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Murder Among the Mormons on Netflix


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On 3/12/2021 at 10:37 PM, InCognitus said:

I thought the series answered this allegation rather well with the quotation from the letter of Gordon B. Hinckley as quoted by Richard E. Turley, Jr. in the video shortly after the Salamander letter was donated to the church:

"We'll have to accept, for the time being, the scientific evaluations of the examiners, but that does not mean that it could not have been a forgery from that time period, that was created for the purposes of hurting the Church."

I'm not sure what else they could have done differently.  Also, from what I recall from my book reading a couple of decades ago (and I may remember incorrectly), the church didn't purchase any of the documents, they were all donated to the church by others.

I watched a second time because my husband hadn't seen it and watched yesterday. Something it mentioned was from Rust, that the church was going to pay $300,000 for the Mccune documents. The whole reason I believe that Hofmann felt stress because he'd been threatened by Steve Christensen that Steve would expose him as a fraudster, threaten his membership in the church etc. Steve wanted the documents because the church wanted them STAT, my words of course. So what it didn't mention but I heard this morning while listening to the interview with Sandra Tanner is that the church already had the McCune diaries. Did you know anything about this or anyone reading this, know this? Plus, why would members have to pay for these and then donate to the church, seems icky to me.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Tacenda said:

Something it mentioned was from Rust, that the church was going to pay $300,000 for the Mccune documents.

This info was from Hofmann, I believe, and it would be in his interest to inflate or even completely invent the Church’s interest in purchasing them in order to have Rust believe him putting up front money to buy them or whatever it was for was safe since the Church would not have a problem getting the money if the claim was true. 

It is unfortunate they didn’t make that clear, that Hofmann likely lied about this as well as the other stuff he was lying about.

One of the articles I posted in the past few days talks about this...the myth of the Church’s level of involvement and intent to purchase to control the documents. The LATimes published the Church had the Oliver Cowdery letter and had hidden it, but Hofmann later confessed he had lied and the Times admitted he was their only source for that claim. 

Edited by Calm
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1 hour ago, Tacenda said:

Plus, why would members have to pay for these and then donate to the church, seems icky to me.

You are suggesting the Church forced them to rather than them being excited about the finds themselves and wanting to be the ones who gave something of value to the Church, correct?

Is there any evidence the Church was using Christiansen as their agent outside of what Hofmann was telling people rather than Christiansen deciding on his own to buy something of historical value and then donate it to the Church?

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20 hours ago, Duncan said:

my guess is if one is proven to be a forgery then they would look at who donated them and then test the others and then go from there

Just came across this...

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Meanwhile, Hofmann's forgeries and counterfeiting are still leaving their mark. His doctored documents continue to surface and are sometimes sold as originals even when there is proof that they're "Hofmanns." Two years ago, a penny Hofmann claims he altered sold for $48,300 at a Beverly Hills auction....

Both forensic expert Throckmorton and collector Ashworth say they have run across rare document dealers who have sold items that have been pointed out as Hofmann forgeries. Throckmorton remembers a Daniel Boone letter sold by a Denver auction house; he told the dealer the letter was forged, but the response, says Throckmorton, was "We don't care." The dealer explained, "We never guarantee it's authentic. We just guarantee we'll give them their money back if they're not satisfied."

There is more on this but on phone and copy/paste is not working, so read the article for more. 
 

https://www.deseret.com/2005/10/15/19917491/tales-of-hofmann-forgeries-deceit-continue-to-intrigue-20-years-later

The article also has info on one apparently documented involvement of a Church leader:

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With Steve Christensen's help, he convinced the late LDS general authority Hugh Pinnock to help secure a non-collateral loan for $185,000 from First Interstate Bank so that Hofmann could buy the collection and donate it to the church to keep it from falling into "enemy hands." He negotiated a separate $154,000 deal with Salt Lake coin collector Alvin Rust for the same collection.

How Hofmann and Christiansen promoted this to the Church...do we have documentation of that? The Church could have been the origin of the idea or Hofmann could have presented himself as eager to give to the Church a gift, but had a cash flow problem at the moment and they wouldn’t want to lose out by waiting too long and it getting bought by someone else...which would set up the Church to trust him more when it came time for his ultimate con, the 116 pages (at least I got the idea from the documentary that was his long term goal).

Edited by Calm
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16 minutes ago, Calm said:

You are suggesting the Church forced them to rather than them being excited about the finds themselves and wanting to be the ones who gave something of value to the Church, correct?

