Duane Chapman, better known as Dog the Bounty Hunter, recently made headlines for his involvement lobbying against reforming the cash bail system in Idaho. The bail agent has been the face of bail enforcement infrastructure in the United States. However, his show with his wife ended this past winter. With his recent involvement in politics in mind, what’s next for Chapman?
Duane Chapman’s Criminal Past
Duane Chapman had a convoluted route to becoming a bail agent. Born in Denver, Colorado on February 2, 1953, Chapman was the oldest of four children, born to a mother who was a Christian minister. Not much is known about Chapman’s early life, but in 1976, he was convicted by the State of Texas of first-degree murder, and sentenced to five years in a state prison. According to case reports, Chapman claimed to have been sitting in his car when his friend shot and killed an alleged pimp while discussing buying cannabis.
While Chapman was serving his sentence, his first wife LaFonda filed for divorce and married his best friend. Chapman did field work for the prison, in addition to serving as the warden’s barber. When an inmate was attempting to escape, Chapman tackled him, which prevented the escapee from being shot at by guards. This, in addition to Chapman’s overall good behavior, led to him being paroled after only 18 months. Inspired by his tackle, Chapman decided to pursue becoming a bounty hunter once released.
Over the next few decades, Duane Chapman slowly built a reputation as a skilled bounty hunter, working in Colorado. He rekindled a relationship with his two sons from his marriage to LaFonda, eventually getting the elder, Leland, to work with him as a bail agent. Chapman married twice more, once in 1979 leading to three children, and again in 1992, leading to another three children.
Chapman met Alice Beth Barmore in 1986 when she was 19. Their relationship was tumultuous for a long while. Both of them married and divorced, other people. In 1995, they finally entered a long-term monogamous relationship, eventually leading to marriage. Beth ran a bail bonds office, so when their relationship became serious, they combined their businesses. Between them, they have an extensive family. Leland, Duane Lee II, and Lyssa all joined the family business when they were old enough.
Dog the Bounty Hunter
On June 18, 2003, Duane “Dog” Chapman became an overnight celebrity when he captured Andrew Luster. Luster was convicted on 86 charges of assault and rape. His crimes were so great that he was tried and convicted in absentia, without even being present for the trial. Chapman caught up with the fugitive in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He was working with what he called his “hunt team”: son Leland Chapman, and long-time colleague and friend Tim Chapman, who isn’t related to the rest of the Chapmans.
While returning to California from Mexico, to turn Luster over to federal marshals, Chapman, his hunt team, and Luster were all arrested by Mexican law enforcement and placed into custody. Once they confirmed Luster’s authority, they delivered him themselves to California, to face his 125-year sentence. However, bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico, so the three American bounty hunters were all charged with “deprivation of liberty,” essentially kidnapping Luster.
Initially, the team members were denied bail, but Beth brought media attention to the story, and the Mexican authorities set a bail, which was then paid. Under the advisement of their attorney, the team fled from Mexico. This made them international fugitives, bringing even more public attention toward Chapman and his business.
In the wake of Luster’s arrest, A&E debuted a new series, Take This Job. The pilot episode, highly rated in part due to news about Luster, followed Duane Chapman and his wife across multiple “hunts” and arrests, including him wrestling with a 350-pound cocaine dealer. The episode was massively successful and led to A&E working with the Chapmans for a full show.
Dog the Bounty Hunter, which premiered on August 31, 2004, was everything a good reality show could want to be. Episodes usually focused on Dog and his hunt team chasing their fugitive and a tense arrest. Then, the last ten minutes focused on Dog giving an inspirational monologue to the person he’s arrested, what he called “collars.” Finally, the episode would close with Dog being with his family.
The show ran for eight seasons, though like most reality shows, it faced its share of controversy. Days before the statute of limitations on their kidnapping charges would expire, Duane Chapman, his son Leland and colleague Tim Chapman were arrested in Honolulu by US Marshals, on behalf of the Mexican government. The morning after their arrest, Chapman made an appearance in a media-packed courtroom to receive his bail sentence. The three were given ankle monitors and paid a collective $500,000 bail.
