In the recent Netflix documentary, “Murder Among the Mormons,” Mark Hofmann is heard on a prison recording that he was trying to commit suicide with the 3rd bomb. However, police reports indicate the 3rd bomb blast was a mistake. Brent Ashworth tells why he thinks the 3rd blast was an accident.
GT: Let me just set that up. Because Shannon Flynn when I interviewed him, he said that he thought that it was a suicide attempt. And we did hear a prison recording where Mark said it was a suicide attempt, but George Throckmorton, and the ATF basically knew when that bomb went off, they knew immediately, number one, that Mark was the bomber. And number two, they said it was an accident. So help us help us resolve that conflict.
Brent: But anyway, the point was, is that they sent [ATF agent] Jerry Taylor and Mark was still in the hospital coming out of his coma or whatever. He blew his kneecap and a couple of fingers off. And Jerry said, “I want to be the first to ask him questions.” So they did. They brought him up. And when Mark came to, [Jerry] just asked him, “What happened?”
Brent: Mark said, “Well, I got to my car.” And it was a little MR2. We’d sat on there several times to do deals as I told you before. And he opens the door and he says, “This package fell off the dashboard and onto the seat and blew me into the street.” Well, that’s not what the eyewitnesses said either. The eyewitnesses said that they saw this man get partway into the [car.] He was sitting on the seat with his right hip. Both feet were still on the pavement. Here’s what the eyewitnesses said. He was leaning into the car when the thing blew up.
GT: To put it in the backseat or something?
Brent: Yeah. In the process George said that he hit the the gearshift which set the mercury switch off. It was mercury switch activated.
GT: All he had to do was tip the package.
Brent: All he had to do was tip it. He hit the gear shift. It was right in his way, moving the thing to the back. I mean it was very little room to work in and he hit the gear shift and that set the bomb off. He was blown into the street. If he’d had the door shut, if he was trying to commit suicide, he would have been killed. But he wasn’t tryng to commit suicide. In fact, the eyewitnesses said he couldn’t figure out what he was leaning into the car with. He’s trying to stay as far away from it as he could. But he hit the gearshift.
GT: I would think he’d put it in the trunk. But I know there were important documents in the in the trunk.
Brent: Well, I was mostly just junk he put in there to make look like a McLellin Collection. You know what? They showed me a lot of that stuff and most of it was Civil War documents of General McClellan. I mean, he’s a pretty smart guy. But General McClellan didn’t spell his name the same way as William McLellin.
How did a Civil War general get mixed up in this?
Mark Hofmann wanted to bring down the LDS Church. Why? What was his motive? Brent Ashworth lays out his theory for why Mark had a grudge against the Church.
Brent: It’s a letter to himself, like “I learned today,” kind of like, “here’s the evidence.” This is the motive, I think, for murder and for destroying the church. He’s going to pay back the Church for what they did to his family. Because this was a real black mark. I remember when his mother brought that suit over on his birthday, and we were talking, she even brought it up, about her father being exed as a mission president. Well, that would be a really embarrassing thing. Here he is, a mission president to Samoa and they [excommunicate] him. Mark is saying here, this was all authorized. A temple worker, Joseph Summerhays, who was authorized by Joseph F. Smith to do it.
Brent: I think this is all crap because if you read about Joseph F. Smith and what was going on he had Rudger Clawson undo a relationship the same year as this marriage was supposedly approved, if it wasn’t authorized.
GT: Well, because what I understand, you have the Smoot Hearings,
GT: Joseph F. Smith was called before Congress. They just grilled him.
Brent: Creamed him.
GT: So, that was why he issued the 1904 Manifesto.
GT: It was to say, “Look. We mean business now.”
Brent: Well, so, the marriage of Rudger Clawson, who was an apostle, in 1906, was a real concern. So they privately did a cancellation of sealing on that one.
GT: On Hofmann’s [ancestor]?
Brent: No, on Rudger Clawson, the apostle, who had an extra wife in 1906.
GT: Because, didn’t he get kicked out of the quorum in 1906?
Brent: No, he ended up being the president of the Twelve. He would have been the President of Church if he’d outlived Heber [Grant.]
GT: Because McKay became an apostle in 1906.
GT: They kicked out John W. Taylor and Matthias Cowley.
Brent: For doing [the same thing, taking a plural wife.]
GT: So Rudger Clawson got off scot-free?
Brent: Scot-free. Yeah. They just canceled the marriage.
Brent: But, see his grandpa–that was one of the things that disturbed Hofmann, is his grandpa claimed the marriage was [authorized.] There’s no way to really [verify this.] But it doesn’t make sense, because Joseph F. Smith, like you said, issued a Second Manifesto in 1904, and went out of his way to cancel apostle Rudger Clawson’s actual extra marriage, which was performed this same year, 1906. See what I mean?
Brent: So that doesn’t make sense that he would authorize another marriage in 1906. So, the fact that the marriage was done in Mexico and all that, tells me that probably there was no authority from the top at least. It may have come from a local leader, but not from the top, from the First Presidency for this marriage down there. But Hofmann didn’t take it that way. I think even his mother, it became a real embarrassing thing in the family because she brought it up to me too, just out of the blue, the first time I ever met her. I think that Hofmann grew up with that sense of “the Church has hurt my family by excommunicating Grandpa.”
Does this strike you as a motive to kill and forge documents? Do you think Mark tried to kill himself with the 3rd bomb?