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How Jerald Tanner Identified Fake Salamander Letter (Part 2)

Jerald Tanner was the first person to publicly question Mark Hofmann’s fake Salamander Letter.  His wife Sandra details how Jerald came to that conclusion.

Sandra:  Jerald, realizes this, there’s a story of a document out there that claim to be by Martin Harris about the magic involvement of Joseph in the coming forth of Book of Mormon in a magic setting. So he went back to E.D. Howe’s, “Mormonism Unvailed” that has statements by the neighbors that all talk about the Smiths’ involvement in magic. And so he’s becoming more familiar with getting this fresh in his mind what these affidavits all said. And there had been a BYU Studies article a year or two before that had talked about Joseph Knight, who was an early Mormon at the Smith home at the time that coming out of the Book of Mormon. And he had read that article so he was kind of getting prepped up on his research ahead of time. So when he get that copy of the letter, he’d be able to jump right into an evaluation of it. So he gets the letter–the type copy, not the original and he’s reading through this and the more he looks at it, he says to me, “There’s something wrong. This has got phrases in it that have to come from E.D. Howe and from the Joseph Knight letters. And so someone’s making this up.”

Now I don’t think he was sure that it was Mark, but someone was making up documents. So this is a forgery. And I’m like, “Jerald, everyone accepts Mark’s documents. I mean Dean Jessee at the Church Historians Office is not going to want to accept Mark’s documents that are critical of Joseph Smith that tie him to magic unless they feel they have to. I mean, why would they? Why wouldn’t they be asking these questions?”

Jerald says, “I don’t care. I’m telling you there’s something wrong. The similarities of wording is too much there.”

She also tells her reaction!

Sandra:  I’m telling Jerald we could get sued. You can’t just run around saying something’s forgery. Someone’s going to sue us. Mark will sue us for defamation or something, and Jerald says, “He’s not going to sue us.”

I said, “How can you be sure?”

And he says, “Because it’s a forgery. He has no background to prove this document.”

And I said, “Well please don’t lose my house.”

Check out our conversation…. and don’t forget part 1 describing how Sandra met Mark Hofmann.

Jerald Tanner was the first to determine the Salamander Letter was fake.
Jerald Tanner was the first to identify the fake Salamander Letter.
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Why was the Hofmann Sentence so light? (Part 7)

Given all the mounting evidence against Mark Hofmann, why were prosecutors interested in a plea deal?  It seems evidence was pretty strong to convict him of a 1st Degree murder.  George Throckmorton tells of conversations between prosecutors and Hofmann’s lawyers.  Why was the Hofmann sentence so light?

GT:  I know he’s gotten a big stiff sentence anyway, even with second degree murder. Well, why did we plea bargain to second degree murder on this?

George: Politics.  It has always intrigued me. The amount of politics that takes place in everything, criminal investigations are the same thing.

George:  But because there was instructions made to settle the case period, it was settled before it should have been. And for instance, it’s normal in law enforcement if ever you make a plea bargain. The purpose is you get the confession from the person first and if that person cooperates, then you go in and recommend the plea bargain because if you made the plea bargain first, the suspect has no reason to cooperate and that’s exactly what happened with Mark Hofmann.

George:  But in retrospect, looking back at it, I do not criticize the attorneys that I disagreed with because as we look back, because he did confess, the FBI had to admit that they were forged and other people had to admit that he was a crook instead of an honest guy that we were framing, if you will. So overall it turned out okay.

Check out our conversation….

George Throckmorton tells why the Hofmann sentence was so light for killing 2 people.
George Throckmorton tells why the Hofmann sentence was so light for killing 2 people.

Don’t forget our other episodes with George!

