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Wednesday, 9 October, 2002, 10:37 GMT 11:37 UK
Mark Chapman: Destined for infamy
John Lennon and Mark Chapman
Lennon (left) had signed an LP for Chapman
John Lennon's killer, Mark Chapman, has had his second bid for release after 22 years in jail rejected.

BBC News Online looks at what led him to shoot the ex-Beatle, and what followed.

"There was no emotion in my blood. There was no anger. There was nothing. It was dead silence in my brain.

"Dead, cold quiet, until he walked up. He looked at me...

"He walked past me and then I heard in my head. It said, 'Do it, do it, do it,' over and over again."

Mark Chapman never denied shooting John Lennon. He did not even run away from the scene.

He just paced along outside the Dakota Building in New York as "all hell broke loose in my mind".

Clutching his copy of JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye and an LP that Lennon had signed for him hours earlier, the ensuing commotion provided the rush of attention that he craved.

Chapman, then 25, had achieved what he set out to do - he made a name for himself.

In the time it took to fire five shots, the tortured young man whose fractured background led to a quest for identity had become a somebody.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono in 1980
Lennon and Yoko Ono lived in New York's Dakota Building
In the process, he had ended the life of one of the biggest stars in the world.


It was cruelly ironic that before his first parole hearing in 2000, Chapman said that he just wanted to be a "Joe Average".

But before shooting Lennon, Chapman was far from average.

Born in Texas, the notion that he was special was drilled into him by his mother, and he fantasised about playing God with a civilisation of "little people" in his bedroom.

As well as delivering terror upon them, he would also play The Beatles to them, before discovering a more powerful form of escapism through psychedelic drugs at the age of 14.

As he grew up, he found God and he took jobs looking after children and Vietnamese boat people, and proved to be popular and hard-working.

But he always carried with him a child-like confusion and anger that led him to move to Hawaii and attempt suicide.

He recovered from the suicide attempt to take a job as a hospital maintenance man and marry a devoted Japanese travel agent, Gloria.

John Lennon in 1980
One of the last pictures taken of Lennon - at a 1980 Hallowe'en party
But his mental equilibrium did not last for long. He became erratic and obsessive and started talking to the "little people" again.

As his world was falling apart once more, he grew increasingly angry at his former idol Lennon, whom he thought had turned into the worst kind of person, a "phoney".

Chapman saw the star as a sell-out who had betrayed the idealism of his youth, and resented his attitudes towards religion.


On his second visit to New York in 1980, Chapman waited outside the Dakota Building, greeting John and Yoko's son Sean and trying to get information on Lennon's movements from a security guard.

Chapman's first meeting with Lennon came on the afternoon of 8 December, when he left his apartment to go to a recording studio.

John Lennon
Lennon was shot in the back by Chapman
Chapman thrust a copy of Lennon's latest album, Double Fantasy, into the musician's hands, he signed it and got into a car.

When Lennon returned that evening, Chapman did not miss another opportunity and fired into Lennon's back.

'Model prisoner'

Since killing Lennon, Chapman claimed the mental instabilities that led him to commit his infamous crime had cleared within seven or eight years.

In jail, qualified as a law clerk and dispensing legal advice to other inmates, Chapman was said to be a model prisoner.

If the man he killed had not been one of the most idolised and influential people of the century, he may well have been freed earlier.

But many people remain convinced that John Lennon's killer must never be allowed to walk the streets again.

John Lennon: 1940-1980



See also:

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