The Tragic Death Of Dog The Bounty Hunter's Daughter

While it might seem like it's been an eternity since the reality star Dog the Bounty Hunter was tracking down fugitives and ne'er-do-wells with his wife and kids on the streets of Hawaii or in the mountains of Colorado, TV's favorite bounty hunter has still been plenty busy. With a new show on WGN and a new paramour, the mononymous Dog (real name Duane Chapman) has been keeping himself busy.

The famous bounty hunter announced a new merchandise line in honor of his late wife, fan-favorite Beth Chapman, who died from throat cancer in June 2019 (via The Sun), and while Dog may have found love with his fiancée Francie Frane, it's clear to his fan base that Dog has — and will — always prioritize the loved ones he's lost.

As many fans know, Beth isn't the first immediate family member Dog the Bounty Hunter has had to mourn. His daughter, Barbara Katy Chapman, also passed away under tragic circumstances more than a decade and a half ago. But how did Dog the Bounty Hunter's daughter die, and what were the circumstances surrounding her passing that drove the press into a frenzy? Let's take a closer look.

Dog's daughter died the night before a momentous occasion

One of the main draws for viewers of Dog the Bounty Hunter during its heyday on A&E was the relationship between the eponymous Dog and Beth Chapman. Dog and Beth (known as Beth Smith for the first few seasons of the show) finally decided to tie the knot after a 16-year partnership in 2006, during the airing of the show's third season.

But only a night before the couple's nuptials, the bounty hunter's oldest daughter, Barbara Katy Chapman, was killed in a tragic car accident after an SUV she and a friend were in went off the road, rolling and crashing into a thicket of trees near Fairbanks, Alaska (via Hawaii News Now). Neither Chapman nor her friend survived the night.

According to reports at the time, the circumstances surrounding the death of Dog's 23-year-old-daughter were somewhat checkered. Barbara, who had a prior history of run-ins with the law, had purportedly known the SUV she and her friend were cruising in was stolen and had obtained a pilfered credit card which she and her friend had allegedly intended to use to rent a room at a resort near the scene of the crash. Hawaii News Now also reported that state troopers at the time suspected drugs and alcohol might have played a part in the devastating crash.

Dog and Beth Chapman's wedding day turned into a celebration of life

The deadly accident obviously cast a dark shadow on a day that was meant to be celebrated as a momentous occasion. Dog the Bounty Hunter and his soon-to-be wife Beth Chapman found themselves at a crossroads. What they decided to do next would set the course for the rest of their lives together.

As The Baltimore Sun reported in 2006, both Dog and Beth decided to proceed with their nuptials as planned — but only after Dog's 10 remaining children, along with the minister presiding over the ceremonies, voted unanimously to carry on with their Hawaii beach wedding. (The wedding, which was also filmed for Dog the Bounty Hunter's third season, premiered in August of that year.) 

Though the family's inner circle was aware of daughter Barbara Chapman's devastating death, the wedding guests reportedly weren't alerted of the news until after the official ceremony, though it was announced during the couple's reception. As per Hawaii News Now, Dog's then-publicist, Mona Woods, relayed that Dog was "very emotional" while delivering the announcement and guests were "visibly upset" upon hearing of his daughter's passing.

While the years have continued to yield additional tragedy for Dog, it's clear that his prerogative to push through while remembering the loved ones he's lost is, more than anything, noble. Despite the fact that Dog has been the subject of controversy himself, it's a trait in which his loyal fan base can find inspiration. 

Dog the Bounty Hunter continues to honor the dearly departed

Speaking of memorials, Dog the Bounty Hunter's latest merch line honoring his late wife isn't the only way the former fugitive-seeker memorialized Beth Chapman since her 2019 death. As The Sun reported in late June 2020, the reality star coordinated a private service to honor the first anniversary of Beth's passing.

As per The Sun, Dog arranged for a personalized memorial to commemorate