Pennsylvania man indicted for murdering woman in Nevada desert

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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (KOLO) - A Pennsylvania man was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday, May 19, 2020 for allegedly kidnapping a woman in Pennsylvania then driving her to Nevada and killing her in the desert.

John Matthew Chapman, 40, is charged with one count of kidnapping which resulted in the death of the victim.

He was previously charged by a criminal complaint on February 20, 2020 and is currently in federal custody in Las Vegas, where he's awaiting his initial court appearance in U.S. District Court in Nevada on May 29, 2020.

The investigation began on November 14, 2019, when 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 said that they had not seen the victim in approximately two months, but they had observed a person whom they believed to be her boyfriend (Chapman) entering and leaving the victim’s residence. Inside the victim’s home, officers found a fake CIA identification card with Chapman’s name and photograph, the victim’s cell phone, 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 later determined that Chapman was pretending to be the victim, responding to messages as the victim even 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.

Authorities say he admitted he misled the victim to believe the trip was a vacation and they would potentially purchase a home 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 photoshoot, the victim allowed Chapman to bind her hands and feet with plastic zip ties and affix her to a signpost. He then applied duct tape to her mouth and nose and watched her die from asphyxiation.

The victim’s body was later discovered, and 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.

Chapman returned to Pennsylvania afterward, and continued to use the victim’s residence and money following her death and passed it off as his own.

If convicted, Chapman faces the maximum penalty of life in prison or death.

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