Mark David Chapman

Published 09 Dec 2016

Mark David Chapman: Why He Killed John Lennon?

In the Center of the Tragedy

Five shots from a pistol, thundered on December 8, 1980, in the night of New York, stirred with a cannonade not only America. They surrendered in the hearts of millions of people. When radio, as usual, overloaded with a multilingual information flow, suddenly stopped for a second, and then discharged with a tragic “lightning” that John Lennon is killed, millions of people around the world were shocked and heartbroken. The great composer, poet, singer, one of the creators of the famous English ensemble The Beatles, who opened the era of pop music, was killed on the spot at the entrance of his house on the Manhattan West Side – in the central district of the city. Two months earlier he turned 40 years old. A few minutes after the tragedy, which happened around 11 pm local time, human flows from all corners of the agitated American city began to flow down to “Dakota” – an old, gothic-looking Gothic-style building on 72nd Street, where John Lennon lived with his wife Yoko Ono and his five-year-old son Sean. The cast-iron gate disappeared from sight. It was entirely covered with bouquets of flowers, postcards, and photos of Lennon.

Preparing for the Murder

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The tragedy that took place in Manhattan and ended with such a lightning fatal outcome began not in New York. The threads of history stretched to Honolulu. For the police and the investigative bodies of New York, it was not difficult to detect the threads of the capital of the “heavenly state” of America in the Hawaiian Islands, because the main character in action of the tragedy – the murderer of John Lennon himself confirmed his guiltiness. He did not even try to escape. When the police car drove up, he threw the gun on the ground and calmly said: “I killed Lennon.” The killer’s name is Mark David Chapman. In late October 1980, 25-year-old American citizen Mark David Chapman, unemployed, entered one of the shops in downtown Honolulu and expressed a desire to buy a gun. The store owner applied at the nearest police station. Making sure that his client is not listed in the “blacklists” of criminals and other offenders, he sold a weapon to Chapman. The trader did not attach any importance to the fact that Chapman, as he indicated in the questionnaire when making the purchase, is unemployed. From where does the unemployed have money to buy a gun? He, of course, could have been curious but when the commercial spirit pushes back civil considerations to the backyard – is it worth it to know where the buyer got the money from? John Lennon killer made this deal anyway. The fact that the future killer of Lennon was considered unemployed was ignored by the Hawaiian police. Her representative subsequently told the Associated Press correspondent that Chapman’s acquisition of firearms was an “ordinary” procedure under American law.

Mark David Chapman departed for New York. Armed with a pistol of the 38th caliber, the unemployed Mark went to the continent – in the hope, as the experts later surmised, “to get an autograph” from one of his idols. It sounds paradoxical. But he really got the autograph of the ex-Beatle. It happened on the day of the murder, and a few days before the bloody tragedy, some residents of Dakota and the surrounding neighborhoods noticed a “neatly dressed, quiet-looking” young man in a black leather jacket strolling near a fashionable house on the corner of 72nd Street and Central Park. It was Chapman. He had a record of John Lennon “Double Fantasy” released a few weeks ago. Defiling stranger in front of the gate “castle” did not attract attention because there are many celebrities of the stage and screen living in “Dakota,” which fans want to see them with their own eyes or take their autograph. On December 8 at 5 o’clock in the afternoon, John Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono left the Dakota, heading to one of the recording studios. Near the gate, an unknown young man in a black leather jacket approached them and, holding out the CD “Double Fantasy,” asked the author for an autograph. Lennon signed on the album and hurried with his wife to the car. For the next six hours, Chapman did not leave the Dakota, waiting for the Lennon return. At 22 hours 50 minutes the limousine pulled up to the house, John and Yoko came out of it and headed through an archway with massive cast-iron gates to the entrance of the building. At that moment a man in a black jacket stepped out of the darkness and fired, shooting in Lennon four times. Doctors confirmed John Lennon death in a few minutes. Chapman, who voluntarily surrendered to the police, was sent for examination to a psychiatric clinic, and the American Themis hastened to show him a preliminary charge of “murder with extenuating circumstances.”

