Mid-late November, 1980--Chapman confesses to his wife, Gloria, his intention to kill John Lennon.
Elaboration: Chapman also told her that he pitched the gun, the bullets and his copy of The Catcher in the Rye.
Commentary: We can see that Chapman had no problem lying to his wife. After all, the gun confiscated by New York police is the same make and model as the one Mark registered with Honolulu police on October 27. Moreover, everyone stipulates that he used the bullets given to him by Dana Reeves. We don’t even have proof that he threw away his copy of Catcher in the Rye.
The thing is that there seems to be a lot of confusion, here. Chapman really didn’t have to tell his wife his true reason for going to New York, especially since he intended on going back soon (after all, he kept the gun and the bullets). This will become important because Gloria herself most likely financed his deadly final trip to Manhattan.
November 20 (or 21), 1980--Chapman calls the Makiki Clinic because of suicidal thoughts. They refer him to Catholic Social Services (CSS).
Elabortion: The CSS offered an appointment the same day, but Mark put it off, and made the appointment for November 26 instead. When he didn’t show up on the 26th, CSS got worried and began looking for him.
Commentary: It’s interesting to note here that just as he went into a funk after blowing a lot of money living large at the Moana Hotel, he got blue after blowing a lot of money in New York. While this might seem to be a consistent pattern, it wasn’t. After all, he didn’t seem suicidal to anyone after spending a lot of money on a world tour.
CSS seemed to think something was seriously wrong. As Janice Wolf told Brelser:
I remember the CSS people telling me that they didn’t think it was urgent but the curious thing is, if they thought it wasn’t urgent and only offered their caller an appointment several days later, why did they get so worried when he did not turn up and phone him practically every day thereafter?
Speculation: In response to Wolf’s question, we might posit that the CSS had learned something between November 21 and November 26. For starters, what if they found out, as Wolf did later, that Chapman had visited a psychiatrist who told him to “act out your fantasies”? What if CSS knew of a connection to said shrink and military intelligence? What if they found that he had secretly visited this shrink during those five days?
What Chapman discussed with CSS is confidential, so we’ll never know what transpired during this call unless Chapman authorizes the release of his CSS records--if any are extant. It seems reasonable to assume, however, that in setting up the appointment Chapman told them at least something as to why he needed help. He might have mentioned fantasies about killing someone in conjunction with his feelings of depression. He would most likely have talked about his own suicidal past and history.
Late-November, 1980--Gloria Chapman takes out a $2500 loan from her credit union.
Commentary: As it turns out, Gloria would need this money to fly to New York after the murder. Although he seemed to think that Chapman used these funds to finance his second New York trip, Bresler did not mention any large purchases (other than a second ticket) that would explain why he needed additional money. After all, according to Jones, he still had over three grand at this point. Moreover, Gloria had a decent job and could support them both, at least over these few weeks.
Speculation: If Gloria intended to use the money for her own reasons (i.e., if Mark didn’t get any piece of this), we have to wonder what for. I guess there’s a chance she did it to pay back her father and mother-in-law, in full or part, for the Rockwell print her husband recently sold. But it would seem more practical for Mark to simply pay it back with the money he had left, rather than for the household to extend its credit even further. If she did it to support her husband’s trip to (ostensibly) Chicago, didn’t she worry what he might do--especially since she knows that he has just contemplated killing himself and someone else within the past few weeks?
November 26, 1980--Chapman blows off his appointment with CSS.
November 28, 1980--Mark Chapman purchases a discounted round-trip ticket to Chicago directly from United Airlines.
Elaboration: Captain Louis Souza, the detective who headed the Honolulu investigation of Lennon’s murder, confirmed that Chapman paid UA agent Steve Maruyama $459.86 for a round-trip flight to Chicago O’Hare departing on December 2, 1980. That was the date on the ticket he issued, as per his computer records.
Commentary: Chapman’s grandmother had come to Honolulu sometime that fall in order to visit relatives. Apparently, Mark planned to accompany her on the flight back to Chicago. Bresler posited that the grandmother must have lived in Chicago, and that he must have stayed with her for a couple of days. Jack Jones countered that grandma actually lived in New England, and that they only traveled together to O’Hare. From there, they each took separate connecting flights to their final destination. In an online interview with classic bands.com, Jones pretty much trashed Bresler’s assertion that Mark stayed two days with grandma in Chicago:
Q - Bresler makes this assertion that Chapman did not fly directly from Honolulu to New York, but instead made a stopover in Chicago for those two days. He states that his whereabouts and who he spoke with for two days are unknown, and his airline ticket is not included in his file. It's missing. What do you know about all of that ?
A - He didn't stop for two days. There's a six hour time difference. Chapman left late in the day, like around 5 or 6 o'clock. His wife took copious notes on this and her staff corroborates the actual events. Also, the plane tickets for his grandmother, who was there at the time with some friends of hers. They went to another island. Chapman escorted his grandmother back. She paid for his ticket as far as Chicago. In Bresler's book, he says he searched all over the Chicago area trying to find his (Chapman's) grandmother and couldn't find her. Chapman has no relatives living in the Chicago area. They changed planes. That particular grandmother lives in Massachusetts. The other one lives in Connecticut. Bresler tried to spin this stuff as a simple layover for a plane. The connecting flight was late and when he arrived there he found he could get an earlier flight to New York City. So after putting his grandmother on a plane, so she could fly on to Massachusetts to get back home, he took another earlier flight to New York City. He also had Chapman leaving a day or two earlier, which is totally inaccurate.
You’ll note that Jones based his assumption at least partly on Gloria Chapman’s “notes” and her "staff." He didn’t mention the photocopy of the ticket obtained as evidence by New York police, but I would guess that he was aware of it, even though he didn’t mention it here.
I don’t know about you, but I would generally have more faith in the reliability of computerized records than in the “notes” of the suspect’s spouse. As for the ticket stub, at odds with United Airlines’ records, a photocopy isn’t the same as a computer entry, or even an original. One could far more easily doctor a photocopy than an original or a computer record, in 1980.
One has to note too that the ticket is a round-trip to Chicago, not New York. Records indicate that the round-trip to New York was purchased at O’Hare on the day of Chapman’s flight to New York. The problem here, as Bresler points out, is that it’s far more expensive to book a flight that way instead of just booking it straight from Honolulu to New York. He could have just as easily purchased the ticket in Hawaii. Since he purchased it from United directly, and didn’t go through, say, Gloria’s old travel agency where news of his booking might have gotten back to her, there wouldn’t have been any way of her finding out, unless he told her. And up to this time and beyond, Mrs. Chapman doesn’t seem the kind who will challenge her husband once he’s made up his mind he’s going to do something.
Okay, what if to allay his wife’s fears that he would fly back to New York and kill Lennon he presented her with the round-trip ticket to Chicago, so that she wouldn’t worry and possibly object? He still could have purchased both tickets in Hawaii. He had plenty of cash with which to buy it. If he used his credit card, she wouldn’t know about it until she got her statement. And as it turns out, Chapman used his credit card in New York, anyway.
Most important, Chapman bought a round-trip ticket. That’s pretty interesting, considering what he has planned to do. As far as the official story goes, he’s not planning on coming back. But purchasing a round trip ticket indicates that he indeed planned on returning to Hawaii.
December 2, 1980 or December 5, 1980--Chapman accompanies his grandmother to Chicago, and then flies on to New York.
Elaboration: The first date stems from the computer records search done by Honolulu police. The second date comes from the photocopy of Chapman’s ticket taken into evidence by New York police.
Commentary: This becomes a critical point for two reasons. First of all, if Chapman left on December 2, and purchased the ticket to New York from O’Hare on December 6, we would have to wonder what he did during those two missing days. Secondly, we have to wonder why the two pieces of documentation, in this case, starkly disagree.
The computer records are no longer extant. According to former United customer relations employee Robert Morgan, the airline destroyed them after two years. So all we are left with to verify the November 2 date is Captain Souza’s report, which he literally triple-checked at Bresler’s insistence. On the other hand, doctoring a photocopy is easier to do than doctoring an original.
Perhaps lending more clarity to the contradiction is a comment Gloria made to the New York Post, and published in the paper’s December 10, 1980 edition. According to her, Mark left “eight or ten days ago,” which would indicate a departure date of December 2.
His grandmother lived in New England somewhere, so it’s unlikely she would have just hung around Chicago for a couple of days. Most likely she would have taken her connecting flight. I can’t find, however, any information about her trip. So we can’t be sure when she made the connecting flight any more than we can nail down when she actually went to O’Hare. If they presumably flew together, this information would have been invaluable in proving when Chapman actually left Hawaii.
Speculation: If forced to make a determination as to which source is correct, I would lean towards the computer records, which affix Chapman’s date of departure as December 2. That means, we have to wonder what he did in Chicago for two days.
The long layover would have given a programmer ample opportunity to prepare him psychologically for the real killing. It could also given someone enough time to convince him to go through with it if he had cold feet. After all, if Chapman arrived in Chicago on the second, he could have purchased the ticket to New York as soon as he landed, instead of gambling that he could get a seat on December 6 (this is the holiday season, of course, when airspace becomes increasingly limited).
One could imagine that if Chapman had made up his mind not to kill Lennon, and a handler knew he couldn’t exhort Mark to go to New York, maybe he could convince him to go to Chicago to “talk things over.” Said handler could have also convinced him to bring the gun and bullets so that Chapman could hand them over to him. So, Mark could have gone thinking that this would end all the drama over Lennon. But instead of closing the mission, someone talked him into it again.
Also, the possibility that someone within NYPD forged a photocopied document raises the possibility of a cover up in the investigation itself.
