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Murder Among the Mormons on Netflix


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I wonder if the 433 was a typo and it was 43. 

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“Hinckley said at a press conference that, starting in 1980, he had purchased about 40 documents from Hofmann. Only a few of them have been made public; others are in a church vault. Whether they cast any new light on the church’s past is not known.” (Pp. 43, 46.)

What President Hinckley said was that he had purchased two documents, and Church History Department personnel had acquired the rest. Furthermore, the unknown documents were mostly innocuous, unknown not because they were hidden in a vault—they were not—but unknown because they were unimportant.

https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1987/10/recent-events-involving-church-history-and-forged-documents?lang=eng

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For example, President Gordon B. Hinckley said this about the Martin Harris letter:

“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.)

 

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Did anyone else get the impression from the documentary that there was an extended time between Hofmann getting blown up and the LEOs latching on to him as prime suspect?

Webbles’ article makes it clear it was either shortly after or even before the third bomb went off that he was a suspect and the primary suspect not long after the third bomb.

https://apnews.com/article/15beb9e5d3615e637b58504562fb30c1
 

from Oct 16, so later in the day of the third bombing

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The man, Mark W. Hofmann, was found to have ″incriminating″ evidence in his car linking him to the previous bombings, said Salt Lake City Police Chief Bud Willoughby. 

Hofmann, who is a researcher of Mormon historical documents, was taken to LDS Hospital in critical condition, where he underwent surgery. 

Detectives had been looking for Hofmann, 31, on Wednesday and had obtained search warrants for his home, said Salt Lake County Sheriff Pete Hayward. A man matching Hofmann’s description was seen carrying a package for the victim of Tuesday’s first bombing, Hayward said. 

The case was ″all starting to come into place,″ the sheriff said, adding that Hofmann had asked to talk to a detective at the hospital. 

″A witness saw Hofmann carrying either a box or a briefcase when he opened the car,″ Willoughby said at a news conference. Hofmann started into his car parked north of the Salt Lake Temple ″and he was blown away from the car,″ he said.

 

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5 hours ago, Tacenda said:

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.

This is what Hofmann told Rust, but Hofmann seems to be the source of a lot of these stories including that one.  George Throckmorton didn't believe the story about Hofmann arranging to meet with the Church on the McLellin collection near the time of the bombings because he had never heard it from the Church, only from others who had talked to Hofmann (the video series that I'll include at the bottom is my source for that information from Throckmorton, see video time stamp 17:08).

A good chronology of events can be found here:  Register of the Mark Hofmann Case Collection, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Brigham Young University.   The chronology is in Appendix A of that web link.  In that list are these relevant events that mention the McLellin collection.  It is apparent from this list that Hofmann was telling different people different things all the time:

 

23 April 1985 Alvin Rust gives Hofmann money ($150,000) to purchase "McLellin Collection" in New York City. Hofmann later tells Rust that he has sold the McLellin Collection to the LDS Church for $300,000.
28 June 1985 Elder Hugh Pinnock helps arrange a loan of $185,000 from First Interstate Bank for Hofmann to help purchase McLellin Papers.
6 July 1985 Salt Lake Tribune, citing Hofmann, says McLellin Collection includes Facsimile 2 from thePearl of Great Price.
4 October 1985

Hofmann tells Elder Hugh Pinnock he must sell McLellin Collection rather than donate it to Church, so Pinnock arranges for it to be purchased for $185,000 during Oct. 13-19. Mission President David E. Sorensen working through his attorney, David West, is to purchase the McLellin collection, if someone can authenticate it. Steve Christensen was chosen to do this.

 

5 hours ago, Tacenda said:

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.

George Throckmorton has a totally different opinion on why Hofmann was stressed (see video below).

