Shannon Flynn was a friend and associate of Mark Hofmann during the Salt Lake City bombings of 1985, when Hofmann orchestrated an elaborate plot to kill two people and himself in an attempt to hide his forgeries of Mormon documents.
Flynn is one of the central figures of Murder Among the Mormons, which examines the bombings that left two dead and Hofmann injured by his own hand. Hofmann wrote in a letter years later to say he committed the bombings to protect his reputation. Flynn presents himself as a well-dressed gentleman in a bowtie, speaking politely and at times tentatively. He was not a character on the show you’d expect had spent time behind bars – although that time was brief.
He opens the show with a gentle request to avoid lionizing the master forger.
“He was fantastic,” he says reluctantly.
The three-part documentary series aired Wednesday, March 3, 2021 on Netflix.
Here’s what you need to know:
Flynn Was Arrested in the Days Following the Bombings After Authorities Found an Illegal Machine Gun in His Home
The new @netflix documentary #MurderAmongTheMormons released this morning, which covers the Mark Hofmann forgeries/bombings in the 1980s. I'm writing recaps for @RDispatches, and here's my take on the first episode, focusing on framing. https://t.co/ZSpLARtGnh
— Benjamin Park (@BenjaminEPark) March 3, 2021
Investigators served a search warrant on Flynn’s home in the days after the bombings October 15 and 16, 1985, as they worked to close in on a suspect. Police found an illegal machine gun in his home and brought him in for questioning, according to a 1985 Los Angeles Times article. The Uzi submachine gun was illegal because it was made fully automatic. Flynn was 27 at the time.
Hofmann was described as a “documents dealer” in the article. It said authorities still considered Hofmann the prime suspect. Flynn was also a rare documents dealer, and met Hofmann through their shared work. The two men became close friends and often travelled together.
The article said, “Agents found a Uzi submachine gun, other suspected illegal firearms and evidence related to the bombings at Flynn’s condominium,” and added they were seeking a search warrant for a shed they believed held explosive materials.
Flynn was the first person to be arrested in the case. At the time, Hofmann was still being treated at the hospital for his injuries related to the bombing, and investigators were continuing to build their case against him.
“Flynn was a partner of Hofmann, and was helping to negotiate transactions involving five fragments of papyrus that Hofmann contended were part of the so-called McLellin Collection, said Ed Ashment, a historian,” the article said.
Flynn explained on the documentary he was questioned by police and took a lie detector test, which he passed. He was cleared of any involvement in the bombings.
Flynn Wrote a Book About Hofmann & Has Visited Him in Prison But Said He Should Spend the Rest of His Life in Jail
— Daily Express (@Daily_Express) March 3, 2021
Flynn has maintained some contact with his former friend. He visited him in prison, Flynn wrote in a book about Hofmann and the bombings. There, he even learned how Hofmann passed a lie detector test, he claims in his book, “Shannon Flynn: Inside Look at Mark Hofmann.”
The description said:
Mark Hofmann’s forgeries were becoming so numerous, he needed help. He hired Shannon Flynn to courier documents across the country. Shannon describes his introduction to Mark Hofmann and his many detailed interactions with Mark. Shannon was unaware of Mark’s duplicitous dealings, and details how he came to learn Mark was guilty of murdering Kathy Sheets and Steve Christensen. Shannon was even falsely arrested for these murders. What was that like? Flynn details many of the aspects of the case; when Mark started forging coins first, and then documents; how Mark tried to con the Library of Congress out of $1.5 million! Shannon is one of the few people who has visited Mark in prison, and reveals how Mark was able to fool a lie detector test! Does Shannon believe Mark should ever be released from prison? How was the plea bargain arranged. You’re sure to learn lots from Shannon’s close interactions with Mark.
But despite some contact, Flynn has publicly denounced Hofmann’s actions and said he should spend the rest of his life in jail. He spoke to Gospel Tangents about his thoughts on the case in 2017, the same year the book was published.
“”He is of no value. The world does not need him,” Flynn said. “Even if he could contribute something, we don’t need him. He needs to spend the rest of his life in jail.”