Inside The Controversial Life Of ‘Dog The Bounty Hunter’


Dog’s Beginnings

Duane Chapman was born in Denver, Colorado, in February 1953 to Wesley and Barbara Chapman. Wesley worked as a welder for the United States Army and his mother was a pastor. To make extra cash, his father boxed on the side. He is the oldest of 4 children. His childhood was rough, but his mother was there to emphasize strong morals and values. However, despite his mother teachings, he began to have run-ins with the law by the time he was a teenager.

Claims He Is Native American

Duane has always had some interesting wardrobe choices. However, he has a claim that may explain one of those choices. Duane says he is part native American (which may explain the braids and feathers he chooses to sport). However, many have refuted this claim. Websites report that Duane’s aunt used to sell Native American souvenirs and wore native American garb. Therefore, she was mistaken as Native American. However, Native American blood does not run through Chapman’s veins.

School Dropout

Duane’s childhood was not easy as he grew up in a poor neighboorhood. He eventually turned to a life of crime and dropped out of school in the 9th grade. Soon after dropping out, he joined the Devil’s Disciples biker gang. Unfortunately, this turned out to be an extremely bad decision for Dog as it led to his arrest and a few years behind bars.

Criminal Charges

Before he was a famous bounty hunter, Dog was a felon. In 1976, Duane was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 5 years in prison. He told authorities that he was waiting in the car for a friend, who was trying to buy marijuana. That friend got into a struggle with the alleged pimp and drug dealer, Jerry Oliver. His friend killed Oliver. Chapman served 1.5 years of the 5-year sentence.

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Divorced While Serving

Before Chapman was sentenced to jail, he met LaFonda Sue Honeycutt. The pair had a child together and decided to get married. However, being married to a felon is not an easy task and one that was too hard for LaFonda. Therefore, she filed for divorce while Chapman was still in jail. She received custody of their child and she later remarried Chapman’s best friend.

Bad Past Led To A Bright Future

While serving his sentence at the Texas State Penitentiary, Duane worked as the warden’s barber and inmate counselor. In an interview with Fox News, Chapman said while in prison, he tackled an inmate that was about to be shot for attempting to escape. He received lots of congratulatory remarks for his heroic act. Chapman says this incident is what inspired him to become a bounty hunter.


He Was Saving His Friend

During an interview on The Rosie Show, Duane recounted the moment he tackled the inmate: “This guy named Bigfoot had been put in solitary confinement…as the guards took him from the prison to put him in the hole, I looked up from the barber shop… and he [Bigfoot] started running down the road to the penitentiary.” Dog saw all the guards cock their guns, so he acted on instinct. “I just start running after him… he was my friend and I didn’t want him to die…I tackled him and the lieutenant ran up behind me and threw down his handcuffs and said ‘Good job, hook him up, bounty hunter.”

His First Bounty

Duane was let out of prison early due to good behavior. However, “real life” hit him quickly after his release. He still owed $500 of child support to his ex-wife. Fox News reported, “the judge controlling the child support case offered to pay $200 toward the debt if Chapman caught a fugitive for him.” Duane agreed and “Chapman earned his first bounty by tying the wanted man up with his belt.” From that point on, Duane knew he wanted to be a professional bounty hunter.

A Career That Stood The Test Of Time

The first recorded instance of bounty hunters was in 1873. In Taylor v. Taintor, the Supreme court ruled bounty hunters are necessary for law enforcement in the United States. Today, most bounty hunters are employed by bail bondsmen. When a fugitive is apprehended, the bounty hunter is usually paid a certain percentage of the bail amount. Several states have now outlawed bounty hunters.

The Hunt That Made Him Famous

Andrew Luster was heir to the Max Factor cosmetics fortune. In 2003, Luster was convicted of multiple sexual assaults. Luster was arrested but was able to leave jail after paying a $1 million bail. He never returned to court to defend himself. He was sentenced to 124 years in prison. However, he needed to be caught before he could begin serving that sentence. Dog heard about the case, in 2003, and began the hunt.

An International Search

Andrew Luster headed down to Mexico to escape his sentencing. However, that didn’t stop Dog. He headed to Puerto Vallarta to capture him. Dog and his crew found the fugitive and began heading to California to turn him in. Unfortunately, Dog and his team were pulled over by police. Luster was sent to California while Dog and his team were imprisoned in a Mexican jail. Fox News reported that “Mexican authorities charged Chapman for failing to hand Luster over to them.” Now Dog was the felon.

Stuck In Mexico

Chapman and his team, which consisted of his Leland and Tim Chapman, were denied bail in Mexico. However, once Beth alerted media, they were granted bail. The three men followed their lawyer’s advise and returned to the U.S. Now, they were officially considered fugitives for bail-jumping. They got away this time, but their crime would later come back to haunt them.

Hunt Brings Fame

After Duane captured Andrew Luster, he made headlines. Soon TV producers were knocking on his door. He was first featured on “Take This Job,” which discussed people with unusual occupations. He was then featured on an episode of TruTv’s “Dominick Dunne’s Power, Privilege, and Justice.” At this point, the American public had learned his name and were fascinated. It wasn’t long until A&E decided it was time for Dog to be featured in his own series.