Is there any evidence the Church was using Christiansen as their agent outside of what Hofmann was telling people rather than Christiansen deciding on his own to buy something of historical value and then donate it to the Church?

You seem quite opposed to the notion that the church had a direct interest in the Hoffman forgeries, almost as if they were just bystanders. Out of curiosity, would you view it as negative IF the church and its leaders were really the drivers behind obtaining the fake church history documents? What if the church had Christianson acting as their agent? Would that bother you? If so, why?

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The total of debts — $415,000 to Salt Laker Thomas Wilding and others in his investment group; $185,000 to the bank; $20,000 to a dealer in California for a Sherlock Holmes manuscript; a $180,000 down payment on a new house on Cottonwood Lane, and on and on — eventually reached $1.1 million, Farnsworth says.

"When you put together this whole morass of bad deals he had going on, he was in a box he couldn't get out of," he said. "It would have taken a whole year of forgery to get out of it."

In addition, Hofmann knew that Massachusetts autograph expert Kenneth Rendell was planning a trip to Salt Lake City in late October. Hofmann knew that Rendell would be visiting Christensen, who was thinking of buying a piece of Egyptian papyrus Hofmann said was from the McLellin collection — but which, in fact, Hofmann had bought from Rendell earlier in the summer.

Looks like Hofmann may have been a master forger, but he could have benefited from taking some money management courses. 
 

Was it the thrill of his skills yet again perpetrating a deception that drove him to promise items he had yet to create or a belief that eventually he was going to get caught and he wanted to get as many successes to gloat over or did he just not think it through...that going in debt so much might not be the best way to make money.

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32 minutes ago, Calm said:

This info was from Hofmann, I believe, and it would be in his interest to inflate or even completely invent the Church’s interest in purchasing them in order to have Rust believe him putting up front money to buy them or whatever it was for was safe since the Church would not have a problem getting the money if the claim was true. 

It is unfortunate they didn’t make that clear, that Hofmann likely lied about this as well as the other stuff he was lying about.

One of the articles I posted in the past few days talks about this...the myth of the Church’s level of involvement and intent to purchase to control the documents. The LATimes published the Church had the Oliver Cowdery letter and had hidden it, but Hofmann later confessed he had lied and the Times admitted he was their only source for that claim. 

I wonder why Richard Turley agreed to be on the show if there were false claims. Also, does the church already have the McCune diaries? And maybe they wanted to purchase Hofmann's so-called McCune's documents for some reason? Or do you know if the diaries are common knowledge? Or has the church put forth that they have them?

Edited by Tacenda
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23 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

You seem quite opposed to the notion that the church had a direct interest in the Hoffman forgeries, almost as if they were just bystanders. Out of curiosity, would you view it as negative IF the church and its leaders were really the drivers behind obtaining the fake church history documents? What if the church had Christianson acting as their agent? Would that bother you? If so, why?

My issue is I am annoyed that people are still taking Hofmann’s word for something.  I want the story, whatever it is, to be accurate. If something is opinion or speculation, I want it identified as that and not be presented as fact. I think my posting history should demonstrate this is my typical approach to stories, and nothing unique to this case. 
 

If the Church was interested and paid for what they believed were historical documents of early Church history at a fair price, I don’t have any problem with that and in fact like the idea. It would bother me if the actual intent was to hide problematic documents, but since I have always believed leaders were fallible and could even be petty or foolish at times, I might be disappointed in the leaders themselves (wouldn’t be the first time btw), but wouldn’t affect how I feel about the Church or the Gospel. 
 

But as long as Hofmann’s lies are taken as truth, he is still victimizing people.  And even if he is sitting in his cell, he gets to gloat over his ability to hurt people, even if just their reputations.

I would also like to see Christiansen get credit for being a generous soul if it was his idea.  He was apparently a decent man.  That he is known to most as Hofmann’s victim, not only from the bomb, but that he was deceived (up to a point, he apparently was getting suspicious given the demand he gave to Hofmann with legal consequences if Hofmann didn’t provide as promised) bothers me. 
 

Quote

Steve Christensen and Kathy Sheets were Hofmann's most tragic victims. But Hofmann also had three other financial victims: the LDS Church, which owns 446 Hofmann forgeries and whose history was challenged by some of Hofmann's more damaging distortions; coin and document dealer Al Rust; and Provo document collector Brent Ashworth.

It seems likely with that many documents that the Church purchased at least some.  One of these days I need to refresh my memory of what I have heard/read (I saw the FAIR presentation by Throckmorton and ...my mind is blanking) as well as read one of the better books to get more details.

