The man who killed John Lennon wants out of prison — and intends to argue his case in his first parole hearing, set for next week.
In a rambling series of interviews with reporter Jack Jones of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, Mark David Chapman says in the same breath that he deserves to die for what he did, but should be set free.
He claims to accept responsibility for his crime, but also blames his father. He says he craves anonymity, but hopes to tour the country as a Christian revivalist.
“I could have an impact, a positive impact. I could travel to different places and tell people what happened and how their answer, as well as mine, is in Jesus,” he says.
“I don’t know how easy that would be but I’d try just to lead an ordinary life again,” says Chapman. “Stay out of the papers. There’s not many places to go once you’ve killed someone like John Lennon.”
Says Lennon Would Want Him Free
He also believes Lennon would want him free.
“I think he would be liberal, I think he would care. I think he would probably want to see me released,” says Chapman, described as a model prisoner. “That’s my opinion.”
But Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, apparently feels otherwise. The New York Post reported that Ono sent a “heartfelt” letter to the parole board asking that her husband’s killer be kept in jail.
In a statement liable to further alarm Ono, who has said she fears for the couple’s son, Sean, and Lennon’s other son from a previous marriage, Julian, Chapman says he’s dreamt of visiting her Manhattan residence.
“I’ve had that dream several times,” he says. “In it, Yoko Ono is friendly to me and I am, you know, accepted in the home and feel loved. To me, that’s guilt, but that was a while ago. I haven’t had those dreams in a long time.”
Chapman shot Lennon outside his Central Park West apartment building on the night of Dec. 8, 1980. The ex-Beatle would have turned 60 next month.
‘I Deserve to Die’
Chapman spoke to Jones — author of a book on the killer and the only member of the media Chapman will speak to. The interviews will be broadcast in a Court TV special, Death of a Beatle. Excepts were posted on the Internet sites of the Democrat and Chronicle and London Express.
“I should have been executed, you know,” says Chapman, who remains apart from the prison population. “I’m lucky to be alive. You know, I deserve to die.”
In the interviews, Chapman talks of a life of depression, suicide attempts, drinking and drug use — all building up to that fatal encounter with the rock icon. He also spoke of his imaginary world of “little people.”
“I would talk with them. They were appalled when they were informed that I wanted to murder John Lennon,” he said. “They didn’t want me to kill anybody and I appealed to Satan and I said. ‘Give me the opportunity to kill John Lennon and I will do it.’”
He also appealed to Satan seconds before he shot and killed the musician.
“Help me devil, give me the power and the strength to do this,” he pleaded. “A voice in my head said: ‘Do it, do it, do it, do it.’ I aimed at his back and pulled the trigger five times and all hell broke loose in my mind.”
But now, Chapman says, Christ has changed him.
“I could never dream of hurting another person that way now. It’s not going to happen. It’s just not going to happen.”
Lennon ‘Wasn’t Real’
He was able to kill Lennon because he didn’t think the icon was real — just an album cover.
“It all became real three years ago, where this isn’t an image I blew away. This was a beating heart... He became real for me, he stepped from the album cover,” says Chapman.
“I often sit, particularly lately, I think: ‘Gee, I’m here, 45 years old, and I’m a living human being. I’m in jail for murder, who knows when I’ll get out,’” he said. “But I’m alive, you know. Where’s this other fellow at? He’s not here any more, he’s gone. That bothers me a great deal.”
Killer’s Wife ‘Worships’ Him
Reporter Jones says Chapman’s wife — who he married shortly before the murder — still visits him several times a year.
“She genuinely loves Mark. Maybe love isn’t even strong enough a word. She worships him,” he told the Express. “Her life has consisted of working and saving her money and coming from Hawaii two or three times a year to visit Mark in prison, when they can spend up to 42 hours together as part of the family visit program.”
Chapman speaks hopefully of a psychiatric interview held in wake of his upcoming parole board hearing.
“I just had my psychological evaluation from a doctor in the presence of his boss. It lasted a half an hour. We did it in the law library. He had his notebook and took notes and I’m fine,” he insists. “I think the depression is over. The mental illness is over.”
But experts quoted in New York and London papers believe Chapman will never leave prison.