It seems like just the other day we were discussing people that collect autographs from people like Hitler. Now comes this disturbing story – letters from Mark David Chapmen are on the block. I love the fact that most people don’t know his name, because it’s one thing journalists always struggle with when it comes to people that kill or shoot famous folks. If you print their names when writing about them, it gives them that infamy they were possibly seeking. I just didn’t know how to tell the story otherwise.
Anyway, the guy that killed John Lennon wrote letters to police officer Stephen Spiro, who arrested him. In those letters, he detailed his obsession with the classic The Catcher in the Rye (which he was found reading on the steps as cops came to arrest him).
Now the story that everyone had talked about previously, was the copy of Double Fantasy that Chapman had Lennon autograph earlier. There are even photos of Lennon signing it, which is eerie.
That album ended up being dusted for prints, and some information was written on it by the police – like an evidence number. That album ended up selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and occasionally shows up at auction. I have no clue why anybody would want to pay the $75,000 Moments in Time is asking for these “historical documents.”
All the letters are typed and signed by Chapmen, and written over a few different months in 1983 (it was December 8, 1980 when he killed Lennon outside the Dakota Manhattan apartments).
It’s strange that in the first letter he mentions wanting to be Spiro’s friend. Also strange that he said he was in the middle of the book which is why he wants it back. Doesn’t the prison have a library? He got 20 years, surely that would be time to track that novel down.
The officer wrote back, hoping he could get evidence on other possible crimes, perhaps thinking Chapman was doing a Charles Manson type of thing, and had followers.
In one letter Chapman talks about Lennon being a “phony” (narrator Holden Caulfield refers to people as phonies through out the book). The officer admits to re-reading the novel, hoping to better relate to that nutjob.
Shortly after the letter correspondence, Spiro was injured and his career as with the NYPD ended. He kept the letters and now needs to pay medical bills due to cancer. I think it’s going to be a heart attack he has when he finds out nobody is willing to spend over a few hundred dollars for these.
Although, I was wrong when the coffin of Lee Harvey Oswald was dug up a few years ago and sold at auction. It ended up selling for $24,000 or so, if memory serves.
There are suckers out there, thinking this crap will be valuable. Or they just have this morbid curiosity which I can’t figure out. For the price of these letters, you could buy a few different sets of autographs by The Beatles.
Yoko Ono is celebrating her 80th birthday with a concert in Berlin. The widow still lives in the same apartment, and has refused to comment on this latest bit of news.