Early December, 1980--Lennon purchases three round-trip tickets to San Francisco to take part in a pro-union rally.
Commentary: Lennon obviously felt comfortable enough to do something he hadn’t in eight years: engage in direct political activity. This is in stark contrast to how he felt in 1975 when he told Rolling Stone that talking about politics made him “jumpy” and “nervous.”
December 6, 1980--Chapman buys a ticket to and arrives in New York.
Elaboration: Upon arrival, Chapman checked into the West Side YMCA. Later, at approximately 7:00pm, he took a taxi all over Manhattan, making stops here and there, all the while toting a large black bag. The driver, a law student named Mark Snyder, described his mood as “very agitated” in a New York Post article about the case. As Fenton Bresler explained:
He [Chapman] would seem to have been delivering or collecting something, which is strange for someone who allegedly knew no one in town. For he started on a half-hour journey that took him first of all back almost to his hostel, where he disappeared into a building on West 62nd Street for about five minutes, then across Central Park to the corner of East 65th Street and 2nd Avenue, where he disappeared for another few minutes, and then to the other side of town down in Greenwich Village where he got himself dropped off at the junction of Bleecker Street and 6th Avenue.
Commentary: Contradictory reports of Snyder’s interview add more confusion to the events that transpired on that cab ride. The Post quoted him as saying that Chapman offered him a “snort” of cocaine on the trip. If so, that’s interesting in and of itself, since Chapman had been drug free since early adolescence. Moreover, how would he know where to get cocaine in Manhattan, or why he would have wanted it?
Others contend that The Post simply made up the cocaine story. These other sources quote Snyder claiming that Chapman was somehow in the joint employ of Mick Jagger and John Lennon as a courier.
Speculation: I guess it’s possible that Chapman picked up some coke on one of his stops, but then that raises the question of how did he know what he could get at specific places. Perhaps he found such a place in his November trip, but that would have meant he spent considerable time looking for it (unless tipped off).
My feeling is that the cocaine story is probably not true. If it is, however, it would seem that someone other than Chapman had mapped out this territory--perhaps in Chicago.
December 7--Chapman abandons the room he already paid for at the YMCA, and checks into the Sheraton Hilton using his Visa card.
Elaboration: At the Hilton, Chapman set up a display consisting of (1) a Bible inscribed with the name ‘Holden Caulfield,’ and opened to the Gospel according to Mark (this same bible had Lennon’s named scribbled in it after the title of Gospel according to John, so that it read, “The Gospel according to John Lennon;” (2) his expired passport; (3) a letter of introduction written by David Moore, his old YMCA boss; (4) an eight-track tape of Todd Rundgren; (5) a photo of himself working with Vietnamese children at Ft. Chaffee; (6) a picture of his first car; (7) a photo still of the movie Wizard of Oz (Dorothy wiping a tear from the Cowardly Lion); and (8) the Honolulu-Chicago roundtrip air ticket in its original sleeve. Missing is the ticket for the Chicago to New York flight.
That night, reenacting a scene from Catcher in the Rye, Chapman hired a prostitute, who came over to the room at the Hilton.
Commentary: Chapman had to have known that police would search this hotel room if he shot Lennon. Thus this display is a statement. Maybe it’s a personal statement. Maybe it’s an explanation of his motives, as confused as they were at the time. That he inscribed his personal bible with the name Holden Caulfield, and that he deliberately reenacted a passage of Catcher in the Rye (coincidentally, the prostitute who serviced Chapman had on a dress similar to that worn by the prostitute in the novel) might indicate that his identity had been subsumed under that of the fictional character. That would bolster the claims made by Chapman’s defense psychiatrists. On the other hand, it could have simply represented the gratification of Chapman’s profound fantasy life. After all, he might not ever be able to live out a fantasy as a king of little people, for he knew they weren’t real. But he could live out this particular one. Once again, this would seem like Chapman understood the difference between fantasy and reality.
Also, it would seem that New York police had the original ticket in their possession.
Speculation: Many of these items establish Chapman’s identity. Authorities usually accept passports as identification, for example. The letter from Moore and the Ft. Chaffee photo depict Chapman at his best. The Rundgren tapes and old car express his aesthetic tastes.
Of course, one probably feels compelled to scratch his or her head wondering why Chapman used The Wizard of Oz to express who he was. Bresler felt that Chapman might have been a deeply closeted (because of his piety) homosexual. The gay scene in New York (at least--I can’t speak as to other parts of the nation or world) latched onto the semiotics of The Wizard of Oz and those associated with it, most notably actress Judy Garland. If, for example, someone in Manhattan told you they were “a friend of Dorothy,” it would mean that they have a same-sex preference. Thus, the picture of Dorothy and the Lion might indicate this aspect of Chapman’s existence.
Bresler noted that despite having money, Chapman stayed at the YMCA, where he could literally hear men having sex with each other through the walls. He also got out of Snyder’s cab at Bleecker and 6th. That’s about a three-minute walk to Christopher Street, an openly gay-friendly neighborhood of Manhattan.
Actually, I don’t see anything to indicate that Chapman is other than heterosexual. After all, he’s stayed at Y’s all his life. Maybe he just found them comfortable. And one might note that Yoko Ono once lived at 87 Christopher Street. Maybe Chapman went there for ritualistic reasons.
Yet, consider this: people who claimed to have undergone operational psychological programming (the process of creating a Manchurian Candidate) under the rumored MK-ULTRA subproject codenamed MONARCH have said that their handlers used certain triggers based on popular culture. One of the most prevalent icons used was The Wizard of Oz. Other prominent triggers included Disney characters, Pink Floyd songs, and the music of The Beatles.
August 4, 1980--Lennon begins work on Double Fantasy.
Commentary: Interesting synchronicity, huh? Chapman gets back into Catcher in the Rye at the same time Lennon goes back to the studio.
September 1980--Chapman reads Anthony Fawcett’s John Lennon: One Day at a Time.
c. September 1980-c. October 1980--Honolulu Advertiser reporter Janice Wolf confirmed information from a professionally credentialed anonymous source that during this time Chapman had several meetings with an unknown psychiatrist who told him, “Act out your fantasies.”
Elaboration: Wolf had the actual name of the physician involved, and had checked with his peers to verify the information. She never published the name, however. Neither did Bresler.
Commentary: Even if she were afraid of a defamation suit from this apparently a-list shrink, Wolf might have considered giving it to Gloria Chapman, so that she and her husband could file a malpractice suit. Then again, Mark would also know this guy’s name. Without it, though, we cannot research this matter any further to determine if he might have had any connections to Intel (for example, if he were a naval officer, or if he had done research under the auspices of the Charles Geschickter Fund for Medical Research, the Society for the Study of Human Ecology Foundation, or any other funding body that served as a stipulated CIA front).
Speculation: More fascinating synchronicity results in a perfect storm. The Catcher in the Rye, the Fawcett biography, and now a shrink telling him to act out his fantasies--mind you, a shrink that will not come forward, and whom the local papers are afraid to name.
I can understand why Bresler and other conspiracists view this set of events as akin to getting someone riled up against an enemy (Catcher in the Rye), giving him instructions (Fawcet’s bio had numerous pictures of the Dakota, and one could learn quite a bit about the building just by looking at the photographs), and then pointing him at the target.
October 10, 1980--Chapman sells the Rockwell print for $7,500.
Commentary: The fact that he didn’t realize any profit from the sale strongly suggests that he sold this primarily to finance his trip to New York. That means that this is the earliest date that we can pin down his decision to murder Lennon.
You’ll note that by taking this money for travel, on a journey he doesn’t expect to return from, he’s in effect stealing from both his mother and father-in-law--assuming that he got the money from the sale of the print. If he didn’t, then we really have to wonder where he in fact got it from.
October 23, 1980--Lennon releases “(Just Like) Starting Over,” the first single from Double Fantasy.
October 23, 1980--Chapman quits his job as a security guard.
Elaboration: Chapman quit suddenly, explaining to his boss, Joe Bustamente, that he’s leaving so he can travel to London. On the sign-out sheet, Chapman wrote the name ‘John Lennon,’ then crossed it out to write his name underneath.
Commentary: More synchronicity. Chapman left his job so that he could pursue the murder of John Lennon. Sure, one can suppose that Chapman might have heard “(Just Like) Starting Over,” and made the decision at that point. But the decision most likely came two weeks earlier when he decided to sell the Rockwell print to pay for the trip. And as mentioned earlier, he had ruminated about quitting the job since August, approximately the same time he had become interested in re-reading Catcher in the Rye.
Speculation: If someone had planned to use Chapman as a murderer or patsy, it would seem that this plan would have gone in stages: stage one, buying Catcher in the Rye to trigger programming; stage two, buying the Fawcett bio to show the target; stage three, receiving psychological “help” exhorting him to “act out your fantasies;” stage four, raising money in case the sponsor cannot stop or delay the release of material from Double Fantasy; and stage five, the final go-ahead.
October 27, 1980--Chapman purchases a .38 revolver in Hawaii, and registers it with the police. He then purchases a one-way ticket to Newark Liberty International Airport.
Elaboration: Hawaii required no waiting periods. Because of Chapman's clean record, the computer search of his background turned up zilch.
You’ll note that while Chapman bought a gun, he did not purchase bullets. He falsely assumed that Federal Aviation Administration rules prohibited them because they might go off under depressurization.
October 29, 1980--Chapman flies to Newark New Jersey.
