Duane Lee Chapman is better known by his nickname: Dog the Bounty Hunter. After living a life in relative obscurity, he catapulted to stardom in 2004 when he began starring in a show based on his exploits, aptly titled Dog the Bounty Hunter. Viewers were excited to see just what antics he’d get up to each week, but many would be surprised to hear some of the secrets of Dog’s controversial life.
From the beginning, it would seem that young Duane Chapman was set up to succeed. He was born in 1953 and his father, Wesley was a welder for the U.S. Army. His mother, Barbara, worked as a pastor. However, despite the teachings of his parents, he still veered toward the rebellious side as he grew up, having a number of encounters with the law as a teen.
Is Dog Native American?
Anyone who has watched the show Dog the Bounty Hunter has undoubtedly noticed that Dog likes to accent his clothing with colorful decorations inspired by Native American traditions. Dog has even claimed that he is part Native American, but like many of the stories surrounding his life, this one must be taken with a grain of salt. Although Dog’s aunt used to wear Native American attire as well, the family is not Native American at all.
Getting In Trouble
As mentioned earlier, Dog had a troubled time during his teenage years. When he started getting involved in crime, he dropped out of school as a freshman in high school. He then compounded his poor choices by joining the Devil’s Disciples, a biker gang. His antics while a part of the gang would end up with him spending time behind bars.
Dog The Felon
It may surprise many of Dog’s fans to know that he was a felon long before he became a bounty hunter. In 1976, Duane said that he was waiting in a car for his friend as a marijuana deal went wrong and his friend eventually killed the alleged drug dealer and pimp, Jerry Oliver. Duane was convicted of first-degree murder and served 1 1/2 years of a 5-year sentence.
Turning His Life Around
During his time as an inmate at the Texas State Penitentiary, Dog spent time working as a barber and counselor for other inmates. During one notable event, Dog claimed that he actually tackled an inmate that was attempting to escape. If the inmate had continued his attempt, he would have been shot. Dog said that this is what led him to become a bounty hunter.
Dog Tells The Story
As he spoke in the interview, Dog talked about the life-changing moment. He said an inmate nicknamed Bigfoot that had been in solitary confinement tried to make a break for it. When he saw the guards prepare their guns, he made a split-second decision. “I tackled him, and the lieutenant ran up behind me and threw down his handcuffs and said ‘Good job, hook him up, bounty hunter,'” Dog said.
Duane was a model prisoner and was able to get out of prison early due to his behavior. Unfortunately, when he got out, he found that his real-life problems were waiting for him. He immediately had to pay $500 in back child support to his ex-wife, but the judge offered to reduce it if he caught a fugitive for him. Dog complied and caught his first bounty, tying the man up with his belt to take him in.
The History Of Bounty Hunting
Bounty hunting began in the late 19th century when it was difficult for law enforcement to cover the quickly growing United States. The Supreme Court enabled bounty hunters to help law officers. Now, bounty hunters are generally employed as bail bondsmen and paid a certain percentage of the bail amount for bringing in fugitives.
Dog’s First Big Hunt
Dog got his first big catch when Andrew Luster was sentenced to 124 years in prison for multiple sexual assaults in 2003. However, the Max Factor cosmetics fortune heir disappeared and did not return to court. That year, Dog heard about the case and knew that he wanted to be involved, so he began his hunt.
Dog Heads To Mexico
Like many criminals on the run, Andrew Luster left the country. He went to Mexico with Dog hot on his trail. Dog found Andrew in Puerto Vallarta and was going to bring him back to California. Unfortunately, Mexican police stopped Dog and his team and sent Luster back to California. The Mexican authorities charged Dog for not handing Luster over to them.
Fugitives In Mexico
Dog, his son Leland and friend Tim found themselves in a tight spot. They were initially denied bail, but Dog’s wife Beth was able to put pressure on the authorities through the media, leading to them getting bail. Their lawyer’s advised them to simply return to the U.S., which they did. This made them fugitives in Mexico, however.
The Public Eye
Despite the legal troubles, the Andrew Luster hunt was what put Dog in front of the public eye for the first time. He wound up being featured on the unusual job show Take This Job and an episode of TruTV’s Power, Privilege, and Justice. A little later, A&E decided to give Dog his own series.
