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Should LDS Leaders Have Detected the Hofmann Fraud?

Let’s talk about the Mark Hofmann bombings & forgeries.  There are some critics of the LDS Church who ask the question, why weren’t church leaders able to discern, using the spirit of prophecy the Hofmann fraud?

Curt Bench:  I’ve heard that countless times.

GT:  How do respond to that?

Curt:  Well, the way I respond is that we’re all in good company, because we all got fooled.  His family got fooled, his own wife and his parents, his friends and neighbors, other family, experts that tested his materials.  He fooled everyone, including General Authorities.  So I guess I’m prone to grant them, or give them a lot of slack because they’re human just like we are.  As Dallin Oaks said later, unless we’re given a reason not to trust, we trust people.

Others note that it seems like Church bought anti-Mormon material, or material unflattering to the church’s narrative in order to hide them from the public and prevent discovery of them.  Is that a fair characterization?

Curt:  I mean that bothered people I think when that came to light.  From President Hinckley’s perspective if I were in his shoes I would understand better the motivation I think but like I said, everything is 20/20 now in our vision.  But I can understand why that would be a difficult thing for people because it does give people the impression of trying to hide things and put things in the best light possible so I can certainly understand that perspective.

Curt Bench goes into further detail on these questions.  We’ll also talk about how Mark’s family reacted, as well as the family of Steve Christensen, (Steve was killed in the first bombing.)  Check out our conversation…  (Don’t forget to check out (parts 1, 2, 34, and 5!)

Should LDS Leaders Have Detected Hofmann?



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Curt Bench’s Role in the Hofmann Bombings Court Case

We’re continuing our conversation about the Hofmann bombings.  This time we’ll talk about the short court case against Mark Hofmann.  It wasn’t much of a case, just a preliminary hearing.  Curt Bench tells us that he was initially skeptical about police reports that Hofmann was the bomber.

Yeah they were convinced but it took a long time to convince me and others that he was guilty.  He was our friend.  He was a guy we had known and done business with for years.  Your friends don’t kill people, and there was no talk then of forgery or nobody knew about the financial schemes or him being a con man or anything like that, so that was all to come.

Curt also tells how he became an unknowing participant in Hofmann’s fraud.

I showed Mark this Book of Common Prayer which was no big deal, but he said, ‘well I’ll give you 50 bucks for it.’  [I thought] I don’t have a customer, I might as well.  Later he said, ‘you know there was some writing in the back of that appears to be Martin Harris’ so I’ll give you a couple thousand dollars for it.’  [This was] after he had already given me $50 for it and that was fine because I didn’t know.  So I thought, ‘gosh that’s really quite fair.’  So what turned out that he’d done…

GT interrupts:  So you didn’t question that Martin Harris was in there.  You just thought you missed that?

Curt:  No, no.  In fact later and during the investigation and in the preliminary hearing I had been asked.  Well let me go back and say, what Mark did, we found out later was he wrote a little poem about returning this book which you’ve borrowed.  I don’t remember the text of it, in ‘Martin Harris’s handwriting.’  Because here you have a known Harris family item, and no examples of Martin Harris’s handwriting extant, and so Mark created Martin Harris’s handwriting which was used to establish the authenticity of the Salamander Letter.

Check out this episode!  You’ll hear Curt Bench will tell us about how he spoke at the Hofmann Bombings preliminary hearing. (Don’t forget to check out (parts 1, 2, 3, and 4!)  Check out our conversation…


Curt Bench’s Role in Hofmann’s Court Case


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Bomb Day 2: Other Targets? Oct 16, 1985 (Hofmann Bombings)

Hofmann Bombings Witness Curt Bench

We’ll continue our discussion about the Mark Hofmann bombings.  After a night’s rest, the bombs continued the next day again, but this time Mark himself was the victim.

Curt Bench:  Remember I told you about warning Mark and so the next day which is the 16th of October [1985] I’m driving.  Actually I had been somewhere to try to negotiate a deal that was based on information I had gotten from him, so I’m driving back to my office and on the news said there was a third bomb.  Keep in mind this is surreal for our area.  I mean these bombings are going on.  Nobody knows what’s going on.  Nobody knows why, there’s a lot of fear.  There’s a lot of uncertainty and then when there’s a third bomb and then I find out that it’s Mark Hofmann that’s the victim, I about drove off the road, and I remember hitting my steering wheel and saying aloud to myself, ‘Mark why didn’t you listen to me?’  He didn’t seek safety and he was the third victim.

In preparing for another interview, I was surprised to learn that a young missionary by the name of David Rosenvall actually witnessed and heard the bomb blast that injured Hofmann.  David will describe his reactions to the loud noise he heard as he left the Salt Lake Temple that day.

David Rosenvall:  The day before I was to enter into the MTC [Missionary Training Center], I was at the Salt Lake Temple and coming out from that experience and our car was parked on Main Street just beside the Deseret Gym.  As I got to the car, was putting some things in there, just up the road and just behind the Deseret Gym there, there was an explosion and at the time I had no idea what it was or what was going on.  We quickly ran up there to see it.  There were about 20 people gathered around somebody on the road.  You could see that he was injured and hurt.  I didn’t know who it was at the time.

Was it an accident?  Was it intended for someone else, or did Mark purposely injure himself?  These are some great questions and Curt Bench will talk about the answers to these questions in our conversation.  (Don’t forget to check out Part 1, Part 2, & Part 3!)  What do you remember about the Hofmann bombings?

Check out our conversation…

Bomb Day 2: Other Targets? Oct 16, 1985