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Meeting Serial Killers (Part 1 of 13)

If Netflix brought you here for more, welcome!  In October 1985, 3 pipe bombs exploded in Salt Lake City, Utah, killing 2 and injuring the bomber, Mark Hofmann.  Mark was a master forger and tried to kill to prevent his forging secret from becoming known.  He sold not only significant Mormon documents, but American memorabilia as well.  Brent Ashworth may have bought more of Mark’s documents than anyone except the LDS Church.  Brent tells of his dealings with Mark, as well as meeting a second serial killer!

Brent:  I went to the University of Utah. And the ironic thing is, is that it was there that I took a criminal law class because I was going out to be a prosecutor, which I was down in Price, [Utah] after I left law school, but I took criminal law. And we were sat alphabetically in seats by Professor Lionel Frankel, who was number two a Yale a real bright guy. I enjoyed his class. He started the class out by saying, “This class will be different than any other class you ever take in law school, because criminal law does not work.” And I’m sure that the guy sitting next to me because we sat alphabetically, and I was Ashworth and Ted Bundy sat right next to me.

GT:  No way!

Brent:  Yeah. And he missed a few classes. He was arrested during that semester. So we learned more about him as time went on. But I’ve always blamed Ted for stealing my criminal law textbook, because it’s the only one I ever lost. And you didn’t want to lose them, because they were 50 bucks apiece back in the early ’70s. And that was when tuition at the [University of Utah] law school was $250. So, I lost one and I had to buy it again. And I always blame Ted, because I figure he had bigger problems.

GT:  Wow.

Brent:  Then I went out into criminal law after that, and so it’s ironic I met Mark.

GT:  My goodness, I don’t know many people that have met two notorious serial killers.

Brent:  Just by happenstance, I guess.

We’ll go deep into Brent and Mark’s lucrative dealings and learn more about how Brent met Mark.  Check out our conversation…

Brent Ashworth has the unfortunate luck to know 2 serial killers: Mark Hofmann and Ted Bundy!

And if you’re interested in my other interviews on the Hofmann bombings, click this link:

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Buying the Spalding Conspiracy

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….

Mark Hofmann forged a document that attempted to tie Sidney Rigdon & Solomon Spalding together.  Steve discusses why it is a forgery.
Mark Hofmann forged a document that attempted to tie Sidney Rigdon & Solomon Spalding together. Steve discusses why it is a forgery.

194: What is the Dead Lee Scroll? (Mayfield)

193: John D. Lee’s Role in Mountain Meadows Massacre (Mayfield)

192: Mormons & the FBI (Mayfield)

191: Steve Mayfield: Crime Photographer (Mayfield)

190: Mormon Connection in Patty Hearst Kidnapping (Mayfield)

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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.