Main Motives of the Murder

The first days the murderer calmly lay in the separate ward of the New York psychiatric clinic “Bellevue,” where he was every 15 minutes visited by the doctor on duty or by police to prevent the possible suicide. Then he was taken from the clinic to a trial. Chapman, just as calm as he was on the eve of his crime, a sort of “quiet American,” went to court surrounded by a tight cordon of police and in a bulletproof vest. There were too many phone calls threatening to deal with him.

While the proceedings in the case of a Hawaiian criminal were underway, American criminalists and experts in the field of social psychology puzzled over the possible motives for an “inexplicable” crime, talked extensively about the “mysteries” of human nature, and some tried to find some clues and “mitigating circumstances” in the biography of the killer. Chapman’s biography is not the key to solving the tragedy. But in it, there are such strokes and circumstances that, together with certain traits of the character of the criminal from Honolulu, in fact, can shed some light on the maniacal actions of this person. Mark David Chapman was born in 1955 in Texas. In the early sixties, he studied at a school in Atlanta, Georgia, when the Beatles had already risen on the crest of the world’s glory and became an avid Beatlemaniac from ten-year-old age. Mark played guitar in a school rock band. After school, Chapman did not study anywhere; he did not have a certain profession. He traveled extensively as an “agent for Asian refugees” during the period after leaving school and before his arrest at the gate of “Dakota.” Chapman brought a tape recording of a street shootout from Lebanon. At home, he listened to this tape several times, and in conformity with eyewitnesses, she “excited him greatly and at the same time horrified him.”

Since December 1979, Chapman served as a watchman in the cooperative house “Waikiki” in the center of Honolulu. Management had no claims to him. Curious details are related to the discharging of Chapman from that place of work. First, in making the calculation, Chapman said that he was leaving work “for personal reasons.”; secondly, he said that he immediately went to London; thirdly, on the last day of his work in Waikiki, the watchman Chapman signed into the workbook not as Mark Chapman, but as John Lennon. This was the last starting point in the implementation of his plan. He bought a gun, loan $2000 in cash and, without explaining to his wife exactly where he is going, went across the Pacific to America’s largest city to “do what he did.”

The fanatical worship of the Beatles and imitation of them in all intertwined in Chapman’s soul with on other “unmanageable” trait. It was an unceasing faith in God. One of his classmates at secondary school recalled that Mark had become “very religious” even in primary school. Later Chapman became an indefatigable reader of the Bible. According to Chapman’s friend, who worked with him in 1975 in the Asiatic Refugee Agency, Marc from time to time was enraged at the phrase uttered in jest by John Lennon in 1965: “The Beatles became more popular than Jesus Christ.” For Chapman, there was no one higher than Christ. In the course of the investigation into the murder of Lennon, a signed document came into the hands of the police, stating that Chapman had heard “voices from above” and that “the devil pushed him” to kill Lennon.

There is one more moment in the biography of this American that undoubtedly testifies to the abnormality of his psyche. Chapman confessed to his lawyer that he had twice tried to commit suicide. The first time the thought of suicide came to him when his parents divorced, the second – when the girl, whom he intended to marry left him. He was also an active drug addict.

Psychologists, musicians, creative figures and simply fans of the Beatles group are still arguing about the reasons for this murder. Someone talks about the availability of weapons in America as the main reason, someone blames Chapman’s maniacal propensities in everything, and someone thinks that such a legend as Lennon simply could not die by his death, and all is because of the accident which would have happened in any case. Unfortunately, great people really leave this world early, and this is already proven statistics. In the case of John Lennon, this loss is particularly tragic.

Works Cited

  • Collinson, Mark Alistair, et al. “Towards the Role of Interfacial Shear in Shock-Induced Intermetallic Reactions.” 2012, doi:10.1063/1.3686285.
  • Doty, Mark, and David Lehman. The Best American Poetry, 2012. New York, Scribner Poetry, 2012.
  • Kamakura Kototen: Ima Kangaeru Nihon No Koto: Kamakura Kototen KirokushuÌ. Kamakura-Shi, Kamakura Kototen JikkoÌ Iinkai, 1990.
  • “Kamakura Period.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 4 July 2017, Accessed 20 July 2017.
  • Moshtaghian, Artemis. “Mark David Chapman, John Lennon’s Killer, Is Denied Parole.” CNN, Cable News Network, 29 Aug. 2016, Accessed 21 July 2017.
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