George Throckmorton is one of the most amazing police officers in the world. Last year I talked to him about his role in the Mark Hofmann forgeries and bombings. In this first episode, we’ll get acquainted with him, and learn how he became a forgery expert. Of course, we will talk about the Mark Hofmann forgeries and murders, but we will also briefly discuss one of his first forgery cases in Ogden, Utah. The Hi-Fi Shop murders are well-known in Utah because a few robbers tortured and killed customers while robbing an Ogden store called the Hi-Fi Shop. It turns out that forgery was involved in that case!
GT: I don’t know how many of my listeners are familiar with a Hi-Fi Murders as they were known, but there were some criminals that tortured some people and killed them. It was pretty terrible.
George: Ironically that case, a significant part of that was due to handwriting.
GT: Really? Oh, I didn’t know that.
George: Again, we could go into that and I don’t want to take a lot of time because that’s not the emphasis.
GT: I’ll have to come back. We’ll have to talk about that.
George: It’s worth talking about that. The significance was there was a homicide up there before the Hi-Fi Shop Murders, there was a homicide involving in airman from Hill Air Force Base and there was an auto theft ring going on out of Hill Air Force Base and they would steal cars and get an airman that was being released and asked him if he wanted to earn some extra money and he would drive the car back to the Chicago/Detroit area so he would get paid. And he was actually transporting stolen cars. But they didn’t know it.
George: In order for the cars to go back east, they had to have two sets of keys and Pierre can only find one set of keys. So, he went out to the base and got a duplicate set of keys made. He had to sign for that. I actually was able to attach his signature to request for the extra set of keys on that investigation when the Hi-Fi Shop Murders happened. So, we had been investigating that already and he was a suspect in that murder.
Check out the video to more about how George became a document examiner. We will also learn how he discovered that Mark actually used a toy chemistry set to fool the FBI labs! It’s pretty amazing.
George: We finally found the chemicals and the chemicals we found over a year after the bombs. It was in November of 1986. The bombs were in October of ’85 and I was out Christmas shopping in a toy store and happened to glance down to the toy chemistry set. And right there was gum Arabic, Roman vitriol, green copperas, and a recipe on how to make iron gallotannic ink.
GT: No way, that’s crazy.
George: Later on we found out that’s where he got the chemicals was at a toy store.
GT: At a toy store.
George: And yet they fooled the biggest laboratory in the world, the FBI.
GT: So yeah, that’s crazy.
George: They were looking for a more sophisticated way of doing things today than what he used. He used method that was used 150 years ago. And we don’t deal with things 150 years old. We deal with modern, at the time forgeries on checks and stuff like that, credit applications. And we’re very proficient at that, but even in the field of document examination, we couldn’t go to anybody to get help because we don’t deal with documents over 50, 60 years old.
We will also discuss George’s role in the famous Howard Hughes will. (Is there anything this guy wasn’t involved with?) It’s really interesting.
George: The Howard Hughes will, that was the big, if they remember that, the Howard Hughes will. He was the richest man in the world at the time and when they found the will, which they call the Mormon will, I don’t know how much you’re familiar with this story….I got involved in that quite by accident.
George: But anyway, that testimony in court on Howard Hughes will, was a result of having the graphologists testifying against the document examiners.
Mark Hofmann’s first two bombs killed Steve Christensen and Kathy Sheets on October 15, 1985. In this next episode, we will talk about the third bomb. Who was it likely intended for? Was it a suicide attempt as some people believe, or was it intended for someone else? George gives some important details on the crime scene. Check out our conversation…
George: When the investigator said that Hofmann had told him the bomb fell out of the car, he said, “That’s not true. He’s not telling you the truth.” But when somebody is not telling you the truth, you wonder why. In looking in the trunk, they found some old documents that didn’t matter. He was legitimate examiner. Everybody knew that, but they also found some components of a pipe bomb in the trunk.
They found Mark Hofmann was waiting to see somebody at the Crossroads Mall downtown and at the time he would meet this person on a specific day at a specific time. Hofmann made this third bomb. He went down to Crossroads Mall. He parked his car up where the Conference Center is presently at. It was across the street from the old Deseret Gym.
And he carried the bomb with him down to the mall. We know he was there for at least an hour and a half carrying the bomb because he had gone into a local store and made a purchase there. And it had the time on the receipt. It was in his pocket. So, we know he was there. And then I think what happened, and we have to speculate, but it seems pretty good. When this person didn’t show up, then Hofmann left. He walked back up to his car, which was a low sportscar. As he opened up the car door, he was still carrying the bomb. As he sits down in the seat and goes to put the bomb on the passenger seat. It hit the gearshift knob and caused it to tip and it blew him out of the car. That was totally contrary to what he said happened.
Check out our conversation…
I also want to make an announcement. I’ve started a new Gospel Tangents Insiders Club. Our first meeting is July 18 at 8 pm ET/6 pm MT on Google Hangouts. Check this link for more information: https://tinyurl.com/GTInsider I’d love to meet with you and answer your questions in person over Google Hangouts!
What are your thoughts regarding Mark Hofmann? Are you disappointed that he fooled so many church leaders? Are you impressed with George’s dogged determination to figure out how Hofmann was forging documents?