‘Murder Among the Mormons’: Jared Hess explains his turn to true crime for Netflix series

A scene from “Murder Among the Mormons,” a true crime docuseries about the Mark Hofmann forgeries and bombings that streams on Netflix beginning March 3. It is co-directed by Jared Hess, who is known for making comedies like “Napoleon Dynamite.” | Courtesy Netflix

‘Napoleon Dynamite’ creator combines fascination with Mark Hofmann bombings with his love of true crime stories

On March 3, streaming giant Netflix will release “Murder Among the Mormons,” a three-part docuseries about the 1985 Mark Hofmann murders in Salt Lake City by co-director Jared Hess, who is known for making comedies like “Napoleon Dynamite.”

Hofmann was a master forger who killed two people with bombs at the end of a long run of fooling museums, collectors and historians with faked documents from the early history of the United States and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“There’s no shame in being dunked on by Michael Jordan, he’s the best. Many people were fooled by Mark Hofmann,” said co-director Tyler Measom. “He was the best forger who’s ever been caught.”

So why did a comedic filmmaker like Hess make a documentary about Hofmann, who is serving a life sentence for killing Steve Christensen and Kathy Sheets with homemade bombs in 1985? A third bomb wounded Hofmann and destroyed what appeared to be a trove of what appeared to be rare documents and diaries in his car.

“People were scrambling,” Hess said about the chaos caused by the bombings. “They didn’t know what was happening, who was doing this, who was setting off these bombs. We really try to put you in that time.”

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Hess shared his reasons for making the documentary and some of his experiences in a recent interview with The Deseret News. The questions and answers have been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Deseret News: This is a fascinating choice you’ve made. Why are you doing this project?

Jared Hess: I was pretty young when it happened. I was actually living in England at the time. My dad was the bishop of the Hyde Park Ward (a Latter-day Saint congregation in London) and I was probably 6 years old, so I didn’t know much about it until I just kind of heard people mentioning it without any details as a teenager. As I’ve grown and served a mission for the church and come to just love Mormon history so much, and as I became good friends over the years with Curt Bench over at Benchmark Books, it just became so fascinating to me. (For a time, Bench counted Hofmann as a business associate and friend.) Curt’s such an incredible human being, and he would just tell me stories about this. I’d read all the books that have been written on it, and it’s just such a complex story. I’m a big true crime buff as well. It’s just got so many layers to it. So much relates to our community and culture that I just found it fascinating as a filmmaker. I also think it has a lot of …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Utah News

      

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