5 hours ago, Tacenda said:

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

Kevin Christensen posted a link to the published journals of Williem E. McLellin above.  The synopsis of the book includes the following:

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For years, William E. McLellin (1806-1883) has been a mystery to Mormon historians. Converted in 1831, he served missions with Hyrum Smith, Samuel Smith, Parley Pratt, and others. He was also ordained one of the twelve original Latter-day Saint Apostles in 1835. Yet seeds of doubt and difficulty were already evident in his brief period of excommunication in 1832 and in various points of tension and later conflict with Church leaders.

In the early 1980s, the fabled McLellin journals were reportedly located by the infamous document forger, Mark Hofmann. Little did anyone know that they were soon to be found in the holdings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which had acquired the journals in 1908.

I guess it helps to catalog what you already have (which the Church has been doing in recent years). 

5 hours ago, Tacenda said:

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

People donate items to the Church all the time.  I think it's better to do it that way if possible.

By the way, I did remember incorrectly about some of the purchases.  I knew that the Church had traded some items for some of the documents, but I didn't remember any direct purchases.  Apparently there were some.  Look through the chronology in the Register of the Mark Hofmann Case Collection in the BYU link I posted above.

Now here's one of the videos I was referring to above.  These interviews with George Throckmorton are interesting because he provides a completely different perspective on some of the events.  I found this series thanks to your posting of the Steve Mayfield & George Throckmorton video earlier in the thread.  This is the video where Throckmorton provides his theory as to why Hofmann was so stressed:

 

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23 minutes ago, Calm said:

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

That's what I thought at first too, but Richard Turley's comments came right after the video of President Hickley.  Look in the Netflix series, episode 1 at the 17:40 time stamp mark (or 27:25 remaining time in the video, depending on how you select it).

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Posted (edited)
12 minutes ago, InCognitus said:

That's what I thought at first too, but Richard Turley's comments came right after the video of President Hickley.  Look in the Netflix series, episode 1 at the 17:40 time stamp mark (or 27:25 remaining time in the video, depending on how you select it).

Funny how the mind works.  I don’t believe anything I tell myself these days.

Edited by Calm
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Great video, Incog.  Throckmorton’s face is rather responsive, imo. 
 

That theory makes Hofmann even more cold blooded, petty, and so self centered. Ugh. 

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7 minutes ago, Calm said:

Throckmorton’s face is rather responsive, imo. 

Yes, I thought so too.  I liked his grimace when the question was being asked about the McLellin collection meeting with the Church toward the end.  You could tell he disapproved of some bit of misinformation before he even answered the question.

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On 3/14/2021 at 4:08 PM, Meadowchik said:

More like, the first ones to produce a written, detailed analysis challenging it.

From the FAIR presentation of Throckmorton and Mayfield:

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But anyway I asked Sandra that and she just said no he just didn't have any proof. Following the homicides and some of the writings they suggested that Mark wasn’t that good of a forger or writer that he must have had help and they suggested that there was a another individual who was forging the documents and Mark was the middle man and when this person either died or stopped doing the forgeries, Mark started doing his own and that's when he came in sloppy and so forth. Even as of last October at a conference sponsored by an organization that George belongs the Southwest association of forensic documents examiner Sandra and Jerald were there and she was even asking people who were there if they had any ideas of anybody who’s helping Mark. So I am getting two different stories here but the significance of this is a fact that you read a lot of web pages and some of the chat rooms and they always say that “Jerald was the only one that knew that Mark was a forger, and everybody else believed him”.  That isn't true at all. There were others had doubts too but I find that is one of the myths that have start

https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/2006-Steve-Mayfield-and-George-Throckmorton.pdf

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Posted (edited)
On 3/5/2021 at 1:01 PM, Kevin Christensen said:

The Mormon Murders (notable to me for declaring, with all seriousness, that Mormons cannot be trusted because "their health code makes them look younger than they really are"),

Found another reason to be cautious reading this book.

From the FAIR presentation, Mayfield is speaking first and is about to hand the mic over to Throckmorton...Mayfield is being sarcastic about the greatest book btw...

I have corrected some typos or where words were skipped because they are bugging me, if you want the original, follow the link.

