Duane Chapman, also known as Dog the Bounty Hunter, has tracked down over 6,000 criminals as a bail bondsman. He became famous after capturing Max Factor, who was both a rapist and heir to a major fortune. It was so noteworthy that A&E decided his work could make a fascinating TV show. His chases are as thrilling as any action movie scene. No amount of fame can heal the hurt he’s had to endure to become as strong and capable as he is. Keep watching to learn about tragedies such as losing his daughter, Barbara, when she was only 23.
Dog the Bounty Hunter’s Losing His Daughter
Barbara Katy died in 2016 at the age of 23 in a car accident. She was a passenger in a stolen SUV that rolled and crashed into a tree. The driver, Scott Strandefer II, also died. No one can say what caused the accident because there are no skid marks or signs of going off the road.
The tragedy occurred the day before Dog’s wedding to his fifth wife Beth Smith. He gathered his family together to discuss whether they should continue with the celebration. They decided it would be a way to honor Barbara’s life.
They were also missing another honored guest, Beth’s dad Garry Smith. He died two months before he could walk her down the aisle.
Dog told the guests the news at the reception. He gave them a heartfelt speech before the ceremony went on.
Barbara is survived by her son Travis Drake-Lee, who was only four at the time and went to live with his father Travis Mimms. Dog and Beth took temporary custody after hearing he was being abused there. Barbara even asked for her father’s help before her death. He heard audiotapes of the events and it brought back memories of his own childhood. There was no way he could keep from stepping up, but he hopes Travis will step up too and become a proper father someday.
Dog the Bounty Hunter’s Losing His Wife
Beth died in June 2019 at the age of 51 after a long battle with throat cancer.
Dog called it horrible and unexpected, admitting that he found it difficult to celebrate her life while mourning her death. He also says that work to find a cure needs to go on becaues “some get lucky, but most pass away.”
He revealed his wife’s tender final words. After calling on God together, her last thoughts were of her family. She said she loved them, asked if they were all right, and told them not to worry.
Dog met Beth at a police station when she was arrested for shoplifting. They had an affair while they were both still married. They divorced their partners and got together officially in 1995, with her as his best coworker. Also, they had two children, Bonnie and Garry, and he adopted her child Cecily as his own.
The family first revealed her diagnosis in September of 2017. She had to have a 13-hour surgery to remove a tumor. That ordeal was chronicled in an A&E special called Dog & Beth: Fight of Their Lives.
They thought the cancer had been removed after that, but it returned. Dog remembers that she continued fighting as hard as she could until the last moment, even going on hikes early in the morning.
All We Can Do Is Hope
He first admitted in an interview in November of 2018 that she was not doing well. She had to have more surgery to remove a mass from her throat. She began chemotherapy in December but was hospitalized in April and even went into a coma for a time.
Beth’s presence is still felt around the family home. Dog is still finding her notes around the house. He also struggled to deal with living there without her for a long time.
The family turned to their faith to get through their grief. He believes that there is a God and that he’ll see Beth again but admits that “all we can do is hope.” Like and subscribe to FactsVerse for the true story of this larger-than-life reality star. Keep watching to learn more about Dog the Bounty Hunter’s complicated and tragic life.
Dog the Bounty Hunter’s Secret Sons
Dog had his first child, Christopher Michael Hect, with a woman named Debbie White. She was only a teenager, and it was during his wild early days. He didn’t know about him until Debbie died of suicide and they were able to reconnect.
Dog also made a surprising discovery on the fourth anniversary of Beth’s death. He suddenly realized he had a son named Jon whom he hadn’t known about. That solemn day was even his birthday. He made the connection when he saw a picture of the boy with his wife Jodi.
Dog said that the news redeemed the heartbreaking day for him. Unlike with Christopher, it isn’t clear yet who Jon’s mother is because Dog has at least 12 children. He is going to open up about the incident in an upcoming memoir titled Nine Lives and Counting. That may or may not reveal the secret.
Bounty hunting isn’t for everyone. It requires speed, a strong body, and a hard emotional exterior.
