Wednesday, May 26, 2010
What about the victims?
The Brutal Murders of Martha Matich and Lisa Chapman by Robert A. Waters
Melbert Ray Ford’s execution is scheduled for June 9, 2010. The killer has been waiting on Georgia’s death row for 25 years. There’s no doubt as to his guilt or to the horrible brutality of the two cold-blooded murders he committed. Google “Melbert Ford” and you’ll find dozens of stories about him. In addition to news articles, there are numerous anti-death penalty groups clamoring to stop Ford’s execution. What you won’t find are stories about Martha Chapman Matich, 31, and her niece, eleven-year-old Lisa Chapman. Published verbatim below is the court record of the crimes committed by Ford. WARNING: The details are graphic and horrendous.
“After his relationship with Martha Matich broke up, [Melbert] Ford began harassing her by telephone. Two weeks prior to her death, Ford told a friend of his that he ‘was going to blow her... brains out.’ The day before her death, Ford unsuccessfully tried to convince a friend to drive him to the convenience store where Matich worked.
“Ford told the friend that he planned to rob the store and work revenge upon Matich by killing her.
“On March 6, 1986, Ford talked to several people about robbing the store. He told [a friend] that he intended to kidnap Ms. Matich, take her into the woods, make her beg, and then shoot her in the forehead. Ford tried to talk another into helping him with his robbery (Ford had no car). When this effort failed, Ford responded that ‘there wasn’t anybody crazy around here anymore.’
“Finally, Ford met 19-year-old Roger Turner, who was out of a job and nearly out of money. By plying him with alcohol, and promising him that they could easily acquire eight thousand dollars, Ford persuaded Turner to help him.
“They drove in Turner’s car to Chapman’s Grocery, arriving just after closing time. Ford shot away the lower half of the locked and barred glass door and entered the store. Turner, waiting in the car, heard screams and gunshots. Then Ford ran from the store to the car, carrying a bag of money.
“At 10:20 p.m., the store’s burglar alarm sounded. A Newton County sheriff’s deputy arrived at 10:27 p.m. Ms. Matich was lying dead behind the counter, shot three times. Lisa Chapman was discovered in the bathroom, shot in the head but still alive, sitting on a bucket, bleeding from the head, and having convulsions. She could answer no questions. She died later.
“Ford and Turner were arrested the next day. Turner confessed first and was brought into Ford’s interrogation room to state to Ford that he had told the truth. Ford told him not to worry, that Turner was not involved in the murders. Afterwards, Ford told his interrogators that the shooting began after Martha Matich pushed the alarm button.
“He stated that, had he worn a mask, it would not have happened. Ford claimed at trial that he was too drunk to know what was happening, and that it was Turner who entered the store and killed the victims.”
In October, 1986, a Newton County jury convicted Ford of malice murder and felony murder of Lisa Chapman. They also convicted him of malice murder and felony murder of Martha Chapman Matich as well as armed robbery, possession of a firearm during commission of a felony, and burglary. He received two death sentences.
Here’s a sampling of online anti-death penalty comments:
“My thoughts and prayers are with all of Melbert’s friends and family at this difficult time.”
“Thoughts go to Melbert, his family, friends and supporters at this dreadful time.”
On the website “Clemency for Ray Ford,” a family member writes: “Ray is deeply remorseful for what he did at age 25. He has spent a lot of time thinking and praying about his actions and his participation in this crime. Before this case, Ray was a deeply religious man who was active in his church. In his early 20s, Ray strayed from the path by experimenting with and relying on drugs and alcohol. However, shortly into his time in prison, Ray realized that the only way for him is the way of the Lord and he reconnected with his spiritual past and has returned to Christ.”
Whatever you or I feel about the death penalty, the lives of two of the three people involved in the case have been willfully ignored. Martha Chapman Matich and Lisa Chapman, victims of the fury and rage of a rejected lover, have no website dedicated to their lives. They are little more than props to tell the violent tale of Melbert Ray Ford.
If one of their family members would like to contact me, I would consider publishing a story about their lives. Kmmblog at gmail.com is my email address.
Posted by Robert A. Waters at 8:06 AM