John Lennon’s Murderer Mark David Chapman Denied Parole, Says ‘I Was Concerned That He Did Not Suffer’

John Lennon memorial
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Mark David Chapman, who murdered former Beatles frontman John Lennon on December 8, 1980, was denied parole for the 10th time. In the released transcript of his testimony before the parole board in August, Chapman said that he used hollow-point bullets in the assault to ensure that Lennon died quickly and did not suffer needlessly, according to a story by the New York Daily News.

“I secured those bullets to make sure he would be dead,” Chapman told the parole board at his hearing. “It was immediately after the crime that I was concerned that he did not suffer.”

Chapman, now 63, is currently held at Wende Correctional Facility in upstate New York. He is in involuntary protective custody at Wende for his own personal safety as well as that of other prisoners and staff. He still serves as a porter at Wende and works at the prison hospital fixing wheelchairs.

During his hearing, Chapman focused on his relationship with Jesus and spoke at length about the prison ministry that he and his wife have led over the past 13 years. Chapman and his wife, Gloria Hiroko Chapman, develop brochures to help new prisoners cope with their incarceration.

“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 told the board in his hearing. “We believe that Jesus is that way and that He can change lives if you ask Him into your life.”

The panel recognized Chapman’s clean prison record since 1994 and acknowledged that he is a low risk of turning into a repeat offender, but noted that “none of which outweighs the gravity of your actions or the serious and senseless loss of life you have caused.” The board ultimately denied Chapman’s parole on the grounds that it “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.”

Chapman reiterated his account of the events leading to Lennon’s death, saying that he felt he was overcome by the devil in his desire to kill the former Beatle. The murder actually occurred on Chapman’s second trip to New York. A few months earlier, Chapman had flown from his home in Hawaii to New York to commit the murder, but a trip to the movies apparently extended Lennon’s life. Chapman saw the film Ordinary People, which caused him to call his wife and declare his intentions. She convinced him to resist his murderous compulsion and come home.

Chapman was at peace for a few months, but then “The thoughts started coming again, and it was a roller coaster after that.” He returned to New York, and actually met Lennon at the Dakota apartment building a few hours before the murder. He got Lennon to sign a copy of Lennon’s new album before the singer left for the recording studio.

“He was incredible,” Chapman said. “I think about that every day.” Despite the positive reinforcement, Chapman decided not to abort his mission this time.

“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.”

After Lennon got into the car to leave for the recording studio, Chapman said that “I do remember, you know, praying and saying, God, just, you know help me here so I did reach out that day and say help, you know. So there was a definite — there was a tug of war there that you wouldn’t believe but ultimately my decision. You know, the devil can’t make us do what we don’t want to do and God certainly gives us free will so the guy who is responsible is sitting right here in front of you.”

Later that night, when Lennon and his wife Yoko Ono returned to the Dakota from the recording studio, Chapman gunned Lennon down on the sidewalk in front of the building.

Chapman pled guilty to second-degree murder without a trial in 1981, calling it “the right thing to do.”