‘Dog The Bounty Hunter’

“Dog the Bounty Hunter” premiered August 2004. The show chronicled the life of Duane Lee Chapman and his experiences as a bounty hunter. It also included a glimpse into his family life and the chaos that ensued. The series was shot mainly in Hawaii or Dog’s home state of Colorado. The show was full of drama and scandal.


Charged With Deprivation Of Liberty

In 2006, Duane, Leland, and Tim were arrested for their crimes, in Mexico, by U.S. Marshalls, and jailed in Hawaii, on behalf of the Mexican government. The three men were charged with “deprivation of liberty,” as bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico. The following day after their arrest, the Chapmans appeared in court. The judge ruled they were not a flight risk and all three were released on bail. Duane had theories about why he was actually arrested. He believes that the U.S. authorities used him in a possible prisoner exchange agreement. He believed he was part of a deal to trade for a Mexican drug lord. His theory was never proven true.

Charges Dropped

Duane, Tim, and Leland’s case had been postponed several times as the court was still waiting for evidence and testimony. However, in 2007, a Mexican court ruled there were no reasons the Chapmans should be charged. A resolution to drop extradition charges against the men was put to a vote. The resolution was passed by the International Affairs committee in March. Duane was finally rid of his previous charges.

Has Many Children

Chapman has been married several times. During each marriage, he had at least one child. Therefore, after all four marriages, Duane became the father of 11 children. Although he has had a rocky relationship with many of them, today, most keep in contact with Duane. Unfortunately, two of his children passed when they were young.

Leaked Phone Call

In October 2007, a phone call between Dog and his son Tucker was leaked to the media. During the phone call, Dog and Tucker are discussing Tucker’s African American girlfriend. Dog uses racial slur to describe the girl during a fit of anger. After the tape was published, A&E announced they would be suspending the production of the show. Dog issued a formal apology in November 2007.


Just Like Her Father

Baby Lyssa is one of Dog’s many children. Unfortunately, like her father, she has also had a run-in with the law. In 2011, she was arrested in Honolulu, Hawaii. According to CBS, “she allegedly began banging on residents’ doors and swearing while intoxicated…Police say Chapman kicked and broke a window, and slapped an officer’s cell phone out of his hand while he was using it.”

No Guns Allowed

Duane Chapman was convicted of murder and will, therefore, be considered a felon for the rest of his life. As a convicted felon, he can not carry a gun. What you normally see Dog carrying on TV is a paintball gun. Although it doesn’t cause as much damage as a real gun, getting shot with a paintball gun on your bare skin is actually very painful.

Shots Fired

In 2006, Dog and another bail bondsman were searching for Hoang Nguyen. It was reported that Nguyen was a wanted man for domestic violence and a gun charge. While attempting to capture him, Nguyen fired shots at Dog with a handgun and fled on a motorcycle. The assailant was captured hours later by local police.



Unfortunately for Dog, the previous incident led to a lawsuit. In 2011, Nguyen sued Duane and the other bondsman for falsely claiming he fired a gun at them and they had had him falsely arrested. After the incident, Nguyen was arrested and charged with attempted second-degree murder. However, after reviewing the evidence of the day, prosecutors dropped the charges. Nguyen claimed he lost his job due to the allegations and had to relocate.

The Theme Song

The show’s theme song, titled “Dog the Bounty Hunter” was actually sung by heavy metal artist and reality star Ozzy Osbourne. The song can be found in Osbourne’s Prince of Darkness box set. As for the other music on the show, many of the songs featured in the episodes were normally from unsigned or independent bands.


Bailed Out Celebs

In 2011, actor Nicolas Cage was heavily intoxicated and began arguing with his wife in public. After being so infuriated, he began to strike several cars in the vicinity. Local authorities were called and he was arrested. Duane is a big fan of Nicolas Cage. Therefore, when he heard he was arrested, he went to bail him out. “I am a truly dedicated fan of Mr. Cage and will not be granting any interviews about my client as I wish to respect his privacy,” Chapman said to ABC News.


Going To War

Dog doesn’t care if you’re an average citizen or a celebrity. If you are on the run, he is going to come after you. An MMA fighter, known as War Machine, was arrested after he brutally beat up another man who was sleeping with his girlfriend. He disappeared after the incident. Dog tweeted that War Machine had 24 hours before he was going to come after him. He didn’t turn himself in. Dog found him just like he promised.

His Other Weapon

We have already discussed that Dog is not legally allowed to carry a real gun so he carries a paintball gun. However, Dog found one loophole that allows him to carry something that can certainly be debilitating to those he’s chasing. He is allowed to carry a taser and he’s not afraid to use it. You can be sure if the fugitive is not cooperating, he will use it on him or her until the submit.

Leland Chapman

Leland Chapman is Duane’s first child. He is his son from his first marriage to LaFonda. Leland didn’t have the easiest childhood. During his earliest years, his father was in jail. His mother had full-custody over him. However, she couldn’t take care of him and put him into foster care as a teenager. Duane eventually reconnected to Leland and adopted him. Duane and leland eventually became a bounty hunter duo.

