Dog The Bounty Hunter: His Misunderstood Life


Long Lost Son

Let’s start right at the beginning of Dog’s love life. His first child came from a relationship he had in his teenage years. But for a long time, Chapman was unaware that Christopher Michael Hecht ever existed in the first place. After his mother Debbie White passed away, the baby boy was put up for adoption. Many years later, Hecht’s grandmother informed Dog that he was the father and it wasn’t long before the estranged father and son were reunited.

Another Family

Chapman has had many relationships in his eventful life, but most have only lasted for a short period of time. His first serious relationship as an adult came in 1972 when he married La Fonda Sue Honeycutt. It didn’t take long before the couple had two boys, Duane Lee II and Leland. However, the marriage would prove to be short-lived after Dog had a series of run-ins with the law and his incarceration threatened to tear the family apart.

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Behind Bars

Chapman spent 18 months in Texas State Penitentiary, Huntsville, Texas. During this tough and testing time, Dog did a variety of jobs to keep him preoccupied. These included working on the field as well as being given the responsibility as the barber of his own warden. But one of Chapman’s most defining moments came while incarcerated. When he saw an inmate trying to escape, he realized that the runner was on the verge of being shot, so he tackled him to the ground…

The Moment Duane Became Dog

The guards were stunned and immediately praised Chapman for his vigilante efforts. Not only did he prevent the prisoner from escaping, he put his own life on the line trying to save his fellow inmate from being shot. This was the moment that Chapman knew what he wanted to do in life: he wanted to pursue a career in bounty hunting. Then, in January 1979, Chapman was out on parole, ready to make a fresh start.

Heartbroken Dog

That was the moment that Duane became Dog. But his time in prison would cause a type of heartache that the future bounty hunter could never have anticipated. Before he was released, Dog found out that La Fonda had filed for divorce. He was under the impression that his incarceration had completely crushed their marriage. But there was more to it than that. La Fonda left him…for his best friend of all people. Dog was devastated.

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From Tragedy To Triumph

After La Fonda officially brought an end to her relationship with Chapman and filed for divorce, his boys were prevented from having any connection with their father. This seemed to be a recurring pattern in the future bounty hunter’s life. Whenever Dog built something beautiful, he always seemed to be the architect of his own destruction. But after reaching adolescence and getting into their fair share of trouble, Dog finally got custody of his beloved boys.

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Life Imitates Art

Dog’s personal life has often been more eventful than his professional one and the Bounty Hunter has had a long string of relationships, resulting in his most publicized one to date. His marriage hasn’t always been smooth, and many rumors about divorce have led to a media frenzy around Beth and Duane Chapman.

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Beth’s Not So Bad

Dog’s not the only one in the relationship who has dished out his fair share of crime. But in comparison, Beth’s criminal record is pretty modest. Her first run-in with the law came all the way back in the eighties when she was taken in for stealing some lemons. And in 2013, Beth was issued a warrant for misdemeanor harassment after a bust up with a group of teens in a park. Beth was nearly run over and reacted violently.

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Let’s Take It Back…

…Way back! Duane Lee Chapman was born on February 2, 1953 to parents Wesley and Barbara. Before he became Dog, Duane had a happy childhood. Being the oldest of four children, Chapman always felt protective over his younger siblings – two sisters and a brother. He looked out for them while growing up and maintains a strong relationship with them to this day. But for as long as he could remember, Dog has always considered everyone to be his “brother.”

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The Big Break

The defining moment that put Dog on the map came in 2003, when he captured Andrew Luster, a felon who had fled the US while facing a trial on charges of multiple counts of gross misconduct. And what made the capture even more amazing, was that Chapman recruited his son, Leland, and associate Tim Chapman for the job. The deadly trio caught Luster in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. But things did not run so smoothly on the way back.

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Things Took A Turn For The Worst

While returning to California, the four guys were pulled over by police. But once their identities had been confirmed, Luster was taken to California, where he would ultimately face his 125-year sentence. But the bounty hunters were still stuck in a Mexican jailhouse. And at first, the men were denied bail. But Dog Chapman would not need to worry for much longer, as someone dear to his heart would ultimately save the day.

