Mark Hofmann says a childhood delight in fooling others with card tricks and magic eventually led him to become a master forger and the killer of two people.Forgery was one of the same activities we encountered with our own fraud, the French quack guru, "Dr." Robert Wohlfahrt, who started this blog on it's present course.
“As far back as I can remember I have liked to impress people through my deceptions,” Hofmann wrote in a January 1988 letter to the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole. “Fooling people gave me a sense of power and superiority. I believe this is what led to my forging activities.”
Hofmann’s four-page handwritten letter — obtained Monday by The Salt Lake Tribune following a December ruling from the state Records Committee — gives new insight into the Salt Lake City man’s motive for killing two people with separate pipe bombs in October 1985. Rather than face exposure as a forger, Hofmann claims he preferred to commit murder and even attempted suicide with a third bomb.
Hofmann fabricated a number of early Mormon documents designed to embarrass The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and hoped the church would pay large sums to keep them private. His infamous Salamander Letter, purportedly written by an early church convert, described LDS founder Joseph Smith conversing with a spirit that first appeared as an amphibian.
Salt Lake County investigators believe Hofmann made $800,000 in cash and $200,000 in trade for his forgeries but by the fall of 1985 had incurred half-a-million dollars in debt. He was also under financial pressure to produce a collection of letters purportedly written by a 19th-century church apostle-turned-critic.
Hofmann needed months to forge the documents, but Steven Christensen, a Mormon bishop and document collector, threatened to expose him as a fraud unless he delivered the collection by Oct. 15.
The ultimatum led Hofmann to take what he called “drastic measures” to divert attention from himself.
“The most important thing in my mind was to keep from being exposed as a fraud in front of my friends and family,” Hofmann wrote. “When I say this was the most important thing I mean it literally. I felt I would rather take human life or even my own life rather than to be exposed.”
We love it when anyone involved in all this is finally honest - even if it's forced - because, as always, it's the truth that sets us (all) free.