SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – The recent string of deadly bombings in Austin, Texas reminded many of the Mark Hofmann bombings that killed two people in Salt Lake City in 1985. On Wednesday, News4Utah sat down for an exclusive interview with the investigator who worked 16 months to solve the Hofmann case.
Hofmann was a master forger of early Latter Day Saints documents and a con man who made and planted bombs that killed two people on October 15th, 1985. The next day a third bomb detonated inside Hofmann’s car, severely injuring him. Former Director of the Salt Lake City Police Crime Lab George Throckmorton was assigned to investigate by the District Attorney’s office.
“Within 12 hours, the people who were investigating the bomb investigation portion knew that he was responsible for it,” Throckmorton said. “In fact if he would have died, the investigation would have ended but because he lived they had to determine why.”
After 16 months of examining forged documents and checks, Throckmorton determined Hofmann planted the bombs to divert attention from his financial crimes. The first explosion killed Steven Christensen at the Judge Building on Broadway in Downtown Salt Lake City.
“The first bomb was specifically sent to kill somebody, a good friend of his,” Throckmorton said. “The second bomb, he didn’t care if it killed anybody or not. He just left it for somebody to pick up and the hopes was that it would divert the investigation to Las Vegas which for the first four weeks it did.”
But Throckmorton and his team of investigators were able to build a case and Hofmann pleaded guilty to two counts of second degree murder. The Austin suspect will never be put on trial but Throckmorton sees similarities.
“Anytime somebody uses bombs it means they’re a coward because they can’t face the person,” Throckmorton said. “They don’t have a conscience at all. I think that’s what they call a psychopath, somebody that doesn’t know or doesn’t care about anybody else and frequently that’s what bombers are. They don’t care. They just don’t want to be there when it goes off….I’m not afraid of them at all to look them in their face but I’d never want to turn my back on them.”
After 40 years in law enforcement, Throckmorton says he’s now enjoying his retirement years. Hofmann, now 63 years old, is serving a life sentence at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison.