Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Jeremy Bryan Jones

A Break in the Nichols Case

In September 2004, when family members found 45-year-old Lisa Nichols, a divorced mother of two daughters, dead in her bathroom, the community came alive to help solve the murder. Lisa had been raped, shot three times in the head, then set on fire.

From the beginning, neighbors were helpful. One remembered seeing a vehicle parked outside Nichols' home; another recalled part of the license tag number.

Quickly, the evidence led police to a man known as "Oklahoma."

A man who employed "Oklahoma" as a laborer, gave police his full name as he knew it: John Paul Chapman. He also provided authorities with a Social Security number and a birth date.

Now police had a suspect.

Four days later, Detective Burch, the lead detective investigating Nichols' murder, got a call on his cell phone.

It was John Paul Chapman.

An incredulous Burch kept Chapman talking on the phone while his partner traced the call.

They talked about this and that, even the weather.

Twenty minutes later, police surrounded the suspect, who was inside a house not far from where Nichols had been killed.

He was still on the phone with Detective Burch.

Police charged him with capital murder, rape, burglary and kidnapping in Nichols' death.


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