Mark David Chapman holding The Catcher in the Rye.
The bottom picture is Lennon autographing a copy of Chapman’s Double Fantasy as Chapman looks on to the left of Lennon several hours before Lennon was assassinated.
Chapman is an American prison inmate who was convicted for murdering John Lennon on December 8, 1980. Chapman shot Lennon outside The Dakota apartment building in New York City. Chapman allegedly fired at Lennon five times, hitting him four times in his back. Chapman later remained at the scene reading J. D. Salinger's novel The Catcher in the Rye until the police arrived and arrested him. Chapman repeatedly claimed that the novel was his statement.
Chapman’s legal team put forward an insanity defense based on expert testimony that he was in a delusional and possibly psychotic state at the time, but nearing the trial, Chapman told his lawyer that he wanted to plead guilty based on what he had decided was the will of God. Judge Edwards allowed the plea change without further psychiatric assessment, and sentenced Chapman to a prison term of 20 years to life with a stipulation that mental health treatment be provided. Chapman was imprisoned in 1981 and has been denied parole seven times amidst campaigns against his release.
Chapman stated that as a boy, he lived in fear of his father, who he said was physically abusive towards his mother and unloving towards him. Chapman began to fantasize about having king-like power over a group of imaginary “little people” who lived in the walls of his bedroom. Chapman attended Columbia High School in Decatur, Georgia. By the time he was fourteen, Chapman was using drugs, skipping classes, and he once ran away from home to live on the streets for two weeks. He said he was bullied at school because he was not a good athlete.
In 1971, Chapman became a born again Christian, and distributed Biblical tracts. He’d grown up idolizing Lennon, but turned on him after becoming born-again; like many born-again Christians, he was angered at Lennon’s claim that the Beatles were “more popular than Jesus.”
Chapman stated, “I’m sure the large part of me is Holden Caulfield, who is the main person in the book. The small part of me must be the Devil.”