The history of bounty hunting in the United States is a long a storied tradition, and such a major part of the culture that it shows up everywhere from film and television to radio and books. We see it in movies such as Star Wars and Django Unchained, and we hear about the profession from back when the country was first getting started.
But what exactly is bounty hunting? Well, bounty hunting is when a person looks for a person with a bounty on their head, and so people will go out and find them.
The way it works is like this. A person is arrested and wants to post bail. However, the bail is too expensive for the person to pay so they go to a bail bondsman. The bail bondsman gives the suspect a lone in order to pay their bail.
The suspect will then leave the jailhouse and will await trial at home. However, should the suspect leave and not show up for their court date, then the bail bondsman will have to pay the entirety of the bail.
Considering that most bail bondsmen do not want to have to do this, they will hire a bounty hunter. It is the bounty hunter’s job to scour the country for the suspect using any means necessary. Once the bounty hunter finds the suspect, they perform a citizen’s arrest and bring the suspect back to the jurisdiction of the court. The bounty hunter makes his money by taking a cut of the bail.
There are just two countries on planet earth where bounty hunting is still legal; the United States and the Philippines.
The most famous bounty hunter of our times is Dog the Bounty Hunter. He will travel anywhere and everywhere to capture the bad guys. But he himself has a checkered past that enables him to know how to think like them.
This is his story.
A moral upbringing
Dog the Bounty Hunter’s real name is Duane Chapman. He was born in Denver, Colorado to a father who made money by boxing as well as welding for the United States Navy. His mother on the other hand was a minister for a church called the “first assembly of God.” He is the oldest of four children, with two younger sisters as well as a younger brother. One of the reasons for Duane’s strong moral compass is due to the upbringing he received from his mother.
A native link
It has been said many times before that Duane “Dog” Chapman’s mother is a Native American, specifically that she is half Chiricahua Apache. That is the reason that Duane identifies so much with Native American heritage, and why he always sports an eagle feather in his hair. However, this claim has aroused controversy, with many Native Americans in the United States claiming that Duane is not actually a part of them and just using them for marketing.
Duane Chapman had a very rough life in the beginning. His father was a tough man who was not afraid to use physical force when disciplining his children. The family grew up in a very modest household where there sometimes was not enough for everyone. This rough and tumble lifestyle led Duane to drop out of school in the seventh grade by the time he was just 13 years old.
Chapman would go on to join a motorcycle gang after dropping out of school. This gang took him away from the morals his mother tried to instill in him. While in that immoral vacuum, he took to a life of crime, being arrested approximately 18 times for various alleged armed robberies. He kept up this fast lifestyle always thinking he could get ahead and continue to be reckless. He even got married to a woman named La Fonda Sue Honeycutt, with whom he had a child.
Duane “Dog” Chapman would get arrested one last time before his life turned around in a complete 180 degree switch. He was with a friend who was trying to buy drugs from a man. Allegedly, as Duane was sitting in the car waiting for the deal to go down when his friend shot and killed the man. Duane was arrested and convicted of first degree murder, and sentenced to five years at the Texas State Penitentiary.
He was doing hard labor for the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas when he was informed that his wife of five years La Fonda was keen on divorcing him. The two got the divorce, and La Fonda kept Duane child. La Fonda would go on to quickly remarry, getting hitched to Duane’s former best friend. Talk about getting stabbed in the back.
Earning the wardens’ trust
While in prison, Duane saw a person trying to escape. According to the reports and according to Duane himself, he ran up to the prisoner and tackled him before the jail wardens could get a shot off at him. The jail wardens saw Duane tackle the prisoner and rewarded him by taking him off of hard labor and turning him into a barber for the prison warders. It was there that the wardens talked to him about becoming a bounty hunter.
The day had finally come. After serving just a year and a half out of a five year sentence, Duane Chapman was once again a free man. However, since he had been in prison, he had a small fortune’s worth of child support to pay. The judge who was in charge of the child support proceedings had heard about Duane’s good behavior and closeness to the prison wardens, and recommended that Duane become a bounty hunter to pay off his child support debts. And a career was born.
