The husband of Sarah Ferguson’s former personal assistant, who was found dead this week, has been arrested on suspicion of murder, her grieving family said, after they were told her body could have tragically been left undiscovered for days.
Jenean Chapman, who had been married to 48-year-old James Patrick for just two months, was discovered by police in her apartment in Dallas, Texas, on Monday, five months after she moved to the city.
Patrick, who was arrested Wednesday 200 miles away in Austin, Texas, remains in custody. NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth reported.
The Duchess of York said last night she was “shocked and saddened” to hear of the death of Ms Chapman, whom she had previously worked with as a member of the royal family.
The 63-year-old said her former assistant, 46, was a “loyal, hardworking, beautiful and fun” woman and promised to help her family pay her funeral costs.
Sarah Ferguson has paid tribute to her former personal assistant Jenean Chapman after she was murdered in Texas. Pictured: The Duchess of York (left) in a car with Mrs Chapman (right)
Jenean Chapman, who had only been married to 48-year-old James Patrick for two months, was discovered by police in her apartment in Dallas, Texas on Monday
The Duchess of York said last night she was ‘shocked and saddened’ to hear of Mrs Chapman’s death
Police initially described Ms Chapman’s death as unexplained, until an autopsy the next day determined her death was a homicide.
Her loved ones claim Patrick, who knew Mrs Chapman for six years, physically abused his wife and described their relationship as ‘toxic’.
Sister Crystal Marshall wrote on Instagram that the time since learning of Ms Chapman’s death had been “the worst days of my life.”
She added: “My sister was recently the victim of physical abuse and her life was brutally taken from her.
“She had so much to look forward to and impacted so many people in her life. Her achievements are too many to count.
“Even though her presence is no longer with us, her light will continue to shine in our hearts and in the fond memories we have of her.
“I love you and miss you dear sister, and I wish you weren’t taken from us so soon. I now hope that you will have eternal peace and find rest with the Father of Spirits.”
A second sibling, Nicole Marshall, told BNC Dallas Fort Worth, “All we can say is the relationship was toxic.
“We were shocked because before that it was an on-and-off relationship. It was rocky, we knew that.
“She broke the news to our mother (about the marriage) and our mother told us of course, we definitely didn’t see that coming. And no, there was no wedding, so unfortunately we weren’t involved.’
Ms Chapman started working for the Duchess of York as her first job after graduating from Syracuse University in New York with a degree in TV, film and production.
Ms Chapman may have lain undiscovered for several days (pictured with Barack Obama)
Ms Chapman met several celebrities through her work, including Muhammad Ali (pictured left)
In a statement on her Instagram page, the Duchess wrote: ‘I am shocked and saddened to hear that Jenean Chapman, who worked with me as my personal assistant many years ago, has been murdered in Dallas at the age of just 46. guardianship.
“Jenean was loyal, hardworking, beautiful and fun and my heart breaks for her family and friends. I heard from her just a few months ago and she seemed so happy. Her family is raising money to transport her body back to New York City and pay for legal and funeral expenses.
‘I will be making a donation and supporting the family in any way I can – please help if you can via the link in my bio.’
Ms Chapman’s three sisters all responded to the Duchess’ post to thank her for sharing the news.
Naomi Campbell, Suze Orman and Kate Garraway were among those supporting Sarah Ferguson.
Campbell said: ‘It’s shocking Sarah, I’m so sorry… sending you love and condolences to her family.’
Orman added, “Sarah, I’m so sorry, I know how close you get to your assistants. My love to her family and to you.”
According to her LinkedIn page, Ms Chapman worked with Sarah Ferguson for four years between 2001 and 2005, assisting with the Duchess’s travel, press and tour plans, and handling her research and diary.
Ms. Chapman’s family said that after living in New York, she had worked in San Francisco before traveling to Dallas for a new job.
Speaking to reporters after her body was found, Ms Chapman’s sister Nicole Marshall said: ‘She was a force to be reckoned with, she was a role model.
“She was a wonderful person, and I still look up to her. I always look up to her as what I wanted to achieve in my career as an entrepreneur.”
The Duchess of York said: ‘Jenean was loyal, hardworking, beautiful and fun and my heart breaks for her family and friends’
Another sibling, Crystal Marshall, said: ‘Her first job out of university was working for Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York.
“So she worked for the Royal Family as a personal assistant, and from there she worked for Def Jam, so she worked for the Simmons family.”
In addition to working with several artists, photos shared by her siblings showed that Ms. Chapman also interacted with celebrities such as Barack Obama, Muhammad Ali and Adam Carolla in her work.
Nicole added, “She was just an accomplished intellectual. She was a kind person and compassionate. She had a heart full of porridge.’
Police discovered Ms Chapman’s body in her apartment in Elm Street, Dallas, at around 1.15pm on Monday, September 25. Officers reportedly told her family that her body may have been in the apartment for several days.
Her death was initially investigated as ‘unexplained’, before a post-mortem determined her death was a homicide.
A day later, James Patrick, 48, was arrested by University of Texas police on suspicion of murder.
Ms. Chapman’s family has set up a fundraiser to help with the costs of transporting her body from Texas to New York City and funeral expenses. You can check this out here.