I enjoyed going to the MHA meetings this week, and was pleased to meet Shannon Flynn, who has written some guest posts here at Wheat & Tares. When I interviewed Curt Bench a few weeks ago, I was quite surprised when he mentioned that he and Shannon Flynn both went to the police station following a second day of bombing. Curt recounts that following his interview with police (from part 4 of my interview),
Curt: So we went out to his car. We kind of looked at each other.
GT: You and Shannon?
Curt: Yes, and he opens his hood and looks under the hood. We look under the car for bombs. That’s how paranoid we were. So yeah there was fear, or at least knowing that it was a possibility. Yeah there was a feeling of paranoia in the air for sure. So we drove over and looked at Mark’s car and as I recall. I can’t remember. This may be in my imagination, but it seems like there was still little wisps of smoke and steam. I mean it had burned up and they had put it out.
GT: This was the same day.
Curt: It was blackened, the blackened hulk of a car. Same day. This was on [October] 16th[, 1985.]
I was also lucky enough to meet a witness to the blast that injured Hofmann.
David Rosenvall: The day before I was to enter into the MTC [Missionary Training Center], I was at the Salt Lake Temple and coming out from that experience and our car was parked on Main Street just beside the Deseret Gym. As I got to the car, was putting some things in there, just up the road and just behind the Deseret Gym there, there was an explosion and at the time I had no idea what it was or what was going on. We quickly ran up there to see it. There were about 20 people gathered around somebody on the road. You could see that he was injured and hurt. I didn’t know who it was at the time.
Usually when I talk history, it seems like we’re talking about people long since dead (which is sadly the case in this case too), but it’s fun talking to people who can tell you exactly how it happened!
Curt also discusses the preliminary hearing in which he testified against Mark Hofmann, as well as his initial disbelief that Hofmann was the bomber in part 5 of my interview.
Curt: Yeah they were convinced but it took a long time to convince me and others that he was guilty. He was our friend. He was a guy we had known and done business with for years. Your friends don’t kill people, and there was no talk then of forgery or nobody knew about the financial schemes or him being a con man or anything like that, so that was all to come.
GT: So you were disbelieving the police for a period of time.
Curt: Yeah, yeah until finally it just became overwhelming, and then I’m prepared by the time we have the preliminary hearing, I’ve been prepped by the prosecution as to what to expect and what they’re going to want to ask.
Curt also tells how he became an unknowing participant in Hofmann’s fraud.
Curt: I showed Mark this Book of Common Prayer which was no big deal, but he said, ‘well I’ll give you 50 bucks for it.’ [I thought] I don’t have a customer, I might as well. Later he said, ‘you know there was some writing in the back of that appears to be Martin Harris’ so I’ll give you a couple thousand dollars for it.’ [This was] after he had already given me $50 for it and that was fine because I didn’t know. So I thought, ‘gosh that’s really quite fair.’ So what turned out that he’d done…
GT interrupts: So you didn’t question that Martin Harris was in there. You just thought you missed that?
Curt: No, no. In fact later and during the investigation and in the preliminary hearing I had been asked. Well let me go back and say, what Mark did, we found out later was he wrote a little poem about returning this book which you’ve borrowed. I don’t remember the text of it, in ‘Martin Harris’s handwriting.’ Because here you have a known Harris family item, and no examples of Martin Harris’s handwriting extant, and so Mark created Martin Harris’s handwriting which was used to establish the authenticity of the Salamander Letter.
Check out this episode! You’ll hear Curt Bench will tell us about how he spoke at the Hofmann Bombings preliminary hearing. (Don’t forget to check out (parts 1, 2, 3, and 4!) Check out our conversation…
Interesting how Curt refers to Hofmann as his friend, and how that made it difficult to accept he was guilty even after others were convinced. In addition to the human tragedy of the murders, there seems to be this aspect of human belief in general, and how we can be resistant to changing our beliefs, notwithstanding new evidence, experience and testimony.