Main Line murder-suicide linked to love triangle involving former Del. Senate candidate

Meredith Chapman, a Republican who sought a seat in the Delaware Senate in 2016, was killed Monday in a murder-suicide at her home in Bryn Mawr, Pa. Police said a 48-year-old woman shot  Chapman, then turned the gun on herself. (Chapman campaign for Delaware Senate)

Meredith Chapman, a Republican who sought a seat in the Delaware Senate in 2016, was killed Monday in a murder-suicide at her home in Bryn Mawr, Pa. Police said a 48-year-old woman shot Chapman, then turned the gun on herself. (Chapman campaign for Delaware Senate)

Updated: 5:45 p.m.

A 2016 Delaware Senate candidate and former University of Delaware official was killed Monday in a murder-suicide on Philadelphia’s Main Line.

Meredith Sullivan Chapman, 33, was shot to death by Jennair Gerardot, 47, whose husband Mark was involved in a romantic relationship with Chapman, police said.

Mark Gerardot, worked as a creative director with Chapman at the University of Delaware, police said. He worked at UD from November until April 13, the university said.

Chapman recently moved to the Bryn Mawr section of Radnor Township after leaving her UD post as director of digital communications. Last week, she started as assistant vice president of marketing and creative services at nearby Villanova University.

Chapman was the wife of Newark City Councilman Luke Chapman, who recently said he would not seek a fourth term.

On Monday afternoon, just hours before her death, Chapman posted a photo of herself on the Villanova campus.

“Couldn’t be more excited … just a week on the job and I’m already feeling the love from #NovaNation,’’ she wrote above the picture of her smiling face, a pair sunglasses resting on her head.

The bodies of Chapman and Jennair Gerardot were found shortly after 7 p.m. in Chapman’s new home in the unit block of Lowrys Lane, police said. Officers were called by someone in the house whom they did not identify. “The subject reported two subjects found and blood everywhere,’’ Radnor Police Lt. Shawn Dietrich said.

Police rushed to the home found a gun under Gerardot’s body, said Dietrich.

Gerardot disguised herself by wearing a wig “and took a train from her Delaware home to Radnor. She broke into the victim’s house, and cleaned up the glass so the victim didn’t realize someone was in her home,’’ Radnor Township Police Superintendent William Colarulo told www.philly.com.

When Chapman returned from work at Villanova, just a few blocks away, Gerardot fired her weapon once at Chapman and then took her own life, Colarulo said.

Police said Jennair Gerardot sent emails and text messages to her husband earlier on Monday indicating that she would kill Chapman.

Mark Gerardot was scheduled to have dinner with Chapman near her home Monday night but when she didn’t show up, he went to her home, police said.

When police arrived after the 911 call, he was outside and told officers his wife might be inside, police said.

‘A beacon of light’

Chapman’s family is “devastated, heartbroken and requests privacy and respect as they grieve,” a spokeswoman said Tuesday afternoon.

She was described her as “a beacon of light to anyone who was fortunate enough to meet her.

“She loved her family fiercely, was a compassionate friend and among the most talented and innovative professionals in her field,” the spokeswoman said. “Her death was sudden and tragic, but will not define who she was to the thousands of people who loved her.”

Chapman, who grew up in the Pike Creek area of northern Delaware, was previously a reporter/producer in WHYY’s bureau in Wilmington. She also worked for then-U.S. Rep. Mike Castle before taking a job in UD’s communication’s office.

A Republican, Chapman ran for political office in 2016, challenging eight-term Democratic incumbent Dave Sokola for the 8th District Senate seat. Chapman lost the race by 747 votes out of 17,439 cast.

“It’s very tragic,’’ said Sokola, who received a call about Chapman’s death early Tuesday. “I thought she was very reasonable to talk to. It’s way too young for someone who had a very nice career and new opportunities ahead of her.”

Sokola, who spoke to WHYY while driving to Dover for the daily session of the General Assembly, said he would talk to legislative colleagues when he arrived about a way to honor Chapman.

Sokola’s office also issued a written statement that said Chapman was “sharp, hard-working, and motivated by a sincere desire to serve her community. She was bound for great things.”

“Our hearts are broken by the devastating loss of our new colleague, said Villanova spokesman Jonathan Gust in a statement Tuesday. “The thoughts and prayers of the entire university community are with her family, friends and colleagues during this extremely difficult time.”

The University of Delaware also released a statement. “Everyone who knew and worked with Meredith is heartbroken. As a proud alumna of UD, her commitment to her work was exceeded only by her boundless energy. She believed earnestly in the power of communication to bring people together, whether to achieve their collective goals or simply to share their stories. We will miss her.”

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