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Medina minister offers home, job to Lennon’s killer

MEDINA – A retired Medina minister has offered a job and an apartment to the man who killed former Beatle John Lennon if he ever gets released on parole.
Mark David Chapman, 57, mentioned the proposal from Rev. Stanley A. Thurber, longtime pastor of Oak Orchard Assembly of God Church, during his parole hearing Aug. 22. The parole board denied Chapman’s application for the seventh time. He can try again in two years.
Thurber, who lives on Route 104, six miles outside Medina, told The Buffalo News on Wednesday that he and Chapman correspond regularly.
“I have faith in him,” Thurber said. “He’s had a real change, what you’d call born again. I would feel comfortable having him here. We’ve got a lot of work right here on my woodlot, which I’d like to have done.”
According to a hearing transcript released Wednesday, Chapman told the parole board that Thurber agreed to provide him with an apartment and help him find a job on nearby farms.
“He’s a minister and he’s an older fellow and he has a lot of contacts in the area and he has agreed to refurbish his upstairs apartment for me and offered me two jobs,” Chapman told the parole board.
He said his wife, Gloria Hiroko Chapman, met Thurber at a church function and was “impressed by his deep commitment to Christ.” After corresponding with Thurber, Chapman said, they met for the first time on Aug. 20.
Thurber said he met Chapman’s wife, who lives in Hawaii, when she came to services at Victory Full Gospel Assembly of God Church in Akron, where he also served as pastor. He noted that he worked for many years with prisoners at Attica Correctional Facility, where Chapman was held until three months ago, and taught Bible studies there.
Chapman was transferred to Wende Correctional Facility in May and placed in “involuntary protective custody.”
“I’ve been in my cell, basically, writing letters, reading, thinking,” Chapman told the parole board. He worked in the prison law library at Attica. He said he didn’t know why he’d been moved.
Thurber said he did not expect that Chapman’s latest bid for parole would be successful.
“You’re not going to come into Wende and get released right away,” Thurber explained. “You’ve got to get settled there. He can apply again in two years. The offer still holds.”
The parole board noted Chapman’s positive efforts while in prison but said releasing him would “trivialize the tragic loss of life which you caused with this heinous, unprovoked, violent, cold and calculated crime.”
Chapman shot Lennon in December 1980 outside the Dakota, the apartment building on Manhattan’s West Side where the former Beatle lived. He was sentenced in 1981 to 20 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.
Chapman, who said his motivation for killing Lennon was instant notoriety, also told the parole board he was surprised more celebrities haven’t been the targets of violence.
“I thought maybe more people would do that and I’m glad that they have not,” he said. “I’m surprised that they have not because this society is just geared toward celebrity like crazy.”
Chapman, who has said he had considered killing several other celebrities, told the parole board he wanted Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, to know that he felt no anger toward Lennon.
“It wasn’t anything against her husband as a person, only as a famous person,” he said. “If he was less famous than three or four other people on the list, he would not have been shot. And that’s the truth.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.