Dog the Bounty Hunter's history of family tragedy: How he's overcome past heartbreak

Duane Chapman, aka Dog the Bounty Hunter, is mourning the death of his wife, Beth, after a years-long battle with cancer. 

Beth died at age 51 on Wednesday morning, Duane confirmed on Twitter. "It’s 5:32 in Hawaii, this is the time she would wake up to go hike Koko Head mountain," he wrote. "Only today, she hiked the stairway to heaven. We all love you, Beth. See you on the other side."

The reality star is no stranger to heartbreak and hardship, having faced tragic losses, complicated family strife and various accusations throughout his years in the public eye.

Here's a look back at some of the turmoil the 66-year-old reality star has faced in his life.

Jail Time

Duane dropped out of school at age 13 and lived a rough life as a member of a motorcycle gang, with several arrests for armed robbery and other crimes. In 1976, when he was 23 years old, Duane was waiting in a car when a friend shot and killed a man during a drug deal gone wrong. Despite the fact that he claimed to be merely an accomplice to the crime, Duane was convicted of first-degree murder. "I should not have been there, that's that," he said of his involvement when the conviction later barred him from entering the U.K. 

While he served his time at the Texas State Penitentiary, Duane's first wife, La Fonda Sue Honeycutt -- the mother of his sons Duane Lee Chapman II and Leland Chapman -- divorced him and married his best friend. He also later served time in a federal prison related to bounty-hunting charges in Mexico after tracking down Max Factor heir Andrew Luster, who was convicted of multiple sexual assaults.

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Duane "Dog" Chapman and Beth Chapman
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Duane "Dog" Chapman and Beth Chapman
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 07: Duane "Dog" Chapman and Beth Chapman sighting on March 07, 2017 in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by David Aguilera/BuzzFoto via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 07: Duane "Dog" Chapman and Beth Chapman sighting on March 07, 2017 in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by David Aguilera/BuzzFoto via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Duane 'Dog the Bounty Hunter" Chapman (L) and Beth Chapman attend the Vettys Presidential Inaugural Ball at Hay-Adams Hotel on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images)
WAIKIKI, HI - SEPTEMBER 12: Duane 'Dog' Chapman and his wife Beth Chapman arrive at the CBS 'Hawaii Five-0' Sunset On The Beach Season 6 Premire Event at Queen's Surf Beach on September 12, 2015 in Waikiki, Hawaii. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: (L-R) Chairwoman of Vettys Inaugural Ball Assal Ravandi, Duane 'Dog the Bounty Hunter" Chapman, and Beth Chapman attend the Vettys Presidential Inaugural Ball at Hay-Adams Hotel on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 04: Beth Chapman, Duane "Dog" Chapman, and guests attend the 2014 CMT Music awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 4, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Mike Coppola/WireImage)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 04: Beth Chapman (L) and Duane "Dog" Chapman attend the 2014 CMT Music awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 4, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Mike Coppola/WireImage)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 05: (L-R) Katie Cook and TV personalities Duane Dog Lee Chapman and Beth Chapman attend the 2013 CMT Music awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 5, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 05: TV personalities Duane Dog Lee Chapman and Beth Chapman attend the 2013 CMT Music Awards - After Party at Rocketown on June 5, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for CMT)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 05: TV personalities Duane Dog Lee Chapman and Beth Chapman pose at the Wonderwall portrait studio during the 2013 CMT Music Awards at Bridgestone Arena on June 5, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Wonderwall)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 05: (L-R) Darius Rucker, Beth Chapman and Duane Dog Lee Chapman attend the 2013 CMT Music awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 5, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 05: TV personalities Beth Chapman and Duane Dog Lee Chapman speak onstage during the 2013 CMT Music awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 5, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 05: TV personality Duane "Dog" Chapman (L) and Beth Smith attend the 2013 CMT Music awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 5, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 07: Duane 'Dog' Chapman and Beth Smith arrive at the 48th Annual Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 7, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 07: Duane Lee 'Dog' Chapman and Beth Chapman attend the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 7, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Kevin Winter/ACMA2013/Getty Images for ACM)
LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 07: TV personalities Duane Lee "Dog" Chapman and Beth Chapman of Dog the Bounty Hunter arrives at the 48th Annual Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 7, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 06: TV personalities Duane 'Dog' Chapman and Beth Chapman attend The ACM Experience during the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the Orleans Arena on April 6, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jerod Harris/ACMA2013/Getty Images for ACM)
LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 05: Duane Chapman, aka Dog the Bounty Hunter (L) and Beth Chapman attend the ACM Experience during the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the Orleans Arena on April 5, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jerod Harris/ACMA2013/Getty Images for ACM)
TV personalities Duane 'Dog the Bounty Hunter' Chapman and wife, Beth Smith arrive at Comedy Central's Roast of Charlie Sheen held at Sony Studios in Culver City. (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)
TV personalities Duane 'Dog the Bounty Hunter' Chapman and wife, Beth Smith arrive at Comedy Central's Roast of Charlie Sheen held at Sony Studios in Culver City. (Photo by Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images)
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Family Strife

Duane has been married five times and is a father to 12 children. However, his relationship with some of his children has been strained at times. The reality star's first child, Christopher Michael Hecht, was born after Duane's teenage relationship with a woman named Debbie White. But Duane didn't know of his son's existence until after White died by suicide, and the father-son pair reconnected when Christopher was an adult.