Chapman’s lawyers worked through the rest of 2006 to fight extradition. An open letter sent by 29 Congressmen to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice requested she deny his extradition. Mexican courts continued to argue for their right to try the three men, and public attention in the US delayed any action. The Hawai’ian State Representatives even passed a resolution requesting the Mexican President drop the extradition charges. In August 2007, the charges were finally dropped by the Mexican court system, as the statute of limitations had expired. That November, the US judicial system canceled the extradition request.
Another controversy hit Duane half-way through season 4 after an audiotape was released where Duane Chapman repeatedly used a racial slur while on the phone with his son Tucker. Tucker sold the tape, and the controversy led to Duane Chapman going on CNN’s Larry King Live to make an apology. Roy Innis, the chairperson on the Congress of Racial Equality, was one of the first people to contact A&E about the tape, requesting the show be canceled. However, Innis met with Duane, and after multiple extended conversations, publicly stated that he wanted the show back on the air.
Duane, himself, has done beyond his burden to make amends for the incident. He brought it up in interviews, without prompting, more than a year after the fact, to say that he should not be allowed to forget about the issue. Dog the Bounty Hunter continued to be popular after the hiatus, and when Chapman released his autobiography, You Can Run but You Can’t Hide, it was ranked #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list.
Season 6 of the show brought on a fresh controversy, where Chapman alleged he had been shot at with a handgun while attempting to arrest Hoang Nguyen in Colorado Springs. Nguyen was eventually captured several hours after the incident, and charged with attempted murder for it. However, the charges were dropped due to lack of evidence and conflicting statements coming from Duane and the rest of his team. Later, Nguyen would file a suit of his own against Chapman and his hunt team for damaging his reputation and shooting him with pepper-spray pellets. Records for the case are closed but haven’t been updated since November 2011.
Dog and Beth: On the Hunt
By the eighth season of the show, tensions which had been building for years finally became too much for some of Chapman’s team. Leeland and Duane Lee Chapman both quit the show suddenly, severing ties in an episode which aired in early 2012. The show was also facing a suit from fellow bounty hunter Bobby Brown, who felt he had not been paid what he was due or that A&E had lived up to their contract.
As Dog the Bounty Hunter was ending, the Country Music Television (CMT) channel announced they were going to debut Dog and Beth: On the Hunt. The show wouldn’t have many of the family members that had worked with the couple on Dog the Bounty Hunter, and also had a slightly different format. Dog, Beth, their son Leland and his son Dakota would fly from their headquarters in Hawai’i to bail agent offices across America. There, they’d help train the bail agents, and teach the offices how to modernize their procedure.
In the finale of Season 3, which aired August 22, 2015, Dakota had a falling out with his father Leland, who subsequently moved to Alabama. This led to Duane and Beth leaving CMT, taking with them the production rights of Dog and Beth: On the Hunt. This had the effect of canceling the show, though CMT may not have agreed with the decision.
What is Dog the Bounty Hunting Doing Now in 2018?
Duane Chapman and his wife Beth have been making headlines for their involvement lobbying against bail agent reform. Beth Chapman was elected to serve as the president of National Bail Bonds Association. Also as of 2017 they have a new show called Dog and Beth On the Hunt which you can view on CMT on Saturdays at 9 EST.
From there, the Chapmans worked to help end proposed legislation in Idaho. The bill would have prevented bail agents from wearing badges, and from keeping any bounty hunter without an Idaho-issued concealed carry permit from bounty hunting in the state. Duane Chapman, unable to own a firearm because of his felony conviction, objected most strongly to those facets of the legislation. In part, his appeal was that the law would encourage bail agents to rely more heavily on firearms, which he views as unnecessary.
It looks like Dog the Bounty Hunter, as a reality TV star, may be finished. But with his wife now the president of the National Bail Bonds Association, it doesn’t seem like Duane Chapman will be pulling back from the spotlight in 2017. It’s likely he will continue to act as a lobbyist for the bail industry, and perhaps later will do more to address felony gun ownership. As new developments take place in “Dog’s” life throughout 2017 we’ll update this article so check back throughout the year and see what Duane is up too.