Tragedy Strikes

Duane and Beth were very excited to tie the knot until they received some awful news. The night before the wedding Dog’s daughter, Barbara, was killed in a car accident. Dog and Beth consulted a minister about the situation. Everyone decided it would be best to move forward with the wedding. Hawaii News Now reported “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.”

El Chapo Take Down

El Chapo is one of the most notorious drug cartel leaders to ever live. He evaded capture several times. U.S authorities were so eager to catch him that they put a $5 million bounty on his head. Dog was asked if he would like to help in the search. However, due to Dog’s previous experience with bounty hunting in Mexico, he thought it would be best to sit out this search.

He Keeps His Word

In 2011, a tape surfaced that many believed was a recording Duane’s son-in-law, Travis Mimms, abusing his grandson, Travis Mimms Jr. Travis Jr. is the son of Dog’s late daughter. “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,'” Dog told Daily Mail. Therefore, when this tape surfaced, Dog went to work on protecting his grandson.

Wanted Full Custody

The tape was undeniable to one judge, who granted Dog and Beth temporary custody of the boy. Dog and Beth hoped to receive full custody. It seemed as though the Chapman’s would get full-custody until Travis Jr. called his father and told him he wanted to come home. Mimms’ lawyer argued that keeping Travis Jr. at the Chapman household was depriving the child of what he wanted and, therefore, needed.

He Was Robbed

Duane and Beth make public appearances all around the world. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that they often have to stay in hotels. One of their stays went awry when they discovered $5,000 had gone missing from their hotel room safe. There was no forced entry so police determined it must have been an inside job, more specifically, a hotel employee who had access to room keys.

Helping Felons

As Duane was once a fugitive himself, he understands how hard the system can be. He doesn’t like to purposefully hurt those he captures. He truly believes he has their best interest in mind. In 2017, Ed Forchion was arrested for tampering with a witness. Forchion believed he was charged due to his Rastafarian beliefs and he went on a hunger strike to protest them. Duane was able to convince him to stop, which ultimately saved his life.

Sued Governor Chris Christie

In 2017, Duane Chapman turned from taking down felons to taking down governors. Earlier that year a man named Jules Black was killed by police officers after he had been allowed back on the streets. Jules had been charged with murder, but due to a new New Jersey law reform, he was released. The Daily News states, “The law eliminated cash bails and, instead, judges are now using a risk assessment system when deciding if they should release defendants.” Duane argued had Chris Christie not put the law into effect, Jules would still be alive.

Struggling Relationship With His Nephew

Dog’s nephew is Justin Bihag. Bihag appeared on several episodes of “Dog the Bounty Hunter.” Unfortunately, after the series was taken off the air, Bihag’s life went into a downward spiral. He fell into a depression, became addicted to drugs and lost custody of his child. However, Bihag says none of this was his fault, but rather Dog’s and Beth’s.

Bihag Was In An Accident

Justin Bihag, Dog’s nephew, first appeared on the reality series in 2007. It was during this time that Bihag was in a serious car accident in Lower Puna, Hawaii. Justin struck a tree with his car and his leg had to be amputated due to his injuries. He was also charged with a DUI and driving with a license. The accident was even featured in the series. Dog and Beth claim that Justin had given permission for the show to cover the accident. However, Justin says this is not true.

Justin Takes Legal Action

Justin believes that it was from this incident that all of his problems started. Therefore, he took legal action and sued Dog and Beth. Justin claims that the couple promised him lots of money for his appearances on the show. However, he never saw any of that money. According to the New York Daily News, Justin also claimed, “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 Arrested

In 2013, Beth found herself in some trouble. While Dog and Beth were fishing at a lake, a group of rowdy teens in a car drove by. This did not please Beth and Dog. Beth began berating the teens and allegedly called the girls “sluts, tramps, and whores.” The argument escalated and the police were called. By the time the cops arrived, Beth and Dog had left. However, one of the girls filed a criminal harassment complaint as it is illegal to taunt or use coarse language against someone in the state of Colorado. After the incident, a summons for Beth’s arrest was made.

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A Perfect Pair

During the whirlwind of the case, there was one shining moment for Duane. He finally tied the knot with his longtime partner, Alice Elizabeth “Beth” Barmore. The two met in 1986 and in 1995, they became partners in business and life. They moved in together and began running a company together. They decided to make it an official union at a ceremony at the Hilton hotel on Waikoloa Village in Hawaii, on May 20, 2006.

Multiple Marriages

Duane has been married multiple times throughout his life – 5 to be exact. He married his first wife, La Fonda Sue Honeycutt, in 1972. They divorced in 1977 when Duane was in jail for the murder charge. Duane’s second marriage was to Anne M. Tegnell, which ended in divorce in 1979. His next marriage was to Lyssa Rae Brittain from 1982-1991. His fourth marriage was to Tawny Marie from 1991-2002. Finally, we get to the wife we all know and love, Beth. Alice “Beth” Elizabeth Smith and Duane Chapman got married in 2006 and are still happily together.