A voice in his head told him “do it! do it!” Mark Chapman said in jail cell tapes, a new minute-by-minute documentary of the murder reveals.
John Lennon’s murderer Mark David Chapman’s deranged confessions are being heard for the first time, revealing how he gunned down the Beatle when a voice in his head said “Do it! Do it!”
The killer’s words will be part of a new Apple TV+ documentary, “John Lennon: Murder Without a Trial,” released Wednesday, ahead of the 43rd anniversary of the murder on Friday.
It will also detail the Beatle’s last moments described on camera for the first time by two of the witnesses to his murder — and how his final words were: “I’m shot.”
The documentary casts new light on how Chapman, 68, who has repeatedly failed in his bids to be paroled for the murder, confessed to it behind bars, claiming he shot Lennon because he was “a phony.”
Under hypnosis, in preparation for a trial that was slated to have him pleading insanity, Chapman recalled sitting on the curb, seeing a black limo pull up to the building.
John Lennon gives an autograph to Mark Chapman outside of the Dakota. Hours later, Chapman would shoot Lennon dead. Popperfoto via Getty Images
Chapman was obsessed by the novel “The Catcher in the Rye,” and in deranged tapes recorded under hypnosis in his prison cell, claimed Lennong was “a phony,” the catchphrase of the novel’s anti-hero, Holden Caufield. AP
The door opened and Yoko Ono emerged. He remembered seeing Lennon exiting next.
“I see a struggle,” he says, eerily calm. “Part of me didn’t want to do it. Part of me did. I had a voice in my head, saying, ‘Do it! Do it! Do it!”
By then, Chapman had already walked 6 feet toward the famous Beatle. “Took the gun out of my pocket and aimed at him and just fired away, all five shots. It felt like it was not me but it was me.”
Taxi driver Richard Peterson and Dakota Building concierge Joe Hastings also ended almost precisely 43 years of silence to describe in second-by-second detail how they saw Lennon fall outside the front door of the building where he lived with wife Yoko Ono and son Sean, 6.
Chapman’s horrific attack, to which he immediately confessed, sent shockwaves around the world.
John Lennon and Yoko Ono were photographed in front of The Dakota less than a month before his murder. At the time they were filming a video for “Starting Over,” from their album “Double Fantasy.” Getty Images
Peterson tells how he watched the killing unfold from his taxi, believing momentarily that he was watching a movie being made.
“This kid says, ‘John Lennon,’” Peterson said. “He was a chunky guy. I’m looking at him shoot Lennon.
“I thought they were making a movie. But I didn’t see no lights or cameras or anything. So, I realized, ‘Hey, this ain’t no movie.’”
Hastings told the documentary: “He runs past me. He goes, ‘I’m shot. He had blood coming out of his mouth. He just collapsed on the floor.
Horrified crowds grathered almost immediately outside The Dakota, learning details of what had unfolded from The Post. Bettmann Archive
“I half rolled him to his back and took his glasses off, put them on the desk. And Yoko was screaming, ‘Get an ambulance, get an ambulance, get an ambulance.’”
In the documentary, Hastings recalls rolling over the rock star and securing Lennon’s shattered eyeglasses.
“The glasses went back to Yoko,” director Nick Holt told The Post. She wanted photographer Bob Gruen to photograph them on table, with a glass of water, overlooking Central Park.
Chapman was obsessed with “Catcher in the Rye,” a novel by reclusive author J.D. Salinger. The title character is Holden Caufield, a disturbed upper-class teenager, home from boarding school and raising hell in Manhattan as he rails against “phonies.”
Taxi driver Richard Peterson saw the murder through the windshield of his cab and was convinced that he was watching the filming of a movie — until he realized the full horror was a reality. Apple TV+
Mark Chapman entered a guilty plea for the murder of John Lennon and received 20 years to life. EPA
Desperate to lock in with the character, Chapman reveals in the documentary that he thought his assassination of Lennon would get him closer. “I thought I would turn into somebody if I killed somebody,” he says. “I thought I would turn into Holden Caufield.”
As to why he chose Lennon, Chapman provided a nutty answer on the hypnosis tape, using Caufield’s “phony” catchphrase.
“You ever hear [Lennon] say that all you need is love? Here is what I say to that,” he said on tape.
“All you need is love and $250 million. He was the biggest, phoniest bastard that ever lived. I wasn’t about to let the world endure 10 more years of his menagerie of bullshit.”
Attorney David Suggs was co-counsel for Mark Chapman. He tried convincing Chapman to plead insanity, but the deranged killer would not hear of it. Apple TV+
One person not surprised by Chapman’s internal voices is attorney David Suggs, who is also speaking for the first time in the documentary.
“That was part of his delusional madness,” Suggs, who served as co-counsel for Chapman, told The Post.
“He saw demons. He had one demon who told him to kill [his lead attorney] Jonathan Marx. The man was insane.
“He went back and forth, between praying to God and praying to the Devil. Stretches would go by where he sounded pretty okay. And then stretches would come where he was off the wall.”
A vigil in the aftermath of Lennon’s murder asked “why?” But one of his defense attorneys, speaking for the first time after almost 43 years, says there is no answer, because Chapman was “delusional.” Getty Images
“Crazy” was key in the defense of Chapman. Unquestionably, he committed the murder. To be decided in the trial: whether he was in his right mind when he did it.
They were prepared to defend their client’s insanity when, soon before the start of the trial, Chapman took them by surprise.
As the killer says in the documentary, “I’m sitting in front of the radio, listening to rock music, and I felt the Holy Spirit talk to my heart. I knew that the lord wanted me to plead guilty.”
A guilty plea was entered. The judge accepted a conversation with God as being rational. Chapman received a sentence of 20 to life. He remains behind bars.
Mark Chapman has applied for parole more than 10 times. He’s been rejected every time. Apple TV+
Asked if Chapman believes he really heard the voice of God or if he was making it up to avoid the stress of a trial, Suggs responded, “If you are looking for rational explanations as to why he did what he did” – in terms of the killing and the plea – “you will not find them.”
Delusions may have ruled the mind of Chapman, but, hours before bullets violently took his life, Lennon brimmed with optimism and ambition.
He and Yoko were putting the finishing touches on their album “Double Fantasy.” Earlier that day, in an interview with radio reporter from the West Coast, he brightly said, “I consider my work won’t be finished until I am dead and buried. And I hope that’s a long, long time…”
Right after that interview, Lennon went to the Hit Factory on West 48th Street, where he and Yoko were working on the album with producer Jack Douglas. The incident on December 8 plagues Douglas.
“John Lennon: Murder Without a Trial,” streaming on Apple TV+, brings new information to the telling of John Lennon’s murder
“Normally I went home with him,” Douglas says in the documentary. “How many times do you replay me being in the limo, him getting out, me spotting this nutcase, tackling him and the world being different? You replay that too many times and you start going crazy.”
There is one final Lennon mystery: Lennon’s cremated ashes. Holt said, “Elliott Mintz [a media consultant and family friend] told us that people don’t know where the ashes are.”