A dealer in rare manuscripts was charged today with first-degree murder in the Oct. 15 booby-trap bombing deaths of a Mormon church official and the wife of another.
Mark W. Hofmann, 30, also was accused of theft by deception and communications fraud in connection with document dealings with Utah collectors and officials of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon church.
A bail hearing is set Wednesday, and Hofmann was being held in the Salt Lake City County jail. County Attorney Ted Cannon said statements amplifying the complaint, filed in Utah's 5th Circuit Court, remained sealed.
Hofmann is accused of killing stockbroker Steven F. Christiensen, who was a Mormon bishop, and Kathleen W. Sheets. Christiensen died when he picked up a cardboard box left outside his door in a downtown Salt Lake City office building, detonating a pipe bomb inside the box.
Sheets died later that day when she stooped to lift a similar box outside her suburban Salt Lake City home. Paper fragments indicate that the box was addressed to her husband, J. Gary Sheets, a former bishop and a former business associate of Christiensen.
Hofmann was seriously injured two days later when a bomb exploded in his parked car downtown. He appeared in court today on crutches because of injuries to his right knee.
In the last several years, Hofmann claimed to have discovered several documents dealing with early Mormon history. Some of those documents have been embarrassing to the church because their accounts of its early days differ with official accounts.
Christiensen had purchased one of those documents and, with J. Gary Sheets, had financed studies of its authenticity. That document -- the so-called "Salamander Letter" describing use of witchcraft by church founder Joseph Smith -- was later donated to the Mormon church.
At the time of the bombings, Christiensen was acting as middleman between Hofmann and the church, which wanted to acquire from Hofmann the collected papers of an early Mormon dissident.
Within two days of the killings, police here identified Hofmannn as the "prime suspect" in the bombings; until today, he was charged only with possessing an unregistered semiautomatic machine pistol in violation of federal firearms laws. He is scheduled to be tried on that charge March 3.
Hofmann also faces two counts of delivery or placement of an "infernal" device and one count of construction or possession of an infernal device, Cannon said.
The victims of his allegedly fraudulent document dealings were identified as the Mormon church; Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor to Mormon church President Ezra Taft Benson; Alvin West, a Salt Lake City coin dealer and document collector; and Brent Ashworth, a Provo, Utah, document dealer.