Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Genius Bomber: The Mormon Forgery Murders


In fact, Magee did tell investigators that while she had read the prayer book many times and was familiar with its contents, she had never before seen the poem written in the back that the police now showed to her.   She insisted it had been written after she sold it.

Still, the investigators now needed to find a calligrapher who could have reproduced the handwriting in such an elegant, unhurried manner.   They needed to find Hofmanns accomplice.  It wasnt long before they discovered that Hofmann himself had taken a calligraphy class.  His teacher told investigators that he already had quite an artistic mastery and had even impressed her.

With all this evidence, in February 1986 Mark Hofmann was charged with 27 felonies, including multiple counts of fraud and forgery and two counts of homicide.   It wasnt just the Mormon documents that were items of interest, either.  Hofmann had apparently duped buyers of pieces by Charles Dickens, Daniel Boone and other historic figures.

Ronald Yengich
Ronald Yengich, Lawyer for Hofmann

Hofmanns lawyer, Ronald Yengich, pointed to the poor memory of eyewitnesses in the Judge Building and in Holladay, and the fact that there were no fingerprints on the bomb fragments and no conclusions from handwriting experts that Hofmann was the person who had written the names on the bomb packages.

Apparently confident, Mark Hofmann went for a preliminary hearing on April 14, which lasted several weeks as prosecutors vigorously presented their most damning evidence about the bombs, his lies, his forgeries and his debts.   It had an impact.  At the hearing Hofmann still claimed he was innocent, but within months discussions were under way between the two sides for a plea deal, and on January 7, 1987, Mark Hofmann agreed to plead guilty to two counts of second-degree murder, second-degree theft by deception in the sale of the salamander letter, and second-degree fraud for the McLellin collection.  In return for reduced charges, he had to tell the prosecutors everything and accept a judges sentencing of up to life in prison, with a hearing before the Board of Pardons for possible parole.

Hofmann agreed to tell them whatever they wanted to know.


This marks the end of the quiz.  What investigators learned about and from Hofmann follows.

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