Elaboration: Once in New York, Chapman checked into the Waldorf Astoria. He found he could not purchase bullets without a valid New York State ID. His Hawaii driver’s license and gun permit were not sufficient for that purpose. Upon finding out that he could not legally buy .38 bullets in New York, he called the airline, and found out that he could, in fact, travel with bullets under certain terms.
Commentary: You’d think Chapman would have found this out before he left Hawaii. Moreover, he went there with the express purpose of killing Lennon, which in itself is a far more severe crime than the illegal purchase of bullets from off the street. Moreover, on his second trip to Manhattan, Chapman offered cab driver Mark Snyder a hit of cocaine, which he presumably purchased in New York. If Chapman had knowledge of where to get illegal drugs, he could have also found out where to buy guns and ammo. Moreover, he had little fear in approaching the New York underworld.
November 4, 1980--Ronald Reagan elected President of the United States.
November 7-9, 1980--Chapman flies from New York to DeKalb Georgia
Elaboration: Over the weekend, Chapman called Jessica Blankenship at a local hospital where she recuperated from a tonsillectomy. The next day, he visited Blankenship at her parents’ house after the hospital released her. June Blankenship assumed that he would go back to Honolulu after the visit, but he told her that he planned on going back to New York. June then assumed that he intended to visit his grandmother.
Mostly, however, Chapman visited Dana Reeves. Over the weekend, Reeves chauffeured him around old haunts, and went out target practicing with him. Reeves even drove him to the Blankenship house and waited outside.
Most important: during this visit, Reeves gave Mark the bullets that he used to shoot at John Lennon.
Commentary: While it’s obvious that Chapman flew to Georgia primarily to obtain ammo, one must note the amount of time he spent with Reeves, and the activities they engaged in. Reeves not only helped Chapman rehearse the crime by taking him out for target practice, he also provided the ammo necessary for Mark to play his role in it.
Speculation: Reeves said he gave the bullets to Chapman because Mark wanted them for “protection” in the Big Bad Apple. Well, since Mark had already spent an unarmed week in New York, and had been to far more hostile, and far more dangerous places (e.g., Beirut) without a piece, I have a hard time believing Reeves, a deputy sheriff, bought this explanation.
November 9, 1980--Chapman flies to New York; checks into the Olcott Hotel.
Elaboration: The Olcott Hotel is about a three-iron down the street from the Dakota. Like the Waldorf, it’s an elegant old lodge frequented by the glitterati. As you can see from the link, developers have recently transformed it into an upscale condo.
Commentary: Unlike the Waldorf, which is on the east side of Midtown, the Olcott is located near the Dakota on the Upper West Side. It would seem Chapman was putting himself into position. And, as before, he stayed at the swankiest places he could find.
November 10, 1980--Chapman conspicuously mills about in front of the Dakota. Doorman/Security Guard Jose Perdomo informs him that the Lennons are out of town.
Elaboration: Perdomo, who usually worked nights, was filling in for a daytime shift employee who called in sick. Perdomo was also the guard on duty at the time of Lennon’s death.
Commentary: It happens every time. You sell your most valuable possession to finance the crime of the century, and (D’oh!) you forget to make sure that you have (a) bullets and (b) a victim. Seems like one would have taken care of these things before you left.
More important, by spending so much time in front of the Dakota, Perdomo had to have gotten familiar with Chapman. Because numerous celebrities lived there, and because the age of the celebrity stalker had not yet come to public consciousness, Perdomo might have legitimately not seen Chapman’s behavior as untoward, odd or even threatening. After all, there were a number of regulars who hung out there to get a glimpse (or perhaps an autograph) of a famous person.
November 11, 1980--Having checked into the West Side YMCA, Chapman phones his wife, and tells her he will be coming home.
Elaboration: Mark told Gloria that he had “won a great victory.”
Commentary: Chapman has returned to the YMCA. Offhand, one might think that he simply ran out of money, and needed to economize. But according to biographer Jack Jones, Chapman returned to Hawaii with at least $3,000 left. He could have easily stayed at the Olcott, the Waldorf, the Warwicke, or just about any swanky hotel in Manhattan. Moreover, he had enough money to comfortably stay in Manhattan until Lennon returned.
Speculation: Whether one believes in the official story or the conspiracy hypothesis, this trip to New York looks more like a dry run than an actual attempt at murder. While Chapman usually depicts this episode as an ongoing battle between his desire to kill Lennon and his revulsion to violence, one could see the trip as a very cold, calculated way of committing the murder. After all, when someone tries to do something they never done before, they might not foresee all the ins and outs of doing it. During this trip, Chapman would learn a lot about how to kill someone like a John Lennon. He learned that you can travel by airplane with both gun and ammo. He developed an unmediated familiarity with the site of the crime. He learned something about the way the guards functioned at the Dakota--he even knew that they would give him pertinent information, such as whether Lennon was actually there or not.
One could perhaps argue that Chapman unconsciously undermined himself with his planning, or more accurately, his lack of it. Yet, in a broader view, this dress rehearsal was necessary to train Chapman psychologically for the task he would commit. You might think of it as on-site visualization.
Summer 1977--First manifestation of Chapman’s suicidal ideation.
Elaboration: Feeling suicidal, Chapman went to the Waikiki Mental Health Clinic, where he spoke with psychiatric social worker “Anne Jones.” Approximately one week later, Chapman made his only known suicide attempt (carbon monoxide poisoning). He attached a hose to the tailpipe of a rental car, and fed it through a window. But the heat of the exhaust melted the cheap hose he used to the point where it became unusable for that purpose.
The suicide attempt prompted “Jones” to get him into Castle Memorial Hospital in nearby Kailua, where doctors diagnosed him with “severe depressive neurosis.”
Commentary: “Jones” told Bresler that Chapman was dejected over the breakup with Blankenship and blue because of his lack of both money and a job. Nevertheless, she noted that the subject of Beirut made him light up. Quoting “Jones”:
Yes he told me about that [his trip to Lebanon] too. He was proud of that, very proud. That was a period when he had done well. People thought well of him. That was very important to him....
I never detected one whiff of psychosis in him.
“Jones’” insights add further weight to the argument that something untoward happened to Chapman in Beirut. After all, by everyone’s official account (including his), he didn’t do anything in Beirut because of the civil war. While his superiors might not have held his inactivity against him--hell, they would have ordered it--bosses don’t usually pat you on the back for sitting on your can.
While Chapman might have colored his experience in Lebanon, we have to think it possible that he did something really impressive there. After all, the YMCA "rewarded" (?) him with the gig at Ft. Chaffee, and continued to support him on his world travels a couple of years later.
Speculation: Dr. Alistair and Charles Gramlich’s hypothesis that Chapman might have suffered from undiagnosed Asperger’s Syndrome prompted me to do some research on whether or not this might explain Chapman’s actions the night he killed John Lennon. Scholarly literature indicates that Asperger’s (sometimes described as a ‘high-functioning Autsim Spectral Disorder,’ or hfASD*) sufferers are slightly more amenable to commit violent crimes than the population at large, but this could be because most hfASD‘s are male, and most violent crimes are committed by males. At the same time, Asperger’s often shapes the nature of the crime. For example, many of these are of the obsessive, stalking kind (very often rape) similar to the crime that Chapman committed.
Researchers have also found that when there are criminal tendencies, there are usually underlying mental/emotional illnesses which bear more directly on the transgression. In Chapman’s case, doctors pegged him as a depressive neurotic, which could conceivably explain a lot of what happened on that night. While the psychosis/schizophrenia diagnoses of his defense team were shaky at best, his psychiatrists might have missed what would have been his strongest defense. Perhaps this could surface as the best explanation of Chapman’s actions. It is certainly the most tenable non-conspiracy explanation I have found.
c. August 1977--Chapman ostensibly moves to 112 Puwa Place (Aikahi Gardens Estate).
Elaboration: This was the address on Chapman‘s driver‘s license at the time of his arrest.
Commentary: If Chapman actually lived here, he didn’t stay long. He had long moved out by the night of the crime. The complex manager had no record of him living there. Moreover, the actual tenant supposedly living in his apartment (under the name Mark Chapman) didn’t seem to fit Chapman’s description. As reported in the The Honolulu Star-Bulletin:
The owner of the apartment said Chapman lived there with a woman and three young children, possibly her sisters. The apartment had been rented by the woman’s mother, the owner said.
The landlord said Chapman, the women and children ’skipped out in April ’ with the rent unpaid, leaving the place a mess.
Speculation: This kinda reminds me of all the guys running around Dallas and New Orleans in 1963 using Lee Oswald’s identity. Each of them took on the responsibility of depicting Oswald as some type of freak, thus causing the public to view him unsympathetically.
More important, if Chapman didn’t stay here, one has to ask where he actually lived. One thing the 112 Puwa Place address could do is obscure his actual movements and location. If someone wanted him to sequester him for programming, this would be one way to do it.
August 1977 - November 1979--Chapman employed at Castle Memorial Hospital.
Commentary: Given what Bresler and Brussell have hypothesized, this is an interesting place for someone like Chapman to have spent his working hours. This would have given hospital personnel (connected to the Navy or not) extreme and constant access to him.
Speculation: While there, Chapman courted two women on staff, a psychiatric nurse and a woman who worked for the food service. It would seem that his entire life evolved around that hospital. Because of the unlikelihood that he stayed for two years at Puwa Place, one has to wonder if he might have actually lived at or near Castle for a good deal of that time.
April 1978--Chapman books a world tour through Waters World Travel Agency. There, he meets his future bride, Gloria Abe.
July 6, 1978--Chapman embarks on a world tour.
Elaboration: The itinerary went as follows: Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Delhi, Israel, Geneva, London, Paris, Dublin, Atlanta, and then back to Hawaii. Chapman primarily stayed at YMCA hostels. His former boss, David Moore, gave him a glowing letter of introduction.
Commentary: No one knows for sure who paid for this trip. Bresler’s best guess is that Chapman got a loan from the hospital’s credit union. The credit union itself would neither confirm nor deny the speculation.
I find it interesting that despite being employed for less than a year, the hospital would have given extended leave, especially if they knew he had a history of suicide. After all, picking up stakes and coming to Hawaii precipitated one suicide attempt. If his credit union in fact loaned him the money to travel, then it had a lot of confidence he would come back whenever. If it didn’t give him the money, then we have a bigger question as to where he got the finances.
May 1979--Chapman moves into the home of his Hawaiian pastor, Rev. Peter Anderson.
Elaboration: We know Chapman lived there because he received mail there as early as May of 1979. He might have actually moved in earlier, but this is the earliest that Bresler and others could establish.
Commentary: This would seem to put in doubt the notion that Chapman ever lived at the apartment complex on Puwa Place. After all, the lone male living there, and assumed to be Chapman, will not move out until April the following year, some eleven months later. This again brings up the question of where Chapman really stayed between 1977 and 1979.
June 2, 1979--Chapman and Abe wed.
Elaboration: She moved in with Chapman at Rev. Anderson’s place.
September 1979 - January 1980--Chapman, obsessed about art collecting, purchases three pieces from a gallery run by Pat Carlson.
Elaboration: Chapman purchased a Yamagata lithograph for $300. He then, supposedly, borrowed $5,000 from his father-in-law, George Abe to buy a print of Salvador Dali’s Lincoln in Dalivision. He subsequently borrowed $2,500 from Diane Chapman, and traded in the Dali for a print of Norman Rockwell’s Triple Self-Portrait Left). But an article in the Honolulu Advertiser after the murder quoted Carlson as saying that Diane Chapman and George Abe together only put up $2,500 for the Dali, and that the remaining $2,500 came from a credit union loan. Carlson went on to say:
He was as obsessed as anyone you could imagine. He would go from gallery to gallery. He would call me three or four times a week to talk about his art. He didn’t just ask questions, he did a lot of investigative work, making long distance calls and writing letters all over the United States. He really became an authority.
Commentary: The art becomes an important part of the story because this is how Chapman supposedly financed his trips to New York. The purchase of the Dali, however, highlights a disagreement between “the official story” and Carlson’s recollection.
Also, the obssessive quality of Chapman's art interests falls neatly in line with the Asperger's supposition.
Speculation: If Carlson is correct, then we have the beginnings of an interesting relationship between Mark and his credit union. They sure didn’t treat him bad.
c. February 1980--Radio stations discuss a rumor that Lennon wanted to sell his stake in Apple Corporation for $10 million.
Elaboration: I remember the discussions over the local radio stations in Cincinnati during this time. That’s not to say that the rumor is true, just that it circulated.
Speculation: After five years of inactivity, perhaps Lennon felt safe to record again. Maybe this was a way to tidy his affairs, should the worse happen.
June 1980--Lennon sails to Bermuda.
Elaboration: During this voyage, Lennon made the decision to go back into the studio. He also wrote several songs that would wind up on the album.
July 14, 1980--Ronald Reagan receives GOP nomination for President.
July 23, 1980 - January 1981--The Phantom of the Metropolitan Opera Case.
Elaboration: During the intermission of a performance by the Berlin Ballet, violinist Helen Hagnes Mintiks (left) went missing. Witnesses discovered her naked corpse after the show at the bottom of an airshaft, where she had fallen from much higher up. Before she took that fatal tumble, someone had raped her.
In a classic whodunit that grabbed a lion’s share of New York’s front page headlines, the police finally arrested a stagehand, Craig Crimmins, for Mintiks’ murder during the last week of August, 1980. Because of the sensational publicity surrounding the case, the investigating precinct was under tremendous pressure to bolster the prosecution’s case up until the trial in January 1981.
Commentary: Lt. Arthur O’Connor (NYPD), heavily involved in this case, also served as the lead detective in the Lennon case. O’Connor explained to Bresler that Mintiks’ murder strained all of the department's resources and efforts, and thus had a direct impact on the investigation of Lennon’s death.
June 1975--Interviewed by Pete Hamill of Rolling Stone, Lennon says that he has become “jumpy” and “nervous” about offering political commentary.
Commentary: This proves that Lennon had made a conscious decision to stifle his political activities and comments out of a conscious concern for his well-being (professional, personal or otherwise).
June 1975--Chapman goes to Beirut.
Commentary: Chapman himself defines this as a pivotal moment in his life, despite the fact that according to all other sources he did virtually nothing. Chapman himself was evasive about what he did to make himself so proud of the time he spent there. Bresler and Brussell would be correct in assuming that Chapman had become desensitized to violence (or ’blooded,’ in spy parlance) during this time. This change was noted by the Blankenship family upon his return.
Bresler correctly notes the irony of the YMCA rejecting Chapman’s application to Moscow because he doesn’t speak Russian, but sends him to Beirut, despite the fact that he doesn’t speak Arabic, either. Beirut was far more unstable and dangerous a place than the Soviet capitol. In hindsight, it would seem that he would have been a better fit in the USSR.
Speculation: It would seem reasonable to think that something happened to Chapman other than his abortive efforts to work for the YMCA, there--hence Bresler and Brussell’s concern about this period in his life. Then again, one might say that Mark might have imagined something happened because he tends to imagine all sorts of things.
August 1975 - December 1975--Chapman goes to work for the YMCA at Ft. Chaffee.
Elaboration: Specifically, Chapman organized and executed youth programs for Vietnamese refugees temporarily displaced by the fall of Saigon.
Commentary: A number of South Vietnamese aided or fought with US forces during the 1960s and early-1970s. Many feared imprisonment and execution as traitors. The US exfiltrated as many of these folks as they could. Some of them wound up at Ft. Chaffee.
Bresler and Brussell saw Ft. Chaffee as the beginning of Intel‘s hypnoprogramming of Chapman. Assuming Chapman were programmed by someone, that could have happened earlier (say in Beirut) or later (when he’s visiting psychiatric clinics around Honolulu).
Speculation: Seems to me that Chapman would have been too busy to have been indoctrinated at this time, if the descriptions of his activities by David Moore and others are accurate. By comparison, Johnny Gray Jr. testified that Sirhan Sirhan’s handlers isolated him for long stretches of time--for weeks.
Of course, there’s also the possibility that Chapman was isolated for long stretches of time at Ft. Chaffee, and that his superiors falsely reported him present and active in the day-to-day activities.
October 7, 1975--Lennon allowed to stay in US by order of US District Court of Appeals.
Commentary: After a long, arduous battle, Lennon allowed to stay in the US.
October 9, 1975--Birth of Sean Lennon.
Commentary: After years of trial, it would seem that everything is coming Lennon’s way.
October 1975 - Summer 1980--Lennon’s quasi-retirement.
Commentary: For the most part, Lennon stayed out of the limelight during these years.
Speculation: If he ever had an understanding that his silence was critical for permission to stay in the US, Lennon might have interpreted further silence as necessary for gaining citizenship.
Although the Lennons maintain that he spent his time being a devoted father, other sources (among them Albert Goldman and Lennon’s personal assistant, Fred Seaman) say that these were wasteful, wanton years, marked by Lennon’s virulent heroin relapse. If such were true, then it would seem Lennon’s decision to withdraw didn’t have much to do with concentrating on fatherhood as much as it was avoiding publicity and political entanglements.
Of course, the condemnation of Goldman’s biography on Lennon are many and diverse because of alleged problems in accuracy. As for Seaman, many point out that he stole Lennon’s diary, and quoted it contrary to context to make it seem far more sensationalistic than it actually was. On a more sinister note, Lennon’s friend, Elliot Mintz, believed that some of the information falsely attributed to and taken out of context from the diaries might have been published by authors connected to the CIA.
April 24, 1976--NBC’s Saturday Night Live Producer Lorne Michaels, as a joke, offers the Beatles $3,000 to play for the show.
Elaboration: On this particular night, Paul McCartney and his wife Linda Eastman were visiting the Lennons in New York at the time Michaels made the offer. According to both, Lennon and McCartney seriously considered going to 30 Rock to take Michaels up on his offer, but eventually decided against it. According to Linda, the McCartneys left the following morning, and never made another visit.
Figure 1. Lorne Michaels makes the offer.
Commentary: Reportedly, Ringo Starr and George Harrison were also in the Big Apple that night. I cannot ascertain that for certain. Still, a Lennon and McCartney reunion would have been a major coup for the show, and could have become a major step in reuniting the band, as many fans would have hoped.
One can certainly understand the reasons for them wanting to do the show (although the check wouldn’t have been one of them). But the reasons given for not going through with it have been rather vague, and swirled with rumor.
Speculation: Some have rumored that at some point during the night, Lennon and Eastman had an affair, putting a fresh rift in the friendship between he and McCartney. That’s why they decided against the gig.
That doesn’t seem likely to me. After all, Lennon had just gotten out of Ono’s doghouse. Unless he wanted to go back in, I don’t see why he would have even conceived of it. Then too, if they were planning to perform that night, one would have to surmise that this tryst somehow took place during a commercial break.
Another rumor was that both Lennon and McCartney were eager to do it, but cancelled for “security reasons.” That would be interesting if they did, for Lennon walked around town without bodyguards on a routine basis (including the night of his death). He certainly wouldn’t have had security issues going to NBC, if the network sent a limousine for him, because the limo would have arrived and departed through a secret entrance, and security would have guarded the studio during the live taping.
