Hofmann grew up in the Mormon faith in the Salt Lake City area, attended Utah State University, and eventually became an artifact collector before finding them and selling them. His first big find was in 1980 when he claimed to have found the oldest known Mormon document supposedly written by Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS Church, himself. According to the docuseries, it was this find that made him want to become a document dealer. First in pieces related to Mormonism and then expanding to finding and selling historic letters as well.
What took years — and three explosive devices detonating around the Salt Lake City area — to prove was that Hofmann’s real skill was not sourcing rare documents, it was forging them. Investigators say he sold dozens of counterfeit historical documents to the Mormon Church before he attempted to cover his tracks by using homemade bombs to murder two people he thought could expose his scheme. Once caught, he was found guilty of two counts of second-degree murder and two counts of theft by deception. He pleaded guilty in order to receive reduced charges and was sentenced to five years to life in prison, reports The Associated Press.
With such a wide-reaching sentence, the thing that determined the handing down of Hofmann's life sentence was Hofmann's own words. In both his confessional interview and his parole hearing, he showed no remorse for his actions, director Jared Hess explained in an interview with Refinery29, adding, "He was so heartless, as you hear. He ruined any chance he had at a shorter sentence. There's no remorse and there wasn't in his confessions. To hear it from his own lips is chilling. It was all premeditated and he didn't care who got killed."
Tyler Measom, who co-directed the series with Hess, believes that had Hofmann chose to come forward and confess to forging documents before choosing violence, he could have served a shorter prison sentence and perhaps for a second calling working on the same investigative teams that discovered his forgeries in the first place. "If he would have utilized these remarkable skills for good, where could he have been? What could he have done?" he continued.
Hofmann is serving a life sentence at the Central Utah Correctional Facility. His wife claims that after she filed for divorce, he banned her from contacting him and she hasn’t spoken to him since. Until December 2015, Hofmann had been in the maximum security section at the Utah State Prison. Throughout the documentary's production, Hofmann refused to speak with its directors. Other stories show that he seems to consistently leave calls for comment unanswered. Over the years, Measom says he has written to Hofmann probably a dozen times in the hopes he would speak to them for the docuseries; however, they were never answered.
Murder Among the Mormons is now streaming on Netflix.