Arts & Humanities

From Utah State University to Utah State Prison: The Rise and Fall of Mark Hofmann Lecture Announced

Latter-day Saint Historian to Examine USU's Part in Tale of 'Murder Among the Mormons' Forger & Bomber

By Kellianne Gammill |

Mark W. Hofmann, left, and LDS Church leaders N. Eldon Tanner, Spencer W. Kimball, Marion G. Romney, Boyd K. Packer and Gordon B. Hinckley examine the Anthon transcript April 22, 1980. (Deseret News/Jed A. Clark)

Historian Richard Turley Jr. will present “From Utah State University to Utah State Prison: The Rise and Fall of Mark Hofmann, Forger and Bomber” at 7 p.m. March 30 in room 101 of the Merrill-Cazier Library as the Friends of Merrill-Cazier Library’s spring lecture.

Hofmann attended USU in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In 1980, he walked into the Merrill Library’s Special Collections and Archives with a discovery that helped catapult him to fame as a document dealer. During the next five years, Hofmann forged key documents, including the Oath of a Freeman, which he sold for $1.5 million to the Library of Congress. He also hinted that he had located the lost 116 pages of The Book of Mormon manuscript.

Things took a dark turn in 1985 when Hofmann planted three bombs in the Salt Lake Valley in an attempt to cover up his forgeries. One killed a businessman who was Hofmann’s client, the second killed the wife another Hofmann associate, and the third nearly killed Hofmann himself. Hofmann was sentenced to prison for his crimes.

“The Hofmann forgery-bombing case seems endlessly fascinating to audiences as a bizarre, true-crime episode,” Turley said. “But I think it’s important to recognize that Hofmann was a cold-blooded killer who murdered two innocent persons, committed crimes that inflicted enormous pain on others and sought to pollute the history of Utah and the nation. He deserves our strongest condemnation.”

Turley, who was featured in all three episodes of Netflix’s miniseries “Murder Among the Mormons,” served for 22 years as the managing director of the Church History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He also wrote “Victims: The LDS Church and the Mark Hofmann Case” in 1992.

“Hofmann forged documents and tried to alter history,” Turley said, “and I felt it was important to understand how he did so in order to aid historians and anyone else who wants to interpret the past to avoid deception.”

After he was approached by filmmakers Jared Hess and Tyler Meason, Turley agreed to help with the production of “Murder Among the Mormons” in any way he could.

“The best way to enjoy the documentary fully is to watch all three episodes and suspend judgment until the end,” Turley said. “As Jared Hess notably said of the miniseries, ‘In the end, the good guys win and the bad man goes to jail, with the exception of the heartbreaking aspect of the amazing people in our community who were innocent and lost their lives due to the calloused acts of this horrible person.’”

Turley looks forward to giving this lecture.

“I enjoy visiting Utah State University and interacting with faculty, staff and students,” Turley said. “The story I tell is a tragic one with lessons that can help us learn about history and how to prevent its distortion.”

This lecture is sponsored by the Friends of the Merrill-Cazier Library and is free and open to the public.

WRITER

Kellianne Gammill
Public Relations Specialist
University Libraries
(435) 797-0555
kellianne.gammill@usu.edu

CONTACT

Richard Turley
returleyjr@gmail.com


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History 104stories

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