Dog has all of these things, but he wasn’t born with them. He had to develop them over time over the course of a rough life that required him to get tough.
A Rough Childhood
Dog lived with four children. His father regularly beat him with a paddle and battered him in boxing matches.
He revealed in his 2007 book You Can Run But You Can’t Hide that he used to believe the abuse was his fault. It took him time to realize that he wasn’t being punished for some sin and still cries about it today.
Dog dropped out of school at the age of 13. He joined a motorcycle gang, The Disciples, and that’s when he began falling onto the wrong side of the law.
Dog is now a famous bounty hunter who’s captured plenty of horrible criminals who’ve tried to skip town and avoid paying bail. That doesn’t mean he’s avoided the slammer. He got into trouble several times with his motorcycle gang, including arrests for armed robbery and other crimes.
The most serious item on his criminal record came in 1976. He was 23 years old and waiting in a car when a friend shot and killed a man in a drug deal gone wrong. And he asserts that he was merely an accomplice, but he went to jail for first-degree murder.
He served five years at the Texas State Penitentiary and was barred from using a gun or traveling to the UK. To add insult to injury, his first wife, La Fonda Sue Honeycutt, who was also the mother of his sons, divorced him and married his best friend. That wasn’t the end of his illegal exploits. He later went to federal prison for bounty-hunting charges after tracking down the criminal that made him famous.
Losing and Falling Out With Other Children
Dog hasn’t only lost one child. His son Zebadiah was born to his second wife Ann Tegnell. He died at only a month old in January of 1980.
His sons Duane Lee and Leeland walked off the show in 2012. The reasons aren’t clear, but they’ve made up since then.
Dog’s daughter Bonnie has publicly accused him of being racist and homophobic. She’s expressed her “ever-growing disappointment” but says she’s forgiven him for his actions. He issued a public apology but denied the claims and said he’d been permitted to use the N-word by his “black brothers.” It shut down the show for four months until the network renewed it. One other child hasn’t made up with him yet. Her reasons for why she’s done this haven’t been proven. His daughter Lyssa released a memoir called Walking on Eggshells. It claims that Beth was an alcoholic and Dog was on drugs. She falsely accused him of sexual abuse because she was molested by a friend of his. She said she wanted to get away from it and the family fights so she took matters into her own hands.
Bounty hunting is a dangerous business, and Dog almost certainly has a long list of enemies. A few of them decided to fight back with dangerous threats.
He received emails in the Spring of 2012 including graphic threats and references to murder, sexual assault, and his time in jail. The FBI did a full investigation, and Dog intends to prosecute the senders to the full extent of the law if he ever finds them.
Losing a Close Friend
Tragic loss seems to follow Dog like he follows criminals. His co-star and friend David Robinson died suddenly at the age of 50.
His wife Brooke said he was healthy before he suddenly collapsed at home on a Zoom call. No official cause of death has been announced. Dog said he was “shocked and horrified” by the tragedy after tragedy.
Money and Health Struggles
Running after criminals every day eventually caught up with the now 70-year-old bounty hunter. He began to develop chest pains. He was diagnosed with a pulmonary embolism. Doctors told him to stay in the hospital to get treatment, but he walked out.
He later went on the Dr. Oz show and said that he regretted it. He felt like he was a “ticking time bomb” and wanted to get his heart to a point where he could be around for his family. Money problems did make this more difficult. Dog’s net worth was once in the millions, but Beth’s extensive treatments and a stint of not being on TV left him without money. He was even on the brink of losing his home.
Finding New Love
Dog got engaged to Francie Frane 10 months after Beth’s death. They were married in September of 2021. He was grateful for the support from fans, but Bonnie wasn’t present.
Francie had also lost her husband Bod to cancer six months before Beth died. The couple wrote their own vows that honored their spouses. She says that they’ll continue to honor their lost loves throughout their life together.
What will that life involve? Will they become a new bondsman team? Will she cheer him on from the background? Only time will tell.
What’s your favorite reality show redemption story? Let us know in the comments below.