Who is Beth Chapman?
Alice Elizabeth “Beth” Chapman was a well-beloved TV personality, known for being the beautiful and vivacious wife of Duane Chapman of “Dog the Bounty Hunter” fame. Before becoming a national celebrity, Beth grew up in a bustling household with four siblings, and trained as an ice skater and gymnast.
After matriculating from high school, the young Beth floated from job to job, working as a nightclub stripper, shop clerk, and waitress. Her life changed forever when Duane posted her bond for a shoplifting arrest, and the pair embarked on a relationship. In the early 2000s, Beth moved to Honolulu to be with her future husband; shortly afterwards, the gorgeous blonde would make her first TV appearance.
Over the years, Beth won over the general public with her witty personality, and quotes such as “It’s a woman’s job to outsmart the men”. Her and Duane’s rock-solid bond and on-screen chemistry were undeniable, and made them one of TV’s favorite power couples.
The outspoken star, who was born in October 1967 in Denver, Colorado, USA, left fans heartbroken with her untimely death in June 2019.
Duane “Dog” Chapman was born in February 1953, and became one of TV’s unlikeliest stars, following a rocky start to his adult life. In 1976, the Colorado native was sentenced to five years in a Texas prison after being convicted of first-degree murder following a drug deal gone wrong. After serving 18 months in the Texas State Penitentiary, Duane made an effort to turn his life around and began working as a bail bondsman.
In 2003, Duane became famous around the world, thanks to his successful capture of Andrew Luster in Mexico. Andrew’s unsavory crimes included rape, sodomy, and unlawful flight to avoid prosecution, and thanks to his family name as the heir of the Max Factor cosmetics fortune, his capture made for an even juicier story.
Just a year later, Duane’s hard work paid off as he was given his own series, “Dog the Bounty Hunter”, on A&E. His other shows include “Dog and Beth: On the Hunt” and “Dog’s Most Wanted”, which premiered in late 2019 on WGN America.
Despite the reality star’s image of devoted family man and spouse, Duane’s personal life before settling down was anything but stable. At the young age of 21, he married his childhood sweetheart, La Fonda Sue Honeycutt, in a cheap and cheerful ceremony – and would go on to tie the knot three more times before meeting Beth. Little is known of his current wife, Francie Frane, although her resemblance to Beth has been dubbed “uncanny”.
Today, I celebrate another year around the sun … but if I'm being honest, it feels more like I've lived nine lives….
For Duane, navigating fatherhood with his brood of 12 children hasn’t always been smooth sailing. His eldest son, Christopher Michael Hecht, was the product of Duane’s relationship with one of his very first girlfriends, Debbie White. Tragically, Duane only learned of his son’s existence years after Debbie committed suicide, and Christopher was adopted, but every cloud has a silver lining, as the reality star and his firstborn went on to share a close bond.
According to Christopher’s adoptive mother, Gloria Hecht, Duane got in touch with his son when the latter was 19. “He was ecstatic,” she told the U.S Sun, but allegedly, Beth had a hard time accepting Christopher into the family dynamic, saying: “She didn’t treat Chris good and they didn’t like each other at all.”
Christopher’s life has been marred by legal troubles and addiction issues, and he was arrested in 2020 and sentenced to three years in prison, with a release date of November 2023. A rep of Duane spoke to news outlets, and said on his behalf: “I’ve helped Chris numerous times and will again when he’s released from prison.”
The current state of Christopher and Duane’s relationship is ambiguous to say the least, but Gloria went so far as to accuse the famous bounty hunter of neglecting his son. She also claimed that Beth’s strained relationship with Christopher was due to him being just a few years younger than herself.
Duane and his first wife La Fonda Sue had two sons: Duane Lee Chapman II and Leland Blane Chapman, born in 1973 and 1976 respectively. Despite the acrimonious divorce of their parents, both currently work as bail bondsmen, and have made numerous appearances on Duane’s shows. With that said, Duane left the series in 2012 after a purported conflict with Beth, due to feeling that he wasn’t being paid enough for his contributions to “Dog the Bounty Hunter”.
Despite also leaving the show for a time in 2012, Leland is his older brother’s polar opposite. Beth once explained in a promotional interview for Channel Guide Magazine, “Leland wants to stay with his dad. He doesn’t want to be the one to leave or go away.” Duane himself has also said that of all his children, Leland is the one who loves him most.
After remarrying, Duane welcomed three children with his second, now ex-wife Ann Tegnell: Zebadiah, Wesley and James; tragically, Zebadiah died at just a month old in January 1980. Wesley is the founder of The Human Project, a private foundation that helps youth in dangerous situations. Along with his wife Jodie, he also runs an Idaho-based ranch with vacation rentals. Little is known of his brother James.
Duane clearly wasted no time in recovering from his second divorce – just three months after James’s birth, he welcomed his first daughter, Barbara Katie, with his third now ex-wife Lyssa Rae Greene. In yet another tragic occurrence for the Chapman clan, Barbara passed away in a car crash at the age of 24.