Suppose Lennon and McCartney had decided upon doing it. At the time, McCartney would have been aware of past Lennon’s immigration problems. Still the court ruling in Lennon’s favor would make the issue seem settled. On the other hand, he might not have known about the death threats Lennon had been getting since 1972. Maybe Ono feared Lennon going into the limelight and courting disaster. Moreover, she might have felt it necessary to warn McCartney of the danger he might have faced were he to take the stage with John--not necessarily with his life, but with his career, his family, his piece of mind, and so on.
June 1976--Lennon receives his green card, and has permission to apply for US citizenship in 1981.
January 1977--Chapman relocates to Honolulu over the objection of Dana Reeves.
Elaboration: Initially staying at the ritzy Moana Hotel, he quickly ran low on money and job prospects. He subsequently checked into a local YMCA hostel.
In letters to Jessica Blankenship, Chapman complained about the unemployment and the poverty he found in Hawaii. Blankenship urged him to return to DeKalb. He mistakenly interpreted this as a reconciliation overture. He returned to Hawaii when it became clear to him that Blankenship saw him as a friend only.
Commentary: Note that when Chapman first came to New York to kill John Lennon, this pattern of high-living followed by penny-pinching would continue. On his last trip to NYC, however, this pattern was reversed.
Speculation: If Chapman felt some sort of undue influence, especially from Reeves, relocating to Hawaii makes sense. After all, it’s as far as you can get from Georgia and still be warm all year 'round in the US.
Bresler and Brussell both noted the huge presence of the US Navy in Hawaii, and speculated that it would have given Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) doctors to work on him in the local clinics and hospitals where he went.
Elaboration: Lennon moved away from the New York apartment he shared with Ono, and eventually wound up in Los Angeles, where he hung out with his designated mistress, May Pang, and such other musician friends as Harry Nilsson.
Commentary: While most cite Lennon’s moving out to Los Angeles as the beginning of the marital difficulties between he and Ono, Yoko traces the strife to an incident that occurred eleven months earlier, during the chaotic year of 1972. In the liner notes of the posthumous 1983 album John Lennon: Anthology, she wrote:
In 1972, the night McGovern lost the election, John and I were invited to a party at Jerry Rubin’s apartment in the Village. It was a gathering of New York liberal intellectuals, some artists, musicians and many journalists. John became totally drunk and pulled a woman into the next room and started to make love. Nobody could leave the party because all the coats were in that room. We were all sitting there trying to ignore what was happening. The wall was paper thin and you could hear the noise, which was incredibly loud. A considerate musician put a Dylan record on to offset the sound. But that did not drown out the sound coming from ‘the room.’ In the middle of all this, a New York celeb woman chose to make conversation with me. ‘I don’t know how you feel about him… but we love him. He and his friends… what they did… but especially John… we all respect him tremendously. He’s a great man… he is a wonderful man…’ It was something like that she kept repeating to me, with an angry look as if to blame me for not rejoicing for what was happening in that room. Then there was a long silence. Some woman quietly went into the room to retrieve her coat. Others followed. When John finally came out of the room, he said, later, that he had never seen me looking so pale. “I could never forget that face,” he used to say for a long while.
Something was lost that night for me. Living with John was a very trying situation. But I thought I would endure all that for our love....Jerry thought it was terrible that I couldn’t ‘forgive’ John. McGovern lost. All of us were totally devastated. You can imagine how John felt about it. It was a real blow to us. ‘So he was drunk, for heaven’s sake!’ It’s not a matter of forgiving him or not forgiving him. I would not use that word. It’s more like I can’t ‘forget’ what happened. Call me a prude, but it just hit me in the wrong way.” Inside, I felt like a shattered raggedy doll. [emphasis added]
The comitragic scene Ono painted for us in the above passage underscores how topsy-turvy the Lennons’ world had become that year. I mean, it’s one thing to sneak out on your spouse. To do it in front of a roomful of people seems downright odd. Still, that singular event would have most likely threatened a vast majority of marriages, and killed a significant percentage of them.
Speculation: Were I writing a fictional tale based on these events, I would be tempted to blame the source of Lennon’s loutish behavior to narchohypnosis or some other type of mind control.
Before you get to thinking that this would be absurd to the point of ludicrousness, I will point out that this sort of thing had already happened. Eleven years earlier, in 1961, another celebrity, Paul Robeson, woke up in a Moscow hotel room to find that he had slashed his wrists in a fit of depression that he never experienced before, nor since. Earlier in the evening, he had finished a concert attended by an international audience which included a group of Americans. The Americans invited him to a party in the hotel suite. He suspected that someone there drugged him with a severe mood drug (there were a number the CIA used at that time), and had somehow indoctrinated him. As his son, Paul Robeson, Jr. explained:
My father manifested no depressive symptoms at the time, and when my mother and I spoke to him in the hospital soon after his “suicide” attempt, he was lucid and able to recount his experience clearly. The party in his suite had been imposed on him under false pretenses, by people he knew but without the knowledge of his official hosts. By the time he realized this, his suite had been invaded by a variety of anti-Soviet people whose behavior had become so raucous that he locked himself in his bedroom. His description of that setting, I later came to learn, matched the conditions prescribed by the CIA for drugging an unsuspecting victim, and the physical psychological symptoms he experienced matched those of an LSD trip.
My Russian being fluent, I confirmed my father’s story by interviewing his official hosts, his doctors, the organizers of the party, several attendees and a top Soviet official. However, I could not determine whether my father’s blood tests had shown any trace of drugs, whether an official investigation was in progress or why his hosts were unaware of the party. The Soviet official confirmed that known “anti-Soviet people” had attended the party.
Alcohol, of course, lowers inhibition. So if Lennon got drunk and down, and saw a particular bird worth screwing, he could very well have done it on his own initiative. If his actions needed a bit of coercion--of the chemical or psychological type--then it would seem that someone wanted Lennon to lose the support he got from Ono, and the support she got from him. In other words, if that were true, it would be a really cruel way to neutralize someone.
November 1974--Elton John performs at Madison Square Garden.
Elaboration: Elton John wrangled Lennon onstage by dint of a lost bet. In part due to Elton’s machinations, Lennon and Ono began the process of reconciliation.
Commentary: Although this effectively brought the Lost Weekend into the homestretch, the accounts of how the reconciliation occurred somewhat differed according to the speaker and the time. During the Lost Weekend Lennon resumed recording, and had substantially mended his relationship to Paul McCartney. Some said that although initially devastated by the separation, Lennon began to thrive in it. Some quote Lennon as finding contentment in the change. On the other hand, Ono said (in the Anthology liner notes) that Lennon had been miserable during this time, and was delighted to see her. Interestingly, Lennon himself gave conflicting accounts of this time. Publicly, he stated that he was keen about the move at first, because it was the first time in his adult life he had experienced bachelorhood, but then later he came to rue being away from home.
The point here is that it’s not clear if Lennon jumped at the chance of reconciliation with Ono, or merely acquiesced to its inevitability. This lack of clarity has fueled some conspiracy hypotheses that Ono wasn’t Lennon’s partner, but rather his controller. They point to her aristocratic lineage (she hailed from an old money family), and her relationship to power (some sources say that she is a distant relative of Emperor Hirohito, and all sources agree that she studied with his two sons) as proof that she could have been connected with all sorts of things, some of which would have included espionage. By extension, these same hypotheses implicate Ono in Lennon’s death.
Speculation: I find it really difficult to believe Ono played any role in Lennon’s death, and for reasons I’ll mention later, I’m inclined to take her at her word when she describes the event as a life-altering trauma. But for those who espouse the Ono-did-it hypothesis, the subject of who pursued whom backstage of this concert plays a pivotal role. If Ono just needed a break in her duties as Lennon’s handler, the concert represents a resumption of that detail.
December 12, 1974--Lennon appears on Monday Night Football during a game between the Washington Redskins and the Los Angeles Rams. While there, he meets Ronald Reagan.
Elaboration: In his 1985 book Rocking America: An Insider’s Story, former WABC Program Director Rick Sklar gave an account of how this event unfolded. Lennon had given an interview at a Los Angeles radio station. Also there were Howard Cossell and Frank Gifford, in town to cover the football game. The station had some sort of reception, where Cossell met Lennon and invited him to watch the game later that night. Lennon, unfamiliar with the rules of American football, seemed overwhelmed by the spectacle.
Figure 1. John Lennon’s appearance on Monday Night Football
Cossell and Gifford had also extended an invitation to then-Governor of California, Ronald Reagan. According to Sklar and other sources, Lennon and Reagan developed an almost immediate rapport, with the future-US President draping his arm around the ex-Beatle and explaining the rules of the game.
Commentary: It wouldn’t be all that surprising if Reagan and Lennon got along, personally, despite being poles apart ideologically. Lennon first met his father, Alfred (or Fred) Lennon, on the set of Help!. And the only father figure he knew (his uncle, George Smith) died when Lennon was only fifteen. That Reagan had a paternal quality, no one denies. By the same token, Reagan could have seen something of himself in Lennon. The Governor, in his youth, was also an anti-authoritarian, leftist, working-class idealist.
Of course, there is a tremendous irony here conerncing the conspiracy hypothesis surrounding the shootings of both men. Chapman shot Lennon in December 1980. John Hinckley shot Reagan in March 1981, a little over four months later. Some feel that Lennon died to make way for the ideologically charged “Reagan Revolution,” while some theorized that the attempt on Reagan’s life was, ironically, for the same purpose. (Although Reagan talked a hardliner’s game, he had a tendency to walk a moderate’s walk. By reducing him to a specter, Bush Sr. and other behind-the-scenes powerbrokers could use his image to promote a radical neo-con, neo-liberal agenda without interference from the old man himself). More eerily, both Chapman and Hinckley shot their victims after becoming obsessed with J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, in combination with some other media text (the Fawcett bio for Chapman, the movie Taxi Driver for Hinckley).
