Mark Hofmann tried to create evidence of the Spalding Conspiracy. There has long been a theory that Book of Mormon was plagiarized from a manuscript originally written by Solomon Spaulding (or Spalding.) The problem with the theory is that there was never a connection between Joseph Smith and Solomon Spaulding—until Mark Hofmann came up with a document. Steve Mayfield talks about buying this Hofmann forgery.
Steve: So, in January of 2000, the former owner of Cosmic Aeroplane sold it to Ken Sanders who used to work there. He now had his own bookstore there in Salt Lake, Ken Sanders Books. Well he had it on display and I’m just sitting there just [thinking], “Oh, oh, I love it.” But it was like $4,000 they wanted for it. Well, I had enough in a credit card, so I bought it from him.
GT: Oh my goodness.
Steve: In August of 2000. So, for four years I owned a Hofmann.
GT: You knew it was a forgery.
Steve: Yeah, Yeah. I mean he sold it as that. The minute he sold it after I bought it, I take it back to the office and show George [Throckmorton.] He showed some things on the document that only he and I know.
I guess this proves there is a market for Hofmann forgeries! What do you think of Steve’s purchase?
Check out our conversation, as well as Steve’s other conversations….
A lead scroll was found at Lee’s Ferry in Arizona, now known as the Dead Lee Scroll. What is it exactly?
Steve: Well, one of the documents or artifacts that came up in 2002 was a lead plate they found down in Lee’s Ferry and it’s been given the nickname of Dead Lee Scroll. Will Bagley gave it that name. It’s a piece of lead. [It’s] very thin. So, it’s not the hardest thing.
So, he is in there cleaning. And all of the sudden he come across this thing rolled up. He opens it comes up and starts reading John D. Lee. Whoa! That has something to do with it. So, he cleans it off and they look at and they come up, hey, is this a confession? Is just some document that points out to it. Well, of course, boom, everybody loves it. Well, March of 2002, the archeologist for the Park Service, she’d taken it to Phoenix and showed it to Bill Flynn who worked with George Throckmorton on the Hofmann documents. Bill Flynn’s not LDS. Then she brings up to Salt Lake to George Throckmorton who was my boss at the time in Salt Lake Police crime lab. And so, he examined it, taking pictures of it and everything.
Was it a long-lost admission of guilt from the only person convicted of participating in the Mountain Meadows Massacre, John D. Lee? Steve Mayfield will tell us more about it and attempts to authenticate it. (It features forensic expert George Throckmorton, who we interviewed previously!) If you want to see photos of the scroll and Lee’s Ferry, Go to Youtube.com/GospelTangents to see the video. Steve was kind enough to share some of his photos with me.
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….
Don’t forget to check out our other interviews with George!