A time honored tradition
Duane “Dog” Chapman would continue to bounty hunt throughout the remainder of the 1980s and 1990s and up until the 2000s. Bounty hunters have been around since the beginning of the United States. Sometimes called bail enforcement agents, their job is to track down people who have paid bail and left town. The bounty hunter will then track down the bailee for a bail bondsman and bring the person back. The bounty hunter will then be paid by the bail bondsman a percentage of the bail.
The search for Luster
Duane first burst onto the national stage for his bounty hunting when searching for a man named Andrew Luster. Luster was the heir to a cosmetics fortune, but was wanted for allegedly slipping unwanted substances to women and then having his way with them as they were sleeping. After paying his one million dollar bail, Luster skipped town and fled. Duane decided to give chase, finding Luster hiding in Mexico under a fake name.
Escape to Mexico
Charged with 124 years in prison in absentia for taking advantage of over 80 women in this manner, Andre Luster went to Puerto Vallarta to escape US authorities. However, Duane and his crew found him and prepared to take him back to the United States. As Duane and his people were driving towards the US/Mexico border they were stopped by Mexican Federales. It turns out that Duane had forgotten one crucial detail – bounty hunting was illegal in Mexico.
Running from the Federales
Duane, a bail bondsman and bounty hunter himself, paid the bail to get out of Mexican prison for both himself as well as his crew and as soon as they were able to leave the prison gate, they high-tailed it back to the United States. This all of a sudden made them Mexican fugitives, and the Mexican government wanted the United States government to extradite them back. Their charge – felony kidnapping. Luster meanwhile was extradited to the US where he was put in jail.
Both Duane “Dog” Chapman and his crew were arrested in Hawaii on charges of evading Mexican law enforcement, and extradition proceedings began in Honolulu, where Duane was living and caught by US Marshals. He was caught just days before the statute of limitations for his crime in Mexico was up. This began a year long process whereby Duane reached out to US Senators and even US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
Duane alleges that he was to be used in a prisoner exchange between the United States and Mexican governments. Duane had gained national attention which only made the Mexican government want him more. Meanwhile, the United States wanted a drug lord being held by Mexico, and the two countries wanted to trade. However, the warrant out for Duane’s arrest had reached the statute of limitations, and Duane was let off.
The big leagues
The whole Luster fiasco caused Duane “Dog” Chapman to become a household name in the United States and the media only helped his image. Producers from a show called “take my job” found him and followed him around. This appearance then spurned on an appearance on Dominick Dunne’s Power, Privilege, and Justice which was on truTV. He then eventually got his own television program which ran for eight seasons called Dog the Bounty Hunter.
A match made in heaven
Duane Chapman and his most recent wife Beth Chapman used run a bail bonds company. Beth would run all of the office work while Duane was the one who would actively go out and try to catch the people who ran from bail. Their show Dog the Bounty Hunter, which ran for nearly 250 episodes, was one of the highest rated shows on television. It would eventually spawn a second show called Dog and Beth: On the Hunt.
All Dog’s children
Dog has 12 children from four different women. He was married four times and had children from three out of four of them. The first child he had was kept secret from him and was spawned from a relationship he had when he was a teenager. He is in close contact with the majority of his children, but there are several who have caused him grief, especially since two of them have already passed away.
Tragedy and joy
When Beth and Duane were getting married, all the preparations were set and ready to go. They had booked the beautiful Hilton Waikoloa Village which is located on the big island of Hawaii. However, one of his daughters who was living in Fairbanks, Alaska at the time, died in a car crash the night before the wedding, having been inebriated and stolen a vehicle. After consulting his family, Duane decided to continue with the wedding and celebrate his daughter’s life.
Filming for Dog the Bounty Hunter was stopped due to a crisis in the Chapman family. Duane discovered that his son Tucker was dating a woman of African American descent, and Duane did not like that. In fact, in a phone call which was secretly taped and released to the public, he called the woman the “N” word. A&E, which was running the show at the time, received numerous complaints. Duane publicly apologized, and the show went on.
Lyssa goes rogue
Duane likes to conduct his business as a family affair, and for that reason he took on his daughter Lyssa Chapman to help him when carrying out arrests. She was banging loudly on a door trying to get into a home in Honolulu at 3:00am when the police were called following a noise complaint. As the officers asked her to stop, one of them took out his phone and started filming Lyssa, so Lyssa slapped the phone out of the officer’s hand. She was then arrested.
