City Confidential: Faith and Foul Play in Salt Lake City
FAITH AND FOUL PLAY IN SALT LAKE CITY is a 50-minute documentary concerning Mark Hofmann's murders of Stephen Christensen and Kathy Sheets. Hofmann blew them up with homemade bombs that he had delivered to them via packages in October 1985. The next day Hofmann accidentally blew himself up.
Hofmann was a well-respected Mormon, but what sets this story apart from other stories of flipped-out-LDS is that this is also a story about the LDS Church and its tenuous history. A&E does a very fine job at developing a context at the beginning. They describe Salt Lake City as a town run by LDS who are obsessed about talking about themselves and their history. A&E features others though, like Sandra Tanner of the Utah Lighthouse Ministry, who work to paint a very negative picture of LDS history. Hofmann, although LDS, was also painting a negative picture of LDS history by "finding" original LDS documents, and the LDS Church through its general authorities (primarily through an individual who later became its current president--Gordon B. Hinckley) began buying these documents from him. Hofmann was hugely indebted financially to others, primarily to the Church. He was promising to produce these documents to the LDS Church, but needed more time, and that's when the bombing started.
People began thinking that some terrorist was going around bombing those who were interested in LDS historical documents. Some, such as myself, were wondering if the LDS Church itself was knocking these people off (perhaps the Danites were alive and well after all!). But as it eventually turned out, Hofmann himself was the culprit. He was such a skilled con man that he was fooling the "God-inspired" LDS Church leaders!
For more detailed information on this fascinating story from differing points of view, see
Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders
Victims: The LDS Church and the Mark Hofmann Case
A Gathering of Saints
The Mormon Murders.
For a further description of FAITH AND FOUL PLAY IN SALT LAKE CITY, and how to order a copy, click here.
R. M. Sivulka
January 1, 2005