Although Lyssa Rae and Duane’s second daughter, Lyssa Rae, leads a relatively normal lifestyle, their son Tucker has landed himself in hot water plenty of times. Entering adulthood, he served four years of an 18-year sentence for armed robbery, before being released on parole. Duane’s show was also taken off air by A&E when Tucker sold news outlets a salacious recording of his father using racial slurs; it’s unclear whether Tucker and his father are currently on speaking terms.
With Beth, Duane welcomed two children: Bonnie Joanne and Garry, who were born in 1998 and 2001. He also became the adoptive father of Cecily Barmore-Chapman, Beth’s first daughter by her ex-husband. Given their young age, Bonnie and Garry aren’t high-profile media figures yet, although Bonnie has been very outspoken about her political beliefs, and has spoken harshly about Duane in the past.
Some of the strange scandals Duane has been embroiled in since becoming a public figure date back to 2007, when the reality TV personality was sued by Monique Shinnery, who at the time was dating his son Tucker. Monique’s name first hit the headlines when The National Enquirer released an audio tape of a phone conversation between Duane and Tucker in which the bounty hunter called Monique the N-word several times, and tried to convince his son to leave her.
The bounty hunter’s attempts at damage control made a bad situation even worse, as Duane said on Entertainment Tonight that he thought he had a “pass” to use the N-word after being in prison and saying it all the time. “If you use that word in your everyday regular life, you’re a racist,” Kevin Frazier from ET told him.
Despite Duane going on an apology tour later on, and claiming to have reached out to Monique, the latter stated in an interview: “I want justice. He has slandered me, stated that I have bad character, and repeatedly lied about me on national television.” Monique also denied that Duane had apologized to her and Tucker, claiming that his attorney was the one who got in touch with them.
In July 2011, Duane made news for all the wrong reasons yet again, after a heated brawl with the owner of a Colorado restaurant. The incident took place at La Montana Linda Restaurant when Duane’s team stormed the establishment looking for the owner’s father, who Duane was hunting as part of his reality show.
Video footage showed Duane’s team entering through the backdoor and raiding the kitchen; when a patron began recording the incident, one of Duane’s team members threatened him, while another punched him in the face and caused him to drop his camera. A brawl soon broke out, and a second patron was punched in the eye.
Things turned even uglier when the restaurant owner went outside for a face-to-face confrontation with Duane, in which the latter screamed: “Come on white boy… Come on, mother*cker!”. The owner retaliated by throwing a plant at Duane, who allegedly whipped out a stun gun and made more threats, before leaving the scene.
According to Duane, the altercation began when a kitchen worker sprayed one of his team members in the face with cleaning fluid, and the owner was the first one to racially taunt him by referring to the reality star as a “half-breed”. TMZ also reported that at the time, the suspect whom Duane and his team hoped to catch was still on the run.
As is to be expected, Duane’s relationship with Francie so shortly after Beth’s death didn’t go down well with his children, either. Bonnie, his youngest daughter and a BLM supporter, gave a scathing interview shortly afterwards in which she claimed that she wasn’t invited to the wedding due to her beliefs, and also said: “[Duane] would cheat on my mom all the time, and I hated him every time he did it, but I forgave him for that because I wanted a relationship with my dad.”
Bonnie also spoke on her father being fired from UnleashedTV for his racist and homophobic rants. “I have expressed time and time again my ever-growing disappointment in my father’s progression into his old racist ways,” she said. According to the celebrity’s daughter, Beth was a positive influence on Duane, but the change “vanished” when she passed away.
Last but not least, Duane’s mounting debts stemming all the way back to 2013 are yet another bone of contention for the former bail bondsman. In 2003, he was arrested for “felony kidnapping” in Mexico, due to bounty hunting being illegal in Puerto Valley. When a lawyer took his case, Duane sued him, and the lawyer counter-sued and won.
TMZ reported a decade after the incident that Duane had been told to pay $880,000; in 2021, it came out that he owed $880,916 plus interests.
In a sad turn of events, Beth was diagnosed with stage two throat cancer in September 2017 which initially went into remission before then spreading to her lungs. Battling on courageously, in January 2019 she and her family began filming for “Dog’s Most Wanted”, with several episodes centered around her health struggles.
During production, Beth was hospitalized and placed in a medically induced coma in Honolulu, Hawaii, where her wedding to Duane took place. Mere days later, she passed away from complications from the illness, and was cremated. The final episode of “Dog’s Most Wanted”, which is dedicated to her memory, shows intimate footage of Beth’s memorial services in Colorado and Hawaii, as well as her ashes being scattered at sea.
Understandably, Duane broke down in his first interview after his wife’s death, explaining that there was no way to be prepared for the loss of a loved one. “I have a lot of people who depend on me,” he added. “All my supervisors said: ‘Dog, it’s time to man up.’ So I’m trying to man up.”
As the famous bounty hunter wasn’t prepared to throw all of his wife’s ashes into the sea, he kept some in a pink box which he even brought along to the interview. Thanks to an outpouring of support from fans and family, it was soon business as usual for Duane, and he began filming his new series, “Dog Unleashed”, but which was canceled in 2021 before airing.
The show’s production company sued Duane in October of the same year for breach of contract, due to his alleged racist and homophobic outbursts, and illegally using a taser during filming. However, the star and his legal team stoutly denied the accusations.
The situation is yet to be resolved – it’s unclear if he will return to TV anytime soon.