Dog’s Show Debuts
In August of 2004, Dog The Bounty Hunter debuted. The show followed Duane and company as they hunted fugitives and ran their business. It also gave a compelling look into the surprisingly normal family life behind the company. Much of the show was shot in Hawaii, where Dog lived, although other parts were filmed in Colorado.
Back To Haunt Them
Dog was becoming a star, but that couldn’t help him escape his past. In 2006, U.S. Marshalls arrested Duane, Leland, and Tim for depriving Andrew Luster of liberty when they detained him in Mexico because bounty hunting is illegal there. The three were released on bail, with Dog circulating the rather strange theory that U.S. authorities arrested him to trade for another prisoner in Mexico, such as a Mexican drug lord.
Putting The Past Behind Them
Duane, Tim, and Leland got their day in court in 2007, when a Mexican court decided to drop the charges against them, as well as the extradition charges against the men. When the International Affairs committee passed the resolution in March of 2007, Dog and his crew were finally free of the charges against them.
Dog The Racist?
Although 2007 was the year when Dog put his legal issues in Mexico behind him, he wasn’t done with controversy that year. In October, a recorded phone call between Dog and one of his sons, Tucker, got out to the media. Dog apparently didn’t approve of Tucker’s black girlfriend and used a racial slur to refer to her during the call. Dog apologized, but A&E decided to suspend the show.
A Troubled Daughter
Like Dog himself, some of his children have had their own run-ins with the law. Take his daughter, Lyssa, for example. She was arrested in 2011 in Honolulu after getting drunk and acting out. She began banging on people’s doors, swearing, and even broke a window. To top it all off, she knocked a police officer’s cell phone out of his hand as he tried to use it.
You might wonder whether being an ex-convict affects Dog’s profession at all. The truth is, it does. As he is a convicted felon, Dog can’t carry a gun. On the show, you’ve seen him use everything from a paintball gun to pepper spray since he can’t wield a conventional firearm due to his checkered past.
A Real Gunfight
Although Dog doesn’t carry a firearm, that doesn’t mean that the people he’s after aren’t armed and dangerous. One time, a man named Hoang Nguyen who was wanted for domestic violence and gun charges actually fired shots at Dog with his handgun as he fled, getting on his motorcycle. He escaped but was captured a few hours later by police.
In September 2017, Beth announced that she had been diagnosed with stage 2 throat cancer. Beth and Dog decided to share the news as they wanted to be completely honest and open with their fans. In an interview with Fox News, Beth said, “the first week all you think about is death. You think of how long do you have, what can you accomplish in that short time… Friends, my husband, who is amazingly positive all the time. And he doesn’t utter negative words.”
Like the Mexico situation, the Nguyen firefight would come back to haunt Dog. In 2011, Nguyen took Duane to court, saying that he never actually fired a gun at him or the other bounty hunter. Nguyen said that the charges against him were false and eventually, prosecutors did drop the charge. However, Nguyen lost his job due to all of the drama and left the area.
Although Ozzy Osbourne is never seen on the show, his presence is very much felt due to the Dog the Bounty Hunter theme song, which Ozzy sings. Ozzy would later include the song on his Prince of Darkness box set. Most of the other music used on the show comes from independent bands that haven’t made it big yet.
Dog Gets Nicolas Out Of The Cage
In 2011, Dog actually bailed out Nicolas Cage. The famous actor struck several cars after arguing with his wife in public and got arrested. After Dog heard about the arrest, he went to bail him out personally. He didn’t talk much about the incident, but he did acknowledge that he was a huge fan of the actor.
Stealing The Spotlight
Dog is pretty opportunistic when it comes to grabbing the spotlight. This was pretty clear back when MMA fighter War Machine (formerly Jon Koppenhaver) was arrested for brutally beating his ex-girlfriend, adult film star Christy Mack, and a male friend of hers. He disappeared after and Dog announced that he would track him down if he didn’t turn himself in. He didn’t turn himself in, but it was the authorities that ended up finding War Machine on their own.
A Painful Weapon
Although Dog does not use traditional firearms, he still has some pretty dangerous weaponry. Aside from his modified paintball guns that fire pepper spray balls, he also carries a taser frequently, which is a very effective way of subduing even a very large, angry target. Dog still has to be careful, but these tools help him adjust to dangerous situations.