The bounty hunter also lost another son, Zebediah, one of three children he had with his second wife, Anne M. Tengell. Zebediah died shortly after his birth in 1980.

In October 2007, family issues led to public controversy when tapes leaked of Duane having a phone conversation with his son, Tucker, in which he used the n-word in reference to Tucker's girlfriend. The reality star issued a public apology, but on Nov. 2, A&E announced they were pulling his show for the "foreseeable future." About four months later, the network announced Dog the Bounty Hunter would return to production.

Duane also worked alongside two of his sons, Duane Lee and Leland, on the reality show. However, personal and professional tensions in the family caused his sons to walk off the show and quit in 2012. They have since reconciled. 

In 2011, Duane and Beth were awarded temporary custody of their 9-year-old grandson -- the son of Duane's daughter, Barbara -- after alleged abuse by the boy's father, Travis Mimms Sr. 

"I know Travis Sr. loves his son, and I know it's very difficult to be a single parent at such a young age, but I love my grandson and only want what's best for him," Duane said in a written statement at the time. "During the last phone call I had with my daughter, Barbara, she said to me, 'Please, Daddy, take care of [your grandson]. Don't ever let anything happen to him.'"

"To hear the audiotape of my grandson being abused was torture. We all hope and pray that Travis Sr. will be able to raise his son with the love and respect he deserves, because it's in everyone's best interest for them to have a proper father-son relationship," the statement continued.

 

Tragedy Strikes

On the night before his wedding to Beth in May 2006, Duane's estranged daughter, Barbara, died in a car accident near her home in Fairbanks, Alaska. Barbara and a friend, who was driving, were reportedly killed when their stolen SUV went off the road, rolled, hit some trees and landed upside down.

Hawaii News Now reported at the time that Duane learned of his daughter's death just before the wedding ceremony in Kona, Hawaii, the next day. He reportedly consulted with a minister and everyone agreed the wedding would go on as planned. They decided to break the bad news to wedding guests at the reception.

Publicist Mona Wood said the reality star was very emotional as he informed his guests of the tragedy, and many wedding guests were visibly upset by the shocking news.

 

Death Threats

In spring 2012, Duane and his family were the targets of multiple death threats via email, leading to an FBI investigation. The threats were graphic and included references to sexual assault and Duane's time in jail.

"I'm going to murder you. I'm going to come to Hawaii and murder you and your family in cold blood," read one message obtained by RadarOnline. "You are next on my list and are the bane of society. I will deliver you to God."

The family released a statement at the time saying, "The Chapmans are taking these threats seriously and are very concerned about the safety of their family. Duane Chapman said that when the person responsible is found, he will prosecute to the full extent of the law for the threats made against his family. A referral of the case has been made to the FBI in Honolulu."

 

Alleged Addiction 

In 2013, Lyssa Chapman -- Duane's daughter from his third marriage to Lyssa Rae Brittain -- released a memoir, Walking on Eggshells, that detailed claims of her troubled childhood, alleging that her mother was an alcoholic and Duane was addicted to drugs.

“I [falsely] accused my father of raping me when I was 11," she wrote in the book. "I had been molested by a friend of his. It was a horrible life that I never wanted to go back to, living with him and Beth and the fighting and the drugs. When I got to my mother’s, although she drank, it was much more peaceful. I was in school, I had friends, I was willing to do anything to not go back.”

