Mark W. Hofmann, left, and LDS Church leaders N. Eldon Tanner, Spencer W. Kimball, Marion G. Romney, Boyd K. Packer, and Gordon B. Hinckley review Anthon’s April 22, 1980 transcript (Deseret News/Jed A.Clark)
LOGAN — When historian Richard Turley Jr. comes to Logan to present the Merrill-Cazier Library Spring Lecture at Utah State University, he will tell the story of the former student of the USU, Mark Hofmann, who made money selling forged documents, ultimately killing people who might expose his trickery.
Turley said that by the early 1980s, experts doubted Hofmann’s claims.
“And he gave a believable story and the researchers got to work trying to verify his story,” Tulrey said. “And they were never able to find anything that would prove his stories wrong.
“And over time his documents have been subjected to sometimes quite sophisticated forensic analysis and each time the examiners who have examined them have basically said ‘we can’t see anything that appears to be fake, they appear to be genuine.’ “
Turley, who served as managing director of the history department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 22 years, said Hofmann’s scheme began to crumble because he was a poor manager. of funds and that he had started spending money before acquiring it.
“I think he started looking at counterfeiting as a money tree that he could exploit at any time. But he started spending the money before he got it. Then, to obtain large sums of money, he had to promise his clients documents that were increasingly voluminous, increasingly complicated or sophisticated or increasingly sensational.
“Eventually it got to the point where the paperwork he was trying to pedal, the Oath of a Free Man in the eastern United States and the McLellin collection here in Utah, got so large that he couldn’t produce them.”
Turley said that was when Hofmann tried to buy more time by planting bombs that killed two people.
Turley’s presentation, “From Utah State University to Utah State Prison: The Rise and Fall of Mark Hofmann, Forger and Bomber,” is scheduled for March 30 at 7 p.m. h in room 101 of the Merrill-Cazier library.