Dog’s Son Leland
Dog’s son, Leland, came from his first marriage and was featured on the show Dog the Bounty Hunter. As mentioned before, Dog lost custody of Leland when he went to prison, and LaFonda divorced him. Unfortunately, she wasn’t a great mother and ended up putting him in foster care. Dog would later adopt him and bring him into the family business.
Leland Is A Fighter
For a long time, Leland was more than just a bounty hunter; he was an MMA fighter. Unfortunately, his career was cut short due to an injury. While training he sustained a knee injury and was forced to wear a brace. Sadly, doctors said if he did not stop fighting, he could possibly lose his leg. Luckily, he still had bounty hunting to get out his aggression.
Who’s Your Daddy?
Leland was born only a few short months before Duane was arrested and jailed for his crimes. Therefore, his first few years of life, he did not know who his real father was. He was being raised by his mother and step-father. Leland didn’t meet Duane until he was 8-years-old. Luckily, after several years of hardships, the two were able to overcome their differences and become a family.
Tragedy Before The Wedding
The night before Duane and Beth were set to get married, Dog’s daughter Barbara was killed in a car accident. According to Hawaii News Now, “Chapman was informed Saturday morning before the wedding of the tragedy. He consulted with a minister, and everyone agreed the wedding would go on as planned. They decided to break the bad news to wedding guests at the reception.”
Man Of Many Marriages
Although Dog has had a long relationship with Beth, he hasn’t always been great at commitment. He’s been married five times and fathered 11 children. Sadly, two of the children passed away at a young age, but he keeps in contact with most of the children he’s had during his marriages along the way.
Helping Take Down El Chapo
El Chapo is one of the most notorious Mexican drug cartel leaders. When he evaded capture from U.S. authorities, a $5 million reward was put on his head. Duane was questioned whether he would help with the search for El Chapo. Due to his past bounty hunting experiences in Mexico, Duane decided it would be best to not help with the search.
Honoring His Daughter’s Words
In 2011, a tape was discovered that was believed to be of Duane’s son-in-law, Travis Mimms, hurting his grandson, Travis Mimms Jr. Travis Jr. is the son of Barbara Chapman, Duane’s late daughter. Duane told Daily Mail, “During the last phone call I had with my daughter, Barbara Katie, she said to me, ‘Please, daddy, take care of Travis Jr. Don’t ever let anything happen to him.'” Therefore, he fought for Travis Jr.’s well-being.
Battled For Custody
Soon after the tape was released, a judge granted Beth and Dog temporary custody of the child. They took Travis Sr. to court and hoped to receive full custody. Unfortunately, Dog’s battle was foiled by his grandson who called his father and told him he wanted to return home. Mimms’ attorney argued that keeping Travis Jr. at the Chapmans was depriving the child of what he truly wanted and needed.
Robbed Of Thousands
Due to the nature of their career and fame, Duane and Beth travel often and most of the time have to stay in hotels. One time while traveling, the pair was staying at the Luxe Hotel in Los Angeles. They took advantage of the locked safe and stowed away $5,000. Unfortunately, when they returned to the room, they found the money had been stolen. As there was no forced entry, police decided it was most likely the work of one of the hotel employees.
Duane isn’t there to make fugitives lives worse. He understands that the penal system could actually be helpful. In July 2017, a man named Ed Forchion was arrested for tampering with a witness. Forchion denied this claim and said he was arrested due to his Rastafarian beliefs. In protest, he went on a hunger strike. Luckily, Duane convinced him to stop.
Sued The Governor Of New Jersey
In 2017, Duane Chapman sued the governor of New Jersey Chris Christie after a man named Jules Black was killed by police officers. Black had just been charged with murder, but due to new New Jersey law reform, he was allowed back on the streets. According to Daily News, “The law eliminated cash bails and, instead, judges are now using a risk assessment system when deciding if they should release defendants.” Had the law not existed, Black would still be alive.
Broken Relationship With His Nephew
Dog’s nephew Justin Bihag appeared on several episodes of “Dog the Bounty Hunter.” After the show, Justin hit hard times and fell into a depression as well as became addicted to drugs. All of these issues led to the loss of custody of his child. However, Justin had a hard time blaming himself for these issues and said all of his problems stemmed from his time on the series.
