Was Hofmann Tied to Mountain Meadows Massacre Document?

Was Hofmann Tied to Mountain Meadows Massacre Document?

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John Hollenhorst ReportingLectures and workshops this weekend will bring back memories of a shocking crime. 20 years ago this week, master forger Mark Hofmann killed two people with homemade bombs. Many questions still swirl around Hofmann. One of the most intriguing mysteries concerns a mysterious scroll that blames Brigham Young for a terrible massacre.

Mark Hofmann has been in prison for nearly two decades, yet some say he may have been the brains behind a document found three years ago inside this old fort at Lee's Ferry, Arizona. It's an engraved message on a lead scroll, purportedly written by John D. Lee in 1872.

Lee was a leader of the infamous Mountain Meadows Massacre, an attack on a wagon train that killed 120 men, women and children. The scroll says it was done on orders from Brigham Young. For three years the scroll's authenticity has been a matter of debate.

Will Bagley, Historian: "There is something of a consensus. The Mormon scholars claim it's a fake. The non-Mormon scholars believe it's gospel."

Massacre researcher Will Bagley says a scientific test indicates the lead in the lead scroll was mined in the 1850's.

Will Bagley: "For my money the forensic evidence, the hard evidence, says it's authentic."

Steven Mayfield, Crime Scene Investigator: "Will Bagley wants it to be real!"

Steven Mayfield, Crime Scene Investigator: "It's the phoniest thing in the world, but he will not accept that, and there's other people who want it to be real."

Mayfield has spent 20 years studying the forgery career of Mark Hofmann. He thinks the scroll bears some of the Hofmann hallmarks.

Steven Mayfield: "There's not any hard-core evidence to show that Hofmann had anything to do with producing, distributing or dealing with that scroll. However, there's a lot of circumstantial evidence that I'm not willing to eliminate him as a potential person producing that. That's my hundred dollar answer. Ten dollar answer, I don't know."

Bagley though, says Hofmann's motive was always to make money, His M.O. was to plant false clues, lending authenticity to the documents he was selling.

Will bagley: "One of the hallmarks of his fakes was he led a trail of bread-crumbs for the gullible to follow. And just tossing something into a building and waiting 20 years for it to show up wasn't Hofmann's M.O."

Most experts denounced the scroll as a fake almost from the start, but Bagley says those are just opinions. He's still waiting for proof. Many of the key players in the Hofmann saga will gather to discuss the case on Saturday, the 20th anniversary of Hofmann's bombings.

The all-day event at the Red Lion Hotel is open to the public for a fee of 40 dollars.

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