By investigating the October 1985 bombings that killed two people and severely injured another, Netflix’s ‘Murder Among the Mormons’ is the first to provide us with a comprehensive look into one of the most shocking crimes in Salt Lake City, Utah. Exploring the history of Mormonism and the Latter-day Saint community, this three-part documentary series highlights how the infamous White Salamander Letter played a role in the bombings. As a renowned rare documents collector, Mark Hofmann, who was injured in the event, was initially thought of as just a victim. But his involvement in the matter went much further than anyone could have ever anticipated.
Who is Mark Hofmann?
Born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on December 7, 1954, Mark William Hofmann was the second of three children and the only son in a strict and religious household. He grew up with many hobbies, including magic, chemistry, and coin collecting, and that’s when his need to deceive others in order to impress them began. At the age of 12, when Mark knew he and his friends would go on a treasure hunt, he took his coin collection and buried them in the area he knew they’d explore, only to find them himself during the search. He then developed a forging technique and made a rare mint mark on a dime deemed genuine by a treasury.
Like many young men in the Latter-day Saints Church, Mark volunteered to spend two years as a missionary in England, where he spent most of his time going through bookstores to look for early Mormon material, as well as books critiquing Mormonism. Although his parents were proud of him at the time, what they didn’t realize was that Mark had become an atheist at the age of 14. It is said that his act of being a devout Mormon was initially due to social pressure. However, it eventually played into his goal to shake the religion’s very foundations by creating fake documents.
In October 1985, despite the considerable wealth Mark had gained from trading in his forged documents, he was deeply in debt, in part because of the lavish lifestyle he had grown accustomed to. In an attempt to clear the mounting debts, he started talking about broking a sale of the supposed “McLellin collection.” Yet, because he had no idea where the collection was and did not have time to forge it either, he began constructing bombs to get himself out of the mess he had created. Thus, on October 15, he caused two fatal explosions before injuring himself in the third bombing on October 16.
Is Mark Hofmann Dead or Alive? Where is He Now?
While Mark Hofmann was healing from his injuries, some incriminating evidence against him came to light, leading the authorities to focus their investigations entirely on him. Subsequently, once they executed a search warrant on his house and recovered items that pointed towards him producing fraudulent documents, they began to prove that his motive for the bombings was a cover-up. Mark was arrested in January 1986 and charged on a total of 27 counts, including first-degree murder, delivering a bomb, constructing or possessing a bomb, and communication fraud. Five additional charges of theft by deception were added later on.
Mark tried to maintain his innocence at first, but once he realized that not only was he facing the death penalty in Utah but could also be facing justice in New York, he agreed to a plea deal. In January 1987, Mark admitted guilt to two counts of second-degree murder, one count of theft by deception, and one count of fraud. He also agreed to confess to his ways in exchange for his sentencing of five years to life in prison. But once the Utah Board of Pardons and Paroles heard what Mark had to say for himself, they were struck by his “callous disregard for human life” and decided that he would spend the rest of his “natural life in prison.”
After Mark was imprisoned, excommunicated by the Latter-day Saints Church, and divorced from his wife, Doralee Olds, he attempted suicide in his cell by overdosing on antidepressant pills. Professionals were able to revive him, but because he had already spent over 12 hours on his right arm, his blood circulation got cut off, leading to muscle atrophy. In simpler words, Mark Hofmann is now permanently disabled and has lost his forging hand for good.
According to the Department of Corrections inmate records, the 66-year-old is currently incarcerated at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison, housed in CUCF Monroe. We should also mention that Mark allegedly tried to plan a hit on the parole board members once his sentence was extended.
Read More: Where is Mark Hofmann’s Ex-Wife Now?