If you have been living under a rock, you will have missed out on the legendary bounty hunter Duane Lee Chapman, best known as Dog the Bounty Hunter. He initially gained international popularity in 2003, after capturing the Max Factor heir Andrew Luster in Mexico. In the following year, he landed his own reality TV series – “Dog the Bounty Hunter”.
Following the show’s end, Duane continued building his career as a bounty hunter and reality TV celebrity, starring in two spin-offs of his original series entitled ‘Dog and Beth: On the Hunt” and “Dog’s Most Wanted.” Since launching his career, he has often made the headlines and arose as one of the ablest and most skilled hunters as he joined in on high-profile and publicized cases, and has helped the police over the years. Now, fans wonder about his success rate and how many people he’s captured.
Duane’s Life Story
Duane was born on 2 February 1953, in Denver, Colorado, USA, and raised alongside his three siblings Joele Martinez, Michael Chapman, and Paula Hammond. His father, Wesley Chapman, was a welder who later switched profession to bail bondsman, while his mother, Barbara Chapman, was a Sunday school teacher. While to outsiders it seemed that Duane and his family were living an everyday life, Duane revealed that he came from a troubled and broken home, fraught with violence and abuse, as he disclosed in his 2007 autobiography ‘You Can Run But You Can’t Hide.’ Duane wrote: ‘As a young boy, I never knew that other kids didn’t get hit by their dads. I simply didn’t know anything different,’ and continued by saying that he had been proactively beaten by his father.
Reflecting on this stressful period of his life, Duane wrote: ‘Just thinking of the abuse I endured can make me cry. I was expected to take it like a man. But I wasn’t a man. I was a young boy looking for love and approval from my father. I was desperate for his affection, so I ignored the pain.”
He went to Prison
After years of abuse and torment, at the age of 15 Duane ran away from home, and became a member of the motorcycle clan, Devils Disciples. However, his association with the gang would prove a bad idea, as he was later arrested for first-degree murder. According to reports, in 1976, the 23-year-old Duane was involved in a deal-gone-bad, which resulted in the dealer Jerry Oliver’s death,. While living in Texas, Duane and his friends wanted to buy some weed, and Duane was left in the getaway car while one of his friends went to procure the substance.
Allegedly, Duane’s friend and the dealer, the 69-year-old Jerry, got into a verbal altercation while negotiating for the weed, and his friend ended up shooting and killing Jerry. As a result, Duane was charged with first-degree murder and sentenced to five years in prison, but was paroled in January 1979, after serving 18 months in the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville. In 2012, he spoke to a media outlet about his conviction, saying: ‘In Texas in the ’70s if you were present, you were just as guilty,” continuing that everyone involved was charged with murder and eventually found guilty. Duane disclosed: ‘I shouldn’t have gone. And I shouldn’t have been the person I was back then.’
While Duane openly condemned his previous actions and regretted being involved, his conviction left a big stain on his life, which has continued to follow him. After gaining success in the US for his capture of Andrew Luster, he was cast in the UK’s version of Celebrity’s Big Brother, but never made an appearance as his visa was denied, later learning that he’d been refused entry to the UK due to his felony conviction.
He’s done it before! His real name is Duane Chapman. He was able to capture the horrible serial rapist Andrew Luster, heir to the Max Factor Fortune who escaped justice by going to Mexico. Duane Chapman found him in Mexico. FBI did not. The Dog has captured over 8,000 fugitives.
— LUCY (@Lockdown_Lucy) September 26, 2021
Talking with the Toronto Star, Chapman said that a criminal record is ‘something that follows you the rest of your life, no matter who you become or who you are. I’m not proud of it.” In his book, he also talked about the impact the conviction had on his career, writing: ‘In spite of those efforts to be seen as a moral man of virtue, I am still viewed as an ex-con, a criminal, a killer. I am many things, including those just mentioned. Put it all together and you will see: I am Dog.’
Who has he captured so far?
