Meredith Chapman had a bright future and present. Only 33-years-old, she had already run for state senate (albeit unsuccessfully) and carved out a promising career as a university marketing professional after serving as a television reporter in Delaware. She was married to a city councilman.
However, police say an affair sparked up between Meredith and the now former creative director at the University of Delaware where she was working, a man named Mark Gerardot. Gerardot’s wife, Jennair, found out, and lay in wait for Meredith in her Pennsylvania home, shooting her to death. Police say that Jennair Gerardot, 47, then committed suicide.
The murder suicide unfolded on April 23, 2018 in the Radnor Township, Pennsylvania home of Chapman, 33, a vivacious and respected marketing professional who was a former college cheerleader.
“It’s not a love triangle. You had a man who was married that was having an affair with this other woman,” said Bill Colarulo, superintendent of Radnor Township police, in a news conference. “The wife knew about it. And this was a calculated, planned attack. She broke into the house. She was lying in wait, and she shot her as soon as she walked in, and then she shot herself.”
The tributes flowed on social media for Meredith Chapman as news of the tragedy broke. “I’m saddened to hear what happened to Meredith Chapman. She was a bright light, a ray of sunshine, always smiling. Why, of all people? I don’t understand,” wrote one friend on Facebook as effusive tributes were posted for Chapman.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Jennair Sent Mark a Series of Texts & Then Murdered Chapman in Chapman’s Own Home, Police Say
Police say that the jilted wife, Jennair Gerardot, sent her husband a series of texts telegraphing her intentions and then took out her anger on Chapman, breaking into the woman’s home and ambushing her.
After shooting Chapman to death, Jennair killed herself inside Chapman’s home, police said. The murder-suicide occurred in the Rosemont section of Radnor Township, Pennsylvania, although Jennair Gerardot was from Wilmington, Delaware. Authorities revealed that Jennair Gerardot texted her husband a series of messages “in which she laid out how she planned to kill the woman with whom he was having an affair,” according to Delaware Online. Those messages have not yet been revealed by authorities.
According to police, Jennair hid inside Chapman’s home and then shot Chapman and herself to death. A short time later, authorities received a 911 call reporting a bloody scene and two women dead. Mark Gerardot was supposed to meet Chapman for a date but went to Chapman’s home when she didn’t show up, police believe, although it’s not clear who placed the 911 call. Jennair Gerardot even brought a wig to the scene, according to authorities, adding chilling detail to the tragic circumstances.
“There were emails and text messages indicating what she planned to do, and the detectives are still sorting that out,” Colarulo added. “We believe the husband was in the area under the belief that he was meeting the other woman for dinner, and when she didn’t show up, that’s when he got concerned and showed up at the house. But again, that’s unconfirmed and what we’re working on right now.”
According to Philly.com, Jennair Gerardot “disguised herself by donning a wig, and took a train from Delaware to Radnor,” where Chapman lived. She broke into the home, cleaning up the glass to disguise the break-in, and waited, the newspaper reported. Around 7 p.m, Chapman returned home, and Jennair shot and killed her, police said. When police came to the scene they found Mark Gerardot in the driveway, and he told them, “my wife might be inside,” according to the newspaper.
Mark Gerardot spoke in great detail about the tragedy to 20/20 for its September 6, 2019 episode. He told the program that he’s writing and book and still trying to come to terms with the losses. He had married Jennair in 1993. “We were happy,” Gerardot said to ABC. “I couldn’t imagine not being with her for the rest of my life.”
Mark moved on from the University of Delaware. According to his LinkedIn page, he lives in the San Diego area and works as creative director for AMResorts. “Motivate and nurture a team of art directors, designers, web developers for results-driven, integrated marketing campaigns to promote 50+ luxury resorts in The Caribbean, Mexico and Europe,” he wrote/
“Developed and launched new brands for six luxury resorts, growing demand and revenue for new markets throughout Mexico, The Caribbean and Europe. Proactively execute critical management and budgetary decisions to make team more effective, more involved and more accountable for measurable results.” He has held the position since 2018.
On his Facebook page, he wrote that he is “widowed” and posted photos in wine country and with his dog. “Spent the day smoking tires at the BMW Performance school. These cars are a blast,” he wrote with one recent picture. Mark Gerardot has a website, which you can see here. “For more than 15 years, Mark Gerardot has helped create and support brands from the agency side to the inside. He has built creative teams from the ground up and challenged others to grow and break new ground. And now it’s time for his next creative challenge,” it says.
He also has a website for his book. He wrote this with the introduction for it:
I have spent many sleepless nights and months, desperately trying to piece it all together. How did I and so many others miss the signs?
