The man who shot John Lennon.
Mark Chapman is serving a 20-year to life sentence inside the walls at the Attica
Correctional Facilty in Attica, New York. He is in an isolation building seperated from the general population. At left he
is escorted into the visiting area.
Her husband had just been shot. Police had cuffed Mark Chapman
and placed him in the back of a squad car. Yoko Ono, came near the car and gazed in at Chapman. She just wanted to see the
man who had killed her husband. Chapman cringed and turned away from her, he could not look her in the eye. As she disappeared
others took her place. He struggled with the enormity of the act ... he couldn't believe what he had just done. Time seemed
to stand still. As the police car drove away Chapman feared that snipers may already be trying to kill him and he tried to
sink lower in the seat. One of the officers said to the other as they sped through the streets, "This is history, man! This
It was like a runaway
train. There was no stopping it. Nothing could have stopped me from doing what I did. Not prayer, not my will, not the devil,
not any man, not any bodyguard. Not anything could have stopped me."
Home of John and Yoko Lennon
For the second
time in a two-month period, Mark Chapman left his home in Honolulu to come to New York City. Each time, Chapman was on a mission.
The first time he came he changed his mind about killing John Lennon. This time it would be different. He arrived at LaGuardia
Airport the morning of December 6, 1980. He checked into a room at the West Side YMCA on West 63rd Street, about a 10 minute
walk from his target area, the famed Dakota building on West 72nd Street. This building, that overlooks Central Park, is the
residence of some of the world's wealthiest and most famous celebrities. It was the home of John and Yoko Lennon.
Mark Chapman had
carefully mapped out his plan. He was there to execute his plan. He had a .38 caliber gun he had purchased in Hawaii, he had
"hollow point" bullets he had obtained in Georgia. He was there and the battle was raging within him. One inner voice told
him to go back home and forget it, the other voice that insisted "Do it. Do it."
Lennon Smiled, "Is...Is That All You Want?
John Lennon politely
took the album, motioned to Chapman for a pen and signed the album, "John Lennon, 1980." In the pocket of the trench coat
was the loaded .38 caliber weapon. Chapman was frozen in limbo. There was the voice urging him to do it, to reach his hand
in his pocket. Rather, he just stood there dumbfounded. Lennon smiled as he handed the album back and asked, "Is...is that
all you want?" Chapman had to force himself to speak, his throat dry. He seemed barely able to function. "Thanks," he muttered,
"thanks, John." Just a soft, meek "Thanks" was all he could get out. Inside, however, there was the voice condemning him as
a coward, telling him he had failed again, telling him he couldn't do anything right. Alternately, he felt gratified that
he had John Lennon's autograph and that should be enough, just go back to Hawaii and be proud of that, but then there was
the other voice that haunted him to "Do it" ... you are here, just "Do it."
Chapman Had Been Waiting
John Lennon and
his wife, Yoko had gone to do a radio program after signing the album for Chapman. They returned to the Dakota in a gray limousine
about 11:00 p.m. that night. Chapman had been waiting for their return.
"The back door
of the limousine opened and Yoko got out first. The 'child' nodded to her. He smiled at her. But she didn't smile back and
the 'child' didn't say anything. She just kept walking, up the driveway, under the archway toward the steps.
"Then John Lennon
got out of the limousine. He had something in his hands. Some cassette tapes. The 'child' looked at his hero and his hero--his
broken toy--looked back at him. It was a hard look. The 'child' was sure that his hero recognized him from earlier in the
day, when he signed the album. Neither one smiled. Nobody said a word. There was dead silence in my brain and John Lennon
walked past me. He started walking faster as he went under the archway. Yoko was a little ahead of him, but he was there,
by himself. His back was to the 'child' and the voice said: 'Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! I aimed at his back. I pulled
the trigger five times. And all hell broke loose in my mind".
Lennon Must Die For Being a Phony
the struggle that tormented him. The "child" was the part of him that felt betrayed by Lennon. That part of Mark Chapman believed
that John Lennon must die for being a phony. It also believed that by doing this the "child" would finally be important, finally
become a somebody. It was real to Mark Chapman, the struggle to "do it" and "not do it"...it raged within him.
were deafening. After the first shot, Yoko crouched down and ran around the corner, into the courtyard. Then the gun was empty
and John Lennon had disappeared. I had killed John Lennon."
