Mark Hofmann was the mastermind behind deadly bombings that served as the focal point of the new Netflix docuseries, Murder Among the Mormons. Today, Hofmann is serving a life sentence in prison in Utah.
Hofmann, now 66, is incarcerated at the Central Utah Correctional Facility, CUCF Monroe, according to his prison records. It was more than 30 years ago that he sent Salt Lake City into a state of chaos, setting off three bombs over a two-day period with no clear motive.
At the time, Hofmann was a well-known figure in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and he would soon become known to a much wider audience as a murderer in the Mormon church. He killed two people in the bombings and injured himself in the third, later writing a letter to say he planned the bombings because he was in too deep on a forgery scheme of early Mormon documents. The victims, Steve Christensen and housewife Kathy Sheets, were killed October 15, 1985, with separate pipe bombs. Hofmann injured himself with a third bomb.
The murders and his forgeries are the subject of the three-part Netflix documentary, which was released today, Wednesday, March 3, 2021.
Here’s what you need to know:
Hofmann Was Transferred Out of a Maximum Security Prison in 2016 Because of a Clean History During His Incarceration & Remains There Today
Hofmann is imprisoned at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison, Utah, in the Monroe unit, according to his inmate records. The Utah Department of Corrections releases few details publicly on its inmates, but his profile describes a man who could be easily overlooked as a double murderer: a 66-year-old man, 5-feet 9-inches tall and weighing 180 pounds. Only his listed aliases point to his criminal past. He also used the names Bill Edwards and Mike Hansen, his prison record shows.
He was transferred there in 2016 after state Department of Corrections officials evaluated his history and determined a maximum security facility was no longer the best place for him. His behavior in prison did not throw up red flags, prison spokesman Steve Gehrke told Fox 13, but they had plans to keep tabs on Hofmann at the lower security facility. Hofmann had been kept at the maximum security facility in part because of his notoriety, but security issues waned along with his infamy over the years.
Here is his prison record:
“His institutional history is pretty clean. He doesn’t have any behaviors that would indicate he’d be a problem. For the time being, of course. We’ll look at it on a continual basis,” Gehrke said in 2016.
Here is his inmate profile:
Hofmann spends his days behind bars in “the state-of-the-art Ironwood unit,” a facility remodeled with new safety features unveiled in 2017. The renovation included new safety and security additions that were planned for Utah’s new state prison at the time, according to the Utah Department of Corrections. The updates include a new intake area and transportation building, plus a facility to house up to 12 K-9s. The facility uses the “direct supervision management model,” which allows direct interaction between officers and inmates. The model is shown to reduce violence in prison, the DOC said.
“The Monroe unit, which includes the 192-bed Ironwood housing unit, adds a new intake and transportation building and a dog kennel for up to 12 K9s,” the DOC wrote. “The modern corrections facility has updated security features, including the direct supervision management model where correctional officers interact directly with incarcerated individuals. Direct supervision has been shown in other correctional settings to increase the safety of facilities and reduce violent incidents.”
‘Fooling People Gave Me a Sense of Power & Superiority,’ Hofmann Wrote in a Letter to the Parole Board
Hofmann wrote a letter to the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole in 1988 saying childish games intending to trick people fueled the fire for what became the master forgery of Mormon documents. He wrote that he chose to commit murder and die in favor of being exposed, The Salt Lake City Tribune reported after obtaining his letter in 2011.
“As far back as I can remember I have liked to impress people through my deceptions,” he wrote. “Fooling people gave me a sense of power and superiority. I believe this is what led to my forging activities.”
Hofmann pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated murder in January 1987, avoiding the death penalty in exchange for revealing information on his forgery techniques and knowledge of Mormon history. Hofmann’s forgeries were intended to embarrass The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in hopes of extorting the church for money to keep the fake documents private. His first victim, Steven Christensen, was a Mormon bishop and document collector who threatened to expose the forgeries. Sheets was the wife of Gary Sheets, Hofmann’s former business associate. He called that bomb “a pure diversion” in the letter.
In the end, his goal was to save his reputation, he wrote.
“The most important thing in my mind was to keep from being exposed as a fraud in front of my friends and family,” Hofmann wrote. “When I say this was the most important thing I mean it literally. I felt I would rather take human life or even my own life rather than to be exposed.”