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Murder Among the Mormons: What to Know About the Netflix Documentary

Murder Among the Mormons: What to Know About the Netflix Documentary

If you have no idea what Murder Among the Mormons Netflix documentary is about, you came to the right place. Here’s what you should know about Murder Among the Mormons.

What is Murder Among the Mormons About?

Murder Among the Mormons is a three-part Netflix documentary exploring the 1985 bombings that killed two people and left a community in fear. It tells the story of rare documents dealers in Utah who had discovered some potentially damaging historical documents that would have shed a bad light on The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and their history as they have told it.

After some business dealings between dealers for these rare documents, two people end up dead and another severely wounded. Suspicions are aimed at the Mormon Church and other people but the truth eventually comes out.

Where Can I See the Trailer?

You can find the Murder Among the Mormons trailer below.

Who directed Murder Among the Mormons?

Filmmakers Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite) and Tyler Measom (Jesus Town, USA) were the masterminds of the documentary. These two were vary careful how they presented things, especially dealing with the Latter-day Saint religion, because they didn’t want people exploiting Mormons because of the story. 

“We did have to strike a balance of giving enough information, but not boring people with too much theology,” said Hess. Ultimately, I think we figured out the best way to do that is just to show clips of old Church films that share their own origin story. Which we also love.”

Who is Mark Hofman?

Mark Hofman was a rare books and documents collector who made a name for himself by acquiring rare documents and books that had value among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Hofmann was also a master forger, deceiving many renowned document experts during with his forgeries.

He was badly injured in a car bombing that caused him to lose parts of his fingers. He was sentenced to prison and remains in the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison, Utah.

What is the Salamander Letter?

The salamander letter was a controversial document about the history of the Latter-day Saint movement, allegedly written by Martin Harris, but in reality written by Mark Hofman.

According to the letter, when Smith dug up the plates a “salamander” appeared, which transformed itself into a spirit that refused to give Smith the plates unless his brother, Alvin Smith, was also present. This would have been very difficult, as Alvin was dead at the time of the alleged appearance. 

The letter was initially deemed authentic by experienced document examiners, however this conclusion was reached by using Mark Hofmann’s previous forgeries as comparisons to the salamander letters. When examined against authentic letters written by Martin Harris the forgery was discovered. ¹

What Have Latter-day Saint Church Leaders Said About the Mark Hofman Scandal?

Various church leaders have commented on the Mark Hofman scandal over these years. Gordon B. Hinckley has made various statements, along with Dallin H. Oaks – who gave a full address to students at Brigham Young University in 1987. You can access his address here, which I recommend that you read.

dallin h oaks

Dallin H. Oaks address the Mark Hofman scandal in a 1987 talk on the campus of Brigham Young University

 

A small portion of Elder Oak’s talk says: “When all the wounds have scarred over and when tempers have cooled, will any good have come of the documents portion of this Mark Hofmann episode? I hope some lessons will have been learned by the members of the Church and by historians, archivists, investors, and media personnel. I hope we will all be less inclined to act and speak precipitously and more inclined to reserve judgment about the significance of so-called new historical discoveries.”

What are People Saying About Murder Among the Mormons?

This review on Primetimer states:

Murder Among the Mormons seems to strike just shy of its targets. It wants very hard to portray its central figure, Mark Hofmann, as mystifying. It wants to portray Mormonism as an intimidating shadow that loomed over the events that unfolded in Salt Lake City in 1985, when the two deaths occurred and when the church was embroiled in controversy over the events surrounding the crime. And it definitely wants to portray its lead guest, Shannon Flynn, as the latest Kooky True Crime Character.

But none of these elements have the most interesting potential in Murder Among the Mormons, nor do they quite stack up the way the docu-series would like….For all it’s clearly targeting the true crime audiences who flocked to 2020’s Tiger KingMurder Among the Mormons just doesn’t have the same level of quirkiness, or as bizarre a cast of characters, to produce a similar level of tawdry spectacle.”

1 – Salamander letter

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JudithShirley

Wednesday 10th of March 2021

Definitely an exploratory read. Intend to follow this story with interest.

Glen Danielsen

Wednesday 10th of March 2021

From the flash images in the trailer, it seems Jared Hess was ‘careful’ about interviewing career apostate Sandra Tanner and using Helen Whitney-like foreboding and scandal manufacture.

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