is rather hard to believe that the leadership of the church would be so foolish as to handle the situation in such a manner. The use of bombs, of course, brought immediate attention to everything church leaders wanted to conceal. It has brought a flood of reporters to Salt Lake City and a great deal of unfavorable publicity to the church. Anything, of course, is possible in such a bizarre case, and if we do find any evidence pointing to the church, we will certainly pursue it."
So far we have found no good evidence to support any of the conspiracy theories. On the other hand, the evidence against Mark Hofmann seems to be mounting. Prosecutors claim they only revealed a portion of their evidence at the preliminary hearing. It will certainly be interesting to see if Mr. Hofmann's lawyers can successfully counter the prosecution's case when the matter comes to trial.
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