Before Duane Chapman was celebrated as Dog the Bounty Hunter, he was jailed for murder following a pot deal gone bad.
Jerry Oliver was gunned down in 1976 by an accomplice of Chapman. Though he did not pull the trigger, Chapman, 23 at the time of the killing, spent 18 months in jail on a first-degree murder conviction.
Recently, he has been courting cameras and wading through Florida swamps, hunting Brian Laundrie, who’s wanted for questioning in connection with the death of Gabby Petito.
But Oliver’s family is haunted both by their loss and the fact that Chapman, 68, has gone on to fame.
“We don’t like that Dog and want nothing to do with him,” Danny Oliver, brother of Jerry Oliver, told The Post.
They’re not the only ones. Experts says authorities aren’t exactly Dog fans, either.
“Nobody in real law enforcement respects people in fake law enforcement,” Kevin Harrington, the COO of MG Security Services and a former NYPD detective chief, told The Post.
The celebrity bounty hunter’s daughter even claimed her father’s involvement in the Laundrie hunt is little more than a publicity stunt.
“He needs to back off and let the FBI handle it,” Cecily Chapman, 28, told the UK Sun.
“He sounds like he’s going out there trying to dig around for information that could, at times, sabotage what law enforcement is doing,” Matthew Young, a former FBI special agent of 20 years, told The Post. “Often, it’s not helpful to law enforcement techniques and operations.”
Chapman admittedly craves the camera, and the spotlight on the Laundrie search may have been too strong to resist.
“I need the attention. I wake up every day and say, ‘Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the baddest bounty hunter of them all?’” he told The New York Times in 2020, while claiming that he’s collared some 10,000 fugitives in his career — and that God “promised to make him famous.”
Rick Kincaid, a former Texas bounty hunter, scoffed at Chapman’s hyperbole. “I doubt he had 100 leads,” Kincaid said, adding that, in his own 11-year career, he nabbed about 300 to 400 suspects — an average of up to three per month.
Dog would have captured one thug every day for more than 27 years to reach his alleged 10,000 total, he said.
Law enforcement agencies, Kincaid added, would find Dog “more in the way than anything else.”
Chapman was born in Denver in 1953, one of four children of a father who was a welder and Korean War-era Navy veteran, and a Sunday-school teacher mom. As a teen, he reportedly joined the Devil’s Disciples motorcycle gang and ran away from home.
On Sept. 15, 1976, Chapman and three accomplices broke into the home of Oliver, an alleged drug dealer, looking for marijuana. One of them, Donald Kuykendall, shot and killed Oliver during a struggle.
Chapman was sentenced to five years in prison, but spent less than two behind bars in the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville. He was released from parole in 1980.
Oliver’s family has remained largely silent about the ordeal over the years, even as Chapman rose to fame as Dog the Bounty Hunter, the TV star shackling bad guys while the cameras rolled.
“This crime left my family very devastated and his daughters never recovered from his death,” posted an anonymous man claiming to be Oliver’s nephew in 2018, in response to an online story about the murder.
“The ‘DOG’ might be making money just from always mention[ing] how he got started catching criminals [but] my grandmother lost a Son, my mother lost a Brother, and I lost a Uncle who cared very much about his girls & sons. Just know GOD knows DOG is still part of a murder plot.”
Chapman told Fox News how his stint in prison actually led to him becoming a bounty hunter.
“I became the warden’s barber, so that means all the guards were my friends. One guy went to break and run one day, an inmate, and I jumped him and just — the guard were going to shoot him in the back,” he said. “And as the guard walked up when I was on top of the inmate apprehending him, and he threw down the handcuffs and said, ‘Hook him up, bounty hunter.’”
Chapman spent decades hunting scofflaws before he became famous for capturing Max Factor cosmetics heir Andrew Luster, who was wanted for drugging and raping a series of women.
The case generated global headlines, especially as Chapman and his colleagues were arrested in Mexico — the place they found Luster, where bounty hunting is illegal. (Chapman’s charges were eventually dropped; Luster was convicted of multiple sexual assault charges and is serving a 50-year prison sentence.)
With his elevated profile, Chapman landed a reality show on A&E, “Dog the Bounty Hunter,” which featured him and wife Beth (who died of cancer in 2019), sniffing out fugitives in Hawaii.
The show was a hit for nine seasons — even featuring a theme song by Ozzy Osbourne (lyrics: “I’ll hunt you down ’cause I’m the dog./ I’m the dog, the big bad Dog the Bounty Hunter”) — before being canceled.
Plans for a 2021 series, “Dog Unleashed,” never materialized because of racist and homophobic comments the star made “as well as illegal activity during filming,” producers wrote earlier this year in a statement.
But the high-profile Laundrie case has given Chapman a brand-new platform. He brought his penchant for big talk to the search, telling reporters that he received 2,000 tips on his hotline soon after arriving in Florida on Sept. 25, although he refused to share them with law enforcement.
Chapman, who has delayed his honeymoon to new bride Francie Frane in order to hunt for the fugitive, even made the attention-getting speculation that Laundrie might be a serial killer.
But Texas bounty hunter Kincaid isn’t impressed by the hoopla.
“As far as Dog, he’s more of a publicity person than an actual bounty hunter,” he said, adding that a low profile is the best way to get the job done.
Real-life bounty hunting, he said, “is not a reality show.”