Why Did David Chapman Kill John Lennon?
Mark David Chapman, now age 59, is currently serving a life sentence at a maximum security prison, Wende Correctional Facilities, in Erie County, NY, for the murder of John Lennon, that he committed on the 8th day of December in 1980. Lennon was a member of an English musical group the Beatles.
On the evening of the 8th of December in 1980, Chapman, then age 25, waited outside the Dakota hotel, in New York City, for Lennon, where it was widely known that Lennon was staying. As John Lennon, age 40, was headed home with his wife, Yoko Ono, then age 47, to say goodnight to their then five year old son, Sean, Lennon was gunned down by Chapman.
Allegedly, after shooting John Lennon, David Chapman then sat down and read the catcher in the rye by J. D. Salinger, while waiting on the authorities to arrive. That night he told police and the media that his statement was that book which has lead to a lot of misguided people believing that the book inspired him to kill John Lennon.
But as someone who has actually read the book, I chose to disagree. The catcher in the rye is told from the first person perspective through the eyes of Holden Caulfield. Caulfield is nothing but a whiny arrogant teenager who procrastinates too much and cusses a lot. Other than that I can't really picture Holden killing anyone because killing requires too much effort and frankly that character would be just too lazy (and too arrogant) to ever take the initiative to kill someone.
What I think David Chapman meant by calling that book his statement was that he identified with the character, Holden Caulfield, from the first moment he read the book, before he even thought of killing John Lennon. After all, haven't we all identified personally with a character in a book? I know I have. Two particular characters for me (as a child) were Harry Potter and Matilda Wormwood.
So why did David Chapman kill John Lennon? Only Chapman himself can answer that question honestly but the rest of us can guess and my guess is Chapman's background inspired him to kill Lennon.
David Chapman didn't just put his feet in Holden Caulfield's shoes, he also put them in John Lennon's. Meaning, he identified with both of them, Holden Caulfield and John Lennon. But Chapman was also a born again Christian, regularly attending church where many christians were outraged over John Lennon public statement "The Beatles are bigger than Jesus!" to the point where they destroyed Lennon's and the Beatles' albums and merchandise at bonfire gatherings. There is no telling exactly how many of those so called christians might have joked about killing John Lennon over it but I highly doubt that any of them were being serious. More than likely they were just being ignorant and arrogant. Unfortunately, Chapman took it seriously.
So my conclusion is that I believe that David Chapman was inspired by his love of his religion to kill John Lennon. And I'm don't think books can be held responsible for murderous acts unless that book was an accurate guide on how to commit the perfect murder: How To Commit the Perfect Murder For Dummies.
Regardless of the answer to the question, asked in the title of this article, this was still a horrendous tragedy.
RIP John Winston Lennon (9 October 1940 - 8 December 1980)