The Full Story of John Lennon's Life and a Deep Dive Into The Mind of Mark David Chapman and His Murder Plot.
John Lennon is one of the co-founders of The Beatles and one of the most beloved artists in the world. He made numerous achievements in his short life, before he was murdered at just 40 years old at the hands of 25 year old Mark David Chapman.
*This episode is told in three parts. Listen to Part 1 for a recap on John’s life and career. Part 2 dives inside the mind of Mark David Chapman, John Lennon's killer. Part 3 is about the final stages of Mark's plan to kill John Lennon, as well as the murder itself and the aftermath.
*This is not an exact transcript, but rather an outline of my notes.
Julia (John’s mother)
Julia Baird (John’s half-sister)
Cynthia (John’s first wife)
Julian (John & Cynthia’s son)
Yoko Ono (John’s second wife)
Sean (John & Yoko’s son)
Mark David Chapman (John’s killer)
*Today's episode is brought to you by Hunt a Killer! Go to huntakiller.com and use code BROKENLIMELIGHT for 20% off your first subscription box.
John Winston Ono Lennon[nb 1] (born John Winston Lennon in Liverpool; 9 October 1940 – 8 December 1980) was an English singer, songwriter, musician and peace activist who achieved worldwide fame as the founder, co-songwriter, co-lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist of the Beatles. Lennon was characterised for the rebellious nature and acerbic wit in his music, writing, drawings, on film and in interviews. His songwriting partnership with Paul McCartney remains the most successful in history.
Lennon was born at Liverpool Maternity Hospital to Julia (née Stanley) (1914–1958) and Alfred Lennon (1912–1976). Alfred was a merchant seaman of Irish descent who was away at the time of his son's birth.
His father was often away from home but sent regular pay cheques to 9 Newcastle Road, Liverpool, where Lennon lived with his mother; the cheques stopped when he went absent without leave in February 1944. When he eventually came home six months later, he offered to look after the family, but Julia, by then pregnant with another man's child, rejected the idea. After her sister Mimi complained to Liverpool's Social Services twice, Julia gave her custody of Lennon.
His father was often away from home but sent regular pay cheques to 9 Newcastle Road, Liverpool, where Lennon lived with his mother; the cheques stopped when he went absent without leave in February 1944. When he eventually came home six months later, he offered to look after the family, but Julia, by then pregnant with another man's child, rejected the idea.
After her sister Mimi complained to Liverpool's Social Services twice, Julia gave her custody of Lennon.
Julia was known for being the wild one out of all her sisters. She liked to party and rebel, and she was very musical. A lot like John, actually.
Julia often spent evenings at dance halls. In 1942 she met a Welsh soldier known as Taffy Williams, who was stationed at Mossley Hill barracks in Liverpool.
Julia fell pregnant by Williams in late 1944, although initially she claimed she had been raped by an unknown soldier. Williams refused to live with her unless she gave up John, as he didn’t want the shame of being with a married woman and her son, but the relationship ended when she refused.
Julia gave birth on 19 June 1945. Her daughter, named Victoria Elizabeth, was born at the Salvation Army’s Elmswood Infirmary on Liverpool’s North Mossley Hill Road.
After pressure from Julia’s family, Victoria was given up for adoption to a Norwegian Salvation Army captain, Peder Pedersen, and his wife Margaret. The child was renamed Ingrid Marie Pedersen and was raised in Crosby, England.
While her husband Alf was away at sea, Julia Lennon lived with their son John at the Dairy Cottage, 120a Allerton Road in Woolton, Liverpool. The cottage was owned by George Smith, the husband of Julia’s sister Mimi.
As Alf was so often away at sea, Julia often spent evenings at dance halls. In 1942 she met a Welsh soldier known as Taffy Williams, who was stationed at Mossley Hill barracks in Liverpool.
Julia fell pregnant by Williams in late 1944, although initially she claimed she had been raped by an unknown soldier. Williams refused to live with her unless she gave up John, as he didn’t want the shame of being with a married woman and her son, but the relationship ended when she refused.
When Alf Lennon returned to Liverpool in 1944 he offered to look after Julia, John and the unborn baby, but Julia told him their relationship was over.
Julia gave birth on 19 June 1945. Her daughter, named Victoria Elizabeth, was born at the Salvation Army’s Elmswood Infirmary on Liverpool’s North Mossley Hill Road.
After pressure from Julia’s family, Victoria was given up for adoption to a Norwegian Salvation Army captain, Peder Pedersen, and his wife Margaret. The child was renamed Ingrid Marie Pedersen and was raised in Crosby, England.
John Lennon was never told about his half-sister’s existence. Ingrid discovered her famous sibling, however, in 1966 while working as a nurse. Wishing to get married, she had to produce her birth certificate and found that she was related to a Beatle.
Towards the end of 1946, Julia further scandalised the Stanley family when she took up with John ‘Bobby’ Dykins, who she met while working in a cafe. While Dykins, a wine steward at the posh Adelphi Hotel, was a modest upgrade on Freddie, he was no catch. The couple moved into a tiny flat in which there was literally one bed.
In the summer of 1946, Alfred Lennon briefly reappeared on the scene. Jealous of Julia’s relationship with Dykins, he also objected to John living with Mimi. Freddy suspected (correctly) that Mimi was unlikely to prove flexible regarding access.
This lead to the most notorious and disputed episode of John’s childhood: when he was (allegedly) forced to choose between his biological parents on Blackpool Promenade.
John reportedly chose his father, but when Julia started to walk away, he cried after her. They ultimately decided that Julia should care for him. John returned to 251 Menlove Avenue and his father went back to sea. He did not see his son again for more than fifteen years. When he did get in touch with John, at the height of Beatlemania, Freddie received a frosty reception from his now world-famous son.
‘Living in sin’ was still very much frowned upon in the genteel English suburbs. Julia seemed to be sliding into irrevocable social disgrace. There were also legitimate concerns for the five-year-old John’s welfare. Mimi told Julia bluntly that John sharing a bed with his mother and her new partner was suboptimal. ‘Let him live with us,’ she said. ‘We can offer John a better life.’
According to John’s sister, Julia Baird in her book Imagine This: Growing up with my brother John Lennon:
The real story, the one accepted today since Baird concluded her research and wrote her book, is that Mimi fought for custody of John, her nephew, using social services as an ally to cast Julia in a shameful light, portraying her as an unfit mother because of her new relationship.
“He was taken from our mother, and notice the word ‘taken,’ ” Baird said. “Not given up. Torn away was more like it.”
The result was a rebellious future Beatle, something fans of the band always realized, that Lennon was the member with an edge, writer of music with a hard sound, the lyricist who wrote about revolution.
At first, Julia bitterly resisted this ‘rescue plan’ and was determined to keep John with her. Dykins threw Mimi out of the flat. Mimi returned with an official from Liverpool Social Services.
Eventually, Julia agreed to Aunt Mimi and Uncle George informally taking custody of her son. From this point on, John entered a more emotionally stable and materially affluent childhood.
Julia would visit John often. She was the one who taught him how to play music, and his first instrument to learn was the banjo and the piano. John and Julia would belt out songs together at the tops of their voices. After she taught him, Lennon became very interested in music, so she bought him his first guitar In 1956. The instrument was an inexpensive Gallotone Champion acoustic for which she lent her son five pounds and ten shillings on the condition that the guitar be delivered to her own house and not Mimi's, knowing well that her sister was not supportive of her son's musical aspirations. Mimi was sceptical of his claim that he would be famous one day, and she hoped that he would grow bored with music, often telling him, "The guitar's all very well, John, but you'll never make a living out of it."
In 1956, he formed the Quarrymen, which eventually would include Paul McCartney & George Harrison, and then evolved into the Beatles in 1960. Ringo Starr joined the band in 1962.
McCartney said that Aunt Mimi "was very aware that John's friends were lower class", and would often patronise him when he arrived to visit Lennon. According to McCartney's brother Mike, their father similarly disapproved of Lennon, declaring that Lennon would get his son "into trouble". McCartney's father nevertheless allowed the fledgling band to rehearse in the family's front room at 20 Forthlin Road. During this time Lennon wrote his first song, "Hello Little Girl", which became a UK top 10 hit for the Fourmost in 1963.
On 15 July 1958, when John was 17, Julia died on Menlove Avenue shortly after leaving Mimi’s house, while crossing the road to get to a bus stop. She was struck by a Standard Vanguard car driven by an off-duty policeman, 24-year-old Eric Clague.
Contrary to some reports, Clague was not drunk at the time, and he was driving under the 30mph speed limit. He was, however, a learner driver who was unaccompanied.
John’s childhood friend Nigel Walley later recounted what happened:
I went to call for John that evening but his Aunt Mimi told me he was out. Mimi was at the gate with John’s mum, who was about to leave. We stood chatting and John’s mum said ‘Well, you have the privilege of escorting me to the bus stop!’ I said ‘That will do me fine. I’ll be happy to do that.’
We walked down Menlove Avenue and I turned off to go up Vale Road, where I lived. I must have been about 15 yards up the road when I heard a car skidding. I turned round to see John’s mum going through the air. I rushed over but she had been killed instantly.
Walley ran back to Mendips to get Mimi, who cried hysterically as they waited for an ambulance.
At about 9.45pm the deceased left my home (in Menlove Avenue) and went in the direction of a bus stop on the opposite side by The Vineries. Shortly afterwards I was informed that she had been injured. I went to the scene… she was unconscious. I went with her to Sefton General Hospital… she was dead on arrival.
Julia’s husband John Dykins travelled to Sefton General Hospital by taxi, accompanied by John Lennon. His half-sister Julia Baird, now a 50-year-old teacher living in Cheshire, said: "It was many years before he could bring himself to talk about that night.
"What he finally said was, 'An hour or so after it happened a copper came to the door to let us know about the accident.
"It was awful, like some dreadful film, when they ask you if you are the victim's son and all that.
"Well I was, and I can tell you it was absolutely the worst night of my entire life."
John was unable to look at his mother's body when he was taken to view it at Sefton General Hospital.
And at the funeral he was so devastated that throughout the service he lay with his head on an aunt's lap, seemingly oblivious to everything. The
emptiness he felt surfaced many years later in his songs.
Julia was 44 years old. A post-mortem examination revealed she had died of massive brain injuries caused by skull fractures.
The coroner said that Mrs Lennon did not appear to look either way before she walked into the road.
But it was more complicated than that. Eric, who was off duty, was an unaccompanied L-driver. He should not have been driving the car alone. He was later reprimanded by his superiors and suspended from duty for a short time.
An inquest held a month later recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.
At the inquest Eric Clague was acquitted of all charges. He never tried to contact Lennon’s family in the aftermath of the accident. In 1964, when The Beatles became world-famous, Clague realised he had killed the mother of John Lennon.
Soon afterwards he left the police altogether...and took a job as a postman.
My postman’s round took in Forthlin Road, where Paul McCartney used to live. At the height of The Beatles’ fame I used to deliver hundreds of cards and letters to the house.
I remember struggling up the path with them all. But of course they just reminded me of John Lennon and his mother.
Eric Clague, 1998
John was inconsolable. What made it worse was that Julia was on her way back from seeing him at his Aunt Mimi's house, where he was staying, when she died.
Julia’s death deeply traumatised John, who would later refer to her in the songs ‘Julia’, ‘Mother’, and ‘My Mummy’s Dead’. His first son, Julian, was named for her.
"My mummy's dead...I can't get it through my head...Though it's been so many years...My mummy's dead...I can't explain...So much pain...I could never show it."
She is buried in the Allerton Cemetery in Liverpool.
"I lost her when I was a child of five, and then again at 17," he said. "It made me very bitter inside.
"I had just begun to re-establish a relationship with her when she was killed.