Speculation: As someone who has watched Monday Night Football for thirty years, I can tell you that celebrity guest appearances are rather common. It’s relatively rare to have two or more on at the same time, although it happens occasionally. It makes me wonder if the pairing of Reagan and Lennon might have been calculated. After all, given their differences in opinion, and the vitriol that Reagan’s party and supporters had for Lennon, putting the two together might have resulted in a really ugly situation if, say, they got into a shouting match over policy. Someone must have thought that bringing Reagan and Lennon together would have been a bad idea--unless they had studied the situation and realized that their personalities would mesh almost perfectly.
Given Lennon’s trouble with ultraconservative factions within the US government, one might consider Reagan’s fatherly affection toward Lennon as an olive branch, of sorts. After all, the 1972 elections were long over. And just as someone had turned Reagan from New-Dealer to hardliner, perhaps someone entertained the possibility that they might one day turn Lennon rightward.
Of course, one could also construe Reagan’s actions more cynically as the public-relations distancing of the Republican Party from its role in trying to deport Lennon. At the same time, one has to wonder if they talked about anything other than football. Maybe Reagan wanted to check him out on behalf of other conservatives. Maybe he thought the kid would be okay if he just shut up.
I’m not suggesting a formal (or informal, for that matter) truce. But perhaps, during the game, Lennon might have gotten the impression that if he backed off of his political stances, Intel might finally leave him alone, and let him stay in the US. Reagan could have helped ease pressure against Lennon as long as he stayed apolitical.
One thing’s certain: Lennon’s life improved immensely after meeting Reagan, starting the following month when he moved back in with Yoko Ono. He received permission to stay in the US later in 1975, and he would become a father that October.
Another thing is also certain: Lennon quieted down considerably after that meeting. He reached he singles chart with a re-recording of Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me,” and performed either anonymously (as he did on David Bowie’s “Fame”) or under such pseudonyms as Dr. Winston O’Boogie. After Sean’s birth, however, he made the transformation to househusband, effectively going into musical retirement for the next five years.
November 28, 1968--John Lennon accepts the plea deal that would later become the basis for denying his immigration status in the US.
Commentary: In the late-1960s, British authorities targeted a number of rock stars, among them Keith Richards and Mick Jagger, for penny-ante drug busts, all of which captured headlines at the time. The bulk of these cases (including Lennon’s) wound up plead down to misdemeanors. This indicates that the authorities didn’t really see them as dangerous felons, but rather as examples for the non-famous to obey drug laws.
At the same time, these busts also provided conservative elements within the US an excuse to keep out Lennon or anyone else who might hurt their political ambitions, especially in the election year of 1972. Lennon and Yoko Ono's support of Sen. George McGovern’s bid for the presidency during that year generated a lot of interest from the FBI, urged on by Sen. Thurmond and other Republicans who believed (probably falsely) that Lennon could swing the entire youth vote to their main opponent.
April 23, 1970--Temporary visas granted under the aegis of an unknown US government authority allow Lennon and Ono to travel to California.
Commentary: The memoranda generated by the FBI regarding this event indicate quite clearly the Bureau’s disappointment that someone with authority backed Lennon’s presence in the US, if only on a temporary basis. While the FBI’s reaction proved that Lennon had enemies within US government, it also suggests he had friends.
December 11, 1971--Free John Sinclair rally at Crisler Arena.
Commentary: As a focal point of FBI interest in Lennon, his appearance and Sinclair’s subsequent release a week later might have fostered an exaggerated sense of Lennon’s political importance to Director J. Edgar Hoover and other top brass at the Bureau.
1972--Kyoko Cox kidnapping; open harassment of Lennon and Ono by FBI.
Elaboration: As Jon Wiener wrote to describe all of the political and personal pressure the Lennons underwent in 1972, “Along with the feelings of powerlessness and fear instilled by the government came a loss of artistic energy and confidence.”
Commentary: While I (and most likely Lennon himself) would agree that he really didn’t have the type of political persuasion ascribed to him by some US officials, and that he really wasn’t that important in the grand scheme of things, the sheer volume of declassified intelligence collected on him, and the dirty tricks owned up to by the Bureau in harassing him tells us that they took him far more seriously than he himself did.
Speculation: If one wanted to direct Lennon’s attention away from a total commitment to the US elections of 1972, kidnapping a family member could serve that purpose. While the Lennon’s spent a lot time on activist causes that year, they also spent considerable time, energy, money and attention looking for Kyoko. One might therefore wonder if someone connected to FBI aided her abduction in a material way, especially since the kidnapper was her parent.
April 10, 1972--J. Edgar Hoover orders New York Field Office “to promptly initiate direct efforts to locate subject [Lennon] and remain aware of his activities and movements.”
Commentary: This (and many other documents) indicates the FBI’s urgency in containing Lennon, especially since the Director (Hoover) himself has taken a personal interest. In a way, this echoes his personal interests in such notorious 1930s gangsters as John Dillinger and Pretty Boy Floyd.
Fall 1972--Lennon tells Krassner about surveillance and death threats, saying, “Listen, if anything happens to Yoko and me, it was not an accident.”
Commentary: Although initially Yoko’s friend, the friendship between Krassner and Lennon seems profound. Lennon sponsored Krassner’s publication of Mae Brussell. Brussell noted that the two had a very tight rapport. It would make sense that one or both of the Lennons would have told him what had really been foremost in their minds.
Moreover, Lennon had come to face the possibility that both he and Ono could be a target for government sponsored assassination as early as 1972.
December 1972--Mark Chapman graduates from Columbia High School, DeKalb, GA. By this time he has met and befriended Dana Reeves.
Commentary: Note that Chapman graduated from high school a semester early.
Speculation: I would doubt that Reeves (assuming he was a handler) developed Chapman during high school. If Reeves did control Chapman on behalf of someone else, it seems that it was something more accidental, or coincidental.
In other words, let’s assume, for the moment, that the Manchurian Candidate scenario is accurate. One espiocrat says to the other, “Wow! We just got orders to whack John Lennon. Who’ve we got for a patsy?”
The second espiocrat thumbs through some files and says, “Well, we got this Chapman guy. We developed him in Beirut and Ft. Chaffee under cover of the YMCA. We have a number of controls on him, but the strongest one is this friend back in his hometown in Georgia. Sheriff’s deputy. Handles Intel assignments from time to time. He also moonlights for a security company that we ourselves have used on occasion--you know for black bag jobs and such.”
The two spies look over a number of other case files, before settling on the one marked “Chapman,” and include a couple of others as alternatives.
Of course, that’s speculation based on a flimsy premise: namely, that we are looking at a Manchurian Candidate scenario. Even if we are looking at an MC scenario, I would doubt that it would have happened in the way described by the above scenario. At the same time, the scenario outlines the steps necessary for Manchurian candidate scenario to have taken place. Orders, implementation, logistics, and so forth. Furthermore, if the MC scenario were true, Chapman would have received training, indoctrination and programming without a specific target in mind.
1973--Through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, Lennon gains documentary evidence about the espionage activity against him.
Elaboration: In an internal memo titled “The Supervision of the Activities of both John and Yoko Lennon,” sent to Regional Director (New York), Group 8, the Supervisor of Intelligence Unit 2 wrote:
Their [Ono and Lennon’s] relations with one (6521) Jerry Rubin, and one John Sinclair (4536), also their many commitments which are judged to be political and unfavorable to the present administration. This was set forth to your office in a previous report. Because of this and their controversial behavior, they are to be judged as both undesirable and dangerous aliens.
Because of the delicate and explosive nature of this matter the whole affair has been handed over to the I&N Service to handle. Your office is to maintain a constant surveillance of their residence and a periodic report is to be sent to this office. All co-operation is to be given to the I&N Service and all reports are to be digested by this office.
Commentary: This gives us solid evidence that Lennon wasn’t simply paranoid about government harassment. Moreover, this gives us proof that he knew about governmental activity against him as it happened.
May -July 1973--Chapman moves to Chicago with his friend Michael MacFarlane.
Elaboration: They roomed together. Chapman found life in the metropolis too rough, and headed back to Georgia three months later.
Commentary: The Chicago episode devastated Chapman, and changed him considerably, according to friends. Interviewed by Kevin Sim for a 1988 Public Broadcasting Service documentary, an early girlfriend recounted:
When Mark came back from Chicago he was a different person. His bubble had burst and the little world he had built for himself wasn’t perfect any more. Whereas once he had been very strong--he’d supported me when my parents split up--he was now insecure.
Chapman’s doctors and most biographers assumed his psychological development went along a smooth, predictable course. This led his defense psychiatrists to conclude he must have had a lonely childhood when he in fact did not, that he was awkward with people when he was in fact gregarious, and so on.
Speculation: As with cults, indoctrination most facilely occurs when the recruit is at a time of high instability, or when they are at a nadir in life. Chapman is no longer in school. In Chicago, he’s hundreds of miles away from anyplace he ever called home. He’s also gone from a situation of parental guidance and support to now being on his own. One could suspect he’d be more ripe for manipulation, perhaps by Dana Reeves or somebody else.
July 1973-1975--Chapman attends DeKalb Junior College and works summers at his local YMCA branch as Assistant Director of Youth Programming.