For years, my wife had suffered from depression and more recently diagnosed with PTSD due to the trauma of our marriage ending. But there was something else. Something gone undiagnosed by her psychologist, our marriage therapist and her clinical psychiatrist. We all missed the red flags.
There will undoubtedly be critics, angry that I decided to speak out, that I’m stirring up a story that the media and everyone had finally forgotten. But I don’t want to forget. I can’t, and I couldn’t if I tried. I too was mortally wounded, not by a bullet but by a ruthless plot for revenge that still leaves a giant hole in my heart. A hole that can’t begin to heal until I can get it all out in the open.
What started as a journaling exercise evolved into a year-long investigation and cathartic search for answers. How did it happen? What could I have done differently? And where do I go from here? Join me as I continue my search for which I have more questions than I currently have answers.
The book is called Irreparable.
Mark also has a blog. On it, he described how he dealt with the trauma by starting over completely. “It was all gone. Everything. Every piece of furniture. Every book. Every Pot. Pan. Fork. Kitchen knife. Sold or given away,” he wrote. “All that remained, my clothes and a few personal items, were packed into my car which sat running outside the front door. I looked back at my empty apartment one last time, locked the door one last time, and got on the elevator one last time. Then I got into my car and pulled away. For the first time in my entire life I was homeless, but not without hope.”
He described how, after the murder/suicide, he was in great emotional turmoil. He also started traveling. “I had an emotional meltdown in Barcelona, drank myself into oblivion and woke up on the beach in Costa Rica,” he wrote.
He wrote that writing has helped him and he rejects claims he’s doing it for fame or fortune. “‘He’s just doing this for fame and fortune,’ someone recently said about me after learning I’d been writing a book for the past year. But that just isn’t true,” he wrote on his blog. “I’m speaking and writing now because I have something important to share. The truth. And what I’ve come to learn about my late wife, about depression, PTSD and mental health — including my own.” He said that any royalties from the book “will be donated to a charitable organization that supports suicide prevention.”
Things unraveled due to financial stress and arguments and, especially, when he took a job with Meredith Chapman as his supervisor and they started an affair while his wife was still temporarily living in South Carolina. “When I sat across the desk from her, within five minutes, I didn’t say it out loud, but I said, ‘I’ve got to work for this person,'” he said to ABC of Meredith. “She was so articulate and so energetic and passionate about the job and accomplished at her age to be in the position that she was in. I was dumbfounded.”
He tried to explain to ABC why he had the affair. “Here comes Meredith. She’s just telling me such a different story, that I’m good at what I do. That she said…I’d never heard this from Jennair’s lips ever…that I’m such a wonderful man,” Mark Gerardot said. “That just made an impression on me. Here’s this woman who I think is amazing saying that she thinks I’m a wonderful man.”
2. Chapman Worked as a University Marketing Director, as a Television Reporter & Was Involved in Local Politics
Chapman described herself on Facebook as “Creative, loving, fun, energetic. University of Delaware alum, marketer & professor. Love never fails.”
Those who knew Chapman sang her praises.
“Meredith was a bright, energetic, and talented young woman with a firecracker personality that served her community every day. Meredith was such a wonderful person who continued her destiny to accomplish even bigger and better things as a agent of positivity and change,” wrote Mark Blake, who knew her, on Facebook.
She described herself as a “senior Executive Marketing Director at University of Delaware” and “Associate Business Consultant at Ruffalo Noel Levitz,” as well as “Adjunct Faculty at University of Delaware” and “Former Director of Digital Communication at University of Delaware.” However, her LinkedIn page said that Chapman was working for Villanova University at the time of her death.
She had worked at Villanova for a month as an assistant vice president hired to “lead newly merged marketing and creative services team.”
Chapman wrote that she lived in Newark, Delaware and was from Landenberg, Pennsylvania.
Chapman was involved in politics. She worked as Manager of External Communication in the U.S. House of Representatives for almost two years, writing press releases and tracking media coverage, among other duties. She served as campaign manager for Flowers for Treasurer, leading a campaign team in the statewide election in Delaware.
She staged an unsuccessful bid herself for state Senate, serving as a candidate for 8th District of the Delaware State Senate in 2016 in the Greater Newark area of Delaware. Describing her political work, she wrote on LinkedIn, “Assist and lead various election bids in Delaware. Recent campaign work include the 2013 Newark Special Mayoral Election and the 2012, 2014 and 2016 Newark City Council Elections.”
On LinkedIn, she wrote that she had also worked as a television reporter.
Chapman was a producer and reporter for almost two years for WHYY in Wilmington, Delaware, where she served as associate producer for “Delaware Tonight,” and “produced several special programs including President George W. Bush’s 2007 visit to Delaware, Election Night 2006 and ‘Lessons from Katrina.'”