Edited by Calm
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8 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

wonder why Richard Turley agreed to be on the show if there were false claim

He wouldn’t know most likely until it came out. 

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Possible motivation (also from the DN article...excellent, btw, should be read if interested in topic):

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Ashworth believes Hofmann's anger resulted from the fact that Hofmann's grandfather had been excommunicated for practicing polygamy. Ashworth now owns Hofmann's Bible from his LDS mission days in England, and reports that "almost all the notes (in the Bible) were about polygamy. It seemed to be on his mind all the time."

 

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10 minutes ago, Calm said:

My issue is I am annoyed that people are still taking Hofmann’s word for something.  I want the story, whatever it is, to be accurate. If something is opinion or speculation, I want it identified as that and not be presented as fact. I think my posting history should demonstrate this is my typical approach to stories, and nothing unique to this case. 
 

If the Church was interested and paid for what they believed were historical documents of early Church history at a fair price, I don’t have any problem with that and in fact like the idea. It would bother me if the actual intent was to hide problematic documents, but since I have always believed leaders were fallible and could even be petty or foolish at times, I might be disappointed in the leaders themselves (wouldn’t be the first time btw), but wouldn’t affect how I feel about the Church or the Gospel. 
 

But as long as Hofmann’s lies are taken as truth, he is still victimizing people. 

I would also like to see Christiansen get credit for being a generous soul if it was his idea.  He was apparently a decent man.  That he is known to most as Hofmann’s victim, not only from the bomb, but that he was deceived (up to a point, he apparently was getting suspicious given the demand he gave to Hofmann with legal consequences if Hofmann didn’t provide as promised) bothers me. 

That's fair. Thanks for the response.

Wasn't it Christianson in one of his interview snippets about seeking the McClellan collection that Hoffman could be concerned about getting into trouble with the church? So obviously, that was before the bombings. But it does indicate that there was some kind of interaction between Christianson and the church and Hoffman which Christianson felt confident enough to state that Hoffman could face church consequences. Why would he know that. That seemed like a rather damning statement when I heard it in the documentary that led me to believe the church was involved and invested in the process, enough so that they may have disciplined Hoffman in some way if it didn't go their way.

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9 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Do you know anything about if the church has the McCune diaries? Or maybe Fair?

Looking into it now. This is not something I have researched, just attended the one FAIR presentation and then the past conversations on the message boards.  I am not into True Crime usually. The Daybell-Vallow case is the first I ever followed and that was probably a timing issue (I needed distraction when it broke and then I wanted to know if the kids were alright or not).

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4 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

Why would he know that.

I don’t remember it, brain is a sieve at the moment.  Need to see stuff in writing for it to stick and even then... 

Maybe Hofmann had told him that for some purpose...sympathy, to explain a delay as fear of being discipline.  Knowing that certain lies are being perpetuated is making me suspicious of everything at the moment. I really need to get a book that has these details so as to understand what is actually known, what actions are documented. 

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21 minutes ago, Calm said:

Looking into it now. This is not something I have researched, just attended the one FAIR presentation and then the past conversations on the message boards.  I am not into True Crime usually. The Daybell-Vallow case is the first I ever followed and that was probably a timing issue (I needed distraction when it broke and then I wanted to know if the kids were alright or not).

I somehow got it mixed up with the McCllenan papers. But thought I heard her say McCune diaries, where I think she may have said McCllenan, now I have to go and re-listen. I apologize Calm! Here's an excerpt from this article, so the church must have had some of the McCllenan papers:

https://www.deseret.com/2009/1/22/20297848/mclellin-journal-finally-is-located#detail-of-the-journal-of-early-apostle-william-e-mclellin

McLellin became an outspoken critic of the LDS Church and, to a lesser extent, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now the Community of Christ). He wrote his beliefs and recollections in several notebooks. Those records were given to a family friend, John Traughber, after McLellin died in 1883. That friend sold some of them 25 years later for $50 to the LDS Church.

 

Edited by Tacenda
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50 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

Also, does the church already have the McCune diaries?

I am assuming this is what you mean:

https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/overlandtravel/sources/5331/mc-cune-henry-frederick-autobiography-and-diaries-1919-1924-fd-1-9-13

My memory says they were an item Hofmann said he could get, but then later when the Church was checking what was in their collection for the investigation, they were found (evidence that the Church collection is prone to the same issues of other archives, I wonder if they have solved that issue, surely there would have been a thorough search if not for the investigation, then for the JSPP), but the memory is vague and may be a fabrication of other stuff. 
 

