Since 1980, confessed murderer and J. D. Salinger fanatic Mark David Chapman has enjoyed the treatment he deserves— serving time. First, he was imprisoned in Attica, and now he’s in the maximum security Wende Correctional Facility in Alden, New York, where he reportedly enjoys reading and writing short stories. There, for the tenth time, he has requested parole on account of “good behavior.” And, for the tenth time, he has been denied.
As you may recall, this charming fellow is the one who shot and killed John Lennon outside of his New York apartment almost 40 years ago—and then plopped himself down the curb to read The Catcher in the Rye. Not only did Chapman repeatedly declare that novel to be his “statement,” but he also refused to plead insanity (despite the reports of the many psychologists who screened him), claiming that the murder was the will of God. “I’m sure the big part of me is Holden Caulfield, who is the main person in the book. The small part of me must be the Devil,” he said, without irony, as part of his statement.
Chapman allegedly planned the murder for three months ahead of time. While he considered a few other targets, including David Bowie, Marlon Brando, and Elizabeth Taylor, he ultimately chose his former idol, Lennon, because he thought the singer would be the easiest to find. Now serving a 20 years-to-life sentence with the chance to request parole every two years, Chapman continues to insist that he has been a good boy, has learned his lesson, and is ready to head back out into the world. In his 2004 attempt at parole, he declared that upon release, he would embark on a journey to inspire people with his harrowing story, and would go “church to church, and tell people what happened to me and point them the way to Christ.”
Despite this very convincing speech, on Thursday, a three-person parole board again rejected Chapman’s latest appeal, declaring, in a statement almost identical to those of years past: “The panel has determined that your release would be incompatible with the welfare and safety of society.” We’ll likely hear from Chapman again in 2020, when he will once again be eligible (take 11?) for parole.