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I want to close with this, a question that I have of him, a reference to a statement that I read here in "Mormon Murders" the greatest book on the case I am sure.


This is during the time that George and his associate Bill Flynn were examining the documents down at the Church archives. This (text) says “on the date Flynn’s plane left for Arizona (Bill Flynn is from Phoenix, Arizona), a Church delegation led by Gordon Hinckley visited the conference room. They looked suspiciously at all the equipment while Throckmorton and Flynn explained the process. They had some questions, but to Flynn’s astonishment never asked them the most obvious question of all, are the documents genuine.”

George, when you come up here I would be very interested hearing about this experience. What’s it like to have that experience with a leader of the Church? Maybe you can share that with us. Why do you think he didn't ask that question when he was here and you were there in his presence?


George Throckmorton: If I can respond to Mr. Mayfield’s question.....As I advance in age I have a tendency not to remember certain things and to remember other things even more than if they actually happened. But as President Hinckley came in to visit us that day I don't remember it at all because it just never happened.

Also about being cautious in depending on claims:

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There are lot of things that I heard and that I experienced first hand that contradict so many things that are in the book, the various books that are out there.

https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/2006-Steve-Mayfield-and-George-Throckmorton.pdf

Edited by Calm
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8 hours ago, Calm said:

From the FAIR presentation of Throckmorton and Mayfield:

"But anyway I asked Sandra that and she just said no he just didn't have any proof. Following the homicides and some of the writings they suggested that Mark wasn’t that good of a forger or writer that he must have had help and they suggested that there was a another individual who was forging the documents and Mark was the middle man and when this person either died or stopped doing the forgeries, Mark started doing his own and that's when he came in sloppy and so forth. Even as of last October at a conference sponsored by an organization that George belongs the Southwest association of forensic documents examiner Sandra and Jerald were there and she was even asking people who were there if they had any ideas of anybody who’s helping Mark. So I am getting two different stories here but the significance of this is a fact that you read a lot of web pages and some of the chat rooms and they always say that “Jerald was the only one that knew that Mark was a forger, and everybody else believed him”.  That isn't true at all. There were others had doubts too but I find that is one of the myths that have start"

https://www.fairlatterdaysaints.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/2006-Steve-Mayfield-and-George-Throckmorton.pdf

I did not say they were the only ones to doubt:

Quote

 

On 3/14/2021 at 10:08 PM, Meadowchik said:

More like, the first ones to produce a written, detailed analysis challenging it.

 

I quite like the representation of Sandra Tanner saying they did not have proof. That corroborates their own words. They did not claim to have proof, they were open about the limitations about what they knew, and they were asking for help. But in March 1984, as I said, Jerald Tanner detailed his concerns and his reasons in that month's issue of their newsletter, The Messenger:

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"At the outset we should state that we have some reservations concerning the authenticity of the letter, and at the present time we are not prepared to say that it was actually penned by Martin Harris. The serious implications of this whole matter, however, cry out for discussion. If the letter is authentic, it is one of the greatest evidences against the divine origin of the Book of Mormon. If, on the other hand, it is a forgery, it needs to be exposed as such so that millions of people will not be mislead [sic]. We will give the reasons for our skepticism as we proceed with this article."

and

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"Since we have been deeply involved in research having to do with the relationship of Mormonism to magic...we were delighted to the report that Martin Harris had written a letter relating to the subject....Some time later, we were told of another letter, written by W.W. Phelps, which seemed to prove the authenticity of the letter attributed to Harris. This letter is printed in Howe's book, pages 273-274. In the letter, Phelps tells of Martin Harris' statements concerning the Book of Mormon. There are some remarkable parallels between the two letters. Both letters refer to the Urim and Thummim as 'silver spectacles.' Both accounts tell of Martin Harris taking a copy of the Book of Mormon characters to 'Utica, Albany and New York,' and both talk of the Book of Mormon language as 'shorthand Egyptian.' Since Phelps' letter is dated Jan. 15, 1831 (less than three months after the letter which was reported to have been written by Harris), it seemed safe to conclude that Phelps used the Harris letter in preparing his own. In all fairness, however, we made another discovery which we feel we must report. Just two pages after Phelps letter, we found a statement written by E.D. Howe which is strangely similar to the 'Harris' letter. 

