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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Nevada

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, February 28, 2020

Man Charged In Kidnapping And Death Of Pennsylvania Woman Whose Body Was Found in Nevada Desert

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – A Pennsylvania resident has been charged for allegedly kidnapping and killing a woman whom he led to believe was his girlfriend, announced U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada and Special Agent in Charge Aaron C. Rouse for the FBI.

John Matthew Chapman, 40, was charged by criminal complaint in the District of Nevada on February 20, 2020 with one count of kidnapping resulting in death. Chapman is currently in state custody at Allegheny County jail in Pennsylvania, where he awaits his initial court appearance in federal court on the Nevada criminal complaint. The initial appearance is scheduled for March 2, 2020 in the Western District of Pennsylvania.

According to information contained in the criminal complaint, on November 14, 2019, the Bethel Park Police Department in Pennsylvania conducted a welfare check on the victim at the request of a friend. During the welfare check, neighbors stated that they had not seen the victim or her van in approximately two months, but they had recently observed a person whom they believed to be her boyfriend (Chapman) entering and leaving the victim’s residence. Inside the victim’s residence, officers found a fake CIA identification card with Chapman’s name and photograph, the victim’s cellular telephone, multiple zip ties, and a roll of duct tape.

A family member of the victim told investigators that she was communicating with the victim’s Facebook messenger account. Law enforcement determined that Chapman was pretending to be the victim, including responding to messages as the victim after her death.

On November 15, 2019, Chapman was arrested and interviewed by Bethel Park Police Department detectives. During the interview, Chapman admitted that in September 2019 he drove the victim from Bethel Park, Pennsylvania to Las Vegas, Nevada. He further admitted that he misled the victim to believe the trip was a vacation and they would potentially purchase a residence in Las Vegas. Chapman, however, had planned to kill the victim and had a “kill kit” ready before their departure to Nevada.

Chapman told investigators that he drove the victim out to the desert in Lincoln County, Nevada. Under the pretext of a photo shoot, he bound her hands and feet with plastic zip ties and affixed her to a signpost. He then applied duct tape to her mouth and nose, and watched her die from asphyxiation. After the victim’s body was later discovered, she was a “Jane Doe” unknown decedent until she was later positively identified by the Clark County Office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner through dental records.

The investigation revealed that Chapman returned to Pennsylvania afterwards, and continuously used the victim’s residence following her death and passed it off as his own.

If convicted, Chapman faces the maximum penalty of life in prison or death. A complaint is merely an allegation, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The case is the product of an investigation by the FBI. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Lisa Cartier-Giroux and Allison Reese are prosecuting the case.

The publicly filed criminal complaint can be found here.

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Topic(s): 
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Updated February 28, 2020