John Reznikoff, founder of University Archives, was a credited featured contributor during the production of the newly released Netflix three-part true crime docuseries “Murder Among the Mormons: The Salamander Letter.” Reznikoff has made a special study of Mark Hofmann, the subject of this documentary, after acquiring material in 2013 relating to Hofmann’s life of crime. Reznikoff acted as an authenticity expert during filming and was extensively interviewed by director Tyler Measom.
Hofmann was a real-life historical document forger who attempted to rewrite the early history of the Church of Latter-Day Saints by uncovering explosive documents exchanged between foundational church leaders. Hofmann’s ingeniously forged letters claimed that among other things, church founder Joseph Smith had been practicing magic, and that he had encountered a white salamander instead of the angel Moroni. Hofmann later killed to protect his forgeries by detonating several bombs; he is now serving a life sentence in Utah.
Watch this short 5-minute video to hear John Reznikoff speaking about Mark Hofmann. Reznikoff also offers tips on how to identify fakes like those produced by Hofmann and other modern forgers.