A new true crime series looks to explore the life and murders of Mark Hofmann, a counterfeiter and forger who killed two people as his schemes began to unravel.
In the 1980s, Hofmann, who had gone into business as a rare books dealer, started to claim he had found extremely rare and valuable documents related to the early history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His forgeries fooled multiple senior Church leaders, historians, and document experts. No longer true to the faith of his youth, Hofmann was not only inspired by greed but by a desire to humiliate Church leaders. His best-known forgery, known as the Salamander letter, claimed Joseph Smith was heavily involved in folk magic and the supernatural. Many Latter-day Saint critics began using the letter as a part of their campaigns and caused a crisis of faith for many.
However, Hofmann soon went into debt due to his lavish lifestyle. His continued findings of rare documents started to draw suspicion. He began to construct bombs in order to kill those who would expose him. On October 15, 1985, he killed document collector Steven Christensen, who had bought the Salamander letter and gave it to the Church, and Kathy Sheets, the wife of Christensen’s former employer in two separate mail bomb blasts. Hofmann was caught the next day when he was severely injured by a bomb detonating in his car. He received a life sentence for murder, theft by deception, and fraud.
It is important for Latter-day Saints around the world to have knowledge of the media and entertainment surrounding it to be better equipped to answer questions and share truth in light of potential misinformation and exaggeration. The video discusses the Salamander letter forgery in-depth.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.