The reader will remember that the letter said, 'the spirit transfigured himself from a white salamander in the bottom of the hole.' E.D. Howe's statement reads as follows: '...looked into the hole, where he saw a toad, which immediately transformed itself into a spirit,...' Notice that both accounts use the words 'the hole' as well as 'spirit', and the words 'transfigured himself' resemble 'transformed itself.'...

    "That Howe's statement (Mormonism Unvailed, page 276) is so much like the one in the 'Harris' letter is a little disturbing. Even more disconcerting, however, is the fact that it appears just two pages from a letter by W.W. Phelps which also bears remarkable parallels....As we understand it, the Church's handwriting expert, Dean Jessee, feels that the signature was penned by Martin Harris, but so far no tests on the paper have been completed. We feel that the letter should be made available to other handwriting experts, and that the public should be informed where the letter was originally obtained. We have heard that there is a red postal mark on the original letter and that the amount of postage is correct for a letter from Palmyra to Canandaigua. Although the average person would have a difficult time forging these things, there are probably a number of people who could do the job....

    "While we would really like to believe that the letter attributed to Harris is authentic, we do not feel that we can endorse it until further evidence comes forth."

 

and then in January 1985 the Messenger published a 14-page article about it, here's the PDF of it and here's a snapshot of page 5:

image.png.d0e8c622ee2c2a2bdbc6d15cf5da2316.png

 

 

Edited by Meadowchik
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17 hours ago, Calm said:

Did anyone else get the impression from the documentary that there was an extended time between Hofmann getting blown up and the LEOs latching on to him as prime suspect?

Webbles’ article makes it clear it was either shortly after or even before the third bomb went off that he was a suspect and the primary suspect not long after the third bomb.

https://apnews.com/article/15beb9e5d3615e637b58504562fb30c1
 

from Oct 16, so later in the day of the third bombing

 

My muddled memory of the reporting was that Hofmann was initially considered another victim. I don’t recall for how long but I do remember being surprised when he became the suspect. I also recall the conclusion that the bomb went off accidentally being the predominant theory at the time. I was surprised to hear that it was thought he set it off himself. FWIW

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18 hours ago, Calm said:

Did anyone else get the impression from the documentary that there was an extended time between Hofmann getting blown up and the LEOs latching on to him as prime suspect?

Webbles’ article makes it clear it was either shortly after or even before the third bomb went off that he was a suspect and the primary suspect not long after the third bomb.

https://apnews.com/article/15beb9e5d3615e637b58504562fb30c1
 

from Oct 16, so later in the day of the third bombing

 

Yesterday in my reading or listening, I heard that if the church had remembered or known sooner about the McClellan diaries/journals already existing in their vault they could have nabbed Hofmann sooner. 

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8 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

I did not say they were the only ones to doubt:

I quite like the representation of Sandra Tanner saying they did not have proof. That corroborates their own words. They did not claim to have proof, they were open about the limitations about what they knew, and they were asking for help. But in March 1984, as I said, Jerald Tanner detailed his concerns and his reasons in that month's issue of their newsletter, The Messenger:

and

and then in January 1985 the Messenger published a 14-page article about it, here's the PDF of it and here's a snapshot of page 5:

image.png.d0e8c622ee2c2a2bdbc6d15cf5da2316.png

 

 

👍

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Tacenda said:

Yesterday in my reading or listening, I heard that if the church had remembered or known sooner about the McClellan diaries/journals already existing in their vault they could have nabbed Hofmann sooner. 

