Car bombings! Religious dogma! Ancient artifacts that are going to change the world! It sounds like a tale of intrigue set in post-war Europe, not something coming straight out of Utah. But that’s what goes down in Murder Among the Mormons.
The true crime story happened in the mid-eighties but its origins go back years.
The rare documents world doesn’t seem like it would be fertile ground for violent crime, but turns out there is a seedy underside. Mark Hofmann was a rock star in this world who scoured the world to find rare and ancient documents, often relating to the Mormon church. He produced a letter that contradicted the century old origin story of the church, along with lots of other documents, all verified by experts.
But on the eve of his last bombshell revelations, two of his colleagues are targeted with pipe bombs, and he suffers the same fate the next day. Like so many things in life, the documents and Mark, were too good to be true.
Murder Among the Mormons does a great job of stringing us along and not dropping spoilers, which is no easy task for a crime that’s 35+ years old. Most of the people involved are still alive and amazingly were willing to talk. We hear from other rare document dealers, including Shannon Flynn, who is a real character and the breakout star of the series. The first episode makes the church seem like the nefarious player in all this, looking to keep embarrassing documents from the faithful. Indeed, they do seem to want to buy them up and lock them away, but it’s still a long leap to murder.
Then the producers give us a deep dive into how documents are authenticated. It sounds boring, but they use the experts involved in this case to make it interesting and easy to understand. Watch the show and you’ll see how the ‘crack’ed the case. We also get up close with Mark’s wife, Dori. Her firsthand account of what happened is the most personal as she takes us from feeling fear for her family’s safety to the heartbreak once the truth comes out.
Those interviews alone make this a compelling series, and at only three episodes, it doesn’t meander. News footage from the time is used to give us a feeling of what it felt like at the moment, and how the community reacted. We also see old interviews from people like Flynn used with the new interviews, and while their stories haven’t changed, their perspective on the events has and it makes for a great contrast.
From the use of red herrings to the amazing forgeries to how a community dealt with betrayal, Murder Among the Mormons is a story worth your time, and will probably have you taking a second look at any old family artifacts that have been passed down through generations.
The Critic’s Cocktail Recommendation
I’m having a rum and caffeine free Diet Coke.