Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Genius Bomber: The Mormon Forgery Murders

Suspicions

Checking into Hofmanns background, the detectives recalled that he had been a business associate of Steve Christensen.   He was never involved in CFS, so the link with Gary Sheets was not clear, but whoever was going after these three men appeared to have specifically targeted them.  It was difficult at that point to know whether there would be a fourth bombing, or even more, since the motive was still not clear. 

Hofmann proved to be a dealer in rare documents, and had built a thriving business.   People the police questioned spoke about him as an awkward, amiable guy who was a bit of a wheeler-dealer.  He had a family, had just purchased a nice home, appeared to have a good marriage, and was in good standing with the Mormon church.  In fact, his associates said, he'd been collecting controversial documents for the church to keep them out of the hands of anti-Mormon dissidents.  He had no criminal record.  All in all, he appeared to be an upstanding businessman with an expensive new house and a nice family.

Mark Hofmann (l) meeting with church representatives to examine rare documents
Mark Hofmann (l) meeting with church representatives to examine rare documents

But Hofmann was supposed to have met with Steve Christensen the day before to close a deal on some rare Mormon documents known as the McLellin collection.   Mutual acquaintances that knew about the collection were now quite worried.  The salamander letter as an inspiration for the bombs had been mere speculation.  This third bombing indicated a real connection with the documents.  Given some of the rabid factions in the church, from purists to doubters, there was reason to be concerned.  It would not be the first time that internal strife among the chosen would end in bloodshed.  Mormon history offered several such incidents.

In fact, it turned out that the meeting on the morning Hofmann was injured had involved the same collection.   It was the same arranged meeting to turn over the documents, but with a replacement for Christensen.

Now things were getting interesting.   A meeting had been scheduled, a bomb had been planted.  Another meeting had been scheduled, another bomb had been planted.  Hofmann had been evasive.  Something was up, and it involved this third victim.

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