According to an interview in 2020, Duane had allegedly captured over 10,000 fugitives during his lengthy career. Here is the list of his most notable captures:
The case that made him famous and allowed him to reinvent himself in the eyes of the public, and which jump-started his reality TV career was the capture of the Max Factor Sr.’s grandson, Andrew Luster. Born into privilege and multi-million businesses, Andrew was initially arrested in 2000 after a college student accused him of rape. While conducting the investigation, the law enforcement was informed of two other instances where young women had been affected by the rape drug known as GHB, and then sexually assaulted, which tipped them off as the crimes might have been committed by the same perpetrator.
After raiding his house, the police found tapes that Andrew had the tendency to film these sexual assaults, and charged him with several counts. He was released on a $1 million bond after a court hearing, and instructed to appear in court in January 2003, which he failed to do, alerting the police that he was probably on the run. He was then convicted in absentia on over 80 counts, and sentenced to 125 years in prison.
Dog sends a thank you to everyone across the nation who is assisting them in the search.
“This has been a very different search,” said Dog. “America is along for the journey with us and I’m ready to do more!”
— Duane Dog Chapman (@DogBountyHunter) September 30, 2021
Considering that he was a high-profile celebrity with a colorful background, rooted in family affluence, he quickly became the media’s fixation across the globe. However, for a spoiled brat, as he was called by the media outlets, who had been living on a $1 million trust fund and in a luxury cottage in Los Angeles, facing jail time was not an option. So, Andrew opted to flee the US, and settle in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, under a fake name.
However, Andrew didn’t stay hidden for long as Duane, his son Leland and his friend Tim Chapman captured him in June 2003, but then the whole team was arrested by the Mexican police for illegal detainment, given that bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico. According to the reports, the police pulled them over and initially arrested them under suspicion of drug use. However, after Mexican authorities identified Andrew, he was deported to California to serve his sentence, but Duane and his team remained in a Mexican jail, although later released on bail.
When Duane was asked how he knew the location of the Andrew, he replied that he had been tipped off by Andrew’s lawyer, Richard Sherman – he subsequently passed away in 2011. The lawyer vehemently denied providing any clues or information to Duane, but regardless of Sherman’s statements, Duane still claimed that he was his ‘source’, disclosing ‘Sherman became very nice to me. We used to tease each other. And at one point, he said to me, “I’m going to tell you something Dog, so don’t be so dumb. The guy (Luster) speaks Spanish. Do you get it?’
Duane, who at the time had leads indicating that Andrew might be hiding in Thailand or Mexico, said: “Right then, I dropped all my leads on Thailand and focused on Mexico.’
Leonard Trujillo Jr.
In May 2019, a month before Duane’s fifth wife Beth passed away of throat cancer, Duane and his team called Dirty Dozen tracked down one of the most wanted fugitives, Leonard Trujillo Jr.
The whole chase and the arrest were documented on Duane’s show ‘Dog’s Most Wanted”, which features Duane, his family, and his team pursuing wanted criminals. Leonardo had a mile-long criminal record including a list of various violent offenses, including armed robbery, assault on a police officer, bank robbery, drug charges, and forgery. In the episode entitled ‘Beth’s Final Hunt’, Duane and his team search for Leonard, who landed on Colorado’s Most Wanted list and had been evading capture for months. After acquiring information regarding his potential whereabouts, the team explored the tips and chased him for seven days.
Finally, on the eighth day, the team was tipped-off by an unknown source which led to a house owned by a woman called Antionette, where Leonard was caught hiding in the garage with a significant amount of illegal substances, which Duane suspected were intended for sale. Duane said after the capture: ‘This guy’s record is horrendous. He has terrorized this peaceful town enough. He tried to run – but you can’t hide from me! We are making America safe again, one city at a time.’