"We'd caught up on so much in just a few short years. We could communicate. We got on."
Former Quarrymen manager Chris Walley, who now teaches golf in Argentina, revealed that John even tried to contact his mother through a seance after she died.
"Even years later," she (Julia Baird) said, "when I used to phone him in New York, all he really wanted to talk about was mummy.
"He was still missing mummy. Missed her just as much as he ever did."
Teachers at Quarry Bank High School described him thus: "He has too many wrong ambitions and his energy is often misplaced", and "His work always lacks effort. He is content to 'drift' instead of using his abilities." This is believed to have caused a rift between John and Mimi.
Lennon married his first wife Cynthia Powell 1962 when she became pregnant with their son, Julian. They had met at the Liverpool College of Arts in 1957.
Lennon was jealous by nature and eventually grew possessive, often terrifying Powell with his anger. In her 2005 memoir John, Powell recalled that, when they were dating, Lennon once struck her after he observed her dancing with Stuart Sutcliffe. She ended their relationship as a result, until three months later, when Lennon apologised and asked to reunite. She took him back and later noted that he was never again physically abusive towards her, although he could still be "verbally cutting and unkind". Lennon later said that until he met Ono, he had never questioned his chauvinistic attitude towards women. He said that the Beatles song "Getting Better" told his own story, "I used to be cruel to my woman, and physically – any woman. I was a hitter. I couldn't express myself and I hit. I fought men and I hit women. That is why I am always on about peace."
His marriage began just as Beatlemania was taking off across the UK. Beatles manager Brian Epstein feared that fans would be alienated by the idea of a married Beatle, and he asked the Lennons to keep their marriage secret.
The Beatles became whole when Ringo joined in 1962.
The band's first single, "Love Me Do", was released in October 1962 and reached No. 17 on the British charts. They recorded their debut album, Please Please Me, in under 10 hours on 11 February 1963, a day when Lennon was suffering the effects of a cold, which is evident in the vocal on the last song to be recorded that day, "Twist and Shout". The Lennon–McCartney songwriting partnership yielded eight of its fourteen tracks. With a few exceptions, one being the album title itself, Lennon had yet to bring his love of wordplay to bear on his song lyrics, saying: "We were just writing songs ... pop songs with no more thought of them than that – to create a sound. And the words were almost irrelevant". In a 1987 interview, McCartney said that the other Beatles idolised Lennon: "He was like our own little Elvis ... We all looked up to John. He was older and he was very much the leader; he was the quickest wit and the smartest."
As with the other band members, Lennon was introduced to Preludin while in Hamburg, and regularly took the drug as a stimulant during their long, overnight performances.
Lennon grew concerned that fans who attended Beatles concerts were unable to hear the music above the screaming of fans, and that the band's musicianship was beginning to suffer as a result. Lennon's "Help!" expressed his own feelings in 1965: "I meant it ... It was me singing 'help'". He had put on weight (he would later refer to this as his "Fat Elvis" period), and felt he was subconsciously seeking change. In March that year he and Harrison were unknowingly introduced to LSD when a dentist, hosting a dinner party attended by the two musicians and their wives, spiked the guests' coffee with the drug.
(I’m not positive but I wonder if that’s the idea behind the scene in Across the Universe when they sing I am the Walrus)
When they wanted to leave, their host revealed what they had taken, and strongly advised them not to leave the house because of the likely effects. Later, in a lift at a nightclub, they all believed it was on fire; Lennon recalled: "We were all screaming ... hot and hysterical." In March 1966, during an interview with Evening Standard reporter Maureen Cleave, Lennon remarked, "Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink ... We're more popular than Jesus now – I don't know which will go first, rock and roll or Christianity." The comment went virtually unnoticed in England but caused great offence in the US when quoted by a magazine there five months later. The furore that followed, which included the burning of Beatles records, Ku Klux Klan activity and threats against Lennon, contributed to the band's decision to stop touring (Book: Can’t Buy Me Love)
In the mid 60’s, Johns use of LSD increased and the themes of The Beatles songs were now way more psychedelic and deep than their original songs.
1966-1970 were known as the studio years.
From late May to mid-October 1968, the group recorded what became The Beatles, a double LP commonly known as "the White Album" for its virtually featureless cover. During this time, relations between the members grew openly divisive.
Led by Harrison and Lennon's interest, the Beatles travelled to the Maharishi's ashram in India for further guidance. A policeman did not recognise Cyntha and stopped her from boarding. She later recalled how the incident seemed to symbolise the end of their marriage.
The song Dear Prudence was written in 1968 by John Lennon and credited to the Lennon–McCartney partnership. Written in Rishikesh during the group's trip to India in early 1968, it was inspired by actress Mia Farrow's sister, Prudence Farrow, who became obsessive about meditating while practising with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Her designated partners on the meditation course, Lennon and George Harrison, attempted to coax Farrow out of her seclusion, which led to Lennon writing the song.
Starr quit for two weeks, leaving his bandmates to record "Back in the U.S.S.R." and "Dear Prudence" as a trio, with McCartney filling in on drums. Lennon had lost interest in collaborating with McCartney, whose contribution "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" he scorned as "granny music shit". Tensions were further aggravated by Lennon's romantic preoccupation with avant-garde artist Yoko Ono, whom he insisted on bringing to the sessions despite the group's well-established understanding that girlfriends were not allowed in the studio. McCartney has recalled that the album "wasn't a pleasant one to make". He and Lennon identified the sessions as the start of the band's break-up.
Brian Epstein had died in 1967 so there was also some disagreement about who would now be their financial advisor.
John and Ono had actually met in 1966; He was invited to see her art show by a mutual friend and the two of them continued to correspond for months afterwards. Yoko was really attracted to John and sent him a ton of post cards. Months later, when Cynthia went on vacation, John and Ono collaborated on the Two Virgins sound collage and became lovers.
After spending a holiday in Greece, Cynthia arrived home at Kenwood to find Lennon sitting on the floor with Ono wearing her bathrobe and drinking tea with Lennon who simply said, "Oh, hi." and left the house, feeling shocked and humiliated, to stay with friends.
Lennon 2005, pp. 214–215: "I was in shock, [...] It was clear that they had arranged for me to find them like that and the cruelty of John's betrayal was hard to absorb", "I felt utterly humiliated, and longed to disappear. [...] Their intimacy had been so powerful that I had felt like a stranger in my own home".
A few weeks later, Alexis Mardas informed Powell that Lennon was seeking a divorce and custody of Julian. She received a letter stating that Lennon was doing so on the grounds of her adultery with Italian hotelier Roberto Bassanini, an accusation which Powell denied.
Lennon 2005, p. 222: "It was laughable. Roberto had been kind and a good friend, but I had never been unfaithful to John. It was his attempt to make himself feel better about what he was doing"
After negotiations, Lennon capitulated and agreed to let her divorce him on the same grounds. The case was settled out of court in November 1968, with Lennon giving her £100,000 ($240,000 in US dollars at the time), a small annual payment and custody of Julian.
Julian recalled that as a small child in Weybridge some four years later, "I was trundled home from school and came walking up with one of my watercolour paintings. It was just a bunch of stars and this blonde girl I knew at school. And Dad said, 'What's this?' I said, 'It's Lucy in the sky with diamonds.'" Lennon used it as the title of a Beatles song, and though it was later reported to have been derived from the initials LSD, Lennon insisted, "It's not an acid song."
“That old gang of mine. That's all over. When I met Yoko is when you meet your first woman and you leave the guys at the bar and you don’t go play football anymore and you don't go play snooker and billiards,” Lennon recalled more than a decade after that. “You know the song: ‘Those wedding bells are breaking up that old gang of mine.’ … The old gang of mine was over the moment I met her. I didn't consciously know it at the time, but that’s what was going on. As soon as I met her, that was the end of the boys, but it so happened that the boys were well known and weren’t just the local guys at the bar.”
Lennon and Ono became famously inseparable in the later days of the Beatles, and beyond. They got married in 1969.
Lennon changed his name by deed poll on 22 April 1969, adding "Ono" as a middle name. Although he used the name John Ono Lennon thereafter, official documents referred to him as John Winston Ono Lennon.
Lennon left the Beatles in September 1969, but agreed not to inform the media while the group renegotiated their recording contract. He was outraged that McCartney publicised his own departure on releasing his debut solo album in April 1970. Lennon's reaction was, "Jesus Christ! He gets all the credit for it!" He later wrote, "I started the band. I disbanded it. It's as simple as that." In a December 1970 interview with Jann Wenner of Rolling Stone magazine, he revealed his bitterness towards McCartney, saying, "I was a fool not to do what Paul did, which was use it to sell a record." Lennon also spoke of the hostility he perceived the other members had towards Ono, and of how he, Harrison and Starr "got fed up with being sidemen for Paul ... After Brian Epstein died we collapsed. Paul took over and supposedly led us. But what is leading us when we went round in circles?"
That same year, John & Yoko formed the Plastic Ono Band, releasing Live Peace in Toronto 1969. Between 1969 and 1970, Lennon released the singles "Give Peace a Chance", which was widely adopted as an anti-Vietnam War anthem, "Cold Turkey", which documented his withdrawal symptoms after he became addicted to heroin, and "Instant Karma!".
In the early 70’s, the Nixon administration tried to deport John Lennon a bunch of times. John and Yoko were openly speaking about peace and against war, and the government was worried about how John would influence young voters. Things let up after Nixon left office.
1973, May Pang
Through involvement in a project with ABKCO Records, Lennon and Ono met May Pang the following year. She became their personal assistant. In 1973, after she had been working with the couple for three years, Ono confided that she and Lennon were becoming estranged. She went on to suggest that Pang should begin a physical relationship with Lennon, telling her, "He likes you a lot."
Ono explained that she and Lennon were not getting along, had been arguing and were growing apart, and said that Lennon would start seeing other women. She pointed out that Lennon had said he found Pang sexually attractive. Pang replied that she could never start a relationship with Lennon as he was her employer and married. Ono ignored Pang's protests and said that she would arrange everything. Ono later confirmed this conversation in an interview.
Astounded by Ono's proposition, Pang nevertheless agreed to become Lennon's companion. The pair soon left for Los Angeles, beginning an 18-month period he later called his "lost weekend". In Los Angeles, Pang encouraged Lennon to develop regular contact with Julian, whom he had not seen for two years.
Lennon's relationship with Julian was already strained, and after Lennon and Ono moved to New York in 1971, Julian did not see his father again until 1973.
Lennon was distant from Julian, who felt closer to McCartney than to his father. During a car journey to visit Cynthia and Julian during Lennon's divorce, McCartney composed a song, "Hey Jules", to comfort him. It would evolve into the Beatles song "Hey Jude". Lennon later said, "That's his best song. It started off as a song about my son Julian ... he turned it into 'Hey Jude'. I always thought it was about me and Yoko but he said it wasn't."
With Pang's encouragement, arrangements were made for Julian and his mother to visit Lennon in Los Angeles, where they went to Disneyland. Julian started to see his father regularly, and Lennon gave him a drumming part on a Walls and Bridges track. He bought Julian a Gibson Les Paul guitar and other instruments, and encouraged his interest in music by demonstrating guitar chord techniques. Julian recalls that he and his father "got on a great deal better" during the time he spent in New York: "We had a lot of fun, laughed a lot and had a great time in general."
In a Playboy interview with David Sheff shortly before his death, Lennon said, "Sean is a planned child, and therein lies the difference. I don't love Julian any less as a child. He's still my son, whether he came from a bottle of whiskey or because they didn't have pills in those days. He's here, he belongs to me, and he always will." He said he was trying to reestablish a connection with the then 17-year-old, and confidently predicted, "Julian and I will have a relationship in the future." After his death it was revealed that he had left Julian very little in his will.
