Family, friends, Jaime Feden’s neighbor testify in John Chapman murder trial

LAS VEGAS — A jury is seated and the first day of testimony has wrapped up in Las Vegas Federal Court in the kidnapping and murder trial of John Chapman.

It’s now been four and a half years since prosecutors say John Chapman, a married man, lured Bethel Park woman Jaime Feden to the Nevada desert under the guise of a house hunting trip and photoshoot in the desert, before murdering her.

>> Timeline of Bethel Park woman’s disappearance, man’s alleged confession of her murder

On Tuesday, Carol Stefanski, a neighbor of Jaime Feden’s on Timberidge Drive in Bethel Park testified. She said she knew Jaime was going to Vegas with Chapman, but she never saw Jaime come home. Stefanski said she did see John Chapman coming and going out of Feden’s townhouse for weeks, which surprised her. She testified that she grew increasingly suspicious when Chapman told her, “You won’t be seeing much of Jaime anymore.”

>> What you need to know about Bethel Park woman’s death, man charged in her disappearance

Stefanski said Chapman insinuated she was working long hours at a new job. This neighbor grew so concerned she texted something about a red purse Jaime borrowed, which she knew wasn’t true, to see if it was Jaime or someone else responding. When the person replied from Jaime’s number, she knew something was terribly wrong. She went through Jaime’s Facebook friends and family members and tracked down Danielle Fenc, Jaime’s lifelong friend.

>> Ex-wife of man suspected of murdering Bethel Park woman in 2019 speaks out

Danielle Fenc testified that Jaime was like a little sister to her. They were less than a year apart, but Fenc said she felt protective of Jaime because of her physical and mental disabilities and because “she was tiny and trusting.” Fenc said Jaime sent her pictures of all the stops she made with Chapman on her way to Vegas and added that Jaime truly loved John Chapman.

Fenc testified that when Jaime texted her that she wasn’t going to come back to Pittsburgh, she was concerned and told Jaime that wasn’t possible - she had a townhouse, a job and pets to take care of. Fenc testified that Jaime grew increasingly angry at her over text messages and emails.

>> Man who allegedly confessed to local woman’s murder now saying he didn’t do it

Fenc was so concerned she testified that she lied and texted Jaime that her Uncle Ralph died. Jaime doesn’t have an Uncle Ralph, but the person on the other end said she wouldn’t be able to make it to the funeral and she and John Chapman needed to focus on their relationship. 

Fenc knew something was right especially because of all of the profanity in the messages, which Jaime never used and called police who immediately came out to Feden’s townhouse to do a welfare check.

>> Who is Jaime Feden: Bethel Park woman who was kidnapped, killed in Nevada desert

Ethel Louise Krutz testified for the prosecution that she basically raised Jaime, teaching her how to walk and talk. She sobbed on the stand when pictures of Jaime in happier times were shown to the jury. She said “Jaime was my world,” and “she was wonderful, she filled my life.” She also testified that Jaime stayed with her the night before she and Chapman left for Las Vegas, and she never saw Jaime again.

Kirstin Lewis also testified on Tuesday. She’s the aunt of Jaime Feden and was the co-signer on Jaime’s trust fund after Jaime’s mom passed away of cancer when Jaime was 11. That trust fund is what paid for Jaime Feden’s Bethel Park townhouse and ensured she could pay her utilities and bills.

She also testified that Jaime knew Chapman for roughly 10 years, he was the only boyfriend she ever had, and their relationship was very much on again off again. 

She said in the year before Jaime was murdered, Jaime grew further apart from her and didn’t communicate as much. She testified that she only learned Jaime died when a Bethel Park Police officer came to her door.

A Bethel Park Police Officer testified Tuesday as the first person on the scene of Jaime Feden’s townhome on Timberidge Drive in Bethel Park when a welfare check was done.

A scientist with the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office, who worked with the mobile crime lab in 2019, testified that she photographed Feden’s townhome and collected evidence, including a black backpack with a roll of duct tape, zip ties and wire cutters. She is still on the stand and will resume testimony first thing Wednesday morning.

We expect the now ex-wife of John Chapman to testify Wednesday too, and we now know the defense will call Chapman’s mom as one of their witnesses.

Channel 11 will have exclusive, live coverage from Las Vegas as the trial resumes Wednesday.

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