Sent all over
Despite the fact that Beth and Duane are based in Hawaii, they sent their sons out all over the United States in order to help out other bail bondsmen who have clients who fled for Dog and Beth: On the Hunt. It was on the air for a total of three seasons, and has over 45 episodes. However, the show ended when Dakota fell out with his father Duane and when Leland said that he wanted to move and start anew in Alabama.
Due to the fact that Duane “Dog” Chapman is a convicted felon, he is barred by law from ever carrying a gun or receiving a gun license. Therefore, whenever Duane goes out on a hunt to catch a fugitive criminal, he must do it bare handed. He relies on his strength as well as his cunning to go after the bad guys. However, he does have a crew, none of whom are convicted felons, and they have guns.
Warrant out for Beth
Beth Chapman herself got into a little bit of trouble over her mouth. She was out in Colorado with her children on a fishing trip when some teenagers speeding in a car nearly hit them. Beth yelled at them and cursed at them and one of the teens allegedly brought out a gun, so Beth called the police. However, there is one issue that Beth certainly did not know about – in Colorado it is illegal to curse at someone.
Bail Bond lobbying
Bail bonding is hard work and under threat from legislation all the time. Being perhaps the most famous bail bondsman and bounty hunting couple in the United States, Beth Chapman was recently elected to be the new President of the National Bail Bonds Association. Meanwhile Duane is a lobbyist for the Bail Bonds Association, most recently lobbying the Idaho state legislature to not put forth legislation which would harm the industry.
While searching for a fugitive in Breckenridge, Colorado, the person behind the bar asked Duane who he was looking for. Duane answered that he needed to see the bar’s owner, who was the fugitive. The barman then called Duane a “half-breed,” and that is when a huge brawl broke out, with glasses and even a potted plant getting smashed. Eventually, Dog and his crew got bored of the scuffle and left empty handed.
Hunting down an MMA fighter
An MMA fighter named War Machine was dating an adult film star when he caught her with another man. In a rage of passion, he began to beat up the other man, and then beat his girlfriend, breaking several bones in her face and rupturing internal organs. He then ran off, with Duane “Dog” Chapman threatening to take him down. He tweeted at War Machine that “You got 24 hrs to turn your self (sic) in or I am Coming After YOU!” Dog eventually caught him.
While many bounty hunters have weapons on their person at all times, due to Duane Chapman’s checkered past, he is legally not allowed to own a gun. No matter, as he is able to get around this loophole very easily. Instead of pulling out a gun and shooting someone, something which could have the undesired effect of prematurely ending his target’s life, Dog just immobilizes the people he is going after with a TASER.
Peppering the bad guy
Another one of the weapons in Duane’s arsenal is a specialized paintball gun. Anyone who has ever been hit by a paintball gun knows that those little balls of paint sure do hurt. They are enough to stop a low level, common miscreant. However, for someone who is tougher and a little bit crazier, Dog has something else up his sleeve: pepper balls. These pepper balls are just like paint balls, but instead of paint they are filled with pepper spray.
Duane’s oldest son Leland is also an integral member of the family. Born seven months before his father first went to prison, he began skipping school and even joined a gang before he was 13 years old. His mother, La Fonda, eventually put him in a foster home saying that she could not control him. Finally, Duane came and adopted him and helped him to become the functioning member of society he is today.
Career ending injury
Leland Chapman was a professional boxer and Mixed Martial Arts fighter, and used to train with a good friend of his named Sonny Westbrook. However, he injured his left knee while he was training and was forced to wear a knee brace for a long time. He was told that he would never fight again lest he risk losing the use of his entire left leg. If a doctor told us that, we would definitely quit fighting as well.
Not knowing his father
The oldest of the Chapman brothers, Leland was born a mere seven months before his father Duane “Dog” Chapman was sent to prison for first degree murder. He grew up believing that his mother’s second husband (and Duane’s best friend) was his real father up until Duane got out of prison and began to visit him when he was already eight years old. This could have been one of the reasons Leland lashed out so hard.
Beth’s tummy tuck
Beth Chapman was at one point the youngest person to get a bail bondsman as well as bounty hunting license in the country at the age of 29. However, another thing that she used to be known for was her voluptuous form. That all changed once she got a tummy tuck back in 2012. Now she looks like a lean, mean, bounty hunting machine. She needs to look like that, especially since she is the president of the National Bail Bonds Association.
