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Why Hofmann Killed his Best Friends (Part 5)

Mark Hofmann was a successful document dealer in the 1980s.  Why did he kill?  Document Examiner George Throckmorton gives his insights into the Hofmann case, and why Hofmann killed.  Mark forged the first printed work in America, Oath of a Freeman.  The sale of the document was supposed to fetch between $1-1.5 million, but the sale was going slowly.

George:  He makes a second Oath of a Freeman. He actually made a third, which he was trying to sell them in Brazil, but I don’t know how many people knew that. The second one he sells to somebody up in Idaho and I’m not going to describe him. I know it’d be interesting, but if I describe him, there might be a lot of people that know who it is. But there’s a fellow up in Idaho and he sells it to him for $100,000.

He gets $100,000 and then later on the person up in Idaho, he sees where they got the Oath of a Freeman back in New York. And they’re selling it and he says, “This isn’t an original that I purchased. Hofmann told me it was an original.” So, he called him on the phone, and he says, “So is this isn’t an original.”  He actually meets with him and says, “This is not an original document, is not worth $100,000. I want my money back.” Mark doesn’t have any money. And apparently an argument ensued or something.

And Mark gets physically assaulted. This was the first time in his life, we know of, that somebody actually physically assaulted him. Before he’s dealing with, what do they call him, Mr. Milk Toasts. You know, historians are generally laid back, calm person. I don’t know anybody other than a couple that hollered at me. But most of them I don’t think they do. And nobody had ever hit him before. He had bounced checks on him. He would lie to them about documents and that. And it was well known. He was like that. But they wanted to go back to him because he could provide the documents they wanted. He took orders for documents frequently and miraculously found them. But anyway, this guy up in Idaho, he beat him up. Hofmann didn’t know what to think. Nobody’s ever hit him before and he’s a coward. That’s why they bomb. Because you don’t have to be there when somebody gets injured. And, so anyway, the guy says, “I want my money back and I want it next Monday,” or whatever it was. Now what is he going to do? Now this is speculative, but it seems to make sense from the bits of pieces of puzzle that we put together.

He says, “What can I do so he won’t come after me and hit me anymore?” And he’s thinking, you know, “If one of my best friends die, I’ll have an excuse to go to his funeral and he won’t come back. He’ll give me a few days. By then the Oath will be sold back there.” And in fact, I think it was the American Antiquarian Society was meeting to discuss purchasing it again on Tuesday or Wednesday of that week. We know that because we saw the agenda for the meeting. And again, I don’t know how many of the other investigators saw this, but we did. That’s why this is another piece that we had that others did not, so that day of either Tuesday or Wednesday is crucial because that’s when they’re voting to buy it. And Schiller & Wapner convinced him they’re going to buy it so he knows he’s going to get it. So, he needs to postpone just a couple of days before this guy comes back and beats him up again. And so, we found in his possession a three by five card that had five of his closest friends written, their names written on it in Mark’s handwriting. And by the name of Steve Christensen was an asterisk. We’re assuming that he put the asterisk there. But anyway, so it was one of his five closest friends he had to kill so he could go to their funeral. The bombs came up. Steve Christensen was blown up and of course the second bomb was a diversionary thing for the police department, which they believed for several days that they were involved, not in the Salamander Letter, but involved in financial dealings down in Las Vegas.

The irony of that is the news media didn’t believe that. They kept putting Salamander Letter. So, what is Hofmann hearing about that the police are investigating Las Vegas or are they investigating the Salamander Letter? All he sees is the Salamander Letter. So, he’s a little concerned more and then he gets a call from the guy and he says, “Hey, you got to wait for a couple of days. My best friend got killed and going to his funeral.”

He says, “I don’t care. I want my money back. And if you’re not around and coming after your family.”

Check out our conversation….

Find out why Mark Hofmann killed his best friends.
Find out why Mark Hofmann killed his best friends.

Don’t forget to check out our other interviews with George!

172: Who was the 3rd Bomb Intended For?

171: More Hofmann Techniques & Forged Sports Memorabilia

170: How Hofmann Fooled Experts with a Toy Chemistry Set

169: How George Became a Forensics Expert

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Who was the Third Bomb Intended for?

Mark Hofmann’s first two bombs killed Steve Christensen and Kathy Sheets.  In this next episode, we will talk about the third bomb.  Who was it likely intended for?  Was it a suicide attempt as some people believe, or was it intended for someone else?  George gives some important details on the crime scene.  Check out our conversation…

George: When the investigator said that Hofmann had told him the bomb fell out of the car, he said, “That’s not true. He’s not telling you the truth.”  But when somebody is not telling you the truth, you wonder why. In looking in the trunk, they found some old documents that didn’t matter. He was legitimate examiner. Everybody knew that, but they also found some components of a pipe bomb in the trunk.

