Only two days before a murder-suicide sparked by an affair shocked a Main Line town, a neighbor spotted a woman spying on the victim but decided not to call police.
Radnor Township Police Superintendent William Colarulo said he received an email from a neighbor of Meredith Sullivan Chapman the day after Chapman's death.
The neighbor told Colarulo she had seen a woman with a "grim, concerned or worried" expression on her face standing near her driveway in Radnor Township back on April 21, 2018. The woman was using a pair of binoculars while staring at Chapman's home on Lowrys Lane. The neighbor said the woman then went into a black SUV and drove off.
The neighbor told Colarulo she decided not to report the incident.
Two days later, Chapman, 33, was found shot to death inside her home. The body of Jennair Gerardot was found next to her. Investigators said Gerardot drove to the home and shot and killed Chapman before taking her own life.
Latex gloves, ear plugs and binoculars were found by officers inside Gerardot's black Cadillac XTS, police said. The vehicle was a rental, investigators determined.
During an interview with WDEL News Tuesday, Colarulo said prompt notification about the suspicious activity could have made a difference.
"If we got there in time we could have stopped the woman, investigated and found out the reason she was out there," Colarulo said. "Unfortunately when you have that information after the fact, it really puts you behind the eight ball."
Colarulo added that the investigation is near its end, but police believe their initial theory holds: that Jennair Gerardot acted alone. Also, police discovered that she legally bought the weapon that was used in the murder-suicide.
The shocking slaying was rooted in an affair between Chapman and Gerardot's husband, Mark Gerardot, investigators have said.
"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," Colarulo said. "There were emails and text messages indicating what [Gerardot] planned to do."
Also inside the rented Cadillac was ammunition and a receipt from a nearby gas station that showed Gerardot had been in the area since at least 2:40 p.m. on April 23, 2018, police said. The vehicle was found on an adjacent side street to Lowrys Lane. Gerardot had rented the vehicle April 13, 2018, in Wilmington.
In a twist, Mark Gerardot had gone to a restaurant nearby the murder scene where he thought he'd be meeting his wife for dinner. When she didn't show up, he went to her house and found the bodies. He then called police.
Chapman had just moved into a three-story brick home on Lowrys Lane with her dog Indy.
When investigators arrived at the scene, Gerardot’s husband, Mark Gerardot, told officials that his wife might be inside.
"You had a man that was married, that was having an affair with this other woman," Colarulo said. "The wife knew about it and this was a calculated, planned attack."
Neighbor Tom Dougherty was stunned by the news, telling NBC10 that "this is not what usually happens on this street.”
"Nothing ever happens on this street,” he said.
Chapman was a former WHYY producer for its Delaware bureau and ran an unsuccessful bid as a Republican for a state Senate seat in Delaware. She was also married to Newark City Councilman Luke Chapman, but the couple was reportedly separated.
She had recently moved to the home on Lowrys Lane for a new job at nearby Villanova University.
“Our hearts are broken by the devastating loss of our new colleague,” Villanova University officials said in a statement. “The thoughts and prayers of the entire university community are with her family, friends and colleagues during this extremely difficult time.”
Chapman's family called her a "beacon of light to anyone who was fortunate enough to meet her," in a released statement.
"She loved her family fiercely, was a compassionate friend and among the most talented and innovative professionals in her field," they wrote. "Her death was sudden and tragic, but will not definite who she was to the thousands of people who loved her."
SUICIDE PREVENTION HELP: The National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.