By Mary Ann Clements
A new true-crime documentary premiered on Netflix earlier this week about the 1985 Salt Lake City bombings by forger Mark Hofmann. The BBC-Netflix documentary, “Murder Among the Mormons,” was co-directed by Jared L. Hess, a 4th-great grandson of Theodore Turley, and includes an interview with Richard E. Turley, Jr., a 3rd-great-grandson of Theodore Turley. Jared Hess and Rick Turley are both descendants of Theodore Turley’s son, Isaac Turley, and grandson, Edward Franklin Turley. Rick descends from Edward Franklin’s first wife, Ida E. Eyring. Jared descends from Edward Franklin’s second wife, Annie S. Martineau.
Jared Hess and his wife, Jerusha, both work in the film industry as screenwriters, directors and producers. Their work includes the movies Napoleon Dynamite and Nacho Libre, among many others. In an interview with Tad Walch for the Deseret News, Jared explained his interest in the Hofmann story. “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…. 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.”1
Rick Turley was hired by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to work in their Church History department only a few months after the Hofmann bombings. In a May 2020 interview with Mormon History Association executive director Barbara Jones Brown, Rick explained, “When I arrived in January of 1986 in the Church History Department, there were good aspects of the department and there were bad aspects. The bad aspects were that I essentially entered a crime scene. The Mark Hofmann bombings had occurred just a little over three months earlier. There were federal, state, county, and city investigators who were trying to find out the motive for those three bombs that went off killing two people and injuring a third…. So, I walked into a crime scene, and as one who was trained in the law, it was fascinating to me. But [it was] also disturbing that people had been killed and that, obviously, something was going on that we didn’t understand fully.”2 Later, Rick used his legal background and access to Church leaders and archives to write the 1992 book Victims: The LDS Church and the Mark Hofmann Case. Rick worked with the Church History and Family History Departments for thirty years. He then worked for several years as the head of the Church’s Public Affairs department before retiring last year.
Jared and Rick, congratulations!
For more information on the new “Murder Among the Mormons” docuseries, check out this local coverage:
- February 11: Deseret News, “What the author of a book on Mark Hofmann had to say about ‘Murder Among the Mormons'” (Interview with Rick Turley)
- February 23: Deseret News, “Jared Hess explains his turn to true crime for Netflix series ‘Murder Among the Mormons'” (Interview with Jared Hess)
- February 23: Salt Lake Tribune, “‘Murder Among the Mormons’ brings the story of infamous Salt Lake City bombings to Netflix” (Interview with Jared Hess)
- March 3: The Cultural Hall Podcast, “Episode 496: Murder Among the Mormons w/Jared Hess and Tyler Measom”
- March 4: RadioWest, “Jared Hess And Tyler Measom On ‘Murder Among The Mormons'”
- Tad Walch, “Jared Hess explains his turn to true crime for Netflix series ‘Murder Among the Mormons,'” Deseret News, 23 February 2021, https://www.deseret.com/faith/2021/2/23/22296381/murder-among-the-mormons-netflix-director-jared-hess-explains-turn-to-true-crime-mark-hofmann, accessed March 2021.
- Rick Bennett, “Hired After Hofmann (Part 1 of 5,)” Gospel Tangents, https://gospeltangents.com/2020/12/hired-after-hofmann/, accessed March 2021.