Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes
This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.
John Hollenhorst reportingIt's not often that a 20-year-old murder case lives on, and forces experts to keep studying the criminal's techniques. But there are no other criminals quite like Mark Hofmann.
His notorious saga of forgery, bombs and murder began to unfold in Salt Lake 20 years ago this week.
Experts from 31 states will meet later this week to study the methods of Mark Hofmann. It's not his two bombing murders that remain of interest. It's his amazing forgeries. Even today they are apparently defrauding collectors and bamboozling the experts.
20 years ago this week, Utahns were shocked when two parcel bombs exploded. One killed a woman at her home. Another killed a businessman at his downtown office.
The mystery deepened when a third bomb, in a car, injured documents broker Mark Hofmann. He later pled guilty to being the bomber himself.
During his years in prison, his motives have remained murky. But the bombs evidently had something to do with the crumbling of his forgery schemes.
Steven Mayfield, Crime Scene Investigator: "He really did a good job of fooling everybody."
Crime lab experts Steve Mayfield and George Throckmorton have been fascinated with Hofmann documents for 20 years.
George Throckmorton, Forensic Document Examiner: "Because of the extensiveness of his forgeries, it's the biggest forgery fraud case in history."
Hofmann made hundreds of phony documents, supposedly linked to major figures in Mormon and American history. They purport to be writings by, or about, famous people like Daniel Boone, Emily Dickenson, Joseph Smith and Abe Lincoln.
Throckmorton is helping organize a conference of forensic document examiners to study the master forger's methods.
George Throckmorton, Forensic Document Examiner: "The various documents he forged fooled most of the experts at that time because of new techniques that he used. "
Throckmorton believes Hofmann's phony work is still in the marketplace, being bought and sold as if it's authentic.
George Throckmorton, Forensic Document Examiner: "I know it is. I've dealt with auction houses in the past that have sent me documents. And I’ve told them they're forged. And they sell them anyway."
John Hollenhorst: "Does that bother you?"
George Throckmorton, Forensic Document Examiner: "Yes, it bothers me because it's not ethical. It may be legal. But it's not ethical. "
Hofmann seemed to have a knack for creating documents that excited collectors. That's because they challenged... or distorted... accepted history.
Steven Mayfield, Crime Scene Investigator: "Mark played off of that. He knew enough of the psychology of people to know that if I’m giving you something you really want... you want to believe it. And he played off that."
George Throckmorton, Forensic Document Examiner: "We believe there are still over a hundred Hofmann forgeries still out there. And again, I’m finding new ones. As recent as this year. I've found three new forgeries, four new forgeries, five new forgeries, excuse me, that we never knew existed."
This week Throckmorton will finally publish his book on the case, joining seven others previously in bookstores. He says his book will reveal a new theory about the motive for the bombings.