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Duane Chapman and Beth Chapman together
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Duane Chapman and Beth Chapman together
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 26: Duane Lee Dog Chapman and Beth Chapman are seen on November 26, 2018 in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Hollywood To You/Star Max/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 28: Dog the Bounty Hunter and Beth Chapman are seen at LAX on September 28, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by starzfly/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Duane 'Dog the Bounty Hunter' Chapman (L) and Beth Chapman attend the Vettys Presidential Inaugural Ball at Hay-Adams Hotel on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images)
WAIKIKI, HI - NOVEMBER 10: Beth Chapman (l) and Duane Chapman attend the Sunset on the Beach event celebrating season 8 of 'Hawaii Five-0' at Queen's Surf Beach on November 10, 2017 in Waikiki, Hawaii. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 07: Duane 'Dog' Chapman and Beth Chapman sighting on March 07, 2017 in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by David Aguilera/BuzzFoto via Getty Images)
WAIKIKI, HI - SEPTEMBER 12: Duane 'Dog' Chapman and his wife Beth Chapman arrive at the CBS 'Hawaii Five-0' Sunset On The Beach Season 6 Premire Event at Queen's Surf Beach on September 12, 2015 in Waikiki, Hawaii. (Photo by Darryl Oumi/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 07: Duane Chapman and Beth Chapman are seen on September 07, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by PG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 24: Beth Chapman and Dog the Bounty Hunter, Duane Chapman visits the SiriusXM Studios on April 24, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Duane 'Dog the Bounty Hunter' Chapman (L) and Beth Chapman attend the Vettys Presidential Inaugural Ball at Hay-Adams Hotel on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Teresa Kroeger/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 09: Dog the Bounty Hunter, Duane Chapman and wife Beth Chapman visit at SiriusXM Studios on June 9, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 04: Beth Chapman, Duane 'Dog' Chapman, and guests attend the 2014 CMT Music awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 4, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Mike Coppola/WireImage)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 04: Beth Chapman and Duane Chapman attend the 2014 CMT Music awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 4, 2014 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
SEATTLE, WA - AUGUST 29: Duane 'Dog' Chapman and Beth Chapman attend the Snoop Lion concert at The Showbox Sodo on August 29, 2013 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 05: TV personalities Duane Dog Lee Chapman and Beth Chapman attend the 2013 CMT Music Awards - After Party at Rocketown on June 5, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for CMT)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 05: (L-R) TV personalities Duane Dog Lee Chapman and Beth Chapman attend the 2013 CMT Music awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 5, 2013 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 07: Duane 'Dog' Chapman and Beth Smith arrive at the 48th Annual Academy Of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena on April 7, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
LAS VEGAS, NV - APRIL 06: TV personalities Duane 'Dog' Chapman and Beth Chapman attend The ACM Experience during the 48th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the Orleans Arena on April 6, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jerod Harris/ACMA2013/Getty Images for ACM)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Duane Chapman and Beth Smith (R) arrive at Comedy Central's Roast of Charlie Sheen held at Sony Studios on September 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - MARCH 19: Media personality Duane Chapman (right), known in the media as 'Dog the Bounty Hunter' is joined by his wife Beth Chapman as he promotes his book 'When Mercy Is Shown, Mercy Is Given' at Borders Wall Street on March 19, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD - SEPTEMBER 24: Television personalities Beth Chapman and Duane Chapman arrives at the Fox Reality Channel's 'Really Awards' held at Avalon Hollywood on September 24, 2008 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Barry King/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 24: TV personalities Beth Chapman and Duane Chapman attend the FOX Reality Channel Really Awards on September 24, 2008 at the Avalon Hollywood club in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Getty Images for FOX)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 01: TV Personalities Duane 'Dog' Chapman and Beth Smith walk on September 1, 2008 in Malibu, California. (Photo by Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage) *** Local Caption ***
NEILL J. SCHUTZER/�2008 RAMEY PHOTO LOS ANGELES, 8/4/08 DUANE 'DOG' CHAPMAN AND HIS WIFE BETH SMITH AT STK IN BEVERLY HILLS NJSPS (Photo by Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 13: TV Personalities Beth Smith and Duane 'Dog' Chapman attend the Ed Hardy Swimwear launch fashion show held at Christian Audigier's private residence on December 13, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Polk Imaging/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 03: Beth Chapman poses with her husband, Duane 'Dog' Chapman, as he signs copies of his new book 'You Can Run But You Can't Hide' at Borders on August 3, 2007 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Chad Buchanan/Getty Images)
Duane 'Dog' Chapman, AKA Dog the Bounty Hunter with his wife Beth. (Photo by David Howells/Corbis via Getty Images)
Duane 'Dog' Chapman and Beth (Smith) Chapman pose at sunset after their lavish wedding ceremony at the Hilton Waikoloa Village in Waikoloa, on the Big Island of Hawaii, May 20, 2006. About 250 people attended the wedding. Chapman's daughter was killed the night before the ceremony (Photo by Lucy Pemoni/FilmMagic)
Beth Smith and Duane Dog Chapman during 2005/2006 A&E Television Networks UpFront at Rockefeller Center in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Lawrence Lucier/FilmMagic)
Duane Dog Chapman and Beth Smith during VH1 Big in '05 - Red Carpet at Sony Studios in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK - APRIL 21: From the reality television show Dog The Bounty Hunter Beth Smith (L) and Duane 'Dog' Chapman arrive to A&E Television Networks Upfront celebration held at Rockefeller Center April 21, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Fernando Leon/Getty Images)
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Beth's Cancer Battle

In 2017, Beth was diagnosed with stage 2 throat cancer, which was documented in the A&E special, Dog & Beth: Fight of Their Lives. She endured a 13-hour surgery to have a tumor excised, and the family shared that the cancer had been removed in November 2017.

However, in November 2018, Beth's attorney confirmed to ET that her cancer had returned. She had another surgery that month to remove a mass from her throat, and began chemotherapy in December, but was hospitalized again in April. 

A rep for the Chapman family confirmed to ET over the weekend that Beth was admitted to Hawaii’s Queen’s Medical Center on Saturday, and placed in a medically-induced coma in “very grave condition."

A source told ET that Beth was “heavily sedated” after being admitted to the hospital and that her mother had flown to Hawaii to be by her daughter’s side. Duane and the couple’s children were also by her side “around the clock" prior to her death, the source added.

 

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Inside Beth and Duane 'Dog' Chapman's Complex Love Story and 13-Year Marriage

Beth Chapman's Family and Friends Pay Tribute to Reality Star Following Her Death

Beth Chapman, 'Dog the Bounty Hunter' Star, Dead at 51

 

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