John Lennon’s Killer Denied Parole For Sixth Time


Mark David Chapman, the man who killed John Lennon, was denied parole for a sixth time on Sept. 7, 2010.

A New York State Division of Parole board denied Chapman request “due to concern for the public safety and welfare.”

Chapman, 55, has been eligible for parole since 2000. He can apply for conditional release every two years. The next time he’ll go before a parole board will be August of 2012.

“I felt that by killing John Lennon I would become somebody and instead of that I became a murderer and murderers are not somebodies,” Chapman told the parole board.

“I made a horrible decision to end another human being’s life for reasons of selfishness, and that was my decision at that time.”

Chapman’s parole was opposed by Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono.

Ono, who witnessed her husband getting shot, has been adamantly against Chapman’s release from the beginning. In 2006, she purchased one-page advertisements in several newspapers saying she hadn’t yet forgiven Chapman.

“… the average person on the street would probably say, ‘Leave him in,’ and I understand that,” explained Chapman. “I can understand the feelings.”

In a transcript of the hearing, we’ve come to learn that Chapman was also considering killing Johnny Carson or Elizabeth Taylor.

“If it wasn’t Lennon, it could have been someone else,” he said.

Chapman has mentioned other targets at parole hearings before but their names were redacted.

However, in previous interviews Chapman mentioned names like Paul McCartney, Ronald Regan, and Jackie Onassis. Chapman admits he had a list but some of the names have slipped his mind. Perhaps he had his eyes on celebrities like Mick Jagger, Roger Waters, Burt Reynolds, or Richard Pryor? Who can say?

Ultimately, Chapman settled on Lennon because he was the most accessible.

“Instead of taking my life I took somebody else’s, which was unfortunate.”

Chapman shot and killed Lennon outside of The Dakota apartment building on Dec. 8, 1980. He was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.

Chapman had gone to New York in October with the hopes of killing Lennon but didn’t have any ammunition for his Charter Arms .38 special revolver (he said he couldn’t buy ammo in New York). Chapman managed to obtain some hollow point bullets from an unwitting friend in Atlanta.

Chapman returned to Manhattan in November intent on killing Lennon but balked after seeing the film “Ordinary People.” After a tearful call to his wife, Chapman returned to his home in Hawaii.

The desire to kill Lennon (be somebody famous) soon returned. On Dec. 6, Chapman skipped an appointment with a psychologist and flew back to New York City.

On Dec. 8, Lennon and Ono had their photograph taken by Annie Leibovitz. The picture would eventually adorn the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Originally, Leibovitz only wanted to take John’s picture—no one wanted Ono on the cover—but he insisted Yoko be in the shot. After Leibovitz left The Dakota, Lennon gave the last interview of his life to a deejay from San Francisco.

At around 5:00pm, about six hours before Lennon’s death, Chapman got the former Beatles’ autograph outside The Dakota. There’s an eerie photograph of John signing Chapman’s copy of “Double Fantasy” (Lennon’s last album). As the legend goes, Lennon asked Chapman “Is this all you want?” Chapman only nodded his head.

Lennon and Ono were leaving for the famous Record Plant Studio to mix a song called “Walking on Thin Ice.” The Record Plant Studios were a collection of three state-of-the-art studios known for recording some of music’s best albums. The long list of classic albums includes “Electric Ladyland” by Jimi Hendrix, “Hotel California” by Eagles, and “Rumors” by Fleetwood Mac.

About ten minutes to eleven, Lennon and Ono returned to the Dakota. Lennon wanted to come home instead of dining out so he could say goodnight to his son, Sean. Chapman was still standing outside of The Dakota waiting for his chance to kill Lennon.

John and Yoko exited their limousine which was parked on the street rather than in the building’s secured courtyard. As Lennon walked towards The Dakota’s entrance, Chapman emerged from shadows and fired five shots. Four of the bullets hit Lennon in the back and shoulder—the first nicked his aorta.

Lennon was pronounced dead at 11:15pm.

Chapman calmly remained on the scene and was arrested without incident. He was reading J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” when the NYPD blue arrived.

The book, first published in 1951, plays a prominent, if not encouraging, role in the death of John Lennon. Chapman identified with the novel’s main character, Holden Caulfield.

The edition Chapman was reading after he gunned Lennon down had been purchased upon his return to the Big Apple. On the inside of the cover Chapman wrote “This is my statement” and signed it “Holden Caulfield.”

Lennon’s death is arguably the darkest day in the history of rock and roll. The world of music not only lost one of its most talented and creative artists but it also lost its conscience and its leader.

Sadly, Lennon’s death was sandwiched between several other losses to the rock and roll family. Earlier that same year Led Zeppelin lost drummer John Bonham. In 1982, Randy Rhoads, lead guitarist for Ozzy Osbourne, died in a plane crash. And the following year, fans said good bye to Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys.

Lennon would have been 70 in October in 2010.