The tragic real-life story of Beth from Dog the Bounty Hunter

Beth Chapman, the former star of A&E's Dog the Bounty Hunter and Duane "Dog" Chapman's wife, has experienced her fair share of ups and downs throughout the years. It all started when Beth met ex-convict Duane in 1988, while he was still married to his third wife. After pursuing the famous bounty hunter for years, the two finally got together in 1995. But their dramatic start as lovers hit a tragic note when Duane's 23-year-old daughter, Barbara Katie Chapman, died in a car accident the night before their May 20th, 2006 wedding. Although the two did their best to pick up the pieces following Barbara's death, they encountered even more sadness together, including an upsetting custody battle involving one of their grandchildren

Beth's painful story, however, took a life-threatening turn in September 2017 after she was diagnosed with stage II throat cancer. Unfortunately, that wouldn't be the last hurdle she had to overcome. Take a seat and let's unravel the tragic real-life story of Beth from Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Her heartbreaking cancer battle

Beth's battle to live began in September 2017, after she was diagnosed with stage II throat cancer. Vowing to fight the disease "like hell," Beth put up a strong front for the sake of Duane and their big brood. But the ex-reality star's faith was challenged when, in November 2018, the cancer returned after a period of remission. Doctors found the cancer during an emergency operation "to remove a life-threatening blockage" from Beth's throat, according to TMZ. A distraught Duane admitted to The Blast that Beth was "not doing good" after the surgery, a heartbreaking update given how hard she had fought to beat the disease. 

Beth then made the decision in December 2018 to return to her home state of Colorado, a place near and dear to heart. "They say the cancer follows the path of least resistance, so it goes downward. Half of her lung was full of water," Duane told Us Weekly about Beth's tough situation. "But she's much more comfortable now [that] she can breathe, but she just wanted to come back to Colorado, she loves it here."

She explored alternative therapies

Fans of Beth Chapman know that describing her as "tough" is an understatement. So, it should come as no surprise that she didn't take her cancer diagnosis laying down. In fact, according to Duane, she tried to stay involved in their bounty hunting business, which included the filming of a new reality series for WGN, according to TMZ. Beth also actively dictated the terms of her treatment.

"Beth will not take anything the doctors want to give her," Duane told Us Weekly in December 2018, adding, "Even the doctor told me he doesn't want her to have seizures if the pain is that bad, but she won't do it. She takes over-the-counter pain meds. She will not take anything prescription."

The reality star apparently also explored alternative cancer therapies, including cannabis-based CBD and THC treatments, which she touted in a February 2019 Instagram post. "We need to all be far more open minded to new treatments," she wrote, adding, "We no longer need to poison patients to get them well. #cancersucks"

She seems to be done with chemotherapy

Regardless of her possible interest and/or pursuit of alternative cancer therapies, Beth Chapman apparently took her doctors' recommendation to undergo a series of chemotherapy treatments (via Us Weekly). The Chapman family's attorney, Andrew R. Brettler, confirmed the treatment method to Us Weekly in January 2018, stating that Beth had begun the treatments the month before.

"[The treatments] are going well, but they certainly take their toll on her," Brettler said, adding, "[It] hasn't been easy but they are keeping a great outlook and Beth is one of the strongest women I know." Beth also seemingly confirmed the reports about her treatment with the above Instagram selfie that included the hashtags "#cancersucks #stayhumblepray #itsonlyhair."

However, by May 2019, Beth "seemingly alluded to having stopped chemotherapy treatments," according to People. The outlet reported that during a speech on Mother's Day at the Source Church in Bradenton, Fla., Beth said, "Chemotherapy is not my bag, people. Sorry, that's not for me." She went on to describe her cancer battle as "the ultimate test of faith," but she did not elaborate more on her health or alternative treatments at the time.

She had an emergency procedure

In April 2019, Us Weekly reported that Beth was "rushed to a Hawaii hospital with serious breathing issues." Sources told the tab that doctors had to "[drain] almost four liters of fluid from her lungs." After her release from the hospital, the family's rep told The Blast that the procedure was necessary "to alleviate pressure that had built up," and that both Beth and Duane were "so grateful for the thoughts and prayers from their fans."

The Chapmans haven't offered many specific details about Beth's treatment other than to say "it's an everyday struggle." Speaking with TMZ, who caught the couple on the the street the month before the emergency procedure, Beth declined to give an update on her health. Instead, she plugged their WGN show, and answered a question about her inspirational and uplifting social media presence by saying, "You can either laugh or cry. We choose to laugh."

We wish Beth the best in her recovery.

