Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Mark David Chapman: The Man Who Killed John Lennon

Chapman's Statement

Then this morning I went to the bookstore and bought The Catcher in the Rye. I'm sure the large part of me is Holden Caulfield, who is the main person in the book. The small part of me must be the Devil.

I went to the building. It's called the Dakota. I stayed there until he came out and asked him to sign my album. At that point my big part won and I wanted to go back to my hotel, but I couldn't. I waited until he came back. He came in a car. Yoko walked past first and I said hello, I didn't want to hurt her.

John Lennon - Mark David Chapman's Victim
John Lennon

Then John came and looked at me and printed me. I took the gun from my coat pocket and fired at him. I can't believe I could do that. I just stood there clutching the book. I didn't want to run away. I don't know what happened to the gun. I remember Jose kicking it away. Jose was crying and telling me to please leave. I felt so sorry for Jose. Then the police came and told me to put my hands on the wall and cuffed me.

— Statement of Mark David Chapman to police at 1 a.m., Dec. 9, 1980, three hours after the murder of John Lennon.

And I will not appeal any decision you have. If it's a decision to keep me here in the prison, I will not appeal it, and I never will. I'd like the opportunity to apologize to Mrs. Lennon. I've thought about what it's like in her mind to be there that night, to see the blood, to hear the screams, to be up all night with the Beatle music playing through her apartment window. …

And there's something else I want to say. I feel that I see John Lennon now not as a celebrity. I did then. I saw him as a cardboard cutout on an album cover. I was very young and stupid, and you get caught up in the media and the records and the music. And now I – I've come to grips with the fact that John Lennon was a person. This has nothing to do with being a Beatle or a celebrity or famous. He was breathing, and I knocked him right off his feet, and I don't feel because of that I have any right to be standing on my feet here, you know, asking for anything. I don't have a leg to stand on because I took his right out from under him, and he bled to death. And I'm sorry that ever occurred.

And I want to talk about Mrs. Lennon again. I can't imagine her pain. I can't feel it. I've tried to think about what it would be like if somebody harmed my family, and there's just no way to make up for that, and if I have to stay in prison the rest of my life for that one person's pain, everybody else to the side for a second, just that one person's pain, I will. …

Again, I'm not saying these things for – for you to give me any kind of consideration for letting me go. I'm saying that because they are real, and it happened to me, and I felt her pain then, and I can honestly say I didn't want to feel it up until then. It's a horrible thing to, you know, realize what you've done.}

Statement of Mark David Chapman to the New York  Parole Board, Oct. 3, 2000

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