AURORA, Colo. — Friends and family of the late “Dog the Bounty Hunter” reality TV show co-star Beth Chapman gathered in Aurora on Saturday where they remembered her as tough and irreverent, yet full of love even for some of the fugitives she helped apprehend.
Funeral services were held in Chapman’s home state after she died last month at the age of 51 in Hawaii, where she lived with her family. She had been battling cancer for about two years.
Chapman and her husband Duane “Dog” Chapman starred in the A&E show until it was canceled in 2012. The show followed the couple as they apprehended people who avoided arrest warrants.
They later starred in Country Music Television’s “Dog & Beth: On the Hunt.”
In addition to friends and family, the public service also included dozens of “Dog the Bounty Hunter” fans.
“I knew I had to be here,” said Cheryl Tapia. “I loved watching them. I don’t think I missed an episode. I would always say I want to go on bounties with them.”
Tapia said even though she didn’t know Beth personally, her no-nonsense attitude on TV encouraged her to live a better life.
“I was going down a wrong path myself,” she says. “It helped me get on a better path.”
Chapman’s friends say it was that ability to connect with everyone that made ‘Mrs. Dog’ such an icon.
“You could be the guy washing the car, or a multi-billionaire, she didn’t care,” says Richard Moore. “She just brought people together from different groups.”
During Saturday’s services at the Heritage Christian Center, Duane Chapman recalled how he met his future wife when he posted her bond after she’d shoplifted a lemon.
The couple married in 2006. By then, Duane Chapman — the self-proclaimed world’s best bounty hunter — already had gained fame for nabbing serial rapist and Max Factor heir Andrew Luster in Mexico in 2003.
“I never admitted she was going to die,” he said Saturday. “She said ‘How are you going to make it without me?’ And I said, “I don’t know … She will never be dead to me.”
Duane Chapman recalled how his wife was prone to “chew people out real good. And I’m one of them. Because she always wanted people to know what happened if they go on her dark side.”
Long-time friend Mary Ellen Pollack, who runs a bail bonds business in Brighton, Colorado, said Chapman’s “tough-as nails” public persona belied a softer side.
“She didn’t let anybody see that, and that’s simply because of the profession she was in,” Pollack said.