This ain’t Star Wars, and he’s no Boba Fett.
But Duane Chapman, aka Dog the Bounty Hunter, is known for his determined and successful tracking of some of the country’s most notorious criminals. He rose to fame (or infamy, as some would describe it), in 2003 with the capture of Andrew Luster in Mexico and Chapman’s subsequent arrest.
Released on bond, Chapman fled the country, successfully avoiding prosecution for the crime of bounty hunting, which is illegal in Mexico. Meanwhile, Luster remains incarcerated for his 124-year sentence.
After an interview with truTV that year, Chapman’s popularity earned him a television series and with that, “Dog” become more than just a household pet.
The legend will be coming to Northwest Arkansas next week for a live appearance at the Walton Arts Center as part of a nationwide tour promoting an encouraging concept from his personal life: redemption.
Chapman was arrested, tried and jailed in the 1970s, and upon his release did something no one would have expected.
He became a success story.
“When I got out of jail, they said, ‘See you soon,'” he remembers. “I had to reevaluate my life and work to turn things around. And 30 years later, I’m on TV. But a lot happened between then and now. It wasn’t just a miracle.”
Chapman began touring with Tony Robbins in the 1980s as a guest speaker. He says he learned a lot about his life, his motives and his potential while working with the popular life coach, finding a sense of catharsis while retelling his story.
During this time, more than just a speaking career was developing for the young man. Chapman met now-wife Beth in 1986 and slowly developed a bond that would lead the two to romance. Business partners since 1995, the couple finally married in 2006, and she has been a force by his side ever since, he says.
“Beth is always with me,” he says happily. “We work together, we travel together. She sees things in a different way, definitely. She’ll be coming to Arkansas with me for certain. But we can expect a lot of jumped bail: They only dare to do it when she’s out of town.”
Between the two of them, Chapman and Beth have been responsible for more than 10,000 apprehensions. Many of them were caught on film as part of A&E’s “Dog the Bounty Hunter.” While the show is known for its intensity and inter-personal drama, Chapman’s seeming tenderness toward his captives has captured many viewers’ attention.
“Anybody, everybody can make a mistake,” he says seriously. “We go after these guys because we got to arrest them and take them in. But for them, it’s a second chance to turn their life around. I try to remind them of that. The thing is, some guys you look at and think they are a criminal. Some people, you would never guess. I say never judge.”
Chapman says he’s looking forward to sharing his story with an audience that maybe wouldn’t expect a bounty hunter to be a motivational speaker.
“It’s new for people and fans,” Chapman says. “I expect the audience to cry and to laugh when they come to this show. And maybe they will think, ‘If he can do that, what I can do with my life?’ Unlike my TV show, there’s no retouching. This show is all raw Dog.”
Despite his checkered past or present success, Chapman continues to turn heads and strike up controversy. He’s embraced his life and his fame, happily answering the call for justice and fan-driven questions.
“People always ask me if I carry a gun,” he says. “I do. Her name’s Beth.”
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