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Man Of Faith

Long before becoming a hit on A&E, Duane Chapman had a heavy Christian upbringing. This is in no small part due to the fact that his mother was a pastor in the Assembly of God. And it would be safe to say that throughout his career, Chapman has thoroughly practiced what he was taught all those years ago. This can be seen through his determination to bring justice to the streets of his home state of Colorado.

Dog’s Guardian Angel

When Beth Smith raised awareness about the Bounty Hunters’ unjust captivity, both the public and the authorities started to take notice. This paved the way for Chapman and the boys to be granted bail. But upon advice from their attorney, they chose to evade jurisdiction. This technically classed them as international bail-jumpers. Beth Smith would continue to be the ever present spark in what was otherwise a consistently turbulent life for Chapman. But more on that later…

Bounty Hunter Behind Bars

Back to the story at hand. Because bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico, this put Dog in a tricky situation. So the Mexican government tried to extradite the newly declared fugitives, so that they could be sentenced. Chapman was glad that they only had to spend one night in a federal prison. “The federal marshals treated us with great respect. But let me tell you, you never want to go to a federal prison, because it’s terrible.”

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Road to Reality Stardom

The trouble that Dog and the boys had to deal with in Mexico was long, tedious and chaotic. But ultimately, it captured the imagination of the American public and granted Chapman his own TV show in the form of Dog The Bounty Hunter. Between Hawaii and his home state of Colorado, Chapman got into all sorts of crazy situations, including an incident where Dog may have said something inappropriate that halted A&E’s airing of the show…

Dog’s Love Life

But something deeper came long before this controversial incident. Before he had the chance to grace the television sets of millions of Americans, Dog actually had a long and complicated personal life. In ways, his string of relationships and its many twists and turns have directly influenced his status as one of Colorado’s finest. Chapman’s personal life has often been a talking point on his show. But Dog’s failed flings were merely stepping stones, leading him to something truly special…

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Back To Tragedy

His next relationship came two years later when he married Anne M. Tegnell in 1979. The couple had three children together, naming them Zebediah Duane, Wesley and JR, respectively. Tragically, Zebediah Duane Chapman passed away shortly after he was born. And once again, Dog went through a marriage that was not meant to be. They also divorced after three years of marriage and Wesley and J.R. lived with their mother in Utah after the couple were officially separated.

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A Healthier Relationship

One particular relationship that could have gone all the way for Chapman was with Less Rae Brittain. The couple married in 1982 and were together for the good part of a decade, making it Dog’s longest relationship yet. While they were together, Chapman and Lyssa had three kids: Barbara Katie (“B.K.”), Tucker Dee and Lyssa Rae, who is also known as “Baby Lyssa.” So Dog had built another family, but that chapter in his life would remain open for various reasons…

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A New Hope

It seemed like Dog just could not get a break in the romantic department. After four marriages, many other failed relationships and a staggering number of kids, Dog still felt very much alone. But then came a new chapter in his life, and it started after meeting the lovely Beth Smith. Funnily enough, the pair had met each other many years prior to this stage of Dog’s story. He met Beth in 1986 when she was only 19 years old.

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Who Is Beth Smith?

Let’s take a step back and take a look into the world of the woman who changed Dog’s life forever. Beth Smith was born October 29, 1967, also in Denver, Colorado. She is the daughter of a former baseball player by the name of Garry Smith and since graduating from high school has added many strings to her bow. Beth has done everything from singing to ice skating and has even worked as a waitress and in gymnastics.

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Beth’s True Passion

However, it was at the age of 29 that Beth found her true passion in life. This was when she became a professional bail bondsman. Amazingly she was the youngest in her field in the history of the state of Colorado. However, this record would eventually be broken by her step daughter, of all people. So now that you have a clearer idea of who Beth Smith is and where she came from, let’s get back on track.