She was placed into a medically-induced coma

Beth Chapman's health took a turn for the worse in June 2019 when she was placed in a "medically-induced coma" and "admitted to the ICU at the Queen's Medical Center" in Honolulu, according to Hawaii News Now. Additional reporting from TMZ revealed that the reality star had "another breathing issue" that became "a choking emergency," speculated to be not unlike the incident from April 2019 in which she was admitted for something similar, but later released.

Just a few weeks prior, Beth spoke about what a "battle" it had been just to make it onto the stage at The Source Church to deliver her Mother's Day speech. She even alluded to having lost her voice ahead of the appearance.

After the news of Beth's hospitalization broke, her husband Duane asked for prayers on Twitter. The couple's daughter, Bonnie Chapman, also issued a prayer request, and gave fans a brief update on her Instagram Story (via The Blast), ensuring that although Beth was still in a coma, she was "getting good care."

Her family feud during cancer treatment

Amid Beth's cancer battle, she filmed a special for A&E titled, Dog & Beth: Fight of Their Lives. At one point during the program, Beth asked Duane's daughter, Lyssa, to spend time with her in Los Angeles while she recovered from a surgery to remove a tumor from her throat. After Lyssa said she couldn't make it, Beth confided to her eldest daughter, Cecily (via Entertainment Daily), "A family member was in need and some true colors came through." Ouch.

What probably made matters more stressful for Beth? Lyssa took to Instagram to vent about the family matter after receiving some backlash from fans. Citing a "move" and "house and dog sitting" responsibilities, Lyssa sounded off in the comments section of her November 2017 post. Duane's daughter also complained that Duane and Beth supposedly paid for Lyssa's brother Leland to come visit. "[Leland] only has to worry about his 'wannabe wife' I stand by my decision to stay with my family," Lyssa added. "And not let the cancer eat away at my home as well."

No matter whose side you're on here, many of us can probably agree that a person shouldn't have to deal with drama while battling cancer.

An unnerving hotel heist

Beth suffered a personal blow in March 2017, when she was robbed while staying at the Luxe Hotel in Los Angeles. Beth and Duane had put more than $5,000 in their hotel safe, only to find it missing when they returned, according to TMZ

Although robberies do happen from time to time, this incident was particularly upsetting because law enforcement told TMZ that there was "no sign of forced entry," which prompted the tab to speculate that authorities thought the heist "might be an inside job." The theory is especially compelling when you consider that the couple's jewelry and luggage weren't stolen, a fact that seems to suggest that the perpetrator was after something specific.

It's unclear if authorities ever identified any suspects in the case, or whether the couple had any ideas about who carried out the robbery. Either way, it's pretty unnerving to have your personal property stolen.

Disturbing death threats

Beth's life took a particularly scary turn in May 2012, after she and her family received death threats via email from an unidentified perpetrator. The emails were very explicit in nature, discussing rape, torture, and murder against the Chapmans. "I'm going to murder you. I'm going to come to Hawaii and murder you and your family in cold blood," one email to Duane read, according to Radar Online.

What's even worse? A few messages alluded to the couple's then young children. "Your children looked nice today," one particularly ominous note read. Another talked about "massacring" the Chapman family, with the author discussing his plan to "watch [their] children bleed." How disturbing. Beth, who isn't typically unnerved by threats given her bounty hunter background, admitted during an interview with the Today Show that the situation "sent a chill down [her] spine." 

Beth and Duane then handed over the terrifying emails to the FBI. "The Chapmans are taking these threats seriously and are very concerned about the safety of their family," a statement from the family read, according to E! News. "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."

Family arrest leads to heartbreak

Beth has a soft side, which is why she was "heartbroken" upon learning that one of Duane's stepchildren, then 35-year-old Nicole Gillespie, was arrested for suspicion of second-degree robbery in September 2015, according to Hawaii News Now. The couple's heartache was compounded by the fact that they learned about the news via Crime Stoppers, a program that gives the public the opportunity to "provide crime-solving assistance to law enforcement," according to the organization's website.

After news of Gillespie's arrest broke, Beth and Duane released a joint statement expressing their mutual disappointment. "It's always difficult and disheartening when someone you knew as a child, grows up and chooses a life of crime," the statement read, according to Hawaii News Now. "That is the case with Nicole Gillespie, who has been accused of robbing the Territorial Savings Bank on Bishop Street on Sept. 3. We have not seen 'Nickie' in over 10 years. Watching her on CrimeStoppers left us all shocked and heartbroken."

Although Beth isn't related to Gillespie, an arrest in your family tree is never a good situation.

Heartbreak before her dream wedding

Beth and Duane danced around their feelings for one another long after their fateful meeting in 1988. "I was the other woman through three wives," Beth told Rosie O'Donnell during a December 2011 appearance on OWN's The Rosie Show. "Two wives, and one really good girlfriend," Beth clarified. Way to keep it real, girl.