He also rekindled friendships with Starr, McCartney, Beatles roadie Mal Evans, and Harry Nilsson. While Lennon was drinking with Nilsson, he misunderstood something that Pang had said and attempted to strangle her. Lennon relented only after he was physically restrained by Nilsson.
In June, Lennon and Pang returned to Manhattan in their newly rented penthouse apartment where they prepared a spare room for Julian when he visited them. Lennon, who had been inhibited by Ono in this regard, began to reestablish contact with other relatives and friends. By December, he and Pang were considering a house purchase, and he refused to accept Ono's telephone calls. In January 1975, he agreed to meet Ono, who claimed to have found a cure for smoking. After the meeting, he failed to return home or call Pang. When Pang telephoned the next day, Ono told her that Lennon was unavailable because he was exhausted after a hypnotherapy session. Two days later, Lennon reappeared at a joint dental appointment; he was stupefied and confused to such an extent that Pang believed he had been brainwashed. Lennon told Pang he had reconciled with Ono and their relationship was over. Over the coming years, Pang quietly met Lennon a few times but their relationship was never rekindled.
In the interview with Kane, Lennon explained his feelings about his time with Pang: "You know Larry, I may have been the happiest I've ever been... I loved this woman (Pang), I made some beautiful music and I got so fucked up with booze and shit and whatever."
Ono had previously suffered three miscarriages in her attempt to have a child with Lennon. When Ono and Lennon were reunited, she became pregnant again. She initially said that she wanted to have an abortion but changed her mind and agreed to allow the pregnancy to continue on the condition that Lennon adopt the role of househusband, which he agreed to do.
John continued as a solo artist until about 1975 when he and Yoko had their only child, Sean. John then took a hiatus from music and became a stay-at-home-dad.
During his career break he created several series of drawings, and drafted a book containing a mix of autobiographical material and what he termed "mad stuff", all of which would be published posthumously.
In June 1980, Lennon chartered a 43-foot sailboat and embarked on a sailing trip to Bermuda. En route, he and the crew encountered a storm, rendering everyone on board seasick, except Lennon, who took control and sailed the boat through the storm. This experience re-invigorated him and his creative muse. He spent three weeks in Bermuda in a home called Fairylands writing and refining the tracks for the upcoming album.
Lennon emerged from his hiatus in October 1980, when he released the single "(Just Like) Starting Over". In November, he and Ono released the album Double Fantasy, which included songs Lennon had written in Bermuda.
It’s crazy that John went through something like this, only to be murdered just a couple of months later.
Before we talk about the death of John Lennon, I want to talk about his killer, Mark David Chapman. For insight into him, I read the book Let Me Take You Down: Inside the Mind of Mark David Chapman, the Man Who Killed John Lennon, by Jack Jones, which is based on more than 200 hours of interviews with Mark Chapman and supported by interviews with Chapman’s wife, former friends, therapists (with his permission), and confidants. With that said, a lot of what i’m going to tell you is according to Mark David Chapman, who is very likely to be embellishing details.
*This episode is told in three parts. Part 2 dives into the mind of Mark David Chapman, John Lennon’s killer. Listen to Part 1 for a recap on John’s life and career.
*Trigger Warning: This episode contains graphic details crimes including stalking and murder, as well as descriptions of suicidal thoughts and psychosis with hallucinations or delusions.
Book source: Let Me Take You Down: Inside the Mind of Mark David Chapman, the Man who Killed John Lennon by Jack Jones.
Diane (Mark’s mother)
David (Mark’s father)
Gloria (Mark’s wife)
MARK DAVID CHAPMAN
Mark David Chapman’s story is chaos.
*book source* based on 200+ hours of interviews with Chapman, as well as interviews with friends, his wife, people who worked with him, and so on.
With that said, a lot of what we know about Chapman is from his own account, and the guy is known to live in his own fantastical world. Like, he is a pathological liar, but you will find that he also lives in an out of a world of fantasy. Often when he speaks, he sounds like he’s writing a book, like he’s very dramatic and just… well, a storyteller.
Mark David Chapman was born in Ft Worth Texas on May 10, 1955. His parents were named David and Diane Chapman. Mark was born weighing almost 12 lbs. His mother, Diane, was panicked that something was wrong with him, because she knew back then that nurses would lie and keep a straight face to avoid upsetting new mothers. So she insisted on seeing him before they finished cleaning him up. So they brought her the baby and she saw that he was ok, just a chubby little baby.
Mark’s mother, Diane, was a sweet and whimsical woman. She doted on Mark and she always told him he was a good boy, very well behaved and rarely cried. He did have a habit of rocking when he was a baby, to the point that he would rock his crib across the room. Diane became worried and took him to a doctor, ut they told her not to worry and that he would grow out of it. He never did though. As of, well this book which came out in 1992, he had said “to this day, I still sit and rock back and forth sometimes.”
Mark remembers his mother as an extroverted and expressive woman. She made little effort to hide or stifle her emotions or thoughts. Like she would cry during movies and she would be the one to answer difficult questions for him, like “why was I born” or “What am I supposed to be.”
Diane was very whimsical, though. She would encourage him to have thoughts and feelings and use his imagination. She was a free spirit and very creative and imaginative.
Diane always told David that he was brilliant and special, and that he was destined for greatness. She totally inspired him and made him believe that he could be a brilliant writer or whatever he wanted to be.
The only problem was that Diane didn’t teach Mark about the real world or about how he would have to work hard to achieve his dreams. As an adult, he kind of expected things to just be handed to him in life. You’ll find that he’d work menial jobs like as a security guard or something, and he’d be like, shattered when things didn’t work out as he expected.
Mark’s father, David Chapman, was a total contrast to Diane. He was Staff Sgt in the Airforce and he was discharged shortly after David’s birth. He moved to Indiana to be with Diane and Mark. He decided to pursue a new career and a new education with the GI bill for military veterans and got a job for the American Oil Company. For a while, Diane worked as a part-time nurse to help put him through college.
Mark describes his father, David, as emotionally distant and abusive. One of Mark’s most vivid childhood memories is of his family having thanksgiving dinner, and everything was all set up and Mark and his sister and Diane were all waiting for David to come to the table. David then came down the stairs muttering to himself and he grabbed the steaming turkey in his bare hands and slammed it onto the table.
He never explained himself or apologized.
On another occasion, he pushed Mark’s face into a plate of spaghetti.
He also abused Diane. Mark recalled seeing his mother with her clothing in disarray, and she would run through Mark’s bedroom to escape him.
Mark told psychiatrists that he would wake up some mornings and find his mom in his bed with him, battered, and that when he was about 10 years old, she started crying out for Mark to help her fend off David’s advances. He says that he tried to physically place himself in between his mother and father and even threatened his father.
Diane has admitted that she wasn’t much like a mom to Mark, as she was more like his best friend. Psychologist Alice Hoagland says that male children thrust into the role of surrogate spouse and protector of their mothers often “grow up with incredibly grandiose ideas about themselves,” and that “the child at an early age learns the bizarre message that he is so powerful, he can take care of the most powerful person in the world– his mother.”
The family eventually decided to move to the south, to Decatur, GA.
Mark recalls having little pockets of inexplicable and violent impulses that he had no control over. He says he felt like a normal kid in his early years and then suddenly he started to get these occurrences, mostly in school or when he tried to interact with other kids.
He didn’t fit in, other kids teased him and he felt alienated and didn’t know how to defend himself. One day at school, a bigger kid gave him an atomic wedgie on the playground in front of like 20 or 30 other kids. Not only was this painful and embarrassing, but there was also a brown stain on his underwear and everyone laughed at him saying that he had shit his pants.
Mark never got over this. He eventually tried to be the bully to kids smaller than him, but it would backfire on him. One time, he decided to fuck with a kid named Artie, he took the ball he was playing with and kicked it away. Artie was like “look, stop doing that.” Mark didn’t stop, so Artie decked him in the face four or five times.
Mark said he only punched back to his arms, he could never bring himself to hit someone in the face.
“This was a fight I picked, and it set a tone for me. It scared me for the rest of my life about confrontation. For the rest of my life, I would always back down from a confrontation. It made me feel scared inside. It made me a coward. Even years later, when I killed a man– I had to shoot him in the back.”
There was another guy named Neil who physically bullied Mark, so Mark got this idea that he would learn karate. He called up this karate place and left a message on the machine. The next day, Neil went up to him at school and he knew all about Mark’s phone call. As it turned out, Neil was in that karate studio when Mark called and left the message.
When Mark was about 10, Diane had now been turning to him more and more to express her feelings. She told him about how she hated his father and she only married him so she could have a baby, and she told him that she worried she was becoming unattractive and he was having an affair. She would also tell Mark that she might commit suicide when she turns 50, like her movie idol Charles Boyer.
So Mark kind of felt a lot of responsibility to care for his mom and had little support to deal with his own troubles. And he felt like an outsider at school and among his peers, so he turned to his own imagination to deal with his problems. This is when he created the Little People.
The Little People were a make-belive society that lived inside of Mark’s walls. They adored him and called him King Mark. Mark would summon them from the walls to make them work in like stores and communities that he would envision. They worshipped him and called him King Mark. He would make them dance for him, and whenever he was angry, like if kids at school were fucking with him or he was mad at his dad, he would get revenge by murdering the Little People.
He had a button on the arm of his couch, and he said that when he pushed it, it would blow up the houses where the Little People lived.
Then after he calmed down, he would apologize and they would forgive him.
When the Little People pleased him, he would reward them with music from his favorite band, The Beatles.
Mark used to pay Meet the Beatles as he played, which was the only rock album he owned. He had built a little cardboard stage and used action figures or like little army men to make little Beatles to play with. He used to sit and stare at the album cover and observe the faces of each of the Beatles. There was one thing he didn’t like about the Beatles, although he couldn’t put his finger on why. When he looked at the album covers, he just didn’t like something about one of the men.
That was John Lennon.
He said he had “thin lips” that he didn’t like.
Sometimes he would sit on his floor for hours listening to this album and rocking back and forth in front of this little stage, and like reciting the lyrics of the songs and then applauding as as each song ends.
“He beamed the rhythmic signals into a pretend sound system so that it could be broadcast into the homes and shops of the Little People.”
Mark says he doesn’t know exactly at what age the Little People showed up, but he feels as if they were always with him and they knew everything about him and had been everywhere he had been.
At first, they were invisible, and then one day, he saw them going in and out of their homes and he found it odd that nobody else could see them.
This first time seeing them came after a restless night. He had been upset and unable to sleep because he could hear his parents fighting and his mother crying in her bedroom. He had also gone to bed weight a fever and a bad cold that night.
He also said that he had seen a movie called Toby Tyler, which was about an orphan boy who ran away from his cruel uncle to join the circus.
Mark’s parents had remarked that Mark looked like Tyler and that he was handsome like Tyler, and one time, his father took him to a Toby Tyler circus. When he got home, he retreated to his room and lost himself in imaginary adventures for several days. In his mind, the Little People were somehow connected to Toby Tyler.
So the morning that he first saw the Little People, he tried to push the memory of his mom crying the night before, he sat on his bed and lowered his head and he beamed a signal to the little soldier-Beatles. He was rocking from side to side and he looked straight ahead, looking closely at the walls, until he finally saw the Little People picking up his signals. They started singing along and smiling, and rocking their bodies with him. They would cheer and chant:
“Mark the king of music, Mark the king of the Little People. Long live the king of the Little People!”
In the little town within the walls, Mark could see like an entire city. They had big screens that were broadcasting Mark. And Mark starts to address them saying “listen, remember what I’ve been telling you guys about my parents? Well it’s happening again and you guys have to make my dad stop hurting my mom.”
