Family, friends to honor life of Shannon Flynn, the colorful voice of ‘Murder Among the Mormons’
Forger Mark Hofmann’s murders upended Flynn’s life. Family remembers his faith, love and devotion of the man who died Oct. 25.
The funeral for Shannon Flynn, whose colorful, stylish retelling of his former friendship and work with forger and killer Mark Hofmann was a driving force in the 2021 Netflix documentary “Murder Among the Mormons,” will be held Saturday in Sandy, Utah.
Flynn died Oct. 25 in Gilbert, Arizona, after a three-year battle with lung and brain cancer. He was 63.
“Every good documentary series needs that one quirky, odd character that everyone wants to talk about. I didn’t think it would be Shannon, but it was,” said Tyler Measom, one of the film’s co-directors.
The documentary proved to be a godsend for Flynn, whose life was upended by Hofmann’s murders of Steven Christensen and Kathy Sheets in October 1985. He was a 27-year-old budding historian, but that path closed when investigators considered him a possible suspect and arrested him before they exonerated him.
“This last documentary was a miracle,” his wife, Robyn Flynn, said. “They finally gave him a platform to tell his story while he still had a voice. He had the raspy voice from his lung cancer surgery, but he could speak and he could think.”
Measom said the filmmakers needed to work to convince some people to participate in the documentary. Flynn needed no convincing.
“Shannon was all over it from the minute I talked to him,” Measom said. “He was very interested in telling his story, and he knew it was a great story.
Always a fine dresser, Flynn hired a stylist and showed up for his interview in a new suit with a smart vest, a polka dot bowtie and a gold watch chain that laid across his torso.
“He was giddy, in some ways, to be frank with you,” Measom said. “He obviously wanted to be in front of the camera, but he also wanted to help put it together. He wanted to feel like a part of the movie and a part of the movie makers. And we were happy to have him help. He came very well rehearsed and knew what he wanted to say. He knew this was his moment. He knew it.”
Flynn helped the filmmakers portray some of Hofmann’s high times in the midst of his forgeries, when Flynn occasionally bought rare books for him or carried the cash when he accompanied Hofmann to buy high-ticket items.
The film’s conclusion includes Flynn’s emotional condemnation of his former friend.
“It’s awful. It’s awful what he did,” Flynn says in the film’s final minutes. “That’s why I say, the rest of his life, stay in prison. He will never atone for those sins. Never.”
“That was the most important part,” Measom said. “When he said that, that’s when you really see how much it affected everyone. You felt that, and you saw his range of happiness and goofiness and just genuine pain and sadness conveyed on screen. For an adult man to kind of show that vulnerability, which a number of characters in our film did, I think is respectable.”
Flynn was a proud bibliophile, both as a collector and reader.
“You could find him reading anywhere, at any place, at any time, but he always read before bed,” Robyn Flynn said. “The saddest thing about his cancer is that in the end, he couldn’t speak, he couldn’t read and he couldn’t write, which are his three passions.”
A mistake during previous lung cancer surgery paralyzed one of his vocal cords, giving him a distinct, raspy voice.
That standout voice paired with Flynn’s witty, vivid storytelling made him a popular interview subject after “Murder Among the Mormons,” but it was during some of those interviews a month after the documentary was released that it became clear he was struggling to find words. Doctors found that the lung cancer had metastasized to his brain.
He passed away surrounded by his family, which was central to him, his wife said.
Flynn remained a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout his life. He and Robyn had four children and two grandchildren, with a third on the way.
“He would do anything for his family,” Robyn Flynn said. “He had a very difficult time with his career after Mark Hofmann, and it was a hard life for him in that regard, but he always found a way to provide for his family. He was a very, very hard worker. He ended up doing things that he didn’t really love to do, but he did them for his family and very honorably.”
He moved the family to Arizona in 2001 so he could work in construction.
Flynn read and was influenced by “How to Dress for Success” before he served a Latter-day Saint mission in Brazil. He remained a keen dresser, Robyn Flynn said, though he never had a lot of money to spend on clothes. He shopped at Dillard’s outlets in the Phoenix area.
Robyn Flynn said her husband was emotive.
“If he was happy, he was happier than everyone else. If he was mad, he was madder than everyone else. His frustration and his sadness were bigger and deeper,” she said.
He felt deeply about friendships, too, maintaining close ones with his fellow missionaries. He organized regular reunions.
“I really want people to know that he knew the gospel of Jesus Christ, and he wanted other people to study it and know it,” Robyn Flynn said. “He offended some people by encouraging this, but he just really wanted people to study, to search and to find out for themselves that it is true.”
Read Shannon Flynn’s obituary here.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 6, at the Pinecrest Ward, 2080 East Pinecrest Lane, Sandy, Utah. Viewings will be held on Friday evening from 6-8 p.m. at Larkin Sunset Gardens, 1950 East Dimple Dell Road (10600 South), Sandy, Utah, and Saturday morning from 9:30-10:30 a.m. prior to the services at the church.
To watch the services online or to share a memory with his family, visit larkincares.com.