Skip to content

John Lennon's Killer Just Revealed His Motive at New Hearing

Mark David Chapman was denied parole again.

On Dec. 8, 1980, John Lennon was killed outside of his New York City apartment building returning home with his wife and collaborator Yoko Ono. The Beatle was shot by Mark David Chapman, who was arrested at the scene and later sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.

In 2000, Chapman became eligible for parole and has since been denied several times. His most recent parole hearing took place in August, but his statements from the hearing have just been released. Chapman explained his motivation for killing Lennon, and said of the murder, "I knew what I was doing." He was then denied parole for the 12th time.

Read on to see what Chapman said about why he targeted the musician.

READ THIS NEXT: This Is the Most Hated Album of the Century, According to Data.

Chapman wanted fame.

Mark David Chapman's mugshot from December 9, 1980
Bureau of Prisons/Getty Images

On Aug. 31, Chapman had his 12th parole hearing. He has had one every two years since 2000. As reported by the Associated Press, the transcript from the hearing was released after a freedom of information request was filed.

Chapman said that he was seeking fame by killing Lennon. He called the murder his "big answer to everything." He continued, "I wasn't going to be a nobody, anymore."

"I knew what I was doing, and I knew it was evil, I knew it was wrong, but I wanted the fame so much that I was willing to give everything and take a human life," Chapman explained. "This was evil in my heart. I wanted to be somebody and nothing was going to stop that."

He acknowledged the harm he caused, saying, "I hurt a lot of people all over the place and if somebody wants to hate me, that's OK, I get it."

He was denied parole for the dozenth time.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono at a book signing in London in 1971
Jack Kay/Daily Express/Getty Images

In their denial, the parole board cited "selfish disregard for human life of global consequence." The board also told Chapman that he left "the world recovering from the void of which [he] created."

Lennon's killer's next hearing is scheduled for February 2024. He is currently imprisoned at Green Haven Correctional Facility in New York.

For more celebrity news delivered right to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Chapman was envious of Lennon.

John Lennon photographed at his home in 1971
Michael Putland/Getty Images

When Chapman had his parole hearing in 2020, he said he was seeking "glory" by killing Lennon and that he was jealous of the musician's life.

"At the time my thinking was he has all of this money, lives in this beautiful apartment and he is into music representing a more cautious lifestyle, a more giving lifestyle," Chapman said, as reported by ABC News. "It made me angry and jealous compared to the way I was living at the time. There was jealousy in there."

He also said, "It was just self-glory, period. It was nothing more than that. It boiled down to that. There's no excuses."

The parole board said in a statement at the time, "During the interview you stated you committed this murder to seek glory. You said 'infamy brings you glory.' This panel finds your statement disturbing. Your actions represented an evil act. The fact that today, almost 40 years later, you can still speak of what you did as something that you felt was a positive and in your mind gave you 'glory' at the time, is disturbing for this panel."

He was sentenced 41 years ago.

A court sketch of Mark David Chapman from his December 1980 arraignment
Bettmann / Getty Images

Chapman pled guilty to killing Lennon and was sentenced in 1981. His lawyers wanted to prove that he was not responsible "by reason of mental disease or defect," but Chapman said that god told him to plead guilty, as reported by The New York Times. At the sentencing, Chapman read a passage from The Catcher in the Rye, a book that he was obsessed with and was reading when he was arrested on the day of the murder.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
Filed Under