By Steve Mayfield

It has been 25 years since Mark Hofmann began serving his prison sentence for forgery and murder. He forged and sold many documents including a purported blessing from Joseph Smith Jr. to Joseph Smith III and the infamous “Salamander Letter.” In a desperate attempt to avoid exposure, he constructed bombs that on 15 October 1985 killed Steven Christensen and Kathy Sheets. A few days later, a third bomb severely injured Hofmann himself and led to the discovery of his forgeries and to his conviction.

Hofmann just before he enters Utah State Prison. He had agreed to a plea bargain in order to avoid the death penalty.

Hofmann just before he enters Utah State Prison. He had agreed to a plea bargain in order to avoid the death penalty. Photo courtesy the Salt Lake Tribune.

Hofmann’s Utah State Prison mug shot, taken 29 January 1987. He was 33 years old.

Hofmann’s Utah State Prison mug shot, taken 29 January 1987. He was 33 years old.

Mug shot taken in 1990. That August, Hofmann is discovered unconscious in his cell, having overdosed on antidepressants in an apparent suicide attempt.

Mug shot taken in 1990. That August, Hofmann is discovered unconscious in his cell, having overdosed on antidepressants in an apparent suicide attempt.

Mug shot taken in 1993. Authentic papers from William McLellin, which Hofmann had planned to forge, surface and become available from the LDS Church.

Mug shot taken in 1993. Authentic papers from William McLellin, which Hofmann had planned to forge, surface and become available from the LDS Church.

Mug shot taken in 2001. About a year earlier, the Utah State Board of Pardons had ordered Hofmann held for his “natural life.”

Mug shot taken in 2001. About a year earlier, the Utah State Board of Pardons had ordered Hofmann held for his “natural life.”

Mug shot taken in 2010. Hofmann’s former wife, Dorie Olds, appears on "Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry" to tell her side of the story.

Mug shot taken in 2010. Hofmann’s former wife, Dorie Olds, appears on “Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry” to tell her side of the story.

Mug shot taken in 2012. Hofmann has reportedly led a quiet life in prison for many years, talking to no one in the news media, occasionally writing to friends and family.

Mug shot taken in 2012. Hofmann has reportedly led a quiet life in prison for many years, talking to no one in the news media, occasionally writing to friends and family.

In March 1981, Mark Hofmann recorded a phone call he made to the RLDS / Community of Christ Church as he tried to interest them in a forgery of the “Joseph Smith III Blessing.” The recording was acquired by attorney and collector Brent Ashworth during the mid 2000s. The original is in the LDS Church archives. Listen to the conversation here.

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