During his time on the show, in 2007, Justin got in a car accident. Justin was driving in Lower Puna, Hawaii when he struck a tree with his car. Part of his leg had to be amputated due to his injuries. He was charged with a DUI and driving without a license or insurance. An episode of “Dog the Bounty Hunter” covered the incident. Duane and Beth claim that Justin permitted them to do so.
Justin Sued Dog
Amongst his downward spiral, Justin decided to put the blame on Dog and Beth. Justin sued the couple and said they promised him lots of money for his appearance on the series which he never received. He also claimed, according to New York Daily News, “once the Chapmans were informed of the accident, they proceeded to do interviews with the media to use the accident as a promotional tool for the show.”
Beth Was Turned Away From The UK
In 2016, Beth Chapman was offered a spot in the UK version of the reality competition series, “Celebrity Big Brother.” Beth jumped on the opportunity. However, the UK government said otherwise. Beth was charged with shoplifting lemons in the 1980s and, therefore, was denied a visa into the country. This was not the first time the Chapmans had experienced this, as Dog was also denied from the show due to his criminal past.
Reason Why “Dog And Beth: On The Hunt” Was Cancelled
Many series on television get canceled due to low ratings. However, this was not the case for “Dog and Beth: On the Hunt.” It was Dog’s and Beth’s decision to cancel the show. In an interview with InTouch, Beth explained that the pair was going to fight bail reforms across the country. “Our industry is under attack,” Beth said. “There are bail reform movements springing up across the country that would end the cash bail systems. This would be a disaster.”
Turned In Their Daughter To Police
In 2015, a video was broadcast on the local news of a bank robbery. Upon seeing the video, Beth knew exactly who the robber was. It was her daughter, Nicole Gillespie. Dog and Beth immediately went to police despite their relationship to the suspect. Honolulu police arrested and charged Nicole. Before the robbery, Nicole had fallen on hard times and was homeless.
Like Father, Like Son
Duane Chapman Jr. is Duane’s first child and son. Although they were estranged for many years, Duane Sr. and Duane Jr. eventually reconnected. Dog helped his son get back on his feet after some troubling years. Duane Jr. has taken what he learned from his father and opened his own bounty hunting business in Florida. On his company Facebook page, Duane wrote, “After deciding to leave the show in 2010 I relocated to Jacksonville, Florida and opened my own business. Learning the Florida statues, and gaining knowledge of the intricate role that bail plays in the Florida legal system. I am passionate about my job, and truly enjoy working with the people I meet.”
Dog’s Net Worth
Duane Chapman has been bounty hunting for many years. Therefore, much of his fortune has been earned through running his bail bonds and bounty hunting business. However, he has made money through his appearance on TV series. He has also shared his knowledge about the industry by writing and publishing two books. Through all of his business ventures, Duane has earned himself a net worth of $6 million.
Sued For Millions
Dog and Beth are no strangers to the courtroom. In 2015, a man named Charles Fisher took them to court for $30 million. Fisher, who is also a bounty hunter, claimed that Duane and Beth falsely accused Fisher of stealing $20,000 to increase his business potential. Fisher denied those claims and said the Chapmans tarnished his reputation as a bounty hunter and he could no longer work.
Bodyguard Is Good At His Job
Despite his size and strength, Duane likes to travel with a bodyguard. In 2016, the bodyguard came in handy when Duane was approached by a rival, Ronnie Frank. Frank approached Duane and began threatening him. Duane and Ronnie began arguing and had a scuffle. Duane’s bodyguard stepped in. As the fight was getting intense, Duane’s bodyguard hit Frank, which, unfortunately, led to his arrest.
His Thoughts Behind Crime
Dog tries to stay up to date with criminal law reform. Recently, smash and grab crimes have been on the rise in California. Dog believes he knows why. In an interview, Dog said that since California reduced smash and grab crimes from a felony to a misdemeanor, criminals are no longer deterred from committing the crime. If the reform was switched back, there would be less smash and grab criminal activity.
Critics Call Him A Sell Out
As with any celebrity, Duane certainly has his critics. However, there is one man who has been very public about his opinion, Christian Matlock. Matlock has a similar history to Dog. Matlock is also a former criminal who cleaned up his act. Matlock now works as a bounty hunter in Virginia Beach. Matlock believes that Dog is a sell-out and is most likely not good at his job. Furthermore, he added that it can’t be that hard to find felons who are trapped on an island.
