The Real Crime Filmmakers Behind “Murder Among the Mormons”
SALT LAKE CITY – A new docu-series premiering next week is particularly relevant to Utah. “Murder Among the Mormons” looks back 36 years on a story that includes a real crime, a master forger and suicide bomber and a murder in Salt Lake City.
Doug Wright, host of “The Movie Show” on KSL Newsradio spoke with filmmakers Tyler Measom, An Honest Liar (2014) and Biography: I Want My MTV (2019), and Jared Hess, Napoleon Dynamite (2004), Gentlemen Broncos (2009) and Nacho Libre (2006) to discuss their new Netflix documentary which will be released on March 3.
“Murder Among the Mormons” is a three-part documentary about the true forgery crime of Mark Hofmann and his two murders in Salt Lake City on October 15, 1985.
Hofmann is serving a life sentence for the 1985 bombings of Steve Christensen and Kathy Sheets. The murders were linked to a cover-up of documents he had forged about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Saints Days.
Widely regarded as one of the most accomplished forgers in history, Hofmann was injured when, by accident, a third bomb exploded in his car the next day.
Context of the bombings
“Maybe you could take us back, give us a little sketch,” Doug Wright said. “I would like to talk about some of the interesting characters. I know a lot of them, and some of them take a very interesting evolution. So, first of all, maybe just between you and Tyler, if you could just give us the context?
“It’s amazing how many people, even though it’s such a part of Utah culture, this story, how many people really don’t know much about it. These bombings, without revealing too much, were mainly [about] Mormon related documents, ”Measom said.
“I remember early on, everyone was looking at financial transactions and how things were funded rather than the documents themselves,” recalls Doug. “So we were all just mystified. And then in this three-part series that you put together, when it starts to congeal towards the documents, it becomes something. You know the old thing is – the fiction is nowhere near as strange as the real story, the real facts. It’s amazing.
Connections from Utah to Hofmann
Hess pointed out that there are so many people in Salt Lake City who have ties to Hofmann or the bombings.
He said the LDS stake president in his neighborhood said he was a newspaper delivery boy at the time and delivered a newspaper to the Sheets’ house the morning Kathy Sheets was killed.
“The FBI interviewed him and got a detailed account of what he saw that morning,” Hess said. “I had no idea, but it’s right here in the community. There were so many people who were directly affected by it or linked to it in some way or another.
“It was really an important part of the storytelling, to be able to tell that from the perspective of the people who went through it and to capture their stories onscreen for the documentary,” he said.
“I had an uncle at the time who was in the FBI,” Doug said, “and he didn’t really have a grip on it. [investigation]. He said he was one of the best forgers we’ve ever seen.
Measom said Hofmann, at 14, bought a nickel from a coin store valued at $ 10. He forged it to become $ 10,000.
“[Hofmann] sent it to the US Treasury, and they checked it out. Now, you’re a 14-year-old boy, and you’re playing with the coin, and the United States verifies that your work is genuine. In Mark’s own words, he said, “If someone says it’s real, then it becomes real.
“I think Mark had this ability to keep cheating and keep thinking he could get away with it. I mean for years, even decades, he pulled the wool over the eyes of many people, not just small collectors. The best authenticators in the country, LDS Church, FBI, Sotheby’s. So I think in some ways he thought maybe he was a little untouchable, ”Measom said.