Dog buying dog?
According to a TMZ news report, when Duane “Dog” Chapman went to Texas to arrest a man named James Hawkins, Dog laid eyes on the perp’s beautiful great dane. As Hawkins was being arrested by Chapman and his crew, Hawkins alleges that Dog offered the man $1,000 on the spot to have the dog. Hawkins allegedly refused the offer. Chapman alleges that these charges are pure fabrications and that none of what Hawkins said is true.
Bittersweet seeing Dog
The same report continued saying that while Dog was off arresting James Hawkins, Duane’s wife Beth decided to go and comfort the man’s children as their father was being taken away. However, it turns out that the Hawkins children are huge fans of Duane’s show Dog the Bounty Hunter, and the the four asked Beth if they could have their pictures taken with her. This led to possibly the weirdest, most awkward picture that Beth has ever had to pose for.
Catching El Chapo
When El Chapo Guzman, the head of the notorious Mexican Sinaloa cartel was on the run from the authorities, the United States government put out a $5 million bounty on his head. When a TMZ reporter found Dog walking on the street, he asked him if he would join the hunt for him down in Mexico. Dog said that given what happened the last time he tried to bounty hunt in Mexico, he will not join the hunt for El Chapo, no matter how much money is at stake.
$30 million lawsuit
Duane Chapman and his wife Beth were sued in 2015 by another bounty hunter named Charles Fisher. Fisher claimed that Duane and Beth dragged his name through the mud on their reality TV show, and completely destroyed his reputation. He claimed that the couple made it appear that he stole $20,000, and that he used unethical means to increase his business potential. Fisher claims that the $30 million lawsuit is fair given that he is unable to work in the business again.
Making a murderer?
When Dog the Bounty Hunter was cornered by a TMZ reporter and asked about what he thought about the fact that Brendan Dassey of Making a Murderer was set to be released from prison, Duane had a lot to say on the subject. Chapman said that it is important that the United States is locking up dangerous offenders but said that he believes that the trial period is too long and drawn out, alleging that it could all be done quicker and using less taxpayer money.
When Duane and Beth Chapman were at a bail bondsman conference in Las Vegas back in 2016, not only did Beth become the head of the Professional Bail Agent’s Association, but Duane’s bodyguard was also arrested. They encountered a rival named Ronnie Frank who walked up to Dog and began to threaten him, and allegedly came close to punching him. Duane’s body guard tried separating the two, but as things got heated. The bodyguard hit Frank, prompting the bodyguard’s arrest.
Staying at the luxurious Luxe Hotel in Los Angeles, Dog and Beth Chapman came back to their room, opened their safe and saw that approximately $5,000 in cash was missing. Due to the fact that there did not appear to be any forced entry, and because only cash was taken, the police believe that the robbery was an inside job and that a hotel employee must have been behind the robbery.
Honolulu Police Chief
The police chief of the Hawaiian capital of Honolulu resigned recently over a corruption scandal. In the past, the incoming police chief was vetted by a civilian panel, as it is the police’s job to keep civilians safe. That civilian panel was allegedly slated to be headed by Beth Chapman. However, it was decided to not use the civilian panel to pick a chief in the end. Beth isn’t disappointed, saying she’s fine with the decision.
Stopping hunger strikes
In mid July 2017, a man named Ed Forchion was arrested for trying to tamper with a witness. This means he was either threatening or coaching a witness into what to say so that the witness would not indict him. Forchion says that this is not what happened and that he is being held as a political prisoner due to his Rastafarian beliefs. He went on a hunger strike, but after two weeks, Dog the Bounty Hunter convinced him to give it up.
Smash and grab on the rise
Speaking to Fox News, Dog the Bounty Hunter has argued that he knows why there has been a recent increase in the amount of smash and grab robberies that have been going on in California. He alleges that ever since California passed a criminal reform act dropping smash and grab from a felony to a misdemeanor, the deterrence factor of the law and getting caught has dropped, and people are not as afraid of getting caught.