Before he was transferred to the police station, Leonard was taken to the Medical Center in Arkansas Valley to be treated for injuries he sustained while trying to elude Duane. Later Duane’s press release included several statements regarding his capture: ‘Capturing the suspect Trujillo also led to the arrest of four others. It was a tough fight but Dog, a Colorado native, could not be shaken by the seasoned fugitive. No one has more experience that Dog Chapman when it comes to chasing dangerous criminals!’
Felix Adriano Chujoy
In June 2020, Duane helped the police bring Felix Adriano Chujoy and his mother to justice. The mother-and-son duo was previously charged with a labor trafficking scheme, and accused of harboring illegal immigrants at their hotel named Inca’s Secret. According to the Daily News Report, Felix and his mother allegedly smuggled workers from Peru, forced them to work at the restaurant, and intimidated them into silence. Besides the mentioned charges, Felix was wanted for possession of meth, intent to sell, and witness tampering. At the beginning of June, Duane arrived in Virginia to try to catch Felix, who had been on the run.
After extensive searches and media coverage of the case, Felix decided to turn himself in. Duane wrote on his Instagram: ‘Thank you to the people of the great state of Virginia. Your tips and leads helped towards the surrender of Felix Chujoy. When Wyatt Earp comes to town, the safest place for the criminal to hide is inside the jail.’
Dog shared his experience with CBS 19 News, and disclosed that the global COVID-19 pandemic hindered his job, and made it easy for Felix to hide in plain sight. Duane said: ‘The way I recognize people is facial features, which includes eyes, face and all that … Most of my fugitives right now are walking around with their face covered. Shades and masks on, so face covered, and a hat. You’ll never know it.”
The Christopher Nuanes Family
During an episode of the first season of “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” Duane sets out to find the 21-year-old Christopher Nuanes, who was previously charged with drug possession, criminal impersonation, and unlawful distribution of a controlled substance. After Christopher violated the terms of the jail bond, Duane arrives in Colorado to join in on the hunt. However, as the episode unfolds, it turns out that Christopher is not the only member of his family involved in illicit activities, and that his mother, Bernadette and his step-father had also violated their bonds.
Although Duane did not catch Christopher, he ended up finding his father, Joe, with whom he had a physical altercation in which Joe attempted to stab Duane with a meth pipe. In the end, Duane took both Joe and Bernadette to the station as their bonds were revoked.
Duane’s Involvement with Brie Larson Case
In 2021, the American public was shaken to the core by the news of the brutal homicide of Gabby Petito, who was first reported missing and later found dead. In July 2021, Gabby and her boyfriend Brie Larson went to travel across the US and film it for Gabby’s blog. According to her family’s statements, the trip was supposed to last around four months, but Gabby went under the radar in August, and her family reached out to the police.
After her disappearance, Brie returned from the trip alone, and drove Gabby’s van to her family’s estate without disclosing her whereabouts. The police were alerted by his unusual behavior and kept a close eye on him. After he used her credit card at an ATM, police issued an arrest warrant, but Brie was nowhere to be found. Finally, in September, Brie was reported missing, and during the same month, Gabby’s remains were found in Wyoming. The autopsy revealed that she died from asphyxiation.
Due to Gabby’s involvement with social media and the peculiarity of the circumstances, the case became a media sensation and was well documented. After Brie disappeared, Duane joined the hunt and said: “Because I lost a daughter at about the same age, I know what the parents feel like. They want justification; they want the guy behind bars. All of it’s alleged that he even committed the murder but circumstantially, it looks like he did.”
Furthermore, he added $ 10,000 to the reward for Brie’s capture. Duane spent days going through tips and leads and searching for Brie in Florida’s Fort De Soto Park, where he believed Brie was hiding. Unfortunately, Duane sustained an injury while conducting his search, as he twisted his ankle and was forced to step down from the hunt and seek medical attention. Duane assured the public that his team would continue his search while he was in the hospital.
The case landed a rather unexpected twist – in October 2021, Brie’s remains were discovered at the Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve and Mykkahatchee Creed Environmental Park. He was identified using dental records, and the autopsy revealed that he’d committed suicide.