The untold truth of Dog the Bounty Hunter’s ex-wives
Reality TV star and infamous bail bondsman Duane “Dog” Chapman has quite a way with the ladies. After all, the Dog the Bounty Hunter alum has been married five times and fathered 12 children with six different women! No stranger to controversy, Dog stirred up more drama in May 2020 when he announced his engagement to girlfriend Francie Frane, news which came almost a year after late wife Beth Chapman’s passing and a whirlwind romance with Beth’s friend, Moon Angell.
In an interview with People, Dog opened up about his decision to propose to Francie. “I need a partner,” he explained. “I’ve said it before. There will never be another Mrs. Dog. …If Beth was here and saw Francie and saw how she was raised, her morality and this and that, Beth would say, ‘Big daddy, don’t lose her.'”
Dog’s daughter Bonnie Chapman defended his decision to propose to Francie in the same article. “My mother would’ve wanted him to be happy,” she added.
In honor of Dog’s nuptials, we’re taking a look back on the reality star’s rollercoaster of a love life. Here is the truth about Dog the Bounty Hunter’s ex-wives (and baby mamas)!
Debbie White was Dog the Bounty Hunter's first baby mama
According to The Mirror, Debbie gave birth to Dog’s eldest son Christopher Hecht in 1969. Almost a decade later, Duane “Dog” Chapman was serving an 18-month prison sentence, according to Lad Bible, leading Debbie to conceal her pregnancy and raise her son alone, according to The Mirror.
Given that Dog has staked a career on a commitment to upholding the law as a bounty hunter, fans might be surprised to learn of his stint behind bars. “It’s something that follows you the rest of your life, no matter who you become or who you are,” Dog told the Toronto Star in 2012. “I’m not proud of it.”
Upon his release, Dog learned of his son’s existence, and, over the years, the father and son forged a fragile relationship despite Christopher’s struggles with substance abuse, as per The Mirror. In 2014, Dog gave an interview to the National Enquirer, explaining that he’d staged an intervention and put Christopher in rehab.
La Fonda Sue Darnell makes wife number one
Duane “Dog” Chapman’s first official marriage was to La Fonda Sue in April 1972, though their marriage was short-lived, according to The Mirror. “Even though I was married, I was still enjoying the biker life, wh**ing around, smoking pot, and drinking whiskey until I was completely out of control,” he wrote in his 2007 memoir, You Can Run But You Can’t Hide.
Dog’s questionable life decisions culminated with his involvement in the 1976 murder of Jerry Oliver, an alleged drug dealer who was 69 years old at the time of his death, according to The Guardian.
When her husband was jailed for first-degree murder, La Fonda promptly filed for divorce and custody of their two children, Duane Jr. and Leland Chapman, as The Mirror reported. Once Dog finished serving his time, he vowed to turn his life around. He began working at his dad’s Hawaiian bail bonds company, according to the outlet, which catapulted the family to fame and set Dog’s TV career in motion.
Dog the Bounter Hunter's marriages to Ann Tegnell and Lyssa Rae Brittain didn't last long
Two years after his first divorce, Duane “Dog” Chapman was ready to walk down the aisle once more. He tied the knot with Ann Tegnell in 1979 and the couple went on to have three children together, though son Zebadiah tragically died just a few weeks after his birth in 1980, according to Entertainment Tonight. Wesley Chapman was born later that year, followed by another baby, James, in 1982.
Dog and Ann temporarily split between the birth of both sons, though broke up for good after James’ arrival, as per The Mirror.
While his marriage to Ann was fairly traditional, Dog’s next relationship was anything but. After meeting soon-to-be third wife Lyssa Rae Brittain in a bar, The Mirror reported that Dog offered her $1,000 to have his child — a deal to which she agreed! Despite the fact that Lyssa was already married, according to The Things, she quickly divorced her then-husband to wed Dog in a mountaintop ceremony. The pair welcomed three children: Tucker, Barbara and “Baby Lyssa” Chapman — before divorcing in November of 1991, as per the outlet.
A 'disastrous' marriage to Tawny Marie Chapman led to happiness with Beth Chapman
Duane “Dog” Chapman’s fourth marriage, to Tawny Marie Chapman, is one he describes in his 2007 memoir, You Can Run But You Can’t Hide, as “a disaster from the start.” The tumultuous liaison began when he arrested Tawny for drug possession and she became his secretary. Dog later admitted that he knew “in his heart it was a mistake,” as noted by E! News.
Dog had met Beth Chapman a few years earlier, when she’d turned to him for help in posting her bond. Their first face-to-face carried immediate electricity, as Dog wrote in the book.
But, due to her young age, Dog fought his attraction and stayed away from Beth, who later married his high school buddy, Keith Barmore, according to The Mirror. Despite the fact that both were married to other people, they turned to one another for solace amid painful marriages. “Truth be told, Beth and I were sleeping together the entire time I was married to Tawny and throughout her marriage to Keith,” Dog candidly admitted.
After a long series of ups-and-downs, the pair separated from their respective spouses and came together. In the fall of 2005, Dog proposed to the woman he “always knew would be my forever wife,” he wrote.
Will the sixth time be the charm for Duane 'Dog' Chapman?
In 2017, Beth Chapman was tragically diagnosed with Stage 2 throat cancer, per Entertainment Tonight. Her death in June 2019 left Dog devastated, who lamented in the July 2019 interview that “there is not another Beth. There’ll never be another Beth. There ain’t a girl built like another Beth.”
In his grief, he was admitted to the hospital for breathing issues, a scare he attributes to one heart-wrenching reason. “I think I had a broken heart,” he told Fox Denver.
Dog next found comfort with Moon Angell, a woman his daughter “Baby Lyssa” Chapman blasted for having previously had a relationship with one of Dog’s sons. Lyssa slammed Moon on social media as a “disgusting” person, tweeting, “Let’s not forget how you came to know my family because you were with my BROTHER. NOW TRYING TO GET WITH MY DAD. BARFFFFF.”
Thankfully, Dog quickly moved on from Moon with Francie Frane, whom he began dating in 2020. He and the rancher both lost their partners to cancer. Of his decision to propose to Francie, Dog told People, “When you know, you know.”
According to a rep for Dog, the pair is “very happy and looking forward to a long life together.”
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