Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Pop History Moment: The Killing of John Lennon

Exactly what Mark David Chapman hoped to accomplish by killing John Lennon on this day in 1980 has never been made clear; obviously the product of disordered thinking, psychotic, and influenced by delusion, Chapman's violent murder of a person whose life was devoted to peace is one of the greatest tragedies of our time. Much of Chapman's 'excuse' for killing Lennon revolved around his fondness for the nihilistic novel The Catcher in the Rye, by J. D. Salinger; that Chapman had hoped to model his life after the book's protagonist - a self-absorbed douchebag of epic proportions by the name of Holden Caulfield - goes a long way towards pointing at serious mental illness on Chapman's part.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketLennon was returning home to The Dakota from a recording session at Manhattan's Record Plant Studios at 10:50 PM when he passed Chapman - for whom he had signed an autograph only the day before - on the sidewalk outside the building. After calling out 'Mr. Lennon' Chapman fired five hollow point bullets at his supposed idol, hitting him with four of them, causing major damage to his internal organs, including a severed aorta which would eventually cause Lennon's death from hypovolemic shock.

As Lennon staggered into the building, Chapman withdrew his copy of the book, sat down, and began reading; when he was finally arrested he put up no fight. Lennon, meanwhile, was declared DOA at Roosevelt Hospital at 11:15 PM.

Although he was given no funeral, John Lennon has been given a memorial; Central Park's Strawberry Fields Memorial, situated across the street from where Lennon was killed, opened in October 1985. It is one of the most popular scenes of pilgrimage in New York City.

Despite the fact that Chapman had planned his crime for years, and even spoken about it to friends and family, he was charged with second degree murder; he has been denied parole six times, thanks as much to a grassroots effort by fans as it is to the efficacy of Yoko Ono's legal team.

Mark David Chapman is currently incarcerated in seclusion at Attica.
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