Fighting For Hunter’s Rights
For the past few years, Duane has spent much of his time-fighting law reform across the United States. In 2016, he took his fight to Idaho. The state was trying to pass a legislation that said bounty hunters are required to have an advance conceal and carry gun license. This would bar any felons from joining the profession. Duane took to the phones and called legislators to not approve the bill. The bill lost 57-13 at the state house.
Missing His Sister
In 2016, Duane had to return to Colorado. Unfortunately, it was not to catch a criminal or for a vacation, but rather to bury his sister Jolene Kay Martinez. Martinez had become very sick due to pneumonia. The illness got so bad that she had to be put on life support. The family eventually decided to take her off support. She sadly passed at the age of 62.
Do you want to bring Dog home with you? Well, you can… sort of. Dog owns two merchandise stores that sell all types of branded merchandise. You can either visit the store in Hawaii or the one on the mainland in Denver, Colorado. No matter which store you visit, you can walk away with some great “Dog the Bounty Hunter” collectibles.
Failed To Pay Rent
If you are looking for Dog The Bounty Hunter merchandise, you better head to one of their stores quickly as the Chapmans already had to close one. One of their stores, located in southern Honolulu, has been shut down. The landlord of the retail space sued the Chapman’s as he claimed the couple failed to pay rent. However, the Chapmans said that the landlord was the one who broke the contract, not them.
His Daughter Owns A Tanning Salon In Hawaii
When you think of places to may open a tanning salon, Hawaii is most likely not the first place you think of. However, this did not deter Lyssa. She is the owner of “No Tan Lines LLP.” However, according to the company website, this is no ordinary tanning salon as they specialize in using red light therapy. The website states that red light therapy “has been proven effective for a wide range of healing and rejuvenating uses including anti-aging, hair loss prevention & regrowth, skin conditions, wound care, pain relief, and much more.”
Dog The Writer
Dog is so much more than a bounty hunter and he wanted to show it to the world. Therefore, in 2007, he released his autobiography titled “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide.” The book was an inside look at what his life was like transitioning from a criminal to a bounty hunter and all the obstacles in between. The book debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list.
Dog’s First Marriage
Young Duane was married and had a child with LaFonda Sue Honeycutt before he was sentenced for his crimes. Unfortunately, their marriage was ill-fated, as being married to a felon was not something LaFonda felt cut out for. She filed for divorce, got custody of their child and would go on to marry his best friend later on. Harsh.
Dog had been dating Beth Barmore for years, having met in 1986 and been business partners since 1995. However, they never tied the knot until 2006, when they were married during a ceremony in Hawaii. It was undoubtedly a special time for the couple, even in the midst of all the legal issues they were going through.
Is Beth His True Love?
We all know someone who can’t quite make a marriage work, but Dog took that phenomenon to the next level, with four divorces to his name. His first marriage, to LaFonda, lasted from 1972 to 1977, and his second marriage was already over in 1979. He was married to Lyssa Rae Brittain for nine years, starting in 1982 and married Tawny Marie the same year he divorced Lyssa. That marriage lasted 11 years.
Dog’s Net Worth Is Triple Beth’s
Duane Chapman has a net worth of $6 million. However, his wife Beth’s net worth is only $2 million. Most of her fortune comes from her bail bonds business with Dog. However, she also acted as the President of the National Bail Bonds Association, as well as the executive producer for “Dog and Beth: On The Hunt.” Despite that her husband’s net worth being triple hers, we think that is nothing to be ashamed of as $2 million is still a large amount of money.
Beth’s Brush With The Law
Although Beth’s legal issues were rather minor compared to Dog’s felony charge from years back, she has had her own brush with the law. In 2013, Beth and Dog were fishing in Colorado, and some unruly girls kept disturbing them. Beth called them a number of nasty things and the girls filed a harassment complaint. It turns out that it’s illegal to taunt someone with bad language in Colorado.
In November 2017, a two-hour special titled “Dog & Beth: Fight of Their Lives” aired on A&E. During the special, Dog and Beth revealed that after a grueling fight, she was finally cancer free. After the announcement, Dog said “There is a God. This could be a miracle. This could be a healing… [The doctor] said if I wasn’t such a good husband it wouldn’t have worked out that great. Oh, I can breathe. Beth Chapman, you did it.”