09/19/12 — Serial rapist goes to prison

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Serial rapist goes to prison

By John Joyce
Published in News on September 19, 2012 1:46 PM

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John Lewis Chapman

A serial rapist, who continued his assaults despite knowing investigators were onto him, was sentenced in August to more than three decades in prison in Wayne Superior County Court.

"I've been prosecuting in this district for 15 and a half years, this was by far the scariest man I've come across in that whole time," Assistant District Attorney Sandy Meyer said.

John Lewis Chapman, 24, was sentenced to more than 33 years in prison for the sexual assault of three women and the attempted sexual assault of another.

A plea agreement resulted in Chapman receiving the maximum sentence.

Ms. Meyer said she was thrilled with the outcome of the case.

"This is a great victory for the protection of the community from this offender," she said, adding that she is certain there would have been future victims if Chapman had been set free.

On March 17, 2010, Chapman broke into an apartment at The Reserve at Bradbury Place and sexually assaulted a 40-year-old woman.

Chapman struck again two days later, this time at Windsor Creek Apartments. His intended victim was a 34-year-old woman, but a patrol officer came upon Chapman and stopped him, questioning his purpose for being in the area. As a result, Chapman voluntarily came to the police station to be questioned. He also allowed investigators to take DNA samples.

Chapman missed a follow-up appointment scheduled for the next day and was arrested.

Within a week, he made bail and was freed April 7 on a pre-trial release.

On July 18, in the 500 block of South Harding Drive, a 51-year-old woman was sexually assaulted after Chapman broke into her home.

"He seemed to be getting smarter as he went along. He started wearing gloves after the second incident," Ms. Meyer said. "He started assaulting his victims in other areas of the house. He moved them from the bedroom to other areas of the home so he could see if he was leaving evidence behind."

Ms. Meyer said she was particularly disturbed by this case because Chapman continued to commit these acts even though he knew police were looking at him.

Goldsboro police Sgt. Dwayne Dean said investigators again found DNA and other evidence at the scene. He said it took time for the SBI to conduct tests on the DNA previously submitted.

It would be six months before Chapman would strike again. His fourth and final attack came just 24 hours before his capture.

On Jan. 6, Chapman went back to The Reserve at Bradbury Place and sexually assaulted a 50-year-old woman in an apartment next door to where he had previously attacked.

The next day, DNA results came back from the first attack, and Chapman was arrested.

Chapman will serve a mandatory minimum of 33 years in prison.

The day of the sentencing, his victims were each given two minutes to speak.

There, in the bright lights of the courtroom, each woman opened up about what he did to her and how she was affected.

For most, if not all of them, it was the first time they had seen the face of the man who had raped them.

"It was the middle of the night when they were attacked. They were awakened out of their sleep. They could describe everything about the guy except his face," police investigator Sgt. Paige Learnard said.

After the final victim spoke, Ms. Meyer played the tape of a 911 call the woman made the night she was attacked.

"The 911 tape was incredibly powerful. The first time I started to play it, in my office when I first got it and was preparing the case, I sat in my office and cried," she said.

"You could hear the fear in her voice. She couldn't catch her breath," Ms. Learnard said.

"There were men in the courtroom, men who had nothing to do with the case, with tears in their eyes."

Both the prosecutor and the detectives who investigated the case said the victims had done everything right -- they locked their doors, secured their homes.

According to the plea deal, Chapman pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree burglary, first degree burglary, attempted second-degree sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault and attempted second-degree kidnapping.

Because he cannot begin serving one sentence until he completes the former, Chapman will serve the maximum of each of his first four convictions, and at least the mandatory minimum of his fifth.