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What the author of a book on Mark Hofmann had to say about ‘Murder Among the Mormons’

FILE - Mark Hofmann during a preliminary hearing on April 15, 1986. Netflix is about to release a new, three-part true crime documentary about the 1985 Hofmann forgeries and murders provocatively titled “Murder Among the Mormons,” directed by Jared Hess.
Ravell Call, Deseret News

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Netflix is about to release a new, three-part true crime documentary about the 1985 Mark Hofmann forgeries and murders provocatively titled “Murder Among the Mormons.”

The series about the chaos created in Salt Lake City by Hofmann’s fake documents and packaged bombs will begin streaming March 3, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

A master forger, Hofmann is serving a life sentence for killing Steve Christensen and Kathy Sheets with homemade bombs in 1985 as he tried to cover up the unraveling trail of documents he had faked about Latter-day Saint history.

The series is co-directed by Jared Hess of “Napoleon Dynamite” fame. Hess is a Salt Lake resident, Brigham Young University alum and a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The other co-director is Tyler Measom, who was raised in the church and is known for “I Want My MTV” and “An Honest Liar.”

One of the people interviewed for “Murder Among the Mormons” is Rick Turley, author of the 1992 book, “Victims: The LDS Church and the Mark Hofmann Case.” Turley and Hess are cousins.

“They set up a little studio over in the Masonic Temple on South Temple and interviewed me,” said Turley, who recently retired as the head of the church’s Public Affairs Department. “They just asked me about how I saw things rolling out. It was done very much in the style of documentary editing, documentary filmmaking where they get everybody to tell their stories and then pull pieces together.”

He has not seen the final product.

“It seemed like a very serious kind of filmmaking,” said Turley, who previously served as the assistant church historian and recorder. “I’ve done a lot of talking head interviews over the years with all the major networks over the years, including Travel Channel, History Channel, you name it. Some of them come out really, really good and some of them don’t. Often you can tell. These guys seemed about as serious as anybody at making an accurate-though-artistic piece.”

The filmmakers also interviewed famous Latter-day Saint memorabilia collectors Curt Bench and Brent Ashworth, among many others.

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What I’m reading ...

Speaking of Rick Turley, I’m looking forward to his latest book, “In the Hands of the Lord: The Life of Dallin H. Oaks.” Deseret Book releases it March 1. You can preorder it now. Turley has been a member of the Joseph Smith Papers editorial board and has written important histories on major church events.

Football and faith? Sports and Latter-day Saints? Of course I’m going to read it, but especially because it was written by Bob Smietana, a terrific religion writer. He goes back in history to show how the advent of “muscular Christianity” made football acceptable again a century ago, and how Latter-day Saints embraced it as a way to find common ground with other Americans.

Speaking of football, here’s a good story about a former NFL wide receiver serving as a mission president.

Senior service missionaries now may be assigned to work in their local temple.

An Idaho TV station reran a 2001 story about an Elder Stallard who broke the record for eating a 2-pound hamburger at a Boise restaurant. It’s a fun watch. I wonder where Elder Stallard is now.

Behind the scenes