Chapman also worked on “teams for special political projects, including the 2009 Presidential Inauguration, The State Budget Mess (2009) and Joe Biden’s Journey (2008).”
Andrew Mitchell, who worked on Chapman’s campaign, wrote in a Facebook post that she was “the type of person who you thought was going to help shape the world, it’s why I volunteered for her campaign back in ‘16, it’s why I believed in her. I took this picture at the end of a long (and sweaty) day of campaigning. I know she was disappointed when she lost, but I knew bigger things were in her future.”
3. Meredith Described Herself as ‘Highly Engaged, Passionate, Creative’ & Was a Former Cheerleader Able to ‘Work a Room’
On LinkedIn, Meredith Chapman described herself as “highly engaged, passionate, creative and motivated leader with 12+ years experience in integrated marketing and communications, spanning brand management, digital transformation, social media, media relations and creative strategy.”
At the University of Delaware as a student, she was on the cheerleading team and was a reporter for the Student Television Network. A friend wrote under one photo of Chapman on Facebook, “Meredith my Undergrad TA two academic years ago is a UD cheerleader extraordinaire and so was her mama! She’s on the side of the YouDee Van…Meredith was also a UD cheerer.”
Chapman’s career skyrocketed after college, even though she was only 33-years-old when she died.
On LinkedIn, she further described herself as an “award-winning professional focused in higher education on creating innovative solutions, translating stories to develop multi-channel, compelling brand content and creative marketing campaigns while cultivating teams to actualize business goals” who had “extensive expertise developing and implementing strategies for brand advocacy, digital marketing, crisis management, campaigns and relationship cultivation.”
As if all of those accomplishments were not enough, Chapman was also a social media expert who was a teacher.
Chapman had worked as a consultant in social media and digital marketing and served as faculty for the University of Delaware’s social media marketing certificate program. She previously guided the social media strategy for the University of Delaware. Her duties for the university included: “Overhauled website from design to structure to implementation of a content management system that can be utilized across campus for the homepage and major sites hosted on the udel.edu domain. Guided social media strategy and development as well as serve on UD’s Social Media Steering Committee, Web Governance Committee and Brand Advisory Committee.”
Chapman had a master’s degree from the University of Delaware in educational technology. She worked as an adjunct professor for the university and was also a senior news editor for the university. She worked in various volunteer capacities, such as serving as a board member for a senior center.
One woman who wrote an endorsement on Chapman’s wall sang her praises, writing, “She taught me what it means to be a leader and, by example, showed me just how powerful a young, smart, female professional can be. A natural, Meredith is an amazing communications pro. She can network and work a room unlike anyone else I’ve ever seen and has an uncanny ability to turn what could be an unfortunate situation into a beneficial one.”
Another person who endorsed her wrote, “Meredith has drive and the ability to get things done in the midst of a challenging and demanding work environment.”
A friend wrote on Facebook: “I am speechless today to hear of the loss of Meredith Chapman. Delaware and the world have lost an amazing soul. I cannot imagine the the sadness felt by the friends and families of all involved in this senseless and tragic loss of life. Rest in peace Meredith. You were one of the good ones that made an impact on all those you touched.”
3. Mark & Jennair Gerardot Seemed Like the Perfect Couple & Both Were Also Marketing Professionals
All three people involved – Chapman, Mark and Jennair Gerardot – worked in the field of marketing.
It appeared from Jennair and Mark Gerardot’s Facebook pages that they were a happy couple; the couple married in 1993. “One of my favorite photos of my lovely wife,” Mark Gerardot wrote with the above photo of Jennair on her Facebook page. Professional photos show the couple holding hands and walking on a beach with their dog. Other photos are of the couple’s dog and cat. They are wearing similar blue shirts, and seem to have carefree lives.
“Seemed so Perfect…” one person commented on the thread under a photo of the couple on Jennair’s page. Jennair said on Facebook that she was from Fort Wayne, Indiana. She sometimes shared political events on Facebook, most recently an event called March Forward Virginia – March to the Polls.
In September 2017, Jennair wrote, “This is a great Campaign! Please share,” linking to a Huffington Post article titled “This Is How Victim-Blaming Logic Would Play Out In Everyday Scenarios.”
She also shared a post that read, “Thinking NFL players are protesting ‘the flag,’ is like thinking Rosa Parks was protesting public transportation.” Jennair posted an article critical of Japanese whaling, writing, “This makes me very depressed. No amount of resources can really help against what they are up against.” She also posted graphics about keeping family pets safe from fireworks on the 4th of July.
4. Chapman’s Husband Was a City Councilman in Delaware
Meredith Chapman was married to Luke Chapman, who served as a city councilman in Newark, Delaware. He served four terms on the City Council but recently stated he would not run for another term.
