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Mark Hofmann
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    (December 7, 1954- )
    Born in Salt Lake City, Utah
    Counterfeiter and forger turned murderer
    Best known for his creation of documents undermining official Mormon history, such as a ‘blessing letter’ in which Joseph Smith designated his son, Joseph III, as successor instead of Brigham Young
    Attempted to forge the ‘Oath of a Freeman,’ the earliest printed document in America, but with no known surviving copies
    Planted bombs that killed document collector Steven Christensen, and Kathy Sheets, the wife of Christensen’s former employer, J. Gary Sheets (October 15, 1985)
    Pleaded guilty to two counts of murder, one count of fraud, and one count of theft by deception (January 7, 1987)
    Sentenced to five years to life in prison, with a recommendation against ever being released
    He committed his first fraud as a teen when he forged a rare mint mark on a dime and had it declared genuine by a numismatic organization.
    His usual modus operandi was to forge documents that would embarrass the Mormon church, sell the documents to church officials so they could be suppressed, then leak information about the sale to the press.
    He murdered Christensen when he began questioning the authenticity of some of the items Hofmann had sold to him.
    He planted the second bomb as a diversion, to make investigators believe Christensen’s murder was related to his involvement in Sheets’ investment firm, which was in a financial crisis.
    He said about his victims, ‘I don’t feel anything for them…. They could have died just as easily in a car accident.’
    His forgeries fooled leading document experts, including Charles Hamilton, who had exposed the Hitler diaries as fakes.
    A day after the murders, he was seriously injured when one of his bombs blew up in his own car.
    He revealed his forgeries to the authorities in exchange for several additional charges being dropped.
    He attempted suicide in his cell by overdosing on antidepressants. He was revived after spending twelve hours lying on his right arm, blocking circulation and causing muscle atrophy, permanently disabling the hand he used for his forgeries (1987).

Credit: C. Fishel

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