I can’t find anything about this. So probably confused over what was found in the archives. 

Edited by Calm
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4 minutes ago, Calm said:

I am assuming this is what you mean:

https://history.churchofjesuschrist.org/overlandtravel/sources/5331/mc-cune-henry-frederick-autobiography-and-diaries-1919-1924-fd-1-9-13

My memory says they were an item Hofmann said he could get, but then later when the Church was checking what was in their collection for the investigation, they were found (evidence that the Church collection is prone to the same issues of other archives, I wonder if they have solved that issue, surely there would have been a thorough search if not for the investigation, then for the JSPP), but the memory is vague and may be a fabrication of other stuff. 

Wow, then maybe she did say McCune, thanks. 

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8 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

I somehow got it mixed up with the McCllenan papers. But thought I heard her say McCune diaries, where I think she may have said McCllenan, now I have to go and re-listen. I apologize Calm! Here's an excerpt from this article, so the church must have had some of the McCllenan papers:

https://www.deseret.com/2009/1/22/20297848/mclellin-journal-finally-is-located#detail-of-the-journal-of-early-apostle-william-e-mclellin

McLellin became an outspoken critic of the LDS Church and, to a lesser extent, the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now the Community of Christ). He wrote his beliefs and recollections in several notebooks. Those records were given to a family friend, John Traughber, after McLellin died in 1883. That friend sold some of them 25 years later for $50 to the LDS Church.

 

Thanks for finding that.  Now I can rest in peace (auto correct wants to capitalize that phrase and that is not what I mean :) ).

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From Tacenda’s link:

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The discovery and eventual publication of the notebook likely also will have another impact. Both Ashworth and McLellin have been living to some extent under Hofmann's shadow of lies, forgeries and schemes. Ashworth hopes that will change.

Unfortunately I don’t think this will happen. More people will be interested in remembering the fake diaries rather than paying attention to what McLellin actually wrote because the first came with bombs and forgeries. 

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7 minutes ago, Kevin Christensen said:

The William McLellin journals located in the LDS archives during the formal cataloging were published.  They turned out to be not at all scandalous.

https://www.amazon.com/Journals-William-McLellin-1831-1836/dp/0842523162

FWiW,

Kevin Christensen

Canonsburg, PA

 

Kevin or anyone else, is there anything noteworthy about the McCune diaries? 
 

I think it likely that the woman who  Tacenda was listening to said McCune because it doesn’t make sense that Tacenda would randomly come up with a real name that the Church has diaries of. 

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33 minutes ago, Calm said:

Kevin or anyone else, is there anything noteworthy about the McCune diaries? 
 

I think it likely that the woman who  Tacenda was listening to said McCune because it doesn’t make sense that Tacenda would randomly come up with a real name that the Church has diaries of. 

From a news article about the bombing (https://apnews.com/article/15beb9e5d3615e637b58504562fb30c1), it looks like the one of the bombs occurred at the McCune mansion (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_McCune_Home).  Apparently, Christiansen's office was in there.  So it could be that the woman did mention the name McCune when talking about the bombings.

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5 hours ago, HappyJackWagon said:

I don't recall when that letter was dated. Was it before or after Hoffman was caught and the forgeries were discovered? If it was after, my previous statement stands (IMO).

The bombings happened on October 15 and 16, 1985.  The date of the other statement was earlier the same year, in April (before he was caught).  I posted it above in my response to Meadowchik.  Here it is again:

21 hours ago, InCognitus said:

It was in April 1985 that the church released it's own statement expressing the possibility that the document was forged.  President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

No one, of course, can be certain that Martin Harris wrote the document. However, at this point we accept the judgment of the examiner that there is no indication that it is a forgery. This does not preclude the possibility that it may have been forged at a time when the Church had many enemies.” (News Release, 28 Apr. 1985.)

I may not be correct that this was a "letter".  I think I heard that from the Netflix video in what Richard Turley said, but I may have heard it incorrectly.   He may have been paraphrasing the statement. 

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50 minutes ago, InCognitus said:

The bombings happened on October 15 and 16, 1985.  The date of the other statement was earlier the same year, in April (before he was caught).  I posted it above in my response to Meadowchik.  Here it is again:

I may not be correct that this was a "letter".  I think I heard that from the Netflix video in what Richard Turley said, but I may have heard it incorrectly.   He may have been paraphrasing the statement. 

I thought there was a video of to be Pres Hinckley saying that...might have been something else though. 

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