174: Hofmann, LDS Leaders, & the McLellin Collection (Throckmorton)

173: Why Hofmann Killed his Best Friends (Throckmorton)

172: Who was the 3rd Bomb Intended For?  (Throckmorton)

171: More Hofmann Techniques & Forged Sports Memorabilia  (Throckmorton)

170: How Hofmann Fooled Experts with a Toy Chemistry Set (Throckmorton)

169: How George Became a Forensics Expert  (Throckmorton)

You may be interested in Curt Bench and Shannon’s Flynn’s interactions as well!

086: Would Hofmann Kill Again? (Flynn)

085: Should Hofmann Ever Be Released from Prison? (Flynn)

084: Shannon Goes to Jail for Hofmann (Flynn)

083: Hofmann’s Last Bomb Blew the Lid off Mormon History (Flynn)

082: Hoffman’s Best Fake:  Fooling the Lie Detector Test (Flynn)

081: Mark’s Million-Dollar Con (Flynn)

080: “I Cheat People.  That’s What I do for a Living.” (Flynn)

079: Hofmann’s Teenage Forgeries (Flynn)

042: Hofmann Bombings Effects on Mormon History (Bench)

041: Should LDS Leaders have Detected Hofmann’s Fraud? (Bench)

040: Curt Bench’s role in Hofmann Bombings Court Case (Bench)

039: Bomb Day 2:  Other Targets? – Oct 16, 1985 (Bench)

038: Bomb Day 1:  2 Killed – October 15, 1985 (Bench)

037: White Salamander Letter & Other Forgeries (Bench)

036: Bombs in Salt Lake: Introduction to Mark Hofmann (interview with Curt Bench)

 

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Hofmann, Church Leaders, & the McLellin Collection

As you can see from our previous conversations, Mark had a tangled web of interactions.  In this next conversation with forensics expert George Throckmorton, we’ll talk more about Mark’s dealings with church leaders.  What got Mark in hot water with church officials?

GT:  He had an appointment with, I believe it was Elder Oaks, Elder Pinnock. I don’t remember who all.

George: Elder Pinnock was the one that was dealing with him quite a bit.

GT: Yeah. And so, so can you a little bit about what was the relationship between Mark Hofmann and Elder Pinnock?

George: Business. Elder Pinnock had a history. In fact, I’ve known him. He was my wife’s bishop when we got married and so I’ve known him. I knew him for a long time before this and he was, you know, as much a victim as anybody.

It turns out this Mark Hofmann was trying to give more credence to the Spaulding Theory, which states that Sidney Rigdon got a copy of the Spaulding Manuscript, gave it to Joseph Smith, and Joseph plagiarized the Book of Mormon from Solomon Spaulding.  The problem has been, there has never been any connection between Joseph Smith and Solomon Spaulding.  However, Mark tried to solve that problem with a forgery with a new collection known as the McLellin Collection.

George:  There’s an old theory called a Solomon Spaulding theory. Are you aware that?

GT: I am aware of that.

George: Okay. But one of the problems, it’s never been given much credibility. They think that Solomon Spalding wrote it.

GT:  Wrote the Book of Mormon.

George:  And Martin[1] just copied the Book of Mormon, but there was really no relationship between Solomon Spalding and Joseph Smith that could be found. So, it’s not given a whole lot of credit. I mean there’s always people that bring it up, but my opinion is not given credit because they never met until too late, until this land deed showed up. And it’s a land deed that was signed by Solomon Spalding and Martin Harris. So, it showed there was a relationship between Solomon Spalding and Martin Harris and the date was appropriate. And this is the document that Mark Hofmann showed Hugh Pinnock and Al Rust and some others, and he says this is part of the McLellin Collection.

Check out our conversation….and don’t forget our other episodes with George!

Mark Hofmann hoped his forged McLellin Collection would give credence to the Spaulding Theory.
Mark Hofmann hoped his forged McLellin Collection would give credence to the Spaulding Theory.

173: Why Hofmann Killed his Best Friends

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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[1] George was referring to Martin Harris, but he meant Sidney Rigdon.  In a future interview with Steven Mayfield, you can see the forged land deed with Sidney Rigdon’s forged signature.