Duane and Beth Chapman were fighting a custody battle in order to obtain custody over their grandchild Travis Mimms Jr. His dad used to hit him and abuse him, so the Chapmans have decided to take him under their wing. However, things got a bit sticky when Travis Jr. called his father asking to come back home. Yet the Chapmans pushed through, hoping to give their grandchild a better life.
Burned by Chris Christie
Beth and Duane Chapman were in New Jersey recently lobbying for a stop to bail reforms. They held several town halls and requested to meet with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Governor Christie however simply refused to meet with the couple, even laughing at the very thought of being in the same room as Dog the Bounty Hunter. Christie even joked that he would send his least favorite staff member to deal with the bounty hunters.
Dog the Bounty Hunter is a big friend of the boys in blue and all law enforcement, so much so that he has joined the fight in order to give law enforcement livable wages. He has teamed up with Georgia State Senator Michael Williams (R.) in order to try and give police officers in the State of Georgia a living wage. He has recorded a robo-call asking Georgians to sign a petition for pay increases to police.
Fighting in California
California is currently looking into a law which would nearly end the bail system as it is known today, enabling criminals to go out onto the streets with little to no repercussions. These criminals would be let out under the assumption that they would one day go back to court on their court date. Duane Chapman is fighting against this bill, having actively lobbied the California legislature in Sacramento as well as recording several robo-calls.
Seen in Washington
The Chapman couple were seen at Washington DC’s Old Ebbitt Grill in the lead up to the inauguration. The Chapmans are both strong Republicans and were excited to see the new president take his oath of office. However, despite being Republicans, both have at one point or another expressed some support for Hillary Clinton, Beth because Hillary is “a strong woman,” and Duane because he thought she would be able to handle ISIS.
Nephew Justin in and out of jail
Duane and Beth’s nephew Justin Bihag was once a part of A&E’s Dog the Bounty Hunter, but quit once the show went off the air back in 2012. After that, things seem to have gone downhill for Justin. He was suffering from severe depression and addicted to various drugs. In fact, things ended up getting so bad that he lost custody over his own child.
Justin Bihag was a bounty hunter and on the show of Dog the Bounty Hunter when tragedy struck. He was driving close to his home on the big island of Hawaii when all of a sudden he lost control of his vehicle and slammed into a tree. He ended up losing part of his leg in the incident. Duane and Beth used this tragedy as a plot point on one of the episodes of their show.
Suing Dog and Beth
Duane and Beth allegedly promised Justin that he would be making a ton of money if he joined the show. However, according to Justin, Dog and Beth did not pay him for all of his appearances on the show, and says that he should have been paid for having his tragic car accident serve as a plotline for an episode. One thing Justin does not mention however is the fact that he was inebriated when he got into his accident.
Duane Chapman is a well known political activist, and having him on your side can score you serious points. He was in support of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin Sheriff David Clarke when the Conservative Political Action Committee was helping to decide who should run for US Senate in 2018. Despite the fact that Clarke is a registered Democrat, he is very tough on crime. Chapman is on the draft committee to try and entice local elected officials to run for federal office.
No big brother
Beth Chapman was picked to be on the UK reality television show Celebrity Big Brother, a show where contestants are kept in a house together for an entire season until one by one members of the public vote them out, and the last one standing receives a cash prize. Beth Chapman was originally picked to be a part of the show in 2016, but the British Government refused to give her a visa to stay in the country over shoplifting allegations from the early 1980s.
Ending their show for the greater good
The reason that Dog and Beth: On the Hunt ended after only three seasons wasn’t because people were tired of watching them, but because they want to focus their efforts on saving their industry. Many states want to get rid of the bail system and let suspects be free until their court dates. This would mean an end to bail bondsmen as well as an end to bounty hunting, meaning that there would be no incentive for a suspect to show up in court.
Step daughter gone bad
One of Duane Chapman’s stepdaughters was a suspect in a bank robbery in 2015, and the Chapmans helped the police capture her. Named Nicole Gillespie, she robbed a bank in Honolulu and made off with the cash. When video of her escapade aired on the local news, Beth Chapman was watching and recognized her. Beth and Duane then called the police and tipped them off that it was Duane’s step daughter. It turns out she was homeless living in a park.
