Jenean Chapman, 46, worked with the Duchess of York in her first job after graduating from New York’s Syracuse University with a degree in TV, film and production.
On Monday (25 September), Chapman was found dead in her apartment in Dallas, five months after moving to the Texas city.
Dallas Police Department announced two days later that they had arrested a man named James Patrick on suspicion of Chapman’s murder. According to family members speaking to local press, Chapman and Patrick had been in a tumultuous relationship over several years, and had been married for a few months.
On Friday, Ferguson shared her response to Chapman’s death in a social media post that included an image of them together in a car.
“I am shocked and saddened to learn that Jenean Chapman, who worked with me as my personal assistant many years ago, has been murdered in Dallas aged just 46,” she began her caption. “A suspect is in custody.
“Jenean was loyal, hardworking, beautiful and fun and my heart breaks for her family and friends. I heard from her just a couple of months ago and she seemed so happy.”
Ferguson concluded her message with an appeal for followers to contribute to her family’s GoFundMe page raising funds to pay for Chapman’s body to be transported back to New York City, as well as legal and funeral costs.
Crystal Marshall, Chapman’s sister, told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth that she was the definition of an “independent Black woman”. She added that Chapman had most recently been working as a senior vice president at Critical Mass, a digital marketing firm, and that she had also worked at music company Def Jam.
Chapman was planning to embark on a new journey and start her own business, Marshall told the Dallas news station.
“We’re in a state of shock,” Nicole Marshall, another sister of Chapman, told US press. “Definitely feel blindsided. We’re trying to be a support system for our mother, but it’s just a really hard time.”
Discussing Chapman’s relationship with suspect Patrick, Nicole said that the family were “shocked” to learn of their marriage due to its “on-and-off” nature.
“It was rocky, we were aware of that,” she noted.