A Pennsylvania man was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly plotting to kidnap and kill his girlfriend, whose body was later discovered in the Nevada desert.
John Matthew Chapman, 40, faces once count of kidnapping resulting in the death of the victim, according to a news release from the Nevada U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Officials said Chapman was in federal custody and being held in Las Vegas, where he awaits his initial court appearance at the end of this month.
On Nov. 14, officers with the Bethel Park Police Department in Pennsylvania conducted a welfare check on the victim at the request of a friend.
Neighbors told police they had not seen the victim for about two months but that they saw a man, whom they believed to be her boyfriend, entering and leaving the home.
Inside the victim’s home, officers found a fake CIA card with Chapman’s name and photograph on it. They also found the victim’s cellphone, multiple zip ties and a roll of duct tape.
A family member then told the officers that she had been communicating with the victim through Facebook.
Investigators later learned Chapman was reportedly pretending to be the victim and had been responding to her messages on social media after her death.
On Nov. 15, detectives with the Bethel Park Police Department arrested Chapman and interviewed him. Authorities said Chapman admitted to driving the victim from Bethel Park, Penn., to Las Vegas.
According to the news release, Chapman led the victim to believe that the trip was a vacation and that he wanted to buy a house in Las Vegas.
Authorities said Chapman plotted to kill the victim and had a “kill kit” ready before they left for Nevada.
Chapman reportedly told investigators he drove the victim to the desert in Lincoln County. He then told her that he wanted to do a photo shoot and tied her to a signpost using plastic zip ties.
Authorities said he tied her hands and feet with the zip ties, taped her mouth and nose and watched her die from asphyxiation.
Her body was later discovered, and she was identified as “Jane Doe.” The Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office later identified her through her dental records.
Chapman then returned Pennsylvania, stayed in the victim’s house and spent her money, officials said in the news release.
If convicted, Chapman could face a maximum term of life in prison or a death sentence.
The FBI, the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and the Bethel Park Police Department jointly investigated the case.
Marcella Corona is a breaking news reporter who covers crime and justice in Northern Nevada. Support her work by subscribing to RGJ.com.
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