One of the most interesting critics of Dog the Bounty Hunter comes from a man named Christian Matlock. Matlock was a hard partying wild boy in his homeland of Scotland, but decided to clean up his act and become a bounty hunter in Virginia Beach. He says that Duane Chapman sold out and that he probably is not very good at his job anymore, wondering how hard it is to find someone trapped on an island.
Stopping legislation in Idaho
Back in 2016, the State of Idaho was proposing making some changes to the bounty hunting laws they had on the books. They wanted to make it so that bounty hunters would not be allowed to be licensed in Idaho without an advanced conceal and carry gun license. Felons would not be able to be bounty hunters, as they can not carry guns. Dog called legislators in Idaho and the bill lost 57-13 in the state house.
Looking for escapees
In 2015 two men escaped from a prison in upstate New York, leading to a massive manhunt in the area. No one had ever escaped from that prison before, but these two men managed to use their wits in order to get out. Dog said that he was extremely impressed that the two were able to somehow get out. He spoke to People Magazine and shared his well honed expertise on where they may be hiding and what they may do next.
All in the family
The Chapman family is clearly very deep into the bail bond and bounty hunting business. Duane Chapman Jr., who is one of Duane “Dog” Chapman’s children, recently opened up his own bail bonding business down in Florida. Just like his other brothers, he had a rough childhood, running around with bad groups of people before being taken in by his father to the right side of the law.
Going to Ohio
Leland Chapman was recently in the small town of Galion, Ohio in an appearance with the local bail bonds company’s annual street fair. The fair, which included food trucks, musicians, and Leland himself signing autographs, is a way for the whole town to get together as a community and do something fun. This is the second time Leland has been to Galion. Over 1,000 people turned out to see Leland, which isn’t bad for a town of 10,000.
Duane “Dog” Chapman – $6 million
Duane “Dog” Chapman is worth approximately $6 million overall. He made a lot of his money by being a bail bondsman as well as a bounty hunter. However, he received a huge amount of money from sponsorships as well as deals with A&E for his show Dog the Bounty Hunter as well as his second show Dog and Beth: Bounty Hunters. He has also written two books, both of which give him an extra income.
Death of a sister
When Duane “Dog” Chapman flew into Colorado in 2016, but not to go catch a bad guy or for a skiing vacation. Instead, he went back to his hometown of Denver in order to bury his sister Jolene Kay Martinez. Martinez fell ill with pneumonia, and the sickness got so bad that she was taken to the hospital and put on life support. The decision was made to pull the plug, and she passed away at the age of 62.
Go get some gear
Did you know that you can get Dog the Bounty Hunter gear? It’s true – Duane “Dog” Chapman has a souvenir shop where you can go and get yourself decked out in Dog the Bounty Hunter apparel. The main shop is in Honolulu Hawaii, close to where Duane actually lives. But if you do not want to travel that far, you can always go to the shop in his hometown of Denver.
The Chapmans have had to close down one of their merchandise shops already. Located south of Honolulu on the island of Oahu in Hawaii, the owner of the shopping center where the Chapmans had based their store sued the couple for failing to pay rent on the retail property. The Chapmans have hit back however, saying that the owner infringed on his own contract, and that the matter will be settled in court.
Tanning salon… in Hawaii?
Lyssa Chapman also has a store in the shopping center where the Chapmans have their merchandise shop. Incredibly, she and a partner have opened a tanning salon… in Hawaii. But why pay for a tanning salon when people can get free sun just by going outside? Well, first of all, all of the tanning beds are air conditioned – much better than roasting in 90 degree weather. Additionally, a lot of the sun’s other, harmful rays aren’t present in their red light tanning beds.
Beth Chapman – $2 million
Beth Chapman is worth approximately $2 million. She accrued her wealth primarily by running Duane’s bail bonds center while Duane was out bounty hunting. She also made money from deals with A&E as well as Country Music Television. However, Beth has been working for a long time in the industry as well, having become the State of Colorado’s youngest bail bondswoman at the age of 29.
Autobiography of a Dog
Duane released an autobiography about his life titled You Can Run But You Can’t Hide back in 2007. The book details the story of his life up until that point, and is full of the ups and downs one would expect from a man as storied and and adventurous as Duane’s. The book provides a rare glimpse into Dog’s early years and life outside the law, and the transformation which occurred to him after his time in prison.