Mark Hofmann details mindset in 1988 letter that led to forgeries, murder

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 11 2011 12:00 p.m. MST

By age 24, his interest had shifted from U.S. coins to old Mormon money, which along with his coin collection he sold a year later and "decided to forge for a living.

Money then became the object."

From 1980 to October 1985, forgeries were almost his exclusive source of income, Hofmann wrote. He estimated that he forged hundreds of documents with at least 86 different signatures.

Hofmann produced items attributed to George Washington, Daniel Boone and Emily Dickinson among others. He also gained notoriety for discovering documents purported to reflect early Mormon history. He later admitted he created material to embarrass the LDS Church, hoping it would pay large sums of money to keep them private.

Hofmann wrote that he had learned to live with the stress, guilt and fear of his "life of crime" through rationalization and hypnosis.

"In October 1985, it seemed like everything started to collapse around me. I could not come up with the money to pay off investors to keep from being exposed as a fraud."

Hofmann wrote that he bought components for the bombs without knowing who the victims would be, "only that drastic measures were called for."

Looking back on the decisions he made during what he called a "time of panic," Hofmann wrote, he could see many forms of rationalization. For the first time in his life he started reading obituaries, trying to convince himself of the worthlessness and unfairness of life.

"I told myself that my survival and that of my family was the most important thing. That my victims might die that day in a car accident or from a heart attack anyway," he wrote."I thought about the Nazi Holocaust, the earthquake in Mexico, and other disasters."

"I remember on the night before the first two bombings going into my children's bed rooms (sic) and kissing them while they slept telling myself that my plot was for their best good," he wrote. "That night I also 'chickened out' of the suicide attempt and made the final selection who my victims would be."

The bomb that killed Christensen was to take the pressure off two fraud schemes he had involved Christensen in, Hofmann wrote. The second bomb that killed Kathleen Sheets was a "pure diversion."

News stations reported that night that an eyewitness had a good look at the person who delivered the Christensen bomb, including a description of the letter jacket Hofmann wore. Police also released a composite drawing of the man.

"I felt like that was the end," Hofmann wrote.

Hofmann wrote that he took his family to stay with his parents that night, telling them it was for their safety because a business associate of his had been killed. "But actually it was because I knew from the news reports that I was a suspect and anticipated the police knocking on the door at any minute."

Hofmann drove to Logan early the next morning to buy parts for a third bomb.

"I had decided the night before after seeing the news that the 'jig was up' and that the only way to keep my family from the certain knowledge of my guilt (this time not only of fraud but murder) would be to kill myself," he wrote.

Contributing: Andrew Adams

e-mail: romboy@desnews.com

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