PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION

 

    On October 28, 1986, I published the first edition of Tracking The White Salamander, which was the first book written concerning the Salt Lake City bombing's case. At that time we were still waiting for Mark Hofmann's trial for the murder of Steven Christensen and Kathleen Sheets. Subsequent trials were to deal with the question of whether Mr. Hofmann was selling forgeries to the Mormon leaders and other collectors. At the time I first published this book I felt that Mark Hofmann was guilty of both the murders and the forgeries. Nevertheless, I had not heard Mark Hofmann's side of the story (he had refused to talk to both the police and reporters), and I felt that it would not be proper to absolutely declare him guilty before a jury had a chance to decide the question. Consequently, I tried my best not to be dogmatic about Mr. Hofmann's guilt. For instance, on page 30, 1 wrote: "...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."

    After the second edition was published, a surprising development occurred in the case. On Jan. 23, 1987, the Deseret News reported that Mark Hofmann had entered into a plea bargain arrangement and that he appeared before Judge Kenneth Rigtrup and confessed to the murders as well as selling forged and nonexistent documents—i.e., the Salamander letter and the McLellin collection. As part of the plea bargain Mr. Hofmann agreed to meet with the prosecution and give details concerning other forged documents he sold to the Mormon Church and other collectors. The same day that Mark Hofmann made his confession to Judge Rigtrup he was sentenced to "one prison term of 5 years to life and three other prison terms of 1-to-15 years." The Judge, however, recommended that he spend the rest of his life in the Utah State Prison. For more details concerning the plea bargain see Appendix F.

    From talking to a number of different people I have come to the conclusion that there is a great deal of misunderstanding concerning the Hofmann case. In this book I have attempted to tie the evidence together in such a way that the average person will be able to grasp what is actually going on. The reader will notice that this book provides the first lengthy extracts from Mark Hofmann's preliminary hearing. My wife, Sandra, was able to attend all of the sessions of this hearing and compiled an excellent set of notes which have been very helpful to me. While I was only able to attend about half of the proceedings, I was able to listen to a copy of the official tapes of the hearing. The extracts that appear in this publication were taken from these tapes. Besides what I learned at the preliminary hearing and in listening to tapes of the hearing, I have been able to find out a great deal about what was going on from Mark Hofmann's associates and from others who were acquainted with them.

    The reader will notice that I have used italics and bold type for emphasis throughout this book.

JERALD TANNER
MARCH 19,1987

 

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