Set in 1985, Murder Among the Mormons untangles the web of intrigue surrounding a series of shocking events in Salt Lake City, Utah that shook the foundation of the LDS Church. After a series of pipe bombs kill two people and hospitalize another, the Mormon community was left mourning the loss of their own. What’s more, they were also stunned to discover that a number of early Mormon letters were destroyed in the trunk of the third victim, Mark Hofman. As a collector of rare documents, Hofman had long been known for his ability to find antiquities of incredible value. As a result, investigators immediately believe that there may be some link between these newly uncovered letters and the attacks themselves. As Hofman fights for his life in hospital, the police fight for the truth as they relentlessly search for the identity of the killer.
While true crime stories have become particularly popular during this pandemic, this is one that must be seen to be believed. Directed by Jared Hess (Napoleon Dynamite) and Tyler Measom (An Honest Liar), Murder Among the Mormons is a stunning documentary that unravels like the best of mysteries. Though Murder feels like an attack on Mormon beliefs at first, the serie’s exploration of the bomber quickly reveals that these assaults have little to do about systems of faith. As they delve more deeply into the events that took place, Hess and Measom unravel a conspiracy that is utterly unbelievable (yet remains absolutely true).
What’s more, Murder is not a story that leaves any ambiguity as the final credits roll. This is not a series that attempts to uncover an unsolved mystery that leaves the viewer with questions regarding the bomber’s identity. Instead, this series becomes more of an exploration of the psychology of a madman and the circumstances that created him.
Without giving away any potential spoilers, one of the more fascinating aspects about Murder is its conversation about what it means to be true. When finally questioned by his captors about his actions, the bomber blurs the lines between reality and fiction when he states that “It’s not so much what’s genuine and what isn’t, but what people believe to be genuine.” To the bomber, truth gains it power not from fact but from belief. In other words, though their life was an endless stream of lies and deception to the people that they love, he justified his actions simply by the fact that people trusted them.
To him, lies are as good as truth as long as they’re worth believing in.
In many ways, it’s a fascinating psychological argument. Although the bomber is definitely crazy, the suggestion that people believe whatever they want without really asking the hard questions is difficult to argue. While faith remains an essential component of our lives, it must go hand-in-hand with truth and reality. As such, what the bomber fails to understand is that the value of truth does not lie in belief but rather the opposite. Faith and belief get their power from truth.
Compelling and borderline crazy, Murder Among the Mormons may be one of the most gripping true crime stories on television right now. Though absolutely true, the series has all the elements of the best pulp fiction novels, including tragedy, mystery and a villainous madman. However, the most shocking revelation within Murder may be the lies that we tell ourselves in order to hide from the truth itself.
Murder Among the Mormons is available on Netflix on Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021.
You can see the trailer for Murder Among the Mormons here.