India Chapman tried to save everyone.
When her mother was diagnosed with sarcoidosis in her brain, she assisted her grandmother with any little task. And after a friend at school had familial issues, she offered any guidance she could.
“That baby there thought she could save the world,” her grandmother, Andretta Jones, told AJC.com in a phone interview.
Chapman’s superhero-like mentality even extended to ex-boyfriend Sincere Brown. He was what Jones described as temperamental, frequently having anger problems. But Chapman had a soft spot for Brown, claiming he was often teased at school, Jones said.
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Still, she warned her granddaughter: “India, if you don’t leave him alone, he could hurt you or kill you.”
And according to police, Brown did.
Arrest warrants obtained by AJC.com allege Brown fatally stabbed Chapman eight times Friday morning in what DeKalb County police Maj. J.A. Lewis called a “crime of passion.”
Brown then wrapped her body in a comforter and placed it in a storage container, which was then hid in a shed at his grandfather’s Stone Mountain home, according to the warrant and a DeKalb police report. After hiding the body, Brown allegedly cleaned the gory scene, placing any bloody sheets and clothing in a washer.
Jones isn't sure what led Chapman to meet Brown that day, but she speculates that Brown lured her to a home on Biffle Road and killed her. While the police report offers few details as to what led to the killing, officers noted Brown admitted to a relative he "(expletive) up."
Brown remains in the DeKalb jail without bond on charges of murder and concealing a death.
Meanwhile, Chapman’s school is reeling from the tragic news.
“The entire Atlanta Technical College family is devastated by this tragedy,” spokesman Adam Sweat said in an emailed statement. “We are keeping all those affected in our thoughts during this difficult time.”
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‘Don’t stay silent’
Chapman’s caring, yet fun-loving spirit has been infectious since she was a toddler.
At her first birthday party, Chapman and a clown hired for the event became fast friends, Jones said.
“Most children are afraid of a clown,” Jones said between chuckles, “but she jumped around with the clown.”
Jones practically raised Chapman after her mother, Schara Chapman, was diagnosed with sarcoidosis roughly 12 years ago. Schara Chapman suffered three strokes from the inflammatory disease, leaving her confined to a wheelchair. When she was old enough, India Chapman moved back in with her mom to care for her, which led to an interest in nursing.
To fast-track her career, Chapman decided to pursue her GED at Atlanta Technical College and enroll in a nursing program soon after, Jones said. The 17-year-old had been helping care for her mother for about a year when she made the decision.
By April 2017, Chapman withdrew from North Atlanta High School, where she met Brown. By that summer, the two were dating.
“I thought he was a respectful child,” Jones said of her initial meetings with Brown. “He would say ‘yes ma’am.’”
Then came an about-face.
“He bought her a promise ring,” Jones said. “I took them to get it sized, and he went off in the car and hit my seat while I was driving. I told him he could get out of the car in the middle of the street.”
Those outbursts became more frequent. According to Jones, Brown’s behavior was erratic.
“One minute he’s in a rage and then (the next) he wants to apologize and say he’s sorry,” she said.
Jones and her husband warned Chapman to leave Brown alone, calling him controlling and alleging that he was “physical with her.”
“This boy was so possessive,” Jones said. “He had to be around everywhere she went and knew what was in her phone.”
Chapman eventually broke up with Brown but remained friends with him even after she moved on to another relationship, Jones said.
“She tries to help anyone that comes across her path and make them laugh,” Jones said. “She wants people to be happy.”
A GoFundMe account has been created to help cover her funeral costs, with a goal of $7,500. By Thursday morning, donations were just under $2,000.
Chapman's funeral is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday at the Herschel Thornton Mortuary at 3346 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in southwest Atlanta, according to an online obituary. A public viewing will be held from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday at the mortuary.
As loved ones prepare to bury Chapman, Jones doesn’t want her granddaughter’s death to be in vain.
“I know it’s hard to stop it, but I want (teens) to speak on it,” she said, referring to domestic and teenage violence. “Don’t stay silent. Don’t think it would change because it won’t. It gets worse.”
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