October 15 marks 32 years since Steve Christensen and Kathy Sheets were killed by pipe bombs.  I’ve been discussing with Shannon Flynn over the past few weeks Mark Hofmann’s role in these murders.

Shannon:  People have asked me, “Do you think he would ever murder anybody again?”  I believe yes and no.

[This is] my own thought of it.  I believe no because he is not naturally that way.  He sort of is now.  But I believe yes because someone told me this, and I hope that it is true.  Often times when a bear hurts or kills somebody in Yellowstone Park or something like that, they have to put the bear down.  Because they say that once that bear gets the taste of blood in his mouth, he will do it again and again and again.

I think that’s Mark.  He’s done it once.  If he did not have a motivation to do it, I don’t believe he would.  He wouldn’t go out and shoot somebody for no reason, but I believe he has the taste of blood in his mouth.  If he got himself into another situation where he was up a creek and didn’t know what to do and was about again to be exposed, I mean that’s the reason he killed Steve Christensen.

Lots of people have wondered who the third bomb was intended for.  We’ll get into the different theories.

Shannon:  …that’s the reason he was parked where he was.  That wasn’t just a random place to park.  It was right down the street from the McEwen Mansion.  The attorney representing the guy that was going to purchase that McLellin Collection, pay off the loan, his office was in the McEwen Mansion.  So Mark was right down to the last hour, minute, and second.  He couldn’t get out of it anymore.  He was going to have to go up that road and say, I don’t have it, which he believed at that point the whole thing would unravel.  It very well may have.

At that point he may have been so irrational that that’s possible.  What in fact happened was, he parked that car, sat there for quite a while and thought, “I am caught.  I am caught.  What do I do?”  He got out of the car, that bomb package was sitting on the driver’s seat and he made a decision to flip it over.

GT:  So you think he did it on purpose.

Shannon:  Oh yeah.  Now if he believed that he could have survived that, the car did burn but there were enough papers and stuff in the trunk that had it burned completely, which it didn’t, which cars don’t.  That only happens in the movies.  He could have said, “Yes.  McLellin Collection right there.”  Who could have proved him wrong?

GT:  Right.

Shannon:  He could have come up with a story about who put that bomb there, that he was really going up to the office and then he forgot something, came back, flipped the package over.  So does he regret what he did?  No.  Was he suicidal as, “I’m trying to repent of this?”  I don’t think so.  I think his hand is in the cookie jar and he’s thinking still, “how can I get out of this?”  He flipped the package.

Shannon:  To get back to that third bomb, I don’t know if there was a rational reason for that.  I just use all those examples because there doesn’t need to be a rational reason for it to have happened, because there was lots of irrational things.  Who was that intended for?  No idea.  Maybe he didn’t know who it was intended for until that day.

In the episode, we talk more about potential victim David Christensen (no relation to Steve), Shannon’s role in the McLellin Collection, and Mark’s dealings with Elder Oaks, Hinckley, and Pinnock.  Who do you think the third bomb was intended for?  Was it a suicide attempt?  Was it intended for Brent Ashworth as Curt Bench thinks?

Earlier in the week we discussed Mark’s injuries in prison as well as from the bomb blast, and whether Shannon thinks Mark should ever be released from jail.  Shannon was arrested for Mark’s murders as well and had some strong words concerning the police who flat out lied.  It’s why he had a hard time believing Mark was guilty at first.

Shannon:  I thought I could be helpful.  I volunteered once or twice to go to the police station and tell what I knew and contribute some information.

What I didn’t realize is the police were casting a very wide net on potential suspects and I got caught up in that net.  At one point the police in an interview told me they were going to search my house.  I said, “You’re going to find something there that’s illegal.  There’s an automatic weapon and it’s an illegal one that actually belongs to Mark but it’s in a storage unit of mine.”

I was at one point arrested for possession of an unregistered automatic firearm, that’s a federal crime under the tax code, strangely enough, and so then I spent three days in Salt Lake County Jail and then was able to get bail, and get out and then never went back.

GT:  So the police still thought you had something to do with it?

Shannon:  Somebody, and they didn’t care who it was.

GT:  They wanted to hang somebody.

Shannon:  Oh they had to.  Lynn Jacobs was looked at carefully, I believe Brent Metcalf was looked at somewhat.  Like I said they were casting that net as wide as they could get it.  It was still—because it all drove from the incredibility of the whole thing.  No one believed that any one person could do all of those forgeries and build those bombs, and kill those people, all of that stuff.  They just didn’t believe it.  Even if Mark did it, they didn’t believe that one person could do it.  There must be somebody else involved.

GT:  They put a lot of pressure on you.   Did they accuse you of being a co-conspirator or something?

Shannon:  They did a number of things that to this day I will never forgive them for.  Never!

My parents came down to the police station to pick up my car.  One of the detectives met them and said, “Oh, he murdered two people.”

GT:  You murdered two people?

Shannon:  That’s right.

GT:  Really.  I bet that went over well with your parents.

Shannon shakes his head in disbelief: Well, I’m sure that the guy that did that to this day doesn’t care.  “Well, that’s what I believed.”  I will not forgive that.

Then they did something else too.  They did a search of my house while I was in jail.  We had a storage unit across the street.  We had some baby furniture and a few odds and ends in there.  They went in there and they believed they had found the bomb factory.  An agent from the BATF[1], unfortunately I don’t know his name right now, but I will come up with it and I will speak his name out loud because that man should be made to be responsible for what he did.

They had called the news media, all three Salt Lake channels were out there, Associated Press, Deseret News, everybody.  They went in there, had a big pair of bolt-cutters, cut that lock, swung open that door, looked, came out.  There was nothing there.  That man stood and looked in the camera and said, “The bomb factory was there, but it has been moved.”

GT:  Oh really.

Shannon shakes his head in disgust: He straight out lied.  So when they said to me, “Mark made those bombs.”

I said, “No.  You’re lying.  Because I’ve seen you do it before.  You’ve done it to me.”  I got to watch that while I was sitting in jail, up on the felony floor.  It was very exciting.  All of my fellow cell mates were {Shannon imitates them looking at him in disbelief, then chuckles.}  I was the most famous person in jail that weekend.

In the news this week, a Salt Lake Police officer was fired for arresting a University of Utah nurse for doing her job.  Of course with the Black Lives Matter movement, many have accused the police of misconduct.  How widespread do you think the problem of police misconduct is?

I hope you can check out all of our conversations!  Are the police too aggressive in some investigations?  Is it ok for police to lie to suspects to get a conviction?  Should we forgive Mark for his murders?

What are your thoughts?


[1] Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms