Mark David Chapman became one of the most infamous killers in history after gunning down John Lennon outside his New York apartment on December 8, 1980. Chapman remains in prison since his conviction, and says he murdered Lennon for fame.
Chapman, now 65, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for shooting Lennon, and he was sentenced to 20 years to life in prison. He remains married to his wife, Gloria Abe, who he married 18 months before killing Lennon on December 8, 1980.
ABC 20/20 is airing a special episode on Lennon’s life and death as the 40th anniversary of his death approaches and as his birthday passes. Lennon would have turned 80 on October 9, 1940. The episode, “John Lennon: His Life, Legacy, Last Days” airs Friday, October 16, 2020 at 9 p.m. Eastern time.
Here’s what you need to know:
Chapman Has Been Eligible for Parole Since 2000 & His Next Hearing Date Is in 2022
Chapman is imprisoned at the Wende Correctional Facility, a New York state prison east of Buffalo. He has been there since August 25, 1981, according to his inmate record.
Here is his prison record:
Chapman has been eligible for parole 11 times, and 11 times he was denied. His most recent parole hearing was in August, 2020. His next parole hearing is in August 2022, according to his inmate listing.
At his most recent parole hearing, he said he deserved the death penalty, according to Syracuse.com, and called his own actions “creepy” and “despicable.” He said he killed Lennon for fame.
“I assassinated him .. because he was very, very, very famous and that’s the only reason and I was very, very, very, very much seeking self-glory. Very selfish,” he said.
He said he often thinks about Lennon’s wife, Yoko Ono, and about the day he killed Lennon. Earlier that day, he asked Lennon to autograph his album, “Double Fantasy.”
“He was actually kind to me that day,” he said.
Chapman told the parole board he would have “no complaint whatsoever” if he spends the rest of his life in prison.
“I deserve zero, nothing. At the time I deserved the death penalty. When you knowingly plot someone’s murder and know it’s wrong and you do it for yourself, that’s a death penalty right there, in my opinion,” he said.
Chapman Remains Married to His Wife, Gloria Abe, & Remains in a New York State Prison in 2020
Gloria Abe married Chapman in 1979, a little less than two years before he killed Lennon. Abe and Chapman remain married, and she flies 5,000 miles from Hawaii to visit him in prison, according to Biography. She has said that she hopes Ono can forgive Chapman.
Abe opened up to the Daily Mail about their love life and atypical marriage in 2014, saying Chapman arranged for conjugal visits where they spend 44 hours together in a trailer every year. There, they have sex and pizza, and watch Wheel of Fortune, she said.
“The first thing I do is kiss Mark. They allow us to do that. We are a loving couple,” she said. “On the visits, I bring the food and Mark and I make a homemade pizza. We lay out all the ingredients – peppers, tomatoes, onions and cheeses because Mark likes crunchy snacks but he doesn’t eat unhealthy things. There is a television and we watch lots of episodes of Wheel Of Fortune.”
At the time, he was working three jobs in prison, which helped him with his suicidal thoughts. His Wende Correctional Facility inmate record does not say whether he is still working in the prison.
Abe told the Daily Mail she thinks Chapman and Paul McCartney would get along well, and that she believes Chapman and Lennon will be “reunited in heaven.” She said she feels sad when she hears a Beatles song, and hopes she “can meet John in heaven.”