They found Mark Hofmann was waiting to see somebody at the Crossroads Mall downtown and at the time he would meet this person on a specific day at a specific time.  Hofmann made this third bomb. He went down to Crossroads Mall.  He parked his car up where the Conference Center is presently at.  It was across the street from the old Deseret Gym.

And he carried the bomb with him down to the mall. We know he was there for at least an hour and a half carrying the bomb because he had gone into a local store and made a purchase there. And it had the time on the receipt. It was in his pocket. So, we know he was there. And then I think what happened, and we have to speculate, but it seems pretty good. When this person didn’t show up, then Hofmann left. He walked back up to his car, which was a low sportscar. As he opened up the car door, he was still carrying the bomb. As he sits down in the seat and goes to put the bomb on the passenger seat. It hit the gearshift knob and caused it to tip and it blew him out of the car. That was totally contrary to what he said happened.

Don’t forget to check out how George became a document examiner, how Mark’s toy chemistry set fooled the FBI, and George’s examination of a forged Babe Ruth jersey.  Please support Gospel Tangents by any of these methods

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George Throckmorton describes the crime scene when Mark Hofmann's 3rd bomb blew up.
George Throckmorton describes the crime scene when Mark Hofmann’s 3rd bomb blew up.

Check out our conversation…

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More Hofmann Techniques & Forged Sports Memorabilia (part 3)

Did you know that an estimated 70% of sports memorabilia is fake?  We’re continuing our conversation with George Throckmorton, and he tells that the majority of those “Authentic” jerseys, balls, and bats are forged.  How does he know?

George:  Over the years, I’ve done a lot of work on sports memorabilia. I had a Babe Ruth jersey that was selling for $750,000.

GT: Oh my goodness.

George: It had been authenticated. But it wasn’t [genuine.]  Because the ink that was used to sign it wasn’t made until–Babe Ruth died in 1948. And the ink wasn’t made until 1972, so if it had been genuine, he would’ve had to been resurrected and signed his name. {chuckles}

Of course, we spend the bulk of our time discussing the Hofmann forgeries.  How did Mark age them?  George describes aging techniques that Mark Hofmann used to make his forgeries appear older than they were.  But there was something wrong when George examined signatures.

George:  And as I put an ultraviolet light, there was some part that would reflect back and other parts that would not. And that really caused me some question. Why? If this document has been saved for over 100 years, why would you have some part that glowed and some part that did not, different inks, and so forth? And as I looked at it closer, I noticed the thing that made the document valuable was not the date itself, but the fact that it says, “obliged Joseph Smith.” And where it said, “obliged Joseph Smith” was where I saw different ink and I saw this white effect going around and I asked him that night, I asked him, I says, “Can you tell us where this came from?” Because before we started noticing some of these documents that have blue haze on the documents under ultraviolet light. Others did not.

George: And so we separated them into two piles. And as I looked at those under the microscope, I noticed there was a characteristic of the ink would crack on some of them, not others. And then I noticed the ones with that blue haze, we’re also the ones that had that had the blue there, the cracked ink. And so, I told Bill. “Bill,” I says, “I think we got something here.” And I handed him a stack of documents and I says, “You give them to me, mix them up, give them to me and I’ll tell you which one came through the hands of Hofmann.” And he gave it to me and I looked under the microscope and he says, “this one did.” He gave me another one. “This one did not,” and so forth until we were through. And all of them that had the cracked ink had Hofmann’s signature.

Don’t forget to check out how George became a document examiner, and how Mark’s toy chemistry set fooled the FBI.  Please support Gospel Tangents by any of these methods

  • Become a paid subscriber.  I will send you this and future transcripts for just $10/month!  Click the link at the top at www.GospelTangents.com, or
  • Make a one-time donation!
  • Purchase a transcript in our online Store
  • Become a patron and listen to the entire episode on our Patreon Page for just $5/month!
  • Like our Facebook page
  • Subscribe on YouTube or Apple Podcasts!
  • Share this episode on Facebook with your friends!

Check out our conversation…

An estimated 70% of sports memorabilia is forged. George Throckmorton describes how he found a $750,000 Babe Ruth jersey was forged.
An estimated 70% of sports memorabilia is forged. George Throckmorton describes how he found a $750,000 Babe Ruth jersey was forged.