Later on, he heard his dad’s car start and leave the driveway and he noticed he was home alone. He went to the den and put on the record. He rocked furiously and summoned the Little People, and when they showed up through the walls, he slowed his rocking to the beat of the music. He changed the words to the song Little Child and sang “Little People, won’t you play with me. Little People, you must stay with me.”
As the song ended, he laughed outloud at the new words he made up. He stared back into the walls when he suddenly thought of his parents again. Without any warning, he rapidly started moving his fingers, pressing imaginary buttons in the arm of the couch. Then he started making little-kid war sounds like, shooting and explosions.
The Little People inside the walls started screaming and falling to the streets, buildings tumbled as they screamed for help under the rubble.
He said “I’m sorry. But that’s what happens when I get angry.”
A few years later, he forgot about the Little People.
And then he discovered masturbation. See, Mark didn’t know about sex. He didn’t even think about it until he was about 13 and he kind of saw it happening on tv, and he asked a friend about it, who explained sex to him for the first time.
Mark was shocked and appalled. His parents had always slept in separate rooms, and Mark couldn’t believe what they did in order to have him. Especially since his mom said she didn’t even like her husband and she only stayed to have a baby. Mark thought the whole idea of sex was just really dirty.
His friend also told him that if he put his hand in his pants and rubbed himself, it would feel good.
Several months later, he was watching a Doris Day movie and remembered what his friend told him. There was something about Doris Day that aroused him for the first time in his life.
But he didn’t know what to expect so he was really surprised and frightened when he ejaculated. It freaked him and he fought the urge to run to his mama. He actually thought he had injured himself.
After he discovered masturbation, he would masturbate up to 7 times a day, using mature women as his fantasy objects, like women from tv or church or something. He never felt that sense of arousal with girls his age.
Chapman sometimes fantasized about having all of his objects of affection lined up and naked in a secret dungeon in the basement in his school.
In his fantasies, he almost never had sex with these women in his fantasies, he just made them touch him and give him oral.
His mom would make comments about it that made him really uncomfortable. Like she’d dangle his underwear from his hamper and say “I know what you’re doing up there in your room” and that made Mark feel exposed and violated.
When he was 14, he discovered psychedelic drugs. The Beatles were like a whole different band then. The Magic Mystery Tour album had come out and the Beatles now had long hair and were into meditation and drugs. He gave himself the nickname “Mark the Freak”. Mark kind of felt like he finally belonged with a group of people with his new druggie persona.
In Fall of 1969, Mark was a freshman in high school. Everyone noticed the change in Mark. He went from a clean-cut nerd to this mysterious hippie “Mark the Freak”. Diane said that it was that year that Mark became “a stranger in his own home, an alien creature she and her husband could no longer either control or understand”. She said that she grew to fear her son and to believe that he held a mysterious power over them.
Mark ended up getting high whatever way possible. He would smoke pot and he also sniffed glue and lighter fluid on his way to school. He would do small doses of acid in between classes.
One night, he snuck out and went and did acid with a bunch of friends in somebody’s basement. Everyone fell asleep except Mark. There was a knife in the room and Mark felt the urge to pick it up and kill everyone in their sleep.
He didn’t end up killing anyone. This was the first sign to Mark of how bad his rage was.
On another occasion, he got into a confrontation with his father, and he grabbed a knife that was nearby and went after him, but his father was able to grab his arm and twist it backward until he dropped it and was just like “ok, ok, it’s cool, its cool.”
Mark was using a loooot of LSD at this time. In 1970, he ran away to join the circus. He planned this elaborately. He kept it a secret and was really mysterious about his whereabouts, even with his classmates, so his parents wouldn’t know where to find him. Mark said he couldn’t explain it, he just had to leave his house.
I just think it’s funny that he joined the circus, like Toby Tyler.
So Mark came up with a plan to move to Miami, but he told his friends that he was going to California. He started saving his lunch money and setting aside clothes for this trip. Weeks before his trip, he called a taxi company and arranged for them to pick him up from a movie theater and take him to the airport. So he had his mom take him to the movies and told him he was meeting friends, and then he snuck out a rear exit and took the cab to the airport. He bought a one-way ticket to Miami. He went back to the cab driver and arranged to have them pick him up in two weeks at 5am at a diner. So this whole cab ride was simply to buy the tickets. The flight was 2 weeks later, Chapman woke up before 3AM and put on a disguise, which was just a hat and sunglasses, and he walked out of his front door with a suitcase.
He walked to the diner, certain that someone, like a policeman, were going to stop him. Remember, he’s 14 so it’s shocking on its own that this cab driver agreed to pick him up and take him to the airport.
When he got to the diner he bought a cup of coffee, which was his first cup of coffee ever. This moment felt like the beginning of adulthood to Mark.
He had gone to the airport in nicer clothes, trying to look less like a sloppy hippie, so that he would blend in more. When his plane landed in Miami, he went to the bathroom and put on his hippie clothes– bell bottoms, leather jacket, sandals– and dumped his hat and glasses into a trashcan.
He left the terminal and walked up to the cab driver and said “Take me where the freaks are”.
(sure you did, Mark.)
Mark didn’t know a soul in Miami. And he had no idea where this cab driver was taking him. He had $30 in his pocket. But he supposedly had a sense that he would be able to find food and shelter once he ran into other freaks, and they would recognize him as one of their own and accept him into their little tribe.
The driver dropped him off at the beach. He started walking along the beach and looking at the faces of others passing by. He studied their behavior and listened to their conversations, just hoping to find someone who was a freak like him.
He walked for like an hour before he sat down. He stared off into the ocean, feeling overwhelmingly lonely. He had planned everything out and didn’t consider that he would be alone like this. So he sat there and meditated for a while, and then he started eaves dropping on the conversation of two young men and a girl who were sitting nearby. They were a little bit older than him, like 18 or 19.
He started edging closer before he struck up a conversation and asked if he could join them, and they offered him a beer, which he had never done before. He had just had his first coffee literally like 12 ago.
He passed out on their beach blanket and when he woke up, he saw a couple of teenaged guys chatting nearby and he realized that he was now among the freaks. He tagged along with these hippies for 4 days. They taught him how to shoplift and panhandle, and they would all sleep in concrete sewer pipes at construction sites near the beach.
The only reason they let Mark tag along was because he had a little bit of money. Once it ran out, they started to get tired of him. And because he was so young, he was catching the attention of police officers.
So they dumped him, but they told him that they were going to get money to get to the Miami Pop Festival, and that they would meet him there.
He walked for a while, sticking his thumb out trying to hitchhike. He eventually came across a low-budget carnival.
Mark talks a lot about the child in him and the adult in him. The child in him tends to be exciting and the one who gets emotional and planned Mark’s escape. The adult in him is apprehensive and uncertain but the child in him needs the adult to carry out the plans.
When he found the carnival, the child in him was ecstatic. The carnival people offered him food and shelter if he would perform menial tasks around the carnival grounds. His first job was as a security guard. He would sleep on cardboard boxes under tables as he was supposed to guard the food.
One day, he met a guy named Carlos who invited him to stay with his family. Carlos’ father felt bad for Mark because he was a little kid, so he let him stay with the under the condition that he would work in their appliance rental business. So during the day he would work, and at night, he and Carlos would hang out and look for pot.
After a while, Carlos’ dad was like “listen, I know you’re a runaway and you can’t stay here.” So he took him to the bus station to go home. When he got back home, he was shocked to find out that he had only been gone for two weeks.
Later that same year, Mark went to a religious retreat after his friend told him that there would be lots of girls there. There, he got reacquainted with a girl named Jessica, who was actually in his second grade class. She introduced him to friends who invited him to play in a christian rock band.
On this retreat, Mark was deeply affected by a film about Jesus.
When the retreat was over, he went home and got back into his Mark the Freak identity. He went on another retreat after that where he passed out LSD to young christian kids who had never taken it.
The following summer, he went on vacation in Florida to visit his grandmother. There, he went in search of the freaks again. He found some hippies and druggies to hang out with.
He continued to take a lot of drugs and they started taking a toll on his sanity. He suffered a series of bad trips and flashbacks and he said he had frightening hallucinations where the world became a two dimensional cartoon.
One day, he was hanging out with all these hippies all day and then later on he went to get something out of his wallet and he noticed that his buddies had ransacked it. Mark felt really low at this point and started crying.
At this point, Mark decided to turn to Jesus. At 16 years old, Mark had become a born again Christian. He stopped dressing like a hippie, because it just felt right after making this huge turnaround in his life.
It was around this time that he would start to voice his intense loathing of John Lennon and the Beatles. He was really angry about the whole thing where John said that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus. Mark also would say that the song Imagine was a communist song, and blasphemy.
He even would sing to the tune of Imagine “Imagine John Lennon is dead.”
At a party with a religious group, Mark really wanted to play a song that he had written on the guitar, but the party was so busy and noisy that he didn’t get a chance. It bummed him out and little by little he just stopped showing up to the meetings and kind of started losing his focus on religion.
So now Mark had a void to fill again and he turned to the rock n roll music of Todd Rundgren, who once had some beef with John Lennon.
Todd Rundgren called John Lennon out in an interview in 1974, where he called John out for his hypocrisy, like for example, the way he treats women poorly while singing about peace and love.
"John Lennon ain't no revolutionary," he said. "He's a f***ing idiot, man. Shouting about revolution and acting like an a**. It just makes people feel uncomfortable." Rundgren then went on to suggest that Lennon was only promoting said views as a ploy to gain attention.
They went back and forth a little, just talking smack about each other in interviews. John would intentionally butcher his name and call him “Sodd Runtlestuntle” and “Turd Runtgreen”.
Anyway so Mark became a big big fan of Todd Rundgren. More so than he was with John Lennon. Mark truly felt like Todd Rundgren had the greatest influence on him and he believed Rundgren was a musical genius. Mark felt that his music and lyrics provided everything he needed to express his identity.
He tried to get everyone to listen to music, and tell them to really feel it, but nobody was ever quite as enthused as Mark was.
Mark started working at the YMCA as a counselor when he was a teenager. He was very committed to this role and later became an assistant protgram director.
Reportedly, Mark was great with kids. The people who worked with him had nothing but good things to say about him.
The kids called him Captain Nemo (which i think was also his idea). This was like, another persona for him, like Mark the Freak. But Captain Nemo was from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, and this would set the stage for his later role as the Catcher in the Rye.
When asked if he cares about anything, Holden shares a selfless fantasy he has been thinking about (based on a mishearing of Robert Burns's Comin' Through the Rye), in which he imagines himself as making a job of saving children running through a field of rye by catching them before they fell off a nearby cliff (a "catcher in the rye").
In 1975, Mark was given a chance to travel to Beirut, Lebanon, but he was only there for a few weeks because the country was in the middle of a civil war. S Mark and another volunteer spent their days huddled under furniture while bombs, rockets, and gunfire went off in the streets.
The volunteers were evacuated and when Mark got back to Georgia, he was visibly shaken up.
So then he was moved to Arkansas to work with Vietnamese refugees, where again, he fully committed himself to his work and everyone had nothing but good things to say about him.
That year, he rekindled his friendship with Jessica, the girl who was in his second grade class and he saw at the Christian retreat. By October 1975, they were engaged. But just a few weeks before, Mark had actually cheated on her and lost his virginity to another camp counselor. And he felt horrible and sinful for it.
He was sure that she was saving herself for marriage and he started to despise himself. They ended up breaking off their engagement.
He committed himself more than ever to his work with the YMCA, kind of hoping to make up for his mistakes.
In 1976 he was in community college. At this time, he really started to feel like a nobody. He had just finished these important experiences, survived a war zone, and then he was suddenly in community college, studying hard, just a normal person like everybody else. But he didn’t feel like a normal person.
“I wasn’t in charge of anything, I wasn’t in a forein country taping bomb sounds down the avenue I was a regular college student with regular responsibilities and studies and that was it. That was all. I was just like everybody else– a nobody. And when I had to face that truth, my insides fell in on myself. I fell down a dark hole. So what does a nobody do? A nobody gets a nobody job because he feels like he can’t handle anything else.”
He really started to struggle with his sense of identity, he felt like he was constantly searching for this personality he would never find.
Before Mark gave up and got himself a “nobody job”, he went back to the YMCA for the summer camp. For a short time, he was back in his element and out of his depression. But then one day, he made a comment to another counselor, who turned around and snapped at him. This small incident was enough to put him back into his depression.
This is when Mark decided to go to Hawaii and kill himself. He tried praying but it wasn’t helping and he felt like God wasn’t there for him.
When he got there, he was filled with this exhilarating joy of life. He wanted to go and spend a week or two in paradise before committing suicide. So he spent like a week just living it up, drinking and partying and going on boat tours, and blew all of his money.
But he wasn’t ready to die yet. So he got a cheap room at the YMCA.
While he was there, he called his ex-fiance, Jessica. She told him she was no longer in love with him, but he told her that he was going to kill himself. He said that he went to Hawaii to kill himself but after seeing the beauty, he just wants to come home and for her to forgive him.
Jessica was scared, so she told him to come home. But she had no intentions of reconciling the relationship. When he got to her doorstep in Atlanta, she let him down and he spent the next couple of weeks at his parents’ house.
After that, he decided to go back to Hawaii but not to kill himself. This time, he would get a job and start a new life. He spent his last $1200 on this trip, and as soon as he landed in Hawaii, he went “oh fuck. I’m all alone again and Hawaii is fucking expensive.” Lots of people go out there with similar plans or as tourists and they blow all their money, and they end up with no place to go. It’s similar here in Las Vegas– I can’t tell you how many homeless people I’ve met who came here on vacation, or even travelling musicians, who ended up gambling away every penny and then ends up living in the streets of Las Vegas.
So this was 1977. He spent his days working temporary low-income jobs that he would often abandon after payday. When he had money he’d stay at the YMCA and when he didn’t, he’d sleep on the streets. Sometimes he’d hang out in a payphone booth and talk to the suicide hotline.
He fell into a dark depression and again, started to plan for his suicide. He bought a vacuum hose and drove to an isolated parking lot and jammed one end of the hose in his exhaust pipe, and draped the other end across his backseat. He sealed all the edges of the car and closed the windows tightly, and when he was ready, he got into his car and turned on the ignition. He laid his head back and closed his eyes.
But then, he woke up. He got out of the car and looked at the hose and saw that it had melted…. Because it was plastic.
He took this as a sign that God wanted him to live.
He realized that he needed help at this point, and he checked into a mental health facility. He spent the first few days sleeping, exhausted by his thoughts and feelings from the past month. The notes from his stay at this facility state that he was severely depressed and had no will to continue living.
And yet, about a week later, he bounced back. He was said to show no signs of depression. After two weeks, he was like a whole new person. He was then discharged, and returned to the clinic to work as a volunteer.
And then his doctor actually supported a decision to hire Mark in their maintenance and public relations departments. It wasn’t long before Mark started trying to be a counselor to the patients. One one occasion, the doctors actually asked Mark to talk to a patient who, like him, had come to Hawaii for a last fling before killing himself.
While Mark was still searching for his identity, he finally felt accepted. He became like one of the other doctors. He was a peer, he would go out for beers with them and hang out and go to dinner. They had to remind themselves that he was a former patient. One of the counselors noted that he preferred the company of older people like herself (Mark was only about 22, while the other employees at the clinic were like in their 40’s) and she theorizes that maybe he was searching for parental figures.
Then Mark met Reverend Peter Anderson, and Mark told him all about the depression and his suicide attempt, and how he felt like God saved him and now he was letting down by not fulfilling his purpose.
Peter invited him to live with him and his wife, and Mark started avoiding the doctors in the psychiatric unit. They became worried when he started to withdraw and they feared that he was using religion to mask a much greater pain and darkness inside of him.
At the end of the day, the staff in the psychiatric clinic did acknowledge that Mark had darkness, pain, anger, and confusion inside of him. But nobody saw the slightest clue that he may have what they now believe is schizophrenia.
During his sessions, he explained that at an early age, he developed a parasitic, mirror-like survival skill, where he learned to capture and reflect the character traits of people he wanted to like him.
He said “even without knowing it, i would reflect people’s own personalities back to them. I was almost always charming to people, until I started reflecting back to them the parts they didn’t want to see. Then, they didn’t want me around anymore.
Even when I was very young, my mother told me ‘Mark, you don’t wear well with people.’”
Mark started to improve. He was doing really well at his job and it made him feel really important, like people needed him. His parents and sister went to visit him in 1978, and his father gave him $1,000 as a Christmas gift. Then Mark got the idea to travel to the Far East.
His idea grew bigger and bigger, as he was heavily influenced by films like Around the World in 80 Days and The Great Race. So he got 6 weeks off work and decide to travel around the world.
This trip also gave him an excuse to see his travel agent, Gloria.
Gloria Abe was a petite asian woman and Mark would call her up often to make changes to his travel plans. He would like read about a new place in a book or brochure, and then call her to add it to her itinerary. And then he would send her thank you notes, which eventually became teddy bears and roses. He showed up at her job with coffee and pastries and said “you can’t possibly work this hard for all of your clients.” He was right, she didn’t.
Eventually, Gloria fell in love with Mark. On the day of his flight, she looked up his address and showed up to his house a few hours before his flight. She put a Hawaiian lei around his neck and gave him a warm kiss.
Over the next few weeks, he sent her postcards from all over the world.
In Tokyo he spoke with an official from the YMCA who asked him about his work with the Vietnamese refugees. It was at this moment that Mark realized that he had become void of compassion. All the love and compassion he felt for these refugees had escaped him, as if all that feeling had dried up. And he felt guilty.
And then his depression came back as he started feeling bad about not going further in his work with the YMCA.
In Thailand, he had his first encounter with a sex worker. He went for walk after having dinner and drinking a few beers, and this woman, who was very drunk, threw her arms around him, trying to make some money.
He allegedly tried to push her away but ended up giving in and going with her. They went to a hotel and she had more beer brought up.
In India, he saw the contrast among the poor and the rich. The pain and desperation that separated the wealthy “phonies” from the “real people” who struggle daily to survive.
Mark arrived back in Hawaii on August 20, 1978. Gloria was waiting for him at the gate. She ran right into his arms. After that, they were pretty much inseparable. They would go on dates and when they didn’t have a date planned, he would show up at her door with some drinks in him and tell her that he was depressed and needed to talk. Gloria never turned him away, no matter how late it was.
He didn’t tell her about his suicidal thoughts or what brought him to Hawaii, but she could sense that he was hurt and had felt wronged by others.
Mark and Gloria got married on June 2nd 1979. Around this time, Marks parents announced that they were getting a divorce. Not only that, but his mother, Diane, was moving to Hawaii. Gloria recalls that in the early months of their marriage, Mark was torn between spending his time and his money on his wife and on his mother. Diane would even tag along on dinner dates, cruises, and excursions that Gloria felt she should’ve been able to enjoy with her husband alone. And she voiced this to Mark, but he would insist that his first duty was to his mom.
Gloria admits that she was kind of jealous as Mark was doing his best to get his mom set up in a nice place, and that she kind of pressured him to choose between her and his mother. He ended up cutting off contact with his mother. Admittedly, Gloria hated that she had this jealousy on her and was working on it, and she says she overcame it a few months before Mark would commit murder.
Mark’s father, David, had left Diane with no money, no financial resources. So Mark was pissed and he felt like he had to help his mom. He said that he wanted to kill his father for what he had done to his mother during and after the marriage.
He also recalls feeling a parentlike responsibility to care after his mom after she moved to Hawaii. He told psychiatrists he didn’t actually want her there though. It was his island, not hers, and she interfered.
Mark started to get really annoyed with her because she couldn’t stop talking about herself, and her new life, and her boyfriends. She would have sexual encounters with beach bums and guys who were Mark’s age. Mark would get mad at her and he would call her menopausal, and then she’d get mad as hell.
Diane did her usual thing where she would turn to Mark as kind of a confidant instead of acting like his mother. She confided in him that his sister Susan wanted to visit, but she didn’t want her to because she was starting her new life.
And Diane basically moved to Hawaii without a plan. Mark got her a divorce lawyer and found her a job.
Eventually, Gloria made peace with Diane. The three of them would rent a car and drive around the island, sometimes stopping for dinner or drinks at elegant hotels. Their credit card bills started piling up, but Gloria knew better than to question Mark about his spending.
Mark explains that his lavish spending of money was a way to bolster his self esteem, which was at an all-time low. He felt ridiculous working as a housekeeper while he was now a married an. He felt he needed a more important position in life. This is when he became a printer and public relations representative. This job was prestigious, but it was very demanding and it started to take a toll on Mark’s emotional health. He was no longer able to socialize like he did at his old job, and he didn’t feel important. And when Mark was alone, he got really, really lonely, and he had too much time to look back on his faults and his life.
Mark started noticing his behavior becoming more aggressive. It was like he would explode on someone and when they would react, he would get terrified.
Like one time, he and Gloria were walking up stairs to their apartment, and there were a couple of guys who were talking loudly, and Mark yelled at them to shut up. Then he felt guilty and went back to apologize, and they ignored him. After that, they walked by one of the guys, and he whistled at Gloria. Mark was enraged, and he wanted to jump out and grab him. But he didn’t. He felt really frightened.
So they moved. They broke their lease and moved to a luxurious condo.
One day, Mark went to pick Gloria up from work and he got mad when she took too long. He laid on his horn and yelled at her. Then he went into the office and started yelling at her boss. Then it happened again, and her boss slammed the door in his face. So he made Gloria quit her job.
Mark’s colleagues started to notice his increasing hostility. He wasn’t satisfied with his job, so he would create programs and system for himself and others. He had a perfectionist attitude that would cause him to become enraged when others did things differently than how he thought they should be done.
He was eventually fired after having a confrontation with a nurse who confronted him about taking to long to do a print job.
In December 1969, he got a job as a security guard and basically cut off all ties with his friends from the hospital, who had basically helped him find the will to live after his suicide attempt.
Mark was in pretty bad shape again. He started drinking heavily, and at some point, the Little People came back. But now, they had grown up and were wearing 3 piece suits, and they were here to help Mark organize his life and his finances. and instead of a monarchy where Mark was the king, it was now more of a democratic parliament where he was president. Meaning that where he used to be the ruler who could just blow them up willy nilly, he now had to like submit proposals to a board and get their approval before making decisions.
Mark would address the little people on this little screen that came down like a presentation in a board room, and he’d tell them that they’re going to be okay financially. The Little People made him feel like he was running a country, and they were the only thing that kept him functioning.
Mark became obsessed with artwork, and he started making watercolor paintings. Gloria recalled that his paintings were really good, but Mark could not leave them alone. It’s like they were never perfect and he would always go back and add to it or try to make it better, until it was just a dark mass of color.
Gloria: “it’s like nothing was ever good enough until he destroyed it.”
In March 1980, Mark abandoned his obsession for art and traded it for an obsession with finances. He would get up early in the morning or late at night and sit at the table with a pencil and a calculator, just staring off into space for hours. Sometimes even talking as though there were someone else there. Gloria asked him who he was talking to, and he tried to tell her about the Little People.
He told her how they were tiny people who lived in his walls when he was a kid, but now that they were back to help him reorganize his life now.
Mark was in really bad shape now, at the lowest of his lows. And talking to the Little People and organizing things was the only thing that kept him going.
He shut out everyone around him. He was so sensitive that he just felt like every single person had let him down or rejected him in some way.
He started doing weird things for his own amusement, like calling in bomb threats and making threatening phone calls to his old landlord or a tv repairman who he didn’t like. He had a payphone outside his apartment and he would watch it from his window, and whenever someone was standing near it, he’d call it, and when they answered, he’d tell them “I’m watching you, I’m going to follow you and kill you.” Sometimes he would also use a laughing box during these calls–
He started spending all his time at the library, with the goal of reading every single book.
Eventually, he left his job. It was just too hard, too much pressure. He thought he could stay home with Gloria and clean and cook for her.
Mark remembered the book Catcher in the Rye one day, and he decided to look for it in the library. He had only read it once before, when he was 16. (25 at this point)
But the library didn’t have it. So he went and bought a copy and started reading it, and he couldn’t put it down until he got to the last page. And when he finished it, he read it again.
Mark related to the main character, Holden Caulfield, a lot. And Mark tends to do this. He sees synchronicities, and to him, they mean everything. Like he believes all these things connect in order to give him some kind of purpose.
Catcher in the Rye is about a depressed 17 year old named Holden Caulfield. Holden is like an angsty teenager and everyone he interacts with, he feels, seems to let him down somehow. He calls everyone “phonies” and therefore, Mark starts to refer to everyone as a phony. And Holden Caulfield does kind of remind me of Mark, but not in a good way. Not in a way Mark should be proud of.
Holden calls up this girl who he calls “queen of all phonies” and then he invites her to run off with him. Like, if anything, Mark and Holden are the real phonies here.
Mark went out and bought two new copies of Catcher in the Rye. One copy he kept for himself, the other copy he gave to Gloria after signing it “Holden Caulfield”. Mark told Gloria that she should read it to better understand him, and she did. He told her he was thinking about changing his name to Holden Caulfield.
Over that month of October 1980, Gloria noticed that his mood seemed to have improved. He told Gloria and her parents that he was seriously thinking about taking a trip to London. Then this idea evolved, and he said he now wanted to take Gloria and move to England. Then he abandoned that plan and told her “sometimes I just get so frustrated and bottled up that I just want to blow somebody’s head off.
On October 18th, after re-reading Catcher, he was at the library and he just happened to see a book with John Lennon’s picture on it. The book was John Lennon: One Day At a Time by Anthony Fawcett. He looked through the book and carefully observed all the photos.
Remember by this point, John Lennon was taking a career break. From 1975 to 1980, John was a stay at home dad. So this is now 1980, when John had just gone to Bermuda and written a bunch of new music.
So Mark is looking at these photos of John at the Dakota, throwing up a peace sign. And like every other book or movie that Mark has ever seen, he got sucked into this book.
So he’s reading this book and looking at pictures and he started to become enraged with John.
It wasn’t just envy, but the way Mark puts it: John was a successful man who had the world on a chain, and there was Mark, not even a link of that chain.
And he starts remembering when he used to listen to the Beatles as a child, back when he was taught that the world was a whimsical place where he could be whatever he dreamt of “I thought I loved reality, and I didn’t want the world to be the way it was.”
And then something inside of Mark just flipped a switch. His mind went really dark. He wasn’t thinking about murder yet, but he was angry, to the point that he would’ve destroyed the world if he had control over nuclear weapons.
*cue childhood war sounds*
He checked out the book and took it home to his wife, Gloria, and he pointed out the pictures of him smiling. “The decadent bastard, the phony bastard, who had lied to children, who had used his music to mislead a generation of people who desperately needed to believe in love and a world at war that desperately needed to believe in peace.”
He sang about imagining no possessions, while he’s really got millions of dollars and yachts and estates.
Around the same time, he was looking through a newspaper and saw a picture of John Lennon in the recording studio, with an article talking about his new album, Double Fantasy. In this article, apparently John called himself a phony and said that all the concerts and promotional packages and the bed-in for peace, were just for publicity.
I couldn’t actually find this news article. I found an article from November 1980 from the New York Times where he promotes Double Fantasy, but I didn’t see any quotes where John said anything about being a phony or doing things for a publicity stunt.
Anyway I’ll link that article on brokenlimelight.com in case anybody wants to see it.
Anyway, Mark read that article and he says that John’s quotes were proof that he was indeed a phony.
By the way I forgot to tell you about John and Yoko’s bed-in for peace. This was shortly after they were married and during the Vietnam war. They stayed at a hotel in Amsterdam and they wanted to promote peace. So what they did was instead of doing a sit-in, they called it a bed-in for peace, where they stayed in their bed in this hotel. For two weeks. They invited reporters and news crews into their room to publicize it. Anyway they did a couple of these bed-ins.
After reading this article about Double Fantasy and also reading the book about John, he purchased John’s album Imagine and this was another thing to enrage him. He sang about not believing in God and not believing in The Beatles, he only believed in himself and Yoko.
Mark describes how this all made him want to scream. Like “who the fuck does this guy think he is?”
And he just finished reading Catcher in the Rye and still embracing the persona of Holden Caulfield, so he’s thinking about how this shitty world and all the phonies have wronged him, and then he comes across this book about John Lennon, who in his mind, is now the biggest phony of all.
One day, Mark was sitting cross legged on the floor of his apartment staring out the window and holding Catcher in the Rye in his hand. His wife, Gloria, had a few Beatles albums and he started leafing through them. When he got to the Sgt. Pepper album, it’s the yellow album with all the Beatles dressed in colorful like marching band uniforms, and Mark spotted John Lennon’s face with his glasses and his little mustache.
And at that moment he just knew that he was going to kill him.
He said to himself “Wouldn’t it be something if I killed John Lennon?”
It seems like Mark had a real problem with the John Lennon he knew as a child, who he admired, and this new Lennon in Double Fantasy.
“Lennon as a Beatle. Lennon as a phony. Just seeing these terrible inconsistencies, mirroring my own inconsistencies and my own pain and my own guit at not having accomplished anything. This trinity– the Catcher, the new Lennon, the old Lennon– it was just kind of pointing out at me, like an arrow, like the sharpened tip of a triangle, pointing at me. And it was almost like I was handed something– that here was a solution: Kill John Lennon.”
He envisioned himself as Holden Caulfield doing what Holden wanted to do, but didn’t. There’s a part in Catcher in the Rye where Holden finds a sex worker who was wearing a green dress, but when she takes her clothes off, he gets nervous because he’s a virgin. He pays her, but she comes back with her pimp they beat him up and took all his money. Holden then fantasizes about going shooting the guy and killing him.
So Mark took it a step further and decided to get a gun.
Mark was still in a really dark place, but now he felt that he had a purpose and an identity.
Mark would continue to listen to Beatles records while his thoughts swirled around his brain. He would take off his clothes and sit in front of the record player, naked, wearing only headphones. And he prayed “hear me Satan, I ask only that you give me the power to kill John Lennon. Give me the power of darkness. Give me the power of death. Let me be a somebody for once in my life. Give me the life of John Lennon.”
And then he realized, he was going to need more than Satan. He needs to make a plan. And so, he summoned the Little People.
Mark told the Little People that John Lennon ruined his life and he must be stopped.
The Little People debated and ultimately told Mark “we have unanimously agreed that this is a very foolish, a very nonproductive decision that you have made.”
Even his subconscious is like “dude, wtf?”
They told him that if he carries out his plan, it’ll cause a lot of pain and grief to a lot of people including to his wife and himself.
The Little People then got up, one by one, and disappeared into his mind, leaving Mark alone.
While Mark was praying to Satan and having board meetings with Little People in the nude, Gloria was sleeping in the next room.
At first Mark would glance over his shoulder kind of nervous that she would catch him, but it’s Mark, so he got all into this moment and he’s like chanting to Satan and shouting Beatles lyrics. So Gloria woke up to the sound of Mark shouting “must die! The phony bastard must die!”
Gloria was scared. She hid under a blanket and tried to call his name, but she couldn’t force her voice above a whisper.
According to Gloria, it sounded like the voice was coming from two people at once. It turned into a kind of chant:
“The phony must die, says the Catcher in the Rye.
The Catcher in the Rye is coming for you.
Don’t believe in John Lennon.
Imagine John Lenon is dead, oh yea, yea, yea.
Imagine that it’s over.”
The music stopped and he was silent for a few minutes before he started quietly muttering to himself:
“The fool. The goddamn phony fool. He doesn’t even realize that soon he’s going to be dead. Just imagine that.”
One day, Mark saw a television rendition of a short story by Willa Cather called Paul’s Case, which was about a guy, Paul, who was an artistic and misunderstood man with a morbid desire for cool things and soft lights and fresh flowers.
No surprise, Mark related to this character.
Paul was also a sociopath who was planning to run off with thousands of dollars that didn’t belong to him for a final fling that would end in death in NYC. Paul had a sweet at the exclusive Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
So what does Mark do? He spends multiple calling the Waldorf trying to make reservations.
He finally got a room for 2 nights at the end of October.
On October 23rd 1980, Mark quit his job as a security guard. He signed out for the last time using the name “John Lennon” and then crossed it out. He also pasted the name John lennon over his nametag before he took his uniform off for the last time.
Ironically, on this same day just a few hours earlier, John Lennon had officially released a new song, “(Just Like) Starting Over” which was supposed to symbolize John Lennon’s return to life.
According to Mark, he knew on the day he quit that he was going to kill John Lennon.
There’s a quote from Mark about how he was feeling during this time. He said this after the murder:
“There was no esteem. Nothing had meaning or value. There was either manic happiness and joy about something new, or there was tremendous depression and drinking and fighting and anger and isolation and fear about other people.”
“I needed to scream, but I had no mouth.” he continues. “John Lennon, when he was going through a tremendous time of confusion and depression in the sixties, from what I’ve read, in his own words, about the song ‘Help!’ that he wrote: The song was a genuine cry for help. It was his way of getting it out. Fortunately for him, he had the ability to put it out on a record and keep such feelings from poisoning his mind and taking total control of his life.”
“Listen to some of Lennon’s records. Listen to the background of some of the Beatles songs. That screaming in the background, that’s JohnLennon. Listen to him scream when he’s singing about not having his mother, about being abandoned by his mother and his father. The poor guy, his father left the family, then his mother left him to be raised by his aunt and uncle. Thenhis mother got killed after she came back to him years later. Just to think after a person had been through all that he had been through as a child, then to get murdered by somebody like me..”
On October 27th, Mark went shopping in preparation for his plan while Gloria was at work. His first stop was at J & S Enterprises, where he bought his gun. Ironically, the salesman’s name was Mr. Ono.
Mark then went to the police station and applied for a gun permit. The application asked if he had ever been hospitalized for mental illness, and he put “no” knowing that if they had known the truth, it would delay his plan. He took his gun home and hid it in a drawer that his wife never checked.
The next day, Mark went to lunch with his mother and told her that he was going to New York to clear his mind and get a fresh start in life. She asked him “you aren’t going to do anything funny there in New York, are you?”
He replied “no, mom. Nothing at all.”
That night as he was getting ready for his flight, Gloria was sleeping but she woke up to him stroking her hair. She kept her eyes shut in case it was a dream, and he told her that he loved her, even if sometimes the things he did made it seem like he didn’t. And before he left he whispered “how can I do this to you?”
On October 29th, he boarded his plane to New York with close to $5,000 he had borrowed from Gloria’s parents. Gloria noticed that before leaving, Mark returned all of his books to the library, except the one about John Lennon, which he took with him to New York. But Mark had done so many questionable things at this point, that Gloria just stopped asking questions.
When Mark got to NYC, he spent the first day wandering around the city. On his second day, he visited the Dakota, and he went back every day. He made friends with two of the doormen, one of them was named Jose, and he was the one who was working at the Dakota on the day John Lennonw as killed.
He would chat them up and tell them that he was a tourist from Hawaii, and he’d talk to them about rock n roll and stuff.
He would get irritated when none of them would give him a straight answer about whether John was home, but he was really careful to hide his frustration.
Mark left Hawaii on October 29th and he didn’t call to check in with Gloria until November 4th. He told her that he had decided to go to Georgia to see his old friend, Dana Reeves. But that wasn’t the real reason for his impromptu trip.
See, Mark planned ahead and looked into the firearm laws in New York, and found out that it was illegal to bring a handgun into NYC, even though he had a permit. So he decided not to bring ammunition, thinking he’d be in less trouble if he got caught.
The problem was that you can’t buy ammunition in New York without a license.
So he got on a plane to Georgia and asked his buddy Dana to pick him up, and he crashed at his place for a couple of days. They hung out and talked and Mark told Dana that his wife was a wonderful woman but they had their ups and downs, and he was actually considering moving back to Georgia if he could get out of his marriage.
Mark asked Dana to take him to see his old choir teacher (i think this is another thing Holden Caulfield did) but he was disappointed when the teacher wasn’t all that excited to see him.
Then he tried to get in touch with an old girlfriend, Lynn, who was his highschool sweetheart and he says the love of his life. She agreed to meet with him, so he bought a cheap teddy bear and some roses and he and Dana waited in Dana’s truck for over an hour and she never showed up. Mark threw the bear and roses on the side of the road.
Mark then asked Dana to grab some of his guns and take him to do some target practice. Chapman notes that his aim improved considerably thanks to this.
Mark convinced Dana to give him a few bullets for him to take to New York, because it’s a scary place and they won’t sell him ammunition. He gave him some standard bullets, but Mark was like “no, no. I want something more powerful.” He chose some hollow-point bullets, thinking that they would explode upon entering the body, killing John instantly.
On the plane back to New York, Mark noticed a magazine on a rack with John Lennon on it. He thought about the bullets in his suitcase and smiled. This was another synchronicity.
Mark went back to the Dakota day after day, and each time, he was told that John was probably travelling in England or Japan or Spain. Mark felt defeated. On November 11th, he called Gloria and told her he was depressed and coming home. Then he started spouting off about a gun and killing someone.
“I was going to kill him, but your love has saved me.”
She didn’t understand. “You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?”
“No mark I don’t know. Just come home.”
He whispered “Gloria, listen. I’m afraid to tell you this, but I’ve got to. I’ve got to say it now. John Lennon. I bought a gun in honolulu and when I went to Georgia I got some bullets from Dana. I was going to kill him, but your love has saved me.”
She’s like “what.. Who?”
“You probably don’t believe me, but I was going to do it. I was going to kill Lennon but our paths didn’t cross.”
“She’s like “Mark please come home before something bad happens.”
He got home on November 12th. Gloria was really happy to have him back, but of course, concerned. Back at their house, he opened up his suitcase and pulled out his gun and the container with bullets. He told her to hold it in her hands so she could feel it. It was unloaded, she didn’t have to worry, he said. He ordered her to point it to the wall and pull the trigger several times. Then he told her to always be respectful of guns, “it’s not a toy.”
12/06/80 arrived in NYC. checked in at YMCA, a ten minute walk from the Dakota. goes to Dakota before noon and joins a group of fans near entrance.
12/07, checked into the Sheraton hotel, which he knew was expensive. But he liked to eat at the restaurants of these nice hotels or order room service, because it made him feel important. The feeling never lasted though because he couldn't afford to keep doing this.
He decided he wanted to buy Catcher in the Rye again because he had thrown his last copy away, so he went to a bookshop and he happened upon a stack of playboy magazines, with a poster announcing that the magazine contained an exclusive interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono-- the first in depth interview they had given in years.
He went back to the sheraton and went to the hotel’s restaurant. He sat down and started looking through the magazine. When he finished reading the interview, he flipped to the centerfold of the magazine. So he’s in the restaurant looking at naked women in this magazine now, when all of sudden, he thought about The Catcher in the Rye again, about the experience that Holden Caulfield had where he was in a NYC hotel room with a prostitute who wore a green dress. And then, he was suddenly overcome by the desire to be alone with a woman.
He went back to his room and looked up escort companies in the phone book. He called and asked if they had any foreign women. They said “yes, and she works for tips, if you know what I mean.”
Mark replied “That’s good, but there’s only one thing that’s important: she’s got to be quiet. I don’t want someone who will talk. If she doesn’t talk, I will tip her very well.”
About an hour later, a woman with a European accent showed up… wearing a green dress.
The woman appeared to be nervous. Mark assured her that he wasn’t kinky or weird and that he was a clean guy. He also said “I’m not even all that interested in having sex. I just wanted to be in the company of a woman tonight. I’m expecting that tomorrow will be a very difficult day for me.”
He offered to order drinks, but she declined saying she wasn’t a drinker.
He told her “this is your night off, we’ll do whatever you want to do.”
He offered to give her a massage and asked her to take off her dress and get into the bed with him.
She obeyed but asked him to turn on the radio. She said she was afraid of getting arrested because she was worried someone may have seen her going into his room.
Chapman ran his fingers across her skin. Her muscles were tensed up for about a half-hour before she started to relax. Chapman told her “a real man doesn’t have to use a woman, A real man doesn’t have to take from a woman. He can give.”
The woman started to moan and seemed like she was starting to feel pleasure, and that’s when Chapman guided her hand on to his.. Self, and laid back and closed his eyes.
Side note– And I didn’t read this in the book, I actually heard this from the Last Podcast On The Left.
Chapman had kind of.. Weird, or interesting thoughts about sex. He considered himself to be an average, heterosexual man. And while he enjoyed touching women and being touched by woman, he did not enjoy sexual intercourse. He had only had sex a handful of times, even including his wife. There was something about the warm wet feeling of entering a vagina that made him feel uneasy, like actually scared that he was going to get swallowed up and disappear.
(what a way to go)
Around 3am, the woman got out of bed and put her dress back on. Chapman again took note of the dress being the same color as the dress that Holden Caulfield’s prostitute wore.
He said to himself “syncronicity”. He gave her $190 and walked her out.
He then called his wife for the first time since he left Hawaii.
Monday 12/08 3am, checked in with wife on phone (it was about 10pm in Hawaii).
She told him that she had just gone to bed and was reading her bible, and then told him that he should work on his problems one by one, and perhaps he should start with getting back with Christ. He agreed and told her that he has a little bible on his nightstand.
Hung up, picked up bible to new testament book of john and wrote “lennon” after “gospel according to john”
He then said to himself “they’re coming together, history and time.”
He closed the bible and set his alarm for 9am and went to bed.
The next morning, Monday 12/08, Chapman woke up early, as his mind was racing too much to let him sleep in. Before he left his room, he arranged his things in a weird little sei circle, including his passport, an 8track tape of Todd Rundgren music, his little bible opened to the Gospel According to John [Lennon]. He also stood in front of the mirror and practiced pulling his gun out of his coat pocket and aiming it at his reflection, and pulling the trigger like 5 times in succession, just kind of practicing. He then took out 5 hollow point bullets he had travelled back to Georgia to buy, and loaded them. He said to his reflection “The Catcher in the Rye of my generation. Chapter 27.”
He knew this would be the last time he would be seeing the inside of this room.
“I practiced what it was going to look like when police officers came into the room. It was like I was going through a door and I knew I was going to go through a door, the poet’s door, William Blake’s door, Jim Morrison’s door. It was like I was going through a giant door. And I was. I was leaving y past. I was leaving what I was, going into a future of uncertainty. There were tremendous feelings of Holden Caulfield and The Catcher in the Rye. The paragraphs and sentences of that book were flowing through my brain and entering my blood, influencing my thoughts and my actions. My very soul was breathing between the pages of The Catcher in the Rye.
Before he left, he considered leaving behind a message, but decided against it because he still needed to get a copy of Catcher in the Rye, and he decided that the book would be his final message. He grabbed his copy of the Double Fantasy album and headed out to the Dakota.
He walked a few blocks before finding a little stationary shop that had just one final copy of The Catcher in the Rye.
He bought the book along with a pen, and when he left the store, he took out the book and pen and wrote inside the cover “This is my statement” with the word “this” underlined; and then he signed it “Holden Caulfield”. After a moment he added “The catcher in the rye”.
Chapman was really intrigued by the synchronicities between him and Holden Caulfield, and he really read into them. Like the book would have a line like “It was Monday and all, and pretty near Christmas, and all the stores were open.” and Chapman would be like “amazing. The coincidence is unreal. History and time. Synchronicity.”
As he slid his new book into his coat pocket, he felt the words of JD Salinger mingle with his blood.
“I remember actually feeling, thinking perhaps I would become Holden Caulfield. Not that I would become crazy. I would actually become Holden Caulfield.”
As Chapman’s standing in front of the Dakota, he remembers the movie Rosemary’s Baby which was filmed at the Dakota. This is another synchronicity for Chapman.
Rosemary’s Baby was directed by Roman Polanski. As you may know, Roman Polanski’s wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by members of the Manson Family not long after the movie was released. The Manson family, you may remember, believed that the Beatles were, through song, commanding them to murder people and start a race war, which the Manson family called “Helter Skelter”. Actually they called it “Hielter Skelter” because they were stupid.
But Chapman thought that this was significant -- the Beatles-Manson-Dakota connection.
What’s interesting is that as Chapman is standing in front of the Dakota pondering all these connections, who happens to walk by but Mia fucking Farrow, the lead actress in Rosemary’s Baby.
To Chapman, this was a sign. This was confirmation that he had to follow through with his plan.
At about 10:30AM, Chapman took out his copy of Catcher in the Rye and started reading it again.
He was so into his book, he barely noticed when a cab pulled up and John Lennon got out, and walked in to the Dakota. The doorman was like “hey, did you see him? He just went in”
And Mark was like “oh, shoot. I guess I’ll have to keep waiting.” He just knew this wasn’t the time and when the time is right, he’ll know it.
After waiting around for a while, he saw an older lady come around the corner with a child.
Since Chapman had been hanging out outside the Dakota for a few days now, and he had been telling everyone who listened about how he came all the way from Honolulu Hawaii to meet John Lennon and get his autograph (which he said in a southern accent, by the way).
He had been talking to a woman named Jude who he met a few days before, and she seemed to know the older lady, because she smiled big when she saw her and started a conversation with her.
Chapman stayed close to Jude, trying to interject himself in the conversation. As he smiled at the child, Jude introduced him to the woman, Helen Seaman the nanny of the boy, and the boy, Sean Lennon, son of John and Yoko.
He knelt down and shook the boy’s hand and said “I came all the way across the ocean from Hawaii and I’m honored to meet you.
Around noon, Chapman met Paul Goresh, photographer and friend of Johns.
Chapman approached Paul and asked if he was waiting for Lennon. He said yes. Then he asked if he worked with him, and he said “no, no.” Mark said “I’m Mark, from Hawaii”.. But he had a southern accent. Mark was like “well I was originally from Georgia”. So then Paul said “so where you staying?” and Mark turned real fast and said “why do you want to know?”
Mark was super on edge that people would figure out his plan, so he snapped at the guy. “Why the hell would you ask me that question?”
After a while, all the other fans left and only Mark and Paul the photographer were left. So Mark was like “listen.. I’m sorry I snapped at you. I’m tired and this city is scary.”
Mark noticed the doormen switching shifts, and the new doorman coming to work was Jose, the one Mark had met back in October.
He was like “hey, it’s me, i’m back.”
They started chatting for a while. As always, Mark was very charming and educated and engaged in conversation with Jose. Suddenly, Mark was distracted by a group of people laughing as they walked out of the Dakota. Before he got a chance to approach the group, a gray limousine pulled up to the curb, and Jose stepped forward to open the door.