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On And Off

From the moment they met, Dog and Beth immediately struck a bond. Their chemistry was electric. And even while marrying others and powering through many turbulent relationships, they remained romantically involved through the years. From previous marriages, Beth has two children, Dominic Davis and Cecily Barmore (the daughter of Chapman’s best friend from high school.) But what started off as a fiery, passionate fling would evolve into something so much more serious as time went on. It was inevitable.

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Joining Forces

Nearly ten years after meeting for the first time, Dog and Beth decided to take their relationship to next level. They did this by combining both their business and family lives. Beth, who worked at a bail bonds office would now become part of Chapman’s bounty hunting business, regularly attending his operations and even helping him work with detainees. They merged their families together to form one happy collective. But this was just the start of a beautiful relationship.

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A Match Made In Hawaii

After 16 years of being together, Dog and Beth officially tied the knot. In 2006, the couple had a sunset ceremony at the Hilton hotel on Waikoloa Village in Hawaii. Chapman wore all white, including jeans, vest and even boots, while Beth wore a lace gown that was designed by Eduardo Lucero. The wedding was even featured on one of the episodes of Dog The Bounty Hunter. But the ceremony was overshadowed by a sad twist of fate…

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A Wedding And A Funeral

In 2006, tragedy reared its ugly head once again, and at the most inconvenient of times. The day of Dog and Beth’s wedding was approaching. But the Bounty Hunter was about to receive the news that he never wanted to hear. His daughter B.K. Chapman had lost her life in a car accident just a day before the big day. But after receiving the news, Dog decided that they would still go ahead with the wedding.

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Rebuilding The Family

Even after having many children with past partners, Dog and Beth were determined to add more by having their own babies. And they fulfilled this dream, twice! The couple had two kids together by the names of Bonnie Joanne and Garry. And the good news didn’t stop there. After Beth’s son Dominic was taken into state custody when she was just 17 years old, Chapman located his whereabouts when he was an adult and reunited him with his mother.

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Wrong Words

We hinted earlier on that Dog did something that nearly destroyed his career.A private phone call between Chapman and his son, Tucker was leaked to the media. The pair were discussing a relationship that Dog’s son was involved in at the time and the protective father used a racial slur in the thick of a heated argument. Needless to say, the incident gained Dog much negative publicity and A&E decided to suspend his show.

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Dog’s Redemption

However, Chapman would gain support from the most unlikely of sources. Chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality Roy Innis was one of the first people to petition for Dog’s show to return to A&E. After speaking with Duane and Beth, Innis believed that the conversation between him and Tucker was taken out of context and that the show is still important. “Dog’s potential to take his celebrity and turn it into something redeeming for our culture and society is immense,” Innis said.

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A Loving Grandfather

At one point, Duane was in the middle of an ugly custody battle for his grandson. Chapman believed that the poor boy was being abused by his father, who was married to Dog’s late daughter, B.K. Travis Mimms’ attorney admitted that he had enforced harsh discipline on Chapman’s grandson after misbehaving and causing trouble at school. But Dog could never excuse Mimms’ abusive ways and eventually won custody after a shocking tape documenting an abusive incident was presented in court.

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Keeping It In The Family

Amazingly, Dog and Beth aren’t the only ones in their family who have worked together in the bounty hunting industry. Many of their kids have followed suit and joined their parents on the quest to bring justice to the streets of Denver. Chapman’s sons Leland and Duane Lee II and his daughter Lyssa all joined him on his TV show as either bail bondsmen or bounty hunters. And for eight seasons, it was a fruitful family affair…

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Cracks Started To Show

For a while, it worked. But eventually, tensions and creative differences began to rise within the Chapman family. This came to a head when Duane Lee threatened to quit the show. “You want me fired, you gotta fire me,” he told Beth. Then Leland shared the same sentiment, saying “I quit too.” The brothers officially quit the show in 2012 and also severed ties completely with the family. Leland started to run his own Bail Bonds Company.

