Mark David Chapman
Mark David Chapman (born in Fort Worth, Texas on May 10, 1955) is the murderer of former Beatle John Lennon in 1980. Chapman had, during previous points in his life, been involved in various lifestyles; he had been addicted to drugs, became a born-again Christian, and also hospitalized for mental illness. At one time, he attended Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia. He viewed J.D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye as having great personal significance for him, to the extent that he reportedly wished to model his life after the book's antisocial protagonist, Holden Caulfield.
Chapman had been a fan of the Beatles, and Lennon in particular, for years. During his nervous breakdown, Chapman became obsessed with Lennon to such a degree that he married an American-Japanese woman because she reminded him of Lennon's wife Yoko Ono (as of 2005, they were still married). As Chapman's life deteriorated, he began to resent his former hero, condemning him as a "phony" (Caulfield's favorite insult).
At 10:50 p.m. on December 8, 1980, Chapman shot and fatally wounded John Lennon in front of Lennon's residence, the Dakota, at the corner of W 72nd Street and Central Park West in Manhattan, New York City. Chapman was carrying a copy of The Catcher in the Rye with him at the time.
Earlier that day, Chapman had shaken hands with Lennon and had asked him to autograph his newly purchased copy of Lennon's new album Double Fantasy, a request which Lennon obliged. After this encounter, Chapman waited near the Dakota for several hours for Lennon to return, whereupon Chapman shot at him five times, inflicting four wounds. Lennon died around 11:15 p.m.
He has testified that he had also traveled to New York once previously with the intention of killing Lennon, but did not carry out the act.
Chapman was charged with second degree murder and was found competent to stand trial. It was expected that he would plead insanity; instead, he lodged a guilty plea. He was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
He is currently imprisoned at Attica State Prison, near Buffalo, in upstate New York. For years, he had to be separated completely from other prisoners because of concerns for his safety. He is an avid letter-writer and evangelical Christian. Chapman has refused to undergo therapy of any kind while in prison, claiming to have been healed of severe depression by virtue of his fervent Christian beliefs. He has been denied parole three times, in 2000, 2002, and October 2004. Prior to his parole hearings several reports were made of threats to his life, should he be released.
Currently there are plans to turn Chapman's experiences during the weekend on which he committed the crime into a feature-length movie called Chapter 27. Actor Jared Leto is set to star as Chapman along with Lindsay Lohan as a fictional fan of Lennon who befriends him.
- Jack Jones. Let Me Take You Down: Inside the mind of Mark David Chapman. 1992. Virgin. ISBN 0863696899.
- Robert Rosen. Nowhere Man: The Final Days of John Lennon. 2000. Quick American Archives. ISBN 0932551513.
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