32 years ago this month, Mark Hofmann killed Steven Christensen & Kathy Sheets with 2 separate pipe bombs. Shannon Flynn, one of our newest permabloggers here at Wheat & Tares, described Mark’s forgeries, his prison life, and other aspects of these awful murders over my next few posts. When did Mark Hofmann begin doing forgeries? (Listen here.)
Shannon: His first coin forgery was when he was 12 years old. I believe the first time he ever uttered a forgery, in other words other than something for doing himself was when he was 14 years old. He had learned through a process of trial and error how to add mint marks to legitimate coins. He would buy a legitimate coin, maybe a penny or something that had no mint mark on it, and then was able to put a mint mark on it that would significantly increase its value. The penny was real and legitimate. The only thing that wasn’t was just that little mint mark.
Shannon goes on to describe his dealings with Mark Hofmann,
I would travel with him sometimes. Sometimes he would carry cash, so I was actually the one that would carry the cash. I went to New York with $15,000 wadded up in my pocket. It was one dealer, Schiller and Wapner who we dealt with all the time. They were very friendly with him.
While the Salamander Letter is Mark’s most well-known Mormon forgery, it wasn’t his most audacious forgery. Shannon also describes Mark’s million-dollar con: Oath of A Freeman.
It is the first known printed document in what is now the United States of America. A printing press was brought from England over to America, and it was operated by a guy named Stephen Crane. He was the first professional printing press printer in the United States. The first item that he printed was a single sheet of paper called the Oath of a Freeman….The Oath of a Freeman is very interesting because what it does is it was printed for the Massachusetts Bay Colony…. So it turns out in a strange way, it is the first seed of revolution.
It was the most expensive document of the day. (Of course it has been eclipsed now by the Printer’s Manuscript, purchased last week by the LDS Church from the Community of Christ for $35 million.) But this has to be one of the coldest things Mark told prosecutors.
“I cheat people. That’s what I do for a living. I’m good at it. I’m a good forger.”
What are your memories of the Hofmann bombings and forgeries? What are your thoughts regarding Mark Hofmann, Kathy Sheets, and Steve Christensen?