Murder Among the Mormons: What happened to Mark Hofmann and where is he now?
He is widely regarded as one of the most accomplished forgers in history
Netflix’s latest true crime documentary series is Murder Among the Mormons. The series tells the shocking story of a series of bombings which rocked the Mormon Church in America. The story centres around Mark Hofmann, a documents dealer in Utah, who sold his finds to the Mormon Church.
In 1985, the homemade bombs took the lives of two people. The case has been called ” one of the most bizarre, complex and ultimately tragic criminal cases in Utah history”.
Whilst watching the Netflix documentary, Mark Hofmann’s story is told, but he is not among those interviewed. So you might be wondering more about who he is and where he is now. Here’s everything we know.
Who is Mark Hofmann from Murder Among the Mormons on Netflix and what did he do?
Mark Hofmann was first thought to be a top-quality documents dealer, specialising in documents to sell the the Mormon Church. It was soon found out that these were counterfeits and he was a notorious forger. When he was on the verge of being found out, he set off a number of homemade booby-trap bombs in Utah which killed two people.
Mark Hofmann was raised in a devout Mormon family in Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City has a large Mormon community, and is where the church has its headquarters. It’s thought he had an interest in forgery from the age of 12, when he started altering coins so that collectors would think they were more valuable. When Hofmann was 19 he moved to Bristol in the UK, where he read up on Mormon history and it is believed it was here that he began his forgery business plans.
After being in Bristol, Mark Hofmann returned home to the US and studied at Utah State University. Here, he claimed to have found what he believed was the earliest Mormon document, written by the church founder, Joseph Smith. The church history had always said that Smith was visited by an angel who gave him gold plates, and these were translated into the Book of Mormon. Hofmann claimed that his document was the very first translation of the plates – and this document was what began his career as a collector.
In 1983, Hofmann found the famous “Salamander letter”, which is described as a “bombshell letter” supposedly written by Martin Harris – an important figure in early Mormon history. It’s called the Salamander letter because in it, Harris is said to have claimed Joseph Smith was led the the gold plates by a white salamander, not an angel. The letter threatened the core of the Mormon Church. It was Hofmann’s most famous “find”. The letter was purchased from Hofmann by a financial consultant called Steven Christensen for $40,000 (£28,700). Christensen then donated the letter to the church.
After this, there was a huge demand for the sort of documents Hofmann continued to deliver. He became rich off the back of his dealings and was connected with some very influential people. But it was all lies, Hofmann created an entire career around fake documents, and in 1985 he was about to be found out.
In 1985, the bombings happened. A booby-trap bomb, delivered in a package, exploded in the office of Steven Christensen in downtown Salt Lake City – Steven was killed in the blast. The second bomb exploded later that day. It was thought the bomb was intended for Gary Sheets, Steven’s former boss who had helped facilitate the deal for the Salamander letter, but the blast actually took the life of his wife, Kathy.
Hofmann became a suspect in the bombing case when a third bomb went off by accident in his car and he was injured. This linked him to the two previous blasts. Following this, a police investigation found evidence of his forgery business.
Where is Mark Hofmann now?
Hofmann was arrested in January 1986 and initially protested his innocence. In 1987 he plead guilty to two counts of second-degree murder and theft by deception and was sentenced to life in prison. At a later appeal, the parole board found Hofmann to have a “callous disregard for human life”.
In 1988, Hofmann’s wife, Dorie Hofmann, filed for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences.” Later the same year Hofmann attempted to take his own life through a drug overdose in prison but he survived.
Mark Hofmann is now 66-years-old and currently serving his prison sentence at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison, Utah. He was moved out of maximum security prison at the Utah State Prison in 2015.
According to iNews, creators of Murder Among the Mormons reached out to Mark Hofmann to see if he wanted to be interviewed as part of the documentary, but they never heard back. Director Jared Hess said: “He hasn’t communicated with anybody, I think, except for a handful of his immediate family since he’s been in prison. He’s definitely aware of the project, though.”
Tyler Measom, also the show’s director, added: “We definitely tried to no avail. But you don’t need OJ Simpson to tell the OJ Simpson story, and in many ways, not having him as a part of it was kind of interesting as well. It was a good perspective from the victims as opposed to the perpetrator.”
Here are a series of further photos of Mark Hofmann whilst he’s been in prison:
Murder Among the Mormons is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, quizzes, drops and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook.