Hofmann’s Claim Of Attempted Bombing Suicide Challenged By Investigators
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) _ Confessed killer and document forger Mark Hofmann’s statements that he was so filled with remorse over two 1985 bombing deaths that he tried to blow himself up are self-serving embellishments, investigators say.
In transcripts and summaries of prison interviews released by the Salt Lake County attorney’s office Friday, Hofmann claimed the bomb that destroyed his car on Oct. 16, 1985, was a suicide attempt.
The interviews were part of a Jan. 23 deal with prosecutors in which Hofmann was to fill in details on the bombings and forgeries of Mormon documents that brought him at least $1.5 million.
He was allowed to plead guilty to second-degree murder and theft by deception. Subject to authorities verifying his account, Hofmann was sentenced to one term of five years to life for killing Steven Christensen, a Mormon bishop and documents enthusiast, and three terms of one to 15 years for two theft counts and the killing of Kathleen Sheets, wife of former Christensen business associate Gary Sheets.
Detective Ken Farnsworth, who helped break the case, expressed disbelief that Hofmann was calling the blast that critically injured Hofmann a suicide attempt.
″Hofmann is not telling the truth. He never has and he never will,″ said Farnsworth.
Dick Forbes, an investigator with the county attorney’s office, agreed.
″There’s no question he embellished a lot of things to make himself look good,″ he said. ″It makes him look remorseful. But Hofmann has never indicated remorse.″
Interviewers said Hofmann told them he was ″distraught″ about the Christensen and Sheets slayings, and thought he deserved death for his crimes. He prepared a 16-inch pipebomb, four inches larger than the previous two, because ″he wanted a quick and clean death″ the next day.
″The bomb was in a paper sack on the passenger seat. He put it on the driver’s seat, touched the two wires together and the bomb exploded,″ wrote county prosecutors Robert Stott and David Biggs, who conducted 10 Utah State Prison interviews with Hofmann between Feb. 11 and May 27.
However, Stott also expressed doubts about Hofmann’s story.
Stott said he wondered if the third bomb actually was meant to give Hofmann an excuse to say a non-existent collection of rare Mormon Church historical documents he was trying to sell had been destroyed. Others believe it was meant for someone else and accidentally exploded, he said.
Hofmann, 32, confirmed that the bombings were to forestall his unmasking as a forger, in which he dealt fake documents to the Mormon Church and to collectors. His documents fooled archivists and scholars for five years.
But detectives, dismayed that prosecutors gave in to Hofmann’s refusal to be questioned by police, say the prison comments shed little light on the crimes.
Salt Lake County Sheriff Pete Hayward indicated that while the prosecutors ″interviewed″ Hofmann, his detectives would have ″interrogated″ him, asking specific questions about the murders.
County Attorney David Yocom said he would try to persuade Hofmann to consent to an additional interview involving detectives.
Police Chief Bud Willoughby, who boycotted the prosecutors’ news conference Friday, said later that his investigators would take the transcripts and ″dissect″ them to see if Hofmann’s comments match the evidence on the bombings.