WILMINGTON, Del — Jennair Gerardot sent a series of texts to her husband, Mark, on Monday in which she laid out how she planned to kill the woman with whom he was having an affair.
Sometime before 7 p.m. Monday, Radnor Township, Pennsylvania, police said, Jennair Gerardot of Wilmington, Del., broke into the home of a former University of Delaware communications official and waited for her to come home, then shot her once before turning the gun on herself.
Police later received a 911 call around 7:05 for "two people down" and "blood on the floor."
When police arrived, Mark Gerardot was outside the house saying, "My wife may be inside."
Radnor Township police called it a murder-suicide and said it stemmed from a love affair between 33-year-old Meredith Chapman and Mark Gerardot.
"It's not a love triangle. You had a man who was married that was having an affair with this other woman," said Bill Colarulo, superintendent of Radnor Township police. "The wife knew about it. And this was a calculated, planned attack. She broke into the house. She was lying in wait, and she shot her as soon as she walked in, and then she shot herself."
Emails and text messages detail the wife's plan to murder her husband's mistress, Colarulo said.
Two rounds were fired from the gun police found at Chapman's home, which she had recently moved into for a new job at Villanova University.
"Meredith was a beacon of light to anyone who was fortunate enough to meet her," a spokesperson for the Chapman family said in a statement. "She loved her family fiercely, was a compassionate friend and among the most talented and innovative professionals in her field. Her death was sudden and tragic, but will not define who she was to the thousands of people who loved her. Her family is devastated, heartbroken and requests privacy and respect as they grieve."
Mark had been a creative director at UD and reported to Chapman. The university said he left his job there earlier this month.
He was supposed to meet with Chapman for dinner Monday night, according to police, and became concerned when she did not show up. That's when he headed to her home, police said.
Officials said this was a "thought-out plan" that likely involved Jennair Gerardot putting on a disguise and taking public transit from Delaware to break into Chapman's home and wait for her to return.
A wig and other clothing items were found in a bag inside the house that did not appear to belong to Chapman, police said.
A post shared by Mark Gerardot (@gerardot1) on
Chapman left UD in March and started a job as an assistant vice president at Villanova University.
"Villanova University was informed last night about the death of Meredith Chapman," said Jonathan Gust, a Villanova University spokesman. "Our hearts are broken by the devastating loss of our new colleague. The thoughts and prayers of the entire University community are with her family, friends and colleagues during this extremely difficult time."
Officers discovered the women's bodies in a house about a mile from Villanova University. Multiple sources told The News Journal that Chapman moved into that house sometime in the last week.
Chapman was married to Newark City Councilman Luke Chapman, who could not be reached Tuesday.
Chapman, a former communication manager for then-Rep. Mike Castle, R-Del., in 2007-2008, ran unsuccessfully in 2016 against veteran state Sen. Dave Sokola, D-Newark. She lost by 5 percentage points.
The news of her death began to spread Tuesday morning, rocking The First State as those who knew her expressed shock and sadness.
“I am shocked and devastated by the news,” said Emily Taylor, executive director of the Delaware Republican Party. “While so much can be said about Meredith being a rising star in the Republican Party, this is a deeply personal loss for me. Meredith and Luke Chapman are close friends. I simply can’t imagine what he is going through.”
Chapman, originally from Landenberg, Pennsylvania, graduated from the University of Delaware, where she earned a bachelor's degree in communication and a master's degree in education. The former UD cheerleader also coached the sport at Newark High School.
Less than two hours before she was killed, she posted the following on her Instagram account:
"Couldn’t be more excited to be Villanova University’s new Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Creative Services! Just a week on the job and I’m already feeling the love from #NovaNation! #GoingNova #HigherEdMarketing#NewAdventures," she posted at 5:42 p.m. Monday.
Chapman and Mark Gerardot worked together at UD since the fall when the Gerardots relocated to Delaware.
The Gerardots wed in October 1993, according to Indiana State Library records. At the time, according to her LinkedIn page, Jennair was a student at Butler University before she later finished a bachelor's degree at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis in 1996.
The couple lived and worked in Indiana, including together at Gerardot & Co., a branding & package design agency co-founded by Mark, until 2011.
According to his personal website, Mark Gerardot was recruited to Greenville, South Carolina, in 2011, where he was hired as creative director at Up&Up, a higher education marketing agency. Jennair found a job at CIRCOR Instrumentation, a manufacturing facility headquartered in Spartanburg, South Carolina, according to her LinkedIn profile.
While at Up&Up, Mark, who is from a large family in northern Indiana, worked with major university clients like the University of North Carolina, Clemson and Auburn.
News Journal reporter Jeff Neiburg contributed to this story.