Now it was over and fear
overwhelmed Chapman. Handcuffed in the backseat of a police car, he slumped low in the seat gazing at the scrambling mass
of police and emergency personnel, as well as curious on-lookers, in the chaotic aftermath of the violence he had done.
Insatiable Need for Attention and Recognition
Dr. Naomi Goldstein, was the first to examine
Mark after the shooting. There in the storied psychiatric wing of the city's Bellvue Hospital, she would try to evaluate the
man who at the time, was probably the most hated man in the world. That was in 1980. Still today Dr. Goldstein says she has
never had a more elusive case. She has called it "totally unique." Her findings concluded that Mark Chapman seemed to possess,
at once, the symptoms of virtually every malady in the psychiatric literature, but at the same time he remained keenly aware,
lucid and articulate. She said he "Had an insatiable need for attention and recognition...grandiose visions of himself." Further,
she observed depression, mood fluctuations, anger, paranoid tendencies, suicidal thinking, rage, confusion and agitation about
himself." She, along with others, struggled to describe the medical symptoms of a spiritual struggle that Chapman says has
raged all of his life. Chapman told psychiatrists who counseled him after his attempted suicide that he was caught in the
middle of a struggle between "good and evil spirits." This was four years prior to the Lennon murder. He said, "There's a
big part of me that's mostly good, but there is also a very small part of me that is very powerful and very evil."
Was Mark Chapman
insane? Was he influenced by demons? What triggered something inside of him to cause him to want to kill John Lennon? Chapman
tells when the thought first came and how it grew. This was after his unsuccessful attempt at suicide and after his marriage.
Chapman came across
a book in the Honolulu Public Library that caught his attention. The book by Anthony Fawcett was JOHN LENNON:ONE DAY AT A
TIME. Thumbing through the book, looking at pictures of Lennon, he says, "And at some point, at the looking of those pictures,
I became enraged at him. Of course there was jealousy. There was envy. But there was more than that. I didn't murder a man
simply because I was envious and jealous of him. I didn't even think 'jealousy' or 'envy' at that time, of course, when I
was looking at the book. But there I was standing there in the aisle of the Honolulu Library and burning that book into my
At That Moment, Something Inside Me Just Broke
Chapman was trying
to make sense out the world that was so painful and hurtful and sad. He said Lennon had the world on a chain and "I wasn't
even a link on a chain." He always felt like a nobody. "I was just a person with no personality, a walking void who had given
a great deal of my time and thoughts and energy into what John Lennon had said and sung about and had done--and had told all
of us to do--in the sixties and early seventies, when I was growing up and trying to make sense out of it all. I thought I
loved reality and I didn't want the world to be the way it was.
Finally free from
the torment of demonic oppression, Chapman began to heal mentally. He said, "One day, as I was praying I saw a large image,
a mental picture was given to me by the Lord to help me understand what it was He was trying to get across to me. It was this:
A giant stone slab about 3 feet by 2 feet. On it was the word 'J E S U S', carved into the stone. In this way He told me the
demons would no longer be allowed access. I had been sealed with the strength and protection of Jesus and I have enjoyed this
from that day. It was then that I truly started getting better and growing in the Lord."
He Never Doubted That He Was Saved As a Child in 1971
He never doubted
that he was saved. He knew what happened to him in 1971 was real. He couldn't explain his spiritual ups and downs -- he hated
them -- but he never doubted that he had been born again. This is difficult for most Christians to accept.
Chapman says, "I
am here for doing something HORRIBLE. I will never forget this! I grieve still over what I have done. I have had dreams, bad
ones, horrible ones. 'The whole society hates me,' those kind of things ... But one thing that keeps me going is CHRIST. Without
Him, I know for a fact that I would be dead. He has forgiven me. Not because of anything I have done, but because of the cross.
He bore that horrible sin with Him on the tree, and now I don't have to pay the ETERNAL PENALTY for it."