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False Alarm

However, the family break up was a fairly short lived one, and Leland and Duane Lee buried the hatchet with their old man and step-mom. Only a year after leaving the show, Leland rejoined the team on the Chapman’s new show, Dog And Beth: On The Hunt. This time, the family hit the road to give bail bondsmen all over the country first class advice. Whether the bust up was genuine or a publicity stunt, it was a great TV.

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It Was Written…

After a life filled with controversy and an up-and-down personal life, Chapman had a very interesting life to write about. And so he did. His autobiography You Can Run But You Can’t Hide was an instant hit and made a number one debut on The New York Times bestsellers list. The memoir detailed his first 23 years on the wrong side of the law as well as his struggles with addiction and his famous capture of Andrew Luster.

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End Of An Era

After many years of being at the helm of one of the most successful reality TV shows in America, Dog and Beth decided that they needed to switch their focus to more important matters. “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.” So the family chose to cancel their show in order to work against bail system reform.

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Making Real Change

Beth is now in a position to have a significant influence on policy within the bail bonds community. After believing that she had the passion and ability to represent bail agents nationwide, she is now the president of the national bail bonds association, The Professional Bail Agents of the United States. The organization is better known as a the PBUS and represents over 15,000 bail agents in America alone. Needless to say, Dog is incredibly proud of his wife.

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London’s Not Calling

When Dog got an offer to start on the British edition of Celebrity Big Brother, fans were excited to have the Bounty Hunter on the reality TV show. But Chapman was in for a rude awakening when he was denied entry into the UK. This was in light of Dog’s supposed involvement in a 1976 murder case. Dog was standing outside the house where the crime took place. Nevertheless, he was sentenced to five years in prison for first-degree murder.

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Money Isn’t Everything…

But it does help. And Dog and Beth have accumulated a substantial fortune during their time together. Not only have the couple been at the helm of hit shows such as Dog The Bounty Hunter and Dog And Beth: On The Hunt, but they have also achieved success through other forms of media. For example, Chapman wrote two books, including a number one bestselling autobiography. Together, the couple have an impressive shared net worth of approximately $10 million.

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Hollywood’s Calling

Since his rise to fame, Chapman has made a string of cameos in many TV shows and movies. One of his most high profile appearances to day came in 2016’s absurd action movie Sharknado: The 4th Awakens. He played a chainsaw dealer and was only in the popcorn flick briefly, but die-hard fans were desperate to see how he would contribute to the story. Chapman has also featured inTV shows such as Hawaii Five-O and My Name Is Earl.

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Old Dog

In recent times, Chapman has been spotted using a walking stick on the streets of California. He was enjoying a day out with his family. Children Gary, Bonnie, Cecily and grandson Travis went out with Duane and Beth as the sun was out and it was the weekend. But it seems like the retired bounty hunter is finally feeling his age and has been forced to resort to using a stick, in order to help support himself while walking.

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They Got Divorced?!

There have also been numerous rumors circulating around the internet that things may not be so sweet between Duane and Beth anymore. Some reports even suggested that the couple may have been filing for divorce! But have no fear, the Chapmans were quick to squash those silly rumors and took to social media to address them. Dog wrote on Instagram recently, saying “Thank you for being the mother to all our children. I’m a very lucky man.”

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Been Through It All

Whatever you may think about Dog and Beth, there is no denying that they are an admirable couple for sticking together after everything they’ve been through. After having 12 children with five different women, enduring his fair share of controversy and overcoming terrible tragedy, Duane Chapman is still standing. He has a woman who he is extremely in love with and a family that he takes grade pride in. There’s no telling what’s next for Dog and Beth.

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The Worst Wife

In 1992, Dog married Tawny Marie, but the marriage only lasted for two years and Chapman believes that they should never have married in the first place. “Tawny coerced me into marrying her. I told her I didn’t want to marry her because I liked women too much to settle down,” he said. “I knew in my heart that marrying Tawny was a mistake. She was all wrong for me…Despite my misgivings, I married Tawny…It was a disaster from the start.”

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