John Lennon’s murderer says he didn’t want the singer to suffer but used hollow-point bullets to make sure the singer died
ALBANY — John Lennon’s killer said he used hollow-point bullets to make sure the former Beatle died, but not suffer.
“I secured those bullets to make sure he would be dead,” Mark David Chapman said, according to a transcript released Thursday of his late August parole hearing. “It was immediately after the crime that I was concerned that he did not suffer.”
Chapman said his shame over what he did only has grown while in prison, though he can’t yet say he’s 100% remorseful.
“As each year goes by, I feel more and more shame,” he said. “Thirty years ago I couldn’t say I felt shame and I know what shame is now. It’s where you cover your face, you don’t want to, you know, ask for anything.”
But he also acknowledged that “I can’t say that I am 100 percent remorseful and I am weeping.”
“I am getting there and it’s a slow thing. It’s a gradual thing. It’s a gradual process from my responsibility. It’s hard to admit. You know, I look back at this kid, now 25, it’s hard to admit I did something that heinous but it’s true and lately I’ve come to grips with the shame part of it.
Chapman was ultimately denied parole for a 10th time. His next chance for parole is in 2020.
While he said his wife, Gloria Hikiro Chapman, would like to see him released, Chapman himself was non-committal.
“Of course I want to be released,” he said. “Do I deserve to be released? That’s another question. No…I don’t think somebody that did what I did deserves anything.”
He said he also would like to apologize to Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, but doubts he’ll ever get the chance.
In recounting the night he gunned down Lennon on Dec. 8, 1980 as the singer and Ono returned from a late night recording session to their Dakota building apartment across from Central Park, Chapman remembered how he sat with his copy of “Catcher in the Rye.” Inside the book, he wrote, “this is my statement.”
“At 25 years old I had identified with the protagonist, Holden Caulfield,” he said. “I just felt alienation and his aloneness and it meant a lot to me.”
After the chaos ensued after he shot Lennon, Chapman said he thought he might face an angry mob. Not wanting to be harmed himself, he quickly put his hands up on his head when police arrived.
“Afterward I was maybe a little shocked myself and I am like, ‘you know, anything can happen here,’” he said.
Chapman reiterated he was looking for fame in targeting Lennon.
“Top of the list, super famous, just the right kind of a person if you want to become infamous yourself, bottom line,” he said. “It was nothing at that point of anger or any bad feelings toward him. He was just the most famous guy at that time.”
In previous hearings, he said he went after Lennon because he believed the singer to be a hypocrite in what he sang about and the lifestyle he led.
He insisted he is no longer interested in notoriety, having turned down all interviews over the past several years.
“I have had my fill of that,” he said.
Chapman called his 1981 plea to second-degree murder without a trial “the right thing to do.” Now 63, he currently is housed at upstate Wende Correctional Facility.
Chapman reiterated he felt he was overcome by the devil in wanting to kill Lennon.
At one point, he flew from his Hawaii home to New York to carry out the murder, but had a change of heart after watching the movie “Ordinary People” and calling his wife back in Hawaii to confess his plans. She convinced him to come home.
For two or three months, Chapman said, he was fine but then the compulsion to act began again despite saying he had found God at the age of 16.
“The thoughts started coming again, and it was a roller coaster after that,” he said.
Chapman returned to New York. Hours before killing Lennon, Chapman managed to get the singer to sign a copy of his new album as he left the Dakota for the recording studio.
“He was incredible,” Chapman said. “I think about that every day.”
But it wasn’t enough to thwart his murderous plans.
“I was too far in,” Chapman said. “I do remember having the thought of, ‘hey, you have got the album now, look at this, he signed it, just go home.’ But there was no way I was going to go home.”
Chapman remains in involuntary protective custody.
He still serves as a porter and works at the prison hospital fixing wheelchairs.
He spent a good portion of his latest parole hearing hearing talking about relationship with Jesus. He and his wife have had a ministry for the past 13 years developing brochures using his experience to help prisoners.
“We put them inside a cover letter and we send them to prison ministries all around the world and any individual, any church that’s interested in, you know, helping out prisoners to find another way,” Chapman said. “We believe that Jesus is that way and that He can change lives if you ask Him into your life.”
In denying Chapman parole in August for a 10th time, the board said his release “would be incompatible with the welfare and safety of society and would so deprecate the serious nature of the crime as to undermine respect for the law.”
The board recognized his clean prison record since 1994 and the fact he is deemed to be a low risk of turning into a repeat offender.
“Nonetheless, none of which out weighs the gravity of your actions or the serious and senseless loss of life you have caused,” the panel wrote.