Examiner: 1857 ["Church Document"] Fake

Associated Press/May 1, 2002

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Salt Lake City -- A forensic examiner says a document blaming Mormon Church leader Brigham Young for the 1857 massacre of 120 Arkansas pioneers is a fake.

The sheet of lead, discovered earlier this year, was engraved with words purportedly written by John D. Lee, the only man held accountable for the Mountain Meadows Massacre in Utah. Dated 1872, it says Lee and other Mormon leaders carried out the murders on orders from Young, head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Lee was executed for his role in the massacre. But the engraving's authenticity has been questioned ever since it was found inside a former trading post called Lee's Fort during a restoration.

William Flynn, a private Phoenix examiner hired by the National Park Service, said on Tuesday that the engraved sheet of lead appeared to be the work of convicted con man Mark Hofmann.

Flynn and George Throckmorton, manager of the Salt Lake City police crime lab, examined the lead sheet April 5 after the park service asked them to determine its authenticity. Flynn said they discussed the lead sheet with colleagues, all of whom agreed the handwriting on the document wasn't Lee's.

Hofmann, the alleged forger, is serving life in prison for the bombing deaths of two people. The slayings were an effort to cover up his extensive document forgeries, most of which involved Mormon history and seemed intent on shaking the church's foundation by casting early church leaders in a poor light.

Both Flynn and Throckmorton were involved in Hofmann's prosecution in the 1980s.

Throckmorton told The Salt Lake Tribune he is still examining the document and was surprised Flynn had proclaimed it a fake.

"I'm not through with it,'' Throckmorton said. ``And I don't think (Flynn) is through with it. I am not going to say anything until I am done.''

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