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Saturday, October 10, 2020

The Laquanta Chapman Chainsaw Murder Case

     On the afternoon of October 30, 2008, Aaron Turner, a 16-year-old high school student in Coatesville, Pennsylvania, a Chester County town in the southeastern part of the state, walked home from a community service program for juvenile delinquents. He wore an electronic ankle monitor. Before he reached his parents' house, Turner encountered 28-year-old Laquanta Chapman and another man. Chapman, who lived across the street from Turner, lured the boy into his house. 

     Chapman, his cousin Bryan Boyd who was visiting him from Newark, New Jersey, and Aaron Turner were in Chapman's basement. Chapman told his 19-year-old cousin to go upstairs and turn the music on as loud as possible. After he did this, Boyd returned to the basement where Chapman was screaming at the terrified teen. (Turner either owed Chapman drug money, or had stolen marijuana from him.) Chapman ordered Turner to undress. Once he was nude, Chapman, shot him. Aaron Turner died on the spot.

     When Aaron Turner didn't come home that day, a member of his family called the Coatesville Police Department and reported him missing.

     Five days after the cold-blooded murder, with Aaron Turner still missing, and his decomposing body still lying in Chapman's basement, Chapman decided it was time to dispose of the corpse that was starting to give off a telltale odor. With his cousin's help, Chapman laid Turner's body on a makeshift table. Bryan Boyd and Laquanta Chapman used a pair of chainsaws to cut the body into pieces small enough to fit into trash bags. Chapman, in an effort to destroy DNA evidence left in the chainsaws, used the tools to chop up his pet pit bull. (Chapman, a man with a history of animal abuse, killed his dog for nothing because the evidence destruction ploy didn't work.) Chapman placed several trash bags containing Turner's body parts on the street for refuge pickup.

     More than a year passed, and the police still hadn't recovered Aaron Turner's body. (The teen's dismembered remains had been hauled by trash pickup workers to a local landfill. It was never recovered.) In the meantime, Laquanta Chapman became a suspect in Turner's disappearance and presumed murder.

     On November 15, 2009,  Coatesville police officers armed with a search warrant raided Chapman's house. Officers recovered the two chainsaws which contained DNA evidence that linked Chapman to Turner's murder and dismemberment. This provided the prosecutor, in the no body case, with circumstantial evidence of Aaron Turner's death. 
     Laquanta Chapman and Bryan Boyd were charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and abuse of corpse. The Chester County prosecutor also charged Chapman with a cruelty to animals offense. Under Pennsylvania law, because the prosecutor claimed that Chapman had an arrest record in New Jersey that included felony convictions, the defendant was eligible for the death penalty.

     On November 20, 2011, Bryan Boyd pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, and abuse of corpse. While he avoided the death sentence, Boyd was sentenced to 97 years in prison. Boyd, as part of his plea deal, agreed to testify against his older cousin.

     Laquanta Chapman went on trial on October 24, 2012 in West Chester, Pennsylvania. On November 9, following the testimony of Bryan Boyd, the jury of seven men and five women found him guilty of first degree-murder. He was also convicted of the lesser offenses. The jurors deliberated less than three hours before delivering their verdict.

     A week after the guilty verdict, the judge, following a sentencing hearing, sentenced Laquanta Chapman to death. 
     In March 2016, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reduced Laquanta Chapman's death sentence to life in prison on grounds the prosecutor misidentified Chapman's previous New Jersey convictions as felonies. 

1 comment:

  1. "refuge pickup"?? I think you mean "refuSe", Mr. Fisher! Where have all the proofreaders gone? Seriously. I am not one who is horrendously anal about such things, but yeesh!

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