Click on the logos below to view our ratings:


Each lawyer in this firm has more than 25 years experience practicing criminal defense in Gainesville, Florida and surrounding areas, including Alachua, Levy, Bradford, Union and Gilchrist Counties.

(352) 378-1107

1800 N. Main Street
Gainesville, FL 32609
Fax (352) 378-0103
Visa / MC Acceptedcredit

3 minutes reading time (646 words)

December 8, 1980, John Lennon Murdered In New York City - Today In Crime History

On this date, December 8, in the year 1980, John Lennon, a former member of the Beatles, the rock group that transformed popular music in the 1960s, is shot and killed by Mark David Chapman.  He was shot at the entrance of the building where he lived, The Dakota, in New York City.   Lennon had just returned from Record Plant Studio with his wife, Yoko Ono.

Around 5 p.m. on December 8, John Lennon and Yoko Ono left their apartment in the historic Dakota on Central Park West in New York City to go to their recording studio.  As they were leaving the Dakota, they were approached by several people who were seeking autographs. Among them was a man who would be later identified as Mark David Chapman.   John Lennon scribbled an autograph on the cover of "Double Fantasy" for Chapman.

Lennon spent several hours at the studio on West 44th Street, returning to the Dakota at about 10:50 p.m.   John and Yoko exited their limousine on the 72nd Street curb even though the car could have driven through the entrance and into the more secure courtyard.  Three witnesses, a doorman at the entrance, an elevator operator and a cab driver who had just dropped off a passenger, saw Mark David Chapman standing in the shadows just inside the arch.

As John Lennon walked by, Chapman fired five shots from his pistol, four of which struck Lennon in the back.  According to the autopsy, two shots struck John Lennon in the left side of his back and two in his left shoulder.   All four caused internal damage and bleeding.

Lennon staggered up several steps to the room at the end of the entrance used by the concierge, said, "I'm shot," then fell down.  The first policemen at the scene found Chapman waiting "very calmly" where he had been since the shooting occurred.  The police said he had dropped the revolver after firing it, and said Chapman had a paperback book, J.D. Salinger's "The Catcher in the Rye".  A second police team arrived at the Dakota and took Lennon to Roosevelt Hospital.  Officer’s reported that they stretched Lennon out on the back seat and that he was "moaning."

Emergency room physicians at  Roosevelt Hospital said Lennon was dead when the policemen arrived with him.   Lennon was pronounced dead at 11:15 p.m.  It was reported that  Lennon died of shock and loss of blood and that no peron could have lived more than a few minutes with such injuries.  

Yoko Ono was taken to Roosevelt Hospital and led away in shock after she learned her husband was dead.  A statement, later released on her behalf, said: "John loved and prayed for the human race.  Please do the same for him."  Within minutes of the first broadcasts of the news of the shooting, people began to gather at Roosevelt Hospital and in front of the Dakota, reciting prayers, singing Lennon's songs and burning candles.

Chapman was charged with second degree murder and ultimately entered a plea of guilty as charged.  He was sentenced to 20 years to life incarceration.  See Blog “August 24, 1981, Mark David Chapman Sentenced for Murdering John Lennon - Today In Crime History.”  Chapman first became eligible for parole in 2000, which was denied.  Under New York law he is entitled to a hearing every two years.  Chapman has been denied parole six times by the parole board since the year 2000.

Sources and more information:

Mark Chapman: The Assassination of John Lennon, Crime & Investigation Network

Lennon Murder Suspect Preparing Insanity Defense, New York Times, February 9. 1981

Retro: Lennon Shot Dead, Yorkshire Evening Post, December 9, 2010

Lennon’s Killer Is Denied Parole for the 6th Time, New York Times, September 7, 2010

"Police Trace Tangled Path Leading To Lennon's Slaying at the Dakota" by Paul L. Montgomery, The New York Times, December 10, 1980

Related Posts