As the group got into the limo, he heard a voice with a british accent behind him. He turned around to see John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
Mark froze. The photographer, Paul actually nudged him and was like “hey, didn’t you want an autograph? There he is.”
Mark quickly walked over to John, and without saying a word, held out his album of Double Fantasy in front of John’s face. He signed it “John Lennon, December 1980”.
He handed back the album and said “is that all you want?”
Mark was stiff and frozen and just said “thanks. Thanks John.”
Mark heard a voice in his head saying “damn.”
Then another voice, a child’s voice, screaming “no! You can have him now. Put your hand in your pocket. He’s yours! He’s mine! You promised! You bastard! Phony bastard! You promised!”
Another voice whispered “he’s a nice guy. He was courteous and polite. He was quite kind to you. You can go home now. You’ve seen him and it didn’t happen. And now you can take your autographed album and you can go back home.”
And then the child said “but he wasn’t real. You know he wasn’t real.”
Paul the photographer said “looks like you scored big time.”
And mark said “gosh, back in hawaii, they’ll never believe I could meet John Lennon and get his autograph.”
And then Mark suddenly realized that Paul was snapping pictures, and asked if he got any of him with John. He said “I’ll give you anything for that picture. anything.”
Paul agreed to meet with him the following day to give him the picture for $50.
Paul said that if John and Yoko didn’t come back in a couple of hours, they were probably recording and would be out all night. So at 8PM, he decided they weren’t coming back and he would come back the following day.
Mark decided to stay and wait.
12/08/1980: (Mark was 25, John was 40)
John & Yoko were returning to their apartment, the Dakota, in Manhattan’s upper west side, after a recording session. They were seen getting out of a gray limo at about 10:30 PM.
Mark was exhausted and he recalls how the child in him and the adult in him were at a constant battle. When a white limousine pulled up, he knew right away that John Lennon was in it.
The adult in him was trying to turn around and call a cab to go home, and the child screaming at him”no! Devil help me, give me the power to do this. I want to be somebody. Nobody ever let me be anybody.”
“The adult pegan to panic, and then he disappeared.”
The backdoor of the limo opened up and Yoko stepped out, followed by John. Mark smiled and nodded to her, she looked forward and kept walking.
John followed, about 20 feet behind her. Mark was certain that John saw him and recognized him from earlier.
John walked on, his back towards Mark. And the child’s voice in Mark’s head said “Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it! Do it!”
Mark aimed at his back and pulled the trigger five times.
Then, the child in Mark’s mind disappeared and left him alone, holding the gun that just shot John Lennon. He was frozen.
John and Yoko had run inside. Jose, the doorman was like “do you know what you’ve done? Get out of here!!”
He shook the gun out of Mark’s hands and kicked it across the driveway, and called out for someone else to grab it.
Mark was like freaking out now. He actually thought that the hollow point bullets would kill John instantly, and then he and John would both disintegrate into the pages of the Catcher in the Rye. So nothing made sense, and Mark is now like pacing back and forth and takes out the Catcher in the Rye and starts reading it.
The police came and arrested Mark, still holding his book closely, and saying “please don’t hurt me.”
They put him in the back of the police car, and a whole crowd was looking at him through the windows. He was suddenly anxious that an angry fan would start firing bullets at him in revenge.
He prayed to God to turn back time as he tried to press his body on the floor of the car to avoid snipers.
He kept repeating “please don’t let anyone hurt me. I’m sorry I’ve caused you guys all this trouble.”
He heard the two policemen talking and one said “I told you, I knew something big was going to happen tonight. This is history, man.”
When Mark heard that, he snapped up and said, smiling, “I am the catcher in the rye.”
When John Lennon was shot, four hollow-point bullets had exploded in his chest, severing his windpipe and destroying most of his throat. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Roosevelt General Hospital.
Less than two hours later, Mark David Chapman had signed his handwritten confession at the police station.
It took less than an hour for a reporter to call Gloria and informed her of her husband’s crime.
She was able to call the detective squad and speak to Mark.
Before she did that, she turned on the recording device that Mark had gotten to record phone calls.
The significant thing about this call is that Mark was really calm. In his words, this was proof of his psychopathy.
Mark was taken to Bellevue Hospital to be examined for mental competence and to be held under a suicide watch. There, Dr. Naomi Goldstein was the first psychiatrist to see him after the murder. In her handwritten notes of that interview, Goldstein recorded that he was “exhausted…depressed, tearful at times…. No, evidence of halluc [inations] or delusions—however [patient] is religious and feels he hears the voice of God—has heard it for years. Has multiple suicide gestures—denies present suicidal thinking.” Asked about that interview, Dr. Goldstein said, “I got no feeling for him that night. It was later, when he started to talk, that the fun began. But nothing remotely psychotic came out of him that night. He did say he heard the voice of God, but a lot of non-psychotic people…feel they hear the voice, feel the presence touching them——No, this man was clear, and that’s what got me thinking, what has always puzzled me, troubled me.”
Mark told her that he wanted to kill someone to stop his mind. He thought it would stop his life.
Goldstein noted that he seemed to be possessed by symptoms of virtually every psychiatric malady in the book simultaneously, and yet, he remained completely lucid. He had an insatiable need for attention and recognition and had grandiose visions of himself.
She concluded that Mark was fit to understand the charges and cooperate in his own defense.
Another doctor, Dr. Schwartz, concluded that Mark was schizophrenic after hearing about the world of Little People. He also said that Mark suffered from a narcissistic personality disorder that caused him to crave attention and fame.
Some mental health professionals speculated that Mark actually believed himself to be John Lennon, which Mark denied.
Dr. Schwartz says that Mark was confused about the issue. Mark and John both married Japanese women who were a few years older than they.
Mark put John’s name on his name tag and signed it in the log book at his job before quitting and deciding to be a house-husband, like John.
Because of this, Schwartz theorizes that the murder may have been a surrogate-suicide.
Mark was subjected to vigorous psychological and neurological testing at Bellevue and Rikers Island. The neurological tests were inconclusive, but they had pretty bizarre findings otherwise.
They did the Rorschach inkblot test, and he described scenes of bleeding female pelvic areas which had been shot. They wrote that his results betrayed “a perception of woman as seductive and dangerous. Oral aggression appeared to be associated with sex, and sex appeared to bepercieved as of a conflicted nature. The patient impresses as fearful of sex, but as capable of being reassured temporarily by phantasies of sexual violence.”
He spoke about his sensitivity and intelligence (which he got from his mother) and how he said that made him more of a man than any other men.
Another doctor, Dr. Bloom said that this all goes down to Mark’s childhood. When his father would beat his mother and call to him for protection, Mark felt like he had a responsibility to his mother that he was unable to fulfill. He says that these scars from childhood that were perhaps exacerbated by his drug use, impaired his ability to control his impulses. He also said that Mark’s spur of the moment obsessions with art, finances, books, and other random things, were signs of obsessive and compulsive behavior, which made it impossible for him to control things once the ball got rolling.
Mark says that he could’ve stopped the ball from rolling though. There was a voice in his head telling him to stop, turn around, go home.
“For all of their agreement, however, the experts in the Chapman case (as in most other insanity cases) divided precisely along partisan lines. The six defense experts declared Chapman to be psychotic (five made a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia, the sixth of manic-depressive psychosis) and thus not criminally responsible for the murder. The three prosecution experts said his mental illness fell within a range of personality disorders short of psychosis, declaring him responsible for the killing.”
In the weeks following Mark’s arrest, he was depressed as hell because.. He didn’t turn into Holden Caulfield and melt into the book with John Lennon.
In January 1981, almost 2 months after the murder, Mark had an epiphany. “Omg, I know why I killed John Lennon. It’s to promote Catcher in the Rye.”
He felt with every fiber of his being that it was his calling to get everyone to read Catcher in the Rye. Again, he wouldn’t shut up about that stupid book. He actually read from it at his trial.
Early in 1981, Mark got a visit from one of the Little People, an especially loyal minister who he called Robert. Robert offered to reconvene the Little People government to help Mark cope. But Mark turned down the offer, saying he was too ashamed.
Mark pleaded guilty to the murder. After that, his identity of the Catcher of the Rye of his generation started to crumble, and Mark’s mind went dark again.
At Riker’s Island, he began to strip naked and call out to the devil again, and he destroyed television sets, radios, toilet facilities, everything that was near his cell. It took 8 guards to get him under control.
They took him back to his cell, where he continued to cry out to demons. He climbed the bars of his cage like a beast, chanting in tongues at the other jailmates and sicking demons on them.
There was another inmate with Mark, Craig Crimmins, who had murdered a young violinist. He recalled that Mark’s demons started speaking in a high pitched, fearful voice that mimicked the young woman that Crimmins had murdered, and cackled saying “you belong to our master and your soul will roast for eternity in the flames of hell”
Crimmins actually got his lawyer to go to court to move him from that cell block and protect him from Chapman’s demons.
At one point, Mark was injected with a potent antipsychotic drug,and he suffered a violent reaction where his head, throat, and vocal apparatus were paralyzed. After that, he promised to confine the demons going forward. But the demons didn’t leave. Not for a few years.
In the summer of 1981, Mark was moved to the Attica Correctional Facility. Gloria quit her job and moved near Attica, and she visited him almost every day. She has stuck by
him to this day.
There was another occasion where they put him over a bed and pulled his pants down and a nurse pulled out a hypodermic needle, and Mark said “break that needle off in my ass! Break it off there! Just stick it up in there and break it off. I know that’s what you want to do.”
Mark started to give himself exorcisms at Attica, with the help of a minister who agreed to pray outside the prison at specific times. Mark says that he vomited seven evil spirits that evaporated into the walls of his cell.
According to Mark his demons disappeared in 1985.
1992 Larry King interviewed Chapman from prison. It’s a really long interview, it’s on the episode page on Brokenlimelight.com if you want to check it out.
Mark David Chapman has been eligible for parole since 2000, but has been denied every time. His twelfth parole hearing is scheduled for August 2022.
Gloria, to this day, has never left his side. They get conjugal visits once a year where they spend 44 hours together in a prison trailer having sex and making pizzas. She is confident that he will be free one day and able to spend his days with her.. Even though he’s been denied parole 11 times.
They were only married 18 months and he was horrible to her! The loyalty is unreal.
According to this one documentary:
Chapman brought the gun and intended to kill someone who was a celebrity. He had a list of substitutes if he couldn’t get Lennon.
Next was Walter Cronkite, Johnny Carson, George C. Scott, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, or Marlon Brando. All were potential targets.
He also planned to kill Scott during a show. Stand up during show and fire into him.
As if Mark hadn’t done enough already, in 1981, another 25 year old man was inspired by John Lennon’s death to assassinate president Ronald Raegan. This man was named John Hinckley Jr., and he became obsessed with the 1976 movie Taxi, where Robert DeNiro plots to assassinate the president. He also became obsessed with Jodie Foster, who was about 18 at the time.
He stalked her for months, calling her and leaving messages and sending her notes, before he ultimately decided he couldn’t wait any longer to impress her.
On March 30th, he shot Raegan. Raegan survived and went on to finish his term.
Jodie Foster was understandably traumatized by this. But we will discuss that another time.
By any measure, no one comes close to matching the success of The Beatles’ primary songwriters. The dichotomy between Paul McCartney’s optimism and John Lennon’s realism always pushed each songwriter to best the other, resulting in an unprecedented collaboration that yielded 180 songs, the most albums sold by any artist and a still-unbroken record of 20 number ones on the Billboard Hot 100. Lennon said he wished he could write a pop song like McCartney; McCartney said he always wanted Lennon’s steely, skeptical look at sacred institutions. The combination remains the best there ever was.
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