However, Philly.com reported that Chapman lived alone in the home where she died. She had posted wedding photos on Facebook as had Luke Chapman, and it was not clear why the couple was not living together.
She was a political advocate, writing, in her most visible public Facebook post, in reference to her husband’s seat: “For the last six years, Luke’s served on Newark City Council and has been a strong advocate for our neighbors and City. I’ve always had such pride casting my vote for him. As Luke is not running for re-election, I’ve been keenly interested in the candidates vying to fill his seat. On April 10, I’ll be voting Jason Lawhorn For Newark, and I hope my neighbors will be doing the same. As a candidate, Jason has been to every neighborhood in our district. Prior to running, Jason has not only attended Council meetings but spoken on the record to ensure residents’ voices were heard. Jason has solutions to address the current issues facing us and ideas for improving our City for the future. Hear from Jason in this Facebook Live to understand why I’m eager to vote #LawhornForNewark.”
5. Mark Gerardot Called Himself a ‘Hands-on Creative Leader’ & a Thorn in the Side of the Status Quo
On his LinkedIn page, Mark Gerardot explains, “As a Creative Director, what I do best is bring clarity and rally people behind ideas.” However, Philly.com says he left his position at the University of Delaware shortly before the murder suicide.
“Sometimes that means writing a creative brief that crystalizes a gut feeling into an actionable creative strategy. Other times it simply means creating a great user experience or better, more authentic content. But in my experience, it almost always means removing unnecessary clutter and cutting through the marketing BS,” he added.
Gerardot wrote that “early in my career, I realized something that changed my outlook on what I did for a living. ‘Every person isn’t your prospective customer.’ It’s a very liberating thought that allows you to focus on the needs of your actual customers and what you do best.”
He then cited his weaknesses and his strengths, writing, “So if I’m being honest, I’m not a great cook. I don’t play a musical instrument. And while I try hard to run or go to the gym 3x a week, it’s not always easy. But taking something complicated and confusing and turning it into something that brings clarity to organizations and a voice that speaks to what customers want… that’s what I do well. To put it succinctly, I’m a hands-on creative leader, director, designer, storyteller, and a thorn in the side of the status quo.”
The page says he had worked as a creative director for the University of Delaware for less than a year (Meredith Chapman worked as senior director of marking for that university during the same time period). Before that, he was a creative director for a firm in South Carolina, primarily working with universities. “Hands-on creative direction, graphic design, user experience design, concept ideation, video storbyboarding and storytelling for 5+ years,” he listed among his duties.
On LinkedIn, Mark Gerardot wrote that he previously “cofounded and led successful brand strategy, design and marketing firm for 10 years.” The company was called Gerardot & Co.
He described the company’s successes in monetary terms, writing, “Led creative strategy pitches to win over 6 million dollars in new business. Orchestrated 1.5 million dollar rebranding, advertising and social marketing campaign for The Bahamas Out Islands, generating tens of millions of dollars for 50 resorts and hotels.”
He also worked as an art director in Indianapolis. Mark has a BA in design from the University of Saint Francis. A woman who endorsed him on Linkedin wrote of Mark Gerardot, “Mark is one of the most talent designers I have worked with. He brings fresh ideas to the table and backs them up with original, fresh and expert design. An absolute pleasure to work with.”
A man who endorsed him wrote, “One of the most brand-centric persons I know, Mark is highly skilled in being able to evaluate a brand and quickly key in on what needs to be done to enhance all of the communication of that brand, then direct (and design when necessary) the delivery of the enhancements.”
The couple, formerly from South Carolina, was featured in a photo share on Facebook to an animal rescue organization that read, “Big paws up! Today, the Gerardot family is celebrating 1 year with Huck (formerly Rusty). Thank you GRRA for all the great work you do. We hope to find Huck a brother or sister golden rescue to join our little family later this fall.”
Jennair Gerardot was also a marketing professional. “Confident and resourceful Marketing Management professional with a unique blend of communications, creative and technical expertise at agency and corporate environments with over 16 years of marketing results at the entrepreneurial and national level for both BTB & BTC targets,” she wrote on her LinkedIn page.
Jennair listed a series of marketing jobs on her LinkedIn page, including working as a marketing manager for a company in South Carolina, working as a marketing manager and operations manager for Gerardot & Inc. in Indianapolis, Indiana, and working as a project manager and marketing services manager in other positions. She also worked as a lease analyst for a realtor.
Jennair Gerardot had a B.A. in Communications/Liberal Arts from Indiana University-Purdue, listing her GPA as 3.53, and also attended Butler University, according to her LinkedIn page. One professional who recommended Jennair on LinkedIn described her as having “a great personality” and said she was “a valuable asset.”