Once the two finally got their act together in 1995, they enjoyed a period of bliss and the birth their kids, Bonnie and Garry. Things were so good between the pair, they got hitched at the Hilton hotel on Waikoloa Village in Hawaii. But one day before the May 20th, 2006 wedding, Duane's daughter from a previous relationship, 23-year-old Barbara Katie Chapman, died in a car accident.

Barbara and the car's driver, Scott Standefer II, died when their their stolen SUV crashed into an embankment near Fairbanks, Alaska. "There is no clue as to why they left the roadway," Alaska State Trooper Jeremy Stone said, according to The Washington Post. "There are absolutely no skid marks on the road. They just went off the road, hit an embankment and launched." Barbara's mom, Lyssa Chapman told the outlet. "(Barbara) had gotten herself into a terrible mess. … She was trying as hard as she could to put her life back together."

Despite the tragic circumstances, Beth and Duane proceeded with the ceremony.

Her grandkids were involved in a serious accident

Imagine losing a loved one in a car accident, only to experience another vehicular-related misfortune years later. Sadly, this exact scenario happened to Beth when her step-daughter, Lyssa Chapman, was involved in a serious car crash in Honolulu, Hawaii. The accident occurred in September 2014, only eight years after Duane lost his daughter, Barbara Katie Chapman, to a car accident in May 2006. 

Beth confirmed the bad news to TMZ, telling the outlet that Lyssa had "all our kids in the car." Lyssa was driving with Beth's granddaughters, then 12-year-old Abbie and 5-year-old Madalynn, according to the Daily Mail

A picture of the scene showed a deployed airbag and debris from the car scattered across the road, a frightening image considering small children were involved in the incident. Beth also shared a video to Facebook of emergency crews arriving on the scene, while commenting: "Lucky they are walking away."

Lucky, indeed.

About that tough custody battle

After Barbara Katie Chapman's tragic death in May 2006, her young son went to live with his biological father, Travis Mimms. But Duane and Beth intervened in the boy's life after hearing an October 2011 audio recording of Mimms allegedly physically abusing the then 9-year-old. In the recording made by a neighbor, Duane and Beth's grandson is told to "bend over," a request that was allegedly followed up with "13 slaps" and a cry of "no more!" according to Hawaii News Now

Mimms' attorney, Jason Lewis, denied any wrongdoing on his client's behalf. "It wasn't bare skin and it was through his clothing and it was 3 to 5 hits on his rear," he explained, according to Hawaii News Now. Beth and Duane, however, saw the situation differently. "To hear the audiotape of my grandson being abused was torture," Duane revealed, according to Radar Online. "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."

Following a tense custody battle, the couple was awarded temporary custody of the child. Although Beth isn't the biological grandmother of Barbara's son, we imagine this tough situation pulled on her heartstrings. 

Trouble in love from the jump

Before Beth found love with Duane, she was married to a man named Keith A. Barmore. The exes share a daughter together named Cecily, who was born in June 1993, two years after their 1991 wedding. Although Beth hasn't said much about Barmore throughout the years, she might have revealed a troubling allegation about his life via Twitter in August 2015.

"Sorry my first husband was a heroin addict & I know all about it!" she tweeted to a fan. "It's not a disease it's an addiction! #ilivedit"

While Beth didn't mention Barmore specifically, there is no other "first husband" that we know of. Making matters even more compelling? Duane, who was childhood friends with Barmore, talked about his pal's addiction in his book, You Can Run but You Can't Hide.

"He was a thief with a heroin habit," Duane wrote. "He would drink a beer just to even out from the drugs. It just about broke my heart when I heard Beth was dating him. When I heard they got married, I got physically sick. … Friends told me he was abusing her something awful."

Yikes. If Duane's claims are true, it sounds like Beth got out of a bad situation when she left Barmore.

The death of her beloved father

Losing a parent is never easy, especially if you're incredibly close to them. Someone who knows this all too well is Beth, who lost her beloved dad, Garry Smith, in March 2006 at age 68, according to The New York Post. Smith's death occurred only two months before Beth and Duane's May 2006 wedding in Hawaii, so the dad didn't have the opportunity to walk his daughter down the aisle.

As for how close the two were? In Smith's later years, he worked as a bail bondsman alongside Duane and Beth, sometimes making appearances on Dog the Bounty Hunter. Beth also named her youngest son after her father, according to Business Wire. Talk about a sweet gesture.

Beth used to do everything with Smith, giving him the title of "best friend" in a June 2016 Facebook post. "To me he was my garage sale buddy, my burger joint partner, ice cream eater, green chili maker, and my best friend," she wrote. "But mostly he is my dad and he's always with me!" Aww. It's clear Beth really loved her late dad.