Of course there is a massive amount of might have beens.  I wonder if the farmer that Throckmorton talks about feels it was his fault. We had Brent Metcalfe confessing how burdened even after all these years he feels for introducing Hofmann to others, that it was somehow his fault that two people are dead. Collectors if they had talked to each other or stopped to think it was too good to be true....they were all second guessing themselves in their interviews.  
 

Bottomline is Hofmann is a murderer and someone who goes to the solution of killing a best friend to gain two days for his scheme to work is going to destroy lives because he doesn’t care enough not to. This all would not have happened if Hofmann was not the twisted soul that he is. That is the only variable that matters.
 

People have been getting into fights, introducing friends to each other, getting conned, losing documents in dusty archives without people getting killed.  It is Mark Hofmann being there that made all the difference in this case. 

Edited by Calm
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2 hours ago, Calm said:

Of course there is a massive amount of might have beens.  I wonder if the farmer that Throckmorton talks about feels it was his fault. We had Brent Metcalfe confessing how burdened even after all these years he feels for introducing Hofmann to others, that it was somehow his fault that two people are dead. Collectors if they had talked to each other or stopped to think it was too good to be true....they were all second guessing themselves in their interviews.  
 

Bottomline is Hofmann is a murderer and someone who goes to the solution of killing a best friend to gain two days for his scheme to work is going to destroy lives because he doesn’t care enough not to. This all would not have happened if Hofmann was not the twisted soul that he is. That is the only variable that matters.
 

People have been getting into fights, introducing friends to each other, getting conned, losing documents in dusty archives without people getting killed.  It is Mark Hofmann being there that made all the difference in this case. 

There will always be cheats and criminals, but I do think some environments make it easier for some predators to exploit people. Specifically, groups that put a high value on group membership and taboo on exmembers or nonmembers, imo, make themselves more vulnerable. The mechanism is when membership status correlates highly to trustworthiness. 

Affinity fraud is a strong example.

I think it's because when human being rely highly on group membership to evaluate trustworthiness, they don't develop as much of other skills which help them discern. And so non/ex members who can be trusted are dismissed when members who haven't earned trust are trusted. It's not an absolute rule imo, but a pattern.

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19 hours ago, Meadowchik said:

I quite like the representation of Sandra Tanner saying they did not have proof. That corroborates their own words. They did not claim to have proof, they were open about the limitations about what they knew, and they were asking for help. But in March 1984, as I said, Jerald Tanner detailed his concerns and his reasons in that month's issue of their newsletter, The Messenger:

As I mentioned in my prior response, the Tanners were in a rather unique position to question the authenticity of the Salamander letter.  They had prior and ongoing dealings with Mark Hofmann, and they were in the business of reprinting and comparing the texts of publications that were contemporary with Joseph Smith and the restoration.  Jerald had a talent for recognizing words and phrases that are similar between different sources (they had published books on Joseph Smith's supposed "plagiarisms", comparing the Book of Mormon to the Bible, the Apocrypha, Westminster Confession, newspaper articles, Freemasonry, the View of the Hebrews, William Shakespeare, you name it).  So one could say that what Jerald did was right in line with his professional practice in recognizing the similarities between the Salamander letter and Mormonism Unvailed.  And this is a perfectly valid way of testing for a fraud based on the linguistic level alone.  And he was definitely on to something, because Hofmann had created the wording for his forgeries in exactly the way that Jerald had discovered.  But I suspect that Hofmann was hoping the the similarities between his letter and anti-Mormon publications would cause people to give more credibility to the anti-Mormon publications instead of the other way around.  And he seemed quite hurt by Jerald's comparison and questioning the authenticity of his forged letter.

But even for those of us who were not in the same profession as Jerald Tanner, it didn't take his kind of experience to suspect the Salamander letter as a fraud.  When I first read it it sounded like some of the language of what I've read in anti-Mormon literature.  It was off, it didn't ring true, and it was peculiar enough to raise suspicions with me at the time.  And I'm sure that was the case for many others.  

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