Excerpt: 'The Last Days of Dead Celebrities'

Some years later, Chapman was recorded on audiotape explaining his actions, portions of which aired on Dateline NBC in November 2005. He characterized Lennon as, ". . . a successful man who kind of had the world on a chain, so to speak, and there I was, not even a link on that chain, just a person who had no personality . . . and something in me just broke."

The news of Lennon's death was announced to a stunned world by Howard Cosell during a broadcast of ABC's Monday Night Football. "One of the great figures of the entire world, one of the great artists, was shot to death, horribly, at the Dakota Apartments, 72nd Street and Central Park West, in New York City. John Lennon is dead," Cosell said on the air. "He was the most important member of the Beatles, and the Beatles, led by John Lennon, created music that touched the whole of civilization. Not just people in Liverpool, where the group was born, but the people of the world."

Mintz heard the news, called American Airlines immediately, and flew to New York that night. "I inventoried all of John's possessions after his death," said Mintz. "My responsibility at that point was certainly to Yoko, and she wanted me to inventory his possessions and place them away for safekeeping. It was an operation that took months. His clothing came home from the hospital in a brown paper bag. In the bag was the cassette of 'Walking on Thin Ice,' which suggests to me that on the final night of his life, in the final moments of his life, that may have been the last song he ever heard. I always thought there was a metaphor in the fact that 'Thin Ice' was in his possession when his life ended at the hands of a man who had obtained his last autograph. Those two things, taken together, must have made for a strange crossing."

Yoko didn't notice the chocolate she had brought in for her husband until days after his murder. It was still sitting on the table where he had left it. "I didn't like chocolate at all," she said. "But after John's passing, I thought, 'Should I throw it away? No, that would be wasteful.' So I said to myself, 'Well, okay, I'm going to eat the chocolate, you know. And I did."

Mintz, who remains a fixture in Yoko's life to this day, said that very little about her Dakota apartment has changed since Lennon's death in 1980. "Everything looks pretty much the same, except she now has a new bedroom," said Mintz. "She doesn't sleep in the old bedroom. For months after John's death she slept in their bed in the old bedroom. For a while, she got solid comfort being in that room. Now she uses it as a guestroom.

"In terms of how Yoko is doing on a day-to-day basis," Mintz added, "if she's not traveling, she's in that apartment, most of the time by herself. There's not much going on. She's devoted her life to his memories, and she just doesn't laugh as much anymore."

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