Commentary: This, among other things, establishes Chapman’s relationship to the YMCA. As Philip Agee noted, the CIA actually used the YMCA as cover as a course of routine. That wasn’t to say that the Y is some huge spy organization, or that it is actively involved with espionage. What we can say is that we have a documented case where CIA personnel used the Y for this purpose. At the same time, the conspiracy hypotheses of Mae Brussell, Fenton Bresler and just about everyone else who adopts the MC scenario hinges on the use of the CIA’s connection to the YMCA.
The Grounded Walrus: Timeline and Motion (Preamble)
The Manchurian Candidate hypothesis espoused by Mae Brussell, Fenton Bresler, Sean Lennon and others in the death of John Lennon suffers greatly in a number of respects. First of all, MCs don't typically act in the way that Chapman did, as evidenced by the Christic Institute's research and by the experience of pyschiatrists who have examined cases where the MC hypothesis is much stronger. Second, it offers little in terms of agency. Other than Dana Reeves, we cannot cite another source of influence. Moreover, we cannot ascertain if Reeves had some sinister connections to Intel, or even if he's done anything illegal (in fact the Georgia Bureau of Investigation did not charge him with any crime in connection to the Lennon slaying). Third, one could very well develop an alternative explanation based on the observations first posted here by Dr. Alistair and expanded upon in subsequent commentary by Charles Gramlich. Specifically, one might very well argue that psychological maladies other than the defense's claim of schizophrenia or psychosis compelled Chapman to fire at Lennon that night.
The official story, the conspiracy angle, and the hypothesis drawn by contributors here seem to have little merit until you look at the events themselves in sequence. It is at this point where the whole of the official story has, well, a lot of holes most aptly explained by a conspriacy explanation. I'm not saying that Brussell, Bresler, Lennon Jr., our friend Alan et al are correct in their hypotheses. What I'm saying is that they have valid criticisms of the prevailing explanation that aren't glib or easy to express. In order to get at the heart of their concerns, one has to take a look at the actions surrounding the murder of John Lennon in the context of the shooter's life, the victim's life, the contemporary cultural and countercultural strife for dominance, and the pressures placed upon investigators to come up with a facile solution.
To this end, I will contruct an annotated timeline of the parallel events in the lives of Lennon and Chapman. The stipulated facts appear in boldface in front of each entry. If the facts are somewhat evolved, I will spell them out in a subsection marked 'Elaboration.' Most typically I'll examine the potential meanings of the datum in a subsection marked 'Commentary.' In some cases, I will add conjecture, "what if" scenarios that the data suggest, under the subsection marked 'Speculation.'
Well, after four years of blogging, I guess I was in for a bit of a slowdown. But I’ve had such a problem getting finding time to write, research and make it online that production has slowed almost to a halt--as you regular readers well know.
The year was marked by a number of personal setbacks occurring in meatspace, and a series of three changes of address. Moreover, offline concerns have increasingly demanded my attention.
Year four was not without intrigue, though. I’m really not free to go into details here, but I’ve learned a valuable lesson: when you look at specific individuals on the information superhighway, they look back at you. I had an intense period of correspondence with a person who found himself/herself a subject on this blog, and a brief correspondence with another. The latter was pleasant and cordial. The former was also cordial, but entailed something of a proposition, later taken off the table. At the same time, there seemed to be an undercurrent to the transaction, which left me wondering what he/she was really after (although I can take a good guess).
Of course, the highlight of the year was finally posting (and listening to) your efforts on The Golden Ganesh. After thinking for so long that the concept would never work, I now know that it can. Then again, I had the pleasure of knowing many of you now by voice. Believe it or not, it came to the point where I could identify the speaker simply because of what their voice patterns looked like. What’s more, after a LA-based company heard it, they invited me to write something for them. If that materializes, I’ll certainly let you know.
There seems to be considerable interest in older series from around the ‘Net. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, but the bulk of these involve the posts about Jimi Hendrix, the Paul McCartney death rumor, and Manson. Still, I occasionally see new links to the Grail series, and the annual JFK posts. And when Senator Edward Kennedy passed away last year, there were not only new links to the Chappaquiddick series, but for a week the X-Spot received over two-hundred visitors per day.
As most of you know, I started this blog mostly as a data dump, an expansion of prior research. At the same time, it has become something of personal importance, as it has served as a vehicle for communicating with most of you. Despite my poor showing in the cybersphere, you’re all still very much on my mind. This year saw our friends Foam, K9, Jean, Libby, Yinyang and Devin facing personal trials/passages/crises. As much as I was with them in spirit, I felt a certain frustration about not being nearly as present in print. For what it's worth, I lit a candle for you all.
I cannot say how long these conditions will persist, but I thank you all for continuing to stop by, even if it’s just to say hello. I’ll still be around your pages to say hi, just not nearly as often as I used to. I find that I still have things to say, in this space, so slowly or not, I’m going to continue until I just can’t.
In other words, we’ll still have a post titled “The X-Spot: Year Five,” along with the annual April Fool’s Day gag (which I already have in mind), and JFK posts. I’ve got games, humor, and other series stirring in my mind too.
So if you’re still with me, I hope you enjoy yourself.
in transactional terms, the voice was that of a parental injunction blocked from his conscious integrated understanding due to some trauma, and so stood alone in his mind`s ear as a command.
the traumatised child without access to normal executive functioning has the potential to give in to the command from the authority of the parent. (parental injuction) in chapman`s case, the order to kill.
this is seen in psychotic patients with abnormal ideation.
thier adult is so uncathected (blocked) that there is a will to obey the voice in thier head that interferes with normal functioning.
one sees this in religious hysterical types that shoot abortion doctors.
they are typically manipulated by a svengali type who aligns himself with the parental injuction of the person doing the shooting. --Dr. Alistair in a comment earlier in this series.
In the above quote, Dr. Alistair outlined several critical prerequisites for the type of external control over the individual that the Manchurian Candidate scenario would need with respect to Mark Chapman. First, there is the traumatic childhood. As noted earlier, Diane Chapman, Reverend Hendrix, the Blankenship family and others who knew Chapman in the past noted nothing in Chapman's past that would equate to trauma. At the same time, Chapman himself, in his conversation with Dr. Lee Salk, characterized his childhood as a series of traumatic events, from repeated rescue of his mother from the alleged beatings of her husband to brutalization by the father himself. One has to wonder at that point which is true, or to what degree each point of view might be accurate.
The second point raised in Dr. Alistair's comment is that of ideation, or the thought processes that go on inside someone's head. Despite the claims of the prosecution and court-appointed psychiatrists, Chapman could have suffered psychotic episodes throughout this brief episode of his life. He certainly had thoughts about suicide, or suicidal ideation. Still, one would have to question Dr. Daniel Schwartz's contention that Chapman actually confused his identity with that of John Lennon. After all, in his dialogue on the matter, Chapman demonstrates a profound and persistent awareness that he and Lennon are two different people--opposites, in fact.
As to the third point raised here, that there was a "svengali type" who aligned "himself with the parental injuction of the person doing the shooting," this is very much the case here. Chapman indeed had a parental/Svengali-type figure who held considerable influence over him for many years: from Chapman's high-school days to weeks before the shooting. Curiously, Fenton Bresler referred to him only by the alias Gene Scott. Mae Brussell, in the weeks following the murder, starkly referred to him by his real name, Dana Reeves (left). Neither examined him very closely, although both suspected that he could have been the critical link between Chapman and US Intelligence.
Rev. David Moore, Chapman's superior at Ft. Chaffee, once made the mistake of driving Mark around while carrying a legal firearm. Chapman, staunchly pacifist, derided his friend and boss over the need to carry weapons, saying, "That's disgusting! Why do we have to have so many guns in America."
Yet, when Reeves visited Mark at Ft. Chaffee, Chapman's attitudes towards firearms did a complete turnaround. In a New York magazine article penned by Craig Unger in June 1981, one coworker remarked:
As soon as Dana arrived, Mark's behavior changed...Mark cleaned his nails for Dana, he put on his clean clothes for Dana, he made telephone calls for Dana. And there was Dana's gun. Mark was so non-violent. He hated guns. I still remember them sitting in the office of the YMCA center at Fort Chaffee, playing with this gun, looking at it, talking about it. It just wasn't like Mark. They started rough-housing, then Dana gave Mark this look. He froze.
Pretty much all sources point to Reeves as the genesis of Chapman's fascination with guns. After the Ft. Chaffee stint, Reeves helped get Mark get a position as a security guard. He then suggested to Chapman that he could make more money as an armed security guard, whereupon Mark took formal weapons training for--as far as we know for sure--the first time in his life.
Reeves held considerable influence over Chapman, as attested to by many parties. First of all, they lived together. Second, they had a relationship that had began in high school, and continued after the death of John Lennon. Others close to Mark noted the profound changes in Chapman when the two were together. As June Blankenship (mother of Chapman's former beau Jessica) said, "We don't know much about Dana, except that he's a bad influence.... He came to the house several times and we tolerated him for Mark's sake only."
Actually, Reeves was more than simply an influence--good, bad or indifferent. Reeves also played a material role in the murder of John Lennon.
The Grounded Walrus: Beirut, Ft. Chaffee and Points West
Mark Chapman might have gone to Beirut anticipating a chance to give war-torn youth an opportunity to forget their woes for awhile, form new friendships, and engage in the wholesomeness we typically associate with the YMCA. But that's not what he found once he got there. In his official report to YMCA's DeKalb board, he wrote:
We were to work as camp counselors in Camp Faris, a beautiful resort area in the mountains of Beirut and during the first week to prepare for our work, we went sight-seeing and worked at the Beirut YMCA telephoning families about the activities that were being offered. Then in a matter of days, the entire city was one big blasting zone, in which mortar fire and rapid machine gun sounds could be heard echoing in the streets. All vital communications were cut off for nearly a week and it seemed the 'roller coaster' effect of these outbreaks cancelled Camp Faris.
Summarizing, Chapman left Georgia only to find Beirut in the throes of civil war. Instead of working with kids, he had to content himself with phone canvassing, and then only for a short time. The YMCA sent him back to Georgia after only a few weeks, which means that for the most part he supposedly spent his time in Lebanon taking cover at the local YMCA youth hostel. Yet, Chapman concluded his report writing, "Returning to Atlanta, I felt discouraged but thrilled to have had an overseas experience and to see and hear so much."
Okay, the discouragement we can understand. We can also credibly assume that he saw quite a bit. After all, most Americans, especially civilians, never see actual combat. But what could he have possibly learned? What could have thrilled him enough to make audio recordings of the carnage?
Mae Brussell posited that the Beirut trip gave the CIA ample opportunity to train Chapman in black ops. Fenton Bresler went on to say that this trip might have afforded the Agency the chance to "blood" Mark, or in other words desensitize him to violence by exposing him to massive amounts of it. Recording gunfire exchanges on audiotape demonstrated his change from a meek geek who abhorred bloodshed to someone unfazed by it, for example.
Chapman would have further opportunities for training when working at the YMCA camp at Ft. Chaffee, which had a strong military presence. When he moved to Hawaii, he would have also been in range of a number of naval installations who would have held sway over the local psychiatric clinics that counseled Mark through his depression and suicide attempt. One hospital even gave him a means to stay in Hawaii by offering jobs to both him and his wife, presumably--if you believe Brussell and Bresler--to keep him close to personnel who could foster and monitor his progress.
Bresler and Brussell couldn't (or didn't) give specific names with respect to who might have programmed Chapman to act as a Manchurian Candidate. And to my knowledge, no one has stepped forth to claim that he programmed Mark. So we have to view Bresler and Brussell's speculation with a pillar of salt.
The problem with the Manchurian Candidate scenario often alluded to in the murder of John Lennon is that unlike earlier cases where this might have been a possibility, there is no connection to specific people. For example, Sirhan Sirhan exhibited evidence of hypnotic programming before his role in the RFK assassination, specifically a notebook written under hypnotic trance.* Through Vincent Bugliosi's examination of Johnny Gray, Jr. in a related civil suit we learn that Sirhan had been controlled by one Rev. Jerry Owen, who sequestered him for long periods of time, of which Sirhan had no memory.** We even have a former CIA shrink, Dr. William Bryan, boasting to friends, shortly before his death, that he personally programmed Sirhan.
Whether or not the Manchurian Candidate scenario is accurate in the RFK assassination, we at least have names of people involved with possible hypnoprogramming. We have a specific window of time and methodology to explore. We have physical evidence of hypnoprogramming taking place before the crime. And we have stipulation from all sides that Sirhan had been in a trance state many times, including at the time of Kennedy's death.***
In Chapman's case, we have none of these factors. Instead, we have observations consistent with hypnoprgramming at the time of the crime, and a possible indication of hypnoprogramming several weeks before the crime.
In short, the RFK case had connections to actual people who had actual ties to the CIA. In the Lennon case, we lack specific connections to government agents. What's worse, although both Brussell and Bresler alluded to one individual who might have had such ties, and whose actions seem very much like those of a handler, neither of them could provide solid links between this individual and US Intel. If there were some type of hypnotic control over Chapman, this person would most likely be the one who could exploit or manage it the best. ___________________________________ *Sirhan didn't remember writing the damning entries headed with the mantra "RFK must die, die, die!." Drs. Bernard Diamond (University of California, Berkeley), Eduard Simpson-Kallas, and the aforementioned Herbert Spiegel all concurred that Sirhan wrote this phrase and others appearing on the same pages under hypnosis. Dr. Diamond testified in Sirhan's trial, and served as a defense expert witness for Mark Chapman in the Lennon shooting too.
**Bugliosi represented a Los Angeles TV station, KCOP, in a suit brought against them by Owen. The station withdrew an offer of a religious show to Owen after FBI agents warned the management that Owen might have been involved in a conspiracy to murder Robert Kennedy. Owen sued the station for defamation. Bugliosi opted for an affirmative defense. In other words, the former Manson prosecutor attempted to defend the station by proving a massive plot against RFK, which involved Owen, actually existed. Judge Crickard ended the trial after Gray Jr.'s testimony, ruling for Owen, but only awarding him a tiny amount that barely covered his legal expenses.
***The prosecution/official story averred that Sirhan hypnotized himself with the help of alcohol (specifically four Tom Collins), and without the help of anyone from the outside. Dr. Spiegel found this hypothesis preposterous.
The Grounded Walrus: It's Fun to Stay at the Y, MC, Eh!
Many have spoken about the purported link between the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) and US Intel. Some, like Paranoia's Al Hidell have implied that the connection is one in which the latter controlled the former. In an article titled "Who Killed John Lennon?" he wrote, "He [an-ex-CIA officer] suggested [to Fenton Bresler] that the YMCA was possibly one of many CIA-infiltrated front organizations."
In Bresler's actual description, this ex-case officer did a bit more than simply suggest:
In 1979, when I was researching a book on The Chinese Mafia with top-level cooperation from the US Drug Enforcement Agency, a DEA agent who was also an ex-CIA case officer boasted to me, over a steak dinner in The Hague, Holland, about the agency's use of the YMCA as a superb front for their activities. He was not specific, and I did not press him; at the time, it was no part of my concern.
That the Agency might have used the YMCA in some manner doesn't seem all that surprising. After all, the CIA has routinely enlisted the aid of major corporations and universities since its inception. That wouldn't necessarily make the Y, if the reports are true, an Agency front in the manner of, say, Air America, or the Charles Geschicter Foundation for Medical Research, both of which the CIA actively operated in order to further its agenda. Everyone, including Bresler, agrees that the YMCA's mission and control are on the up-and-up. Nevertheless, that wouldn't preclude the CIA from occasionally using the YMCA for specific purposes on an ad hoc basis.
The late-Philip Agee referred to this use of the YMCA a number of times in his autobiography Inside the Company: A CIA Diary. Writing from Quito on April 1, 1962:
The new Minister of government, Alfred Albornoz, is an anti-communist independent known personally by [Chief of Station James] Noland (his son is a friend of Noland's and of mine--he's president of the YMCA board on which I replaced Noland in January 1).
So, two CIA officers, one the high-ranking Chief of Station, served as a board member for the YMCA in Quito: namely, Noland and Agee. Okay, so they could have both been into the YMCA. That's not unusual. I belonged to the YMCA, once, and my father was a local assistant director. Neither of us are spies.
Fortunately, Agee gives us a bit more insight into his YMCA activities. The CIA not only approved of them, but sponsored them for obvious reasons. In an entry dated January 12, 1963, Agee wrote:
My year as a director of the YMCA is ending, but now I am going to organize a YMCA basketball team. [Deputy Chief of Station Warren] Dean has approved the use of station funds for the players' salaries so we will be able to attract some of the best in Quito. We'll also buy uniforms and bring in shoes from the U.S. by diplomatic pouch. The station administrative assistant, Ray Ladd, will coach the team. The advantage to the station is to continue widening our range of contacts and potential agents through the YMCA, which was only established here a couple of years ago.
If the YMCA actually knew about or even suspected CIA manipulation in Ecuador or elsewhere, they seemed rather indifferent. Of course, we have no real evidence that the YMCA knew about CIA infiltration. Nevertheless, what we can see is that whether in Latin America or Europe, US Intel has had little shyness about using the Y when it wanted to.
Bresler, Mae Brussell, and others suspecting CIA involvement with Lennon's death, have speculated that the YMCA played a role in both housing Mark Chapman during his training, and providing him with cover, especially on foreign assignments.
Chapman's ties to the YMCA were well documented, numerous and persistent throughout his free life, and for some time after his incarceration. His father taught at the South DeKalb branch. Mark also worked there as a youth counselor, and even fantasized about working for the Y full-time. He even went through the process of enrolling into college twice so that he could make that fantasy come true.
YMCA staff likewise regarded Chapman quite highly. In addition to the previously quoted comments of his YMCA superior, David Moore, Bresler quoted Tony Adams, executive director of Chapman's branch:
He trusted me and, even though he loved his father, he confided in me just as much....one of the most top-notch young people I have met in sixteen years with the YMCA....I'd say it [his] was a very happy family and Mark was a happy, well-adjusted boy.
In 1973, Adams hired Chapman to work at the Y during the summer, while on break from DeKalb Junior College. The following year, Adams named Mark Assistant Director in charge of the summer youth group. By 1975, with his college career crumbling around him, Chapman applied to YMCA's International Camp Counselor Program (ICCP)-Abroad. The Y waived the $100 application fee for Mark, and offered him a variety of places around the world in which to work. Chapman made the USSR his first choice.
The YMCA rejected Chapman's bid to go to the Soviet Union, citing as reasons his youth and inability to speak Russian. Instead, they sent him to his second choice: Beirut, Lebanon.
Both Moscow and Beirut were curious choices. But Bresler (with the help of Bonnie Mairs, an employee working at YMCA headquarters in New York) found something else just as intriguing. Despite confirmation of Chapman's long association with the YMCA by his superiors, his family, and friends who visited him on site of his employment, this application form was the only extant document that the national YMCA headquarters had on him.