Dan Wotherspoon interviews Allen D. Roberts and Curt Bench about the lasting legacy of Mormon forger, con man, and murderer Mark Hofmann.
Exactly twenty-five years ago, on the morning of 15 October 1985, Salt Lake City was rattled—both literally and psychologically—by the explosion of two bombs which each killed a person. The next day brought a third explosion, nearly killing Mark Hofmann, a well-known dealer in Mormon documents. Because of clues at that scene, investigators soon realized that perhaps Hofmann was not so much a third victim but the person actually responsible for all three bombs. In the course of the investigation, the tale of Mark Hofmann as a master forger and con artist began to unfold.
In this podcast, we examine the long and complex legacy of these murders and forgeries, as well as their continued reverberations even today. Although it is still unclear if Hofmann’s intent was to bring down Mormonism through creating documents that challenged traditional presentations of early Church origins, he definitely was a serious student of Mormon history and knew where various controversies lay—which he then exploited through the forged letters and documents he produced. This case has also presented challenges to some Latter-day Saints because of Hofmann’s various meetings with Mormon general authorities who failed to detect that he was deceiving them, as well as because of the Church’s practice of sometimes obtaining controversial documents and then suppressing them.
Joining Mormon Stories host Dan Wotherspoon to tell the story of these tragic murders and complex issues are two terrific guests: Allen Roberts, who co-authored with Linda Sillitoe the book Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders, which is widely regarded as the most thorough account of the Hofmann saga, and Curt Bench, who at the time of the bombings managed the Fine and Rare Books department of Deseret Book’s flagship store in downtown Salt Lake City in which he dealt regularly with Mark Hofmann and even considered him a friend. Linda, Allen, and Curt all ended up playing important roles in helping investigators ultimately make their case against Hofmann and untangle the threads that had led him to murder.