The shadowy business connections between Mark Hofmann and one of two people killed earlier this week in bomb blasts were probed here today as police searched for a motive in the brutal murders.
Authorities said Hofmann, who was injured Wednesday when a bomb detonated in his car parked on a downtown street, is a prime suspect in the Tuesday bomb attacks that claimed the lives of Steven F. Christensen, 31, and Kathleen Sheets, 50.
Pete Hayward, Salt Lake County sheriff, said records found in the wreckage of Hofmann's car indicate that Christensen gave him more than $100,000 sometime before the Tuesday morning blast that killed Christensen in the hall outside his downtown office. Police also found an airline ticket and receipts from several cashier checks in the car.
Hofmann, a dealer in historical documents, had sold many items to Christensen, including the "white salamander letter" indicating that Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was practicing magic at the time the church was formed. Church doctrine holds that an angel guided Smith to the golden plates from which he translated the sacred Book of Mormon.
A pile of documents believed to be the William McLellin journal, a long-sought collection of papers from an early convert to the Mormon church, was also found in the car's trunk, Hayward said. Mormon historians have speculated that the papers could include a facsimile of some of the Egyptian hieroglyphics from which Smith is said to have translated "The Pearl of Great Price," a sacred scripture for Mormons.
Don LeFevre, a spokesman for the Mormon church, confirmed today that Hofmann met with a high church official Tuesday, the day of the fatal bombings. He declined to detail what was discussed.
Prosecutors from the city, county and federal government met most of today to review information.
"There will be no charges today . . . . Charges aren't likely tomorrow either," said Brent Ward, U.S. attorney for Utah. He said he wanted to wait until evidence from the bomb sites is processed by experts from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
Jerry Miller, resident in charge of the local office of BATF, said Wednesday that he believed there was enough information to charge Hofmann with violations of federal explosives and firearms laws.
Police said they are reviewing several leads in the case, including the possibility that some of the documents distributed by Hofmann were forgeries or that there were financial problems between Hofmann and the victims.
The first murder occurred Tuesday morning when Christensen picked up a booby-trapped package left outside his office on the sixth floor of a downtown office building. The package contained a sophisticated pipe bomb.
Several hours later a similar bomb exploded when Sheets attempted to lift a similar package that had been left outside her home. Sheets was the wife of J. Gary Sheets, a business associate of Christensen who helped finance a $20,000 study of the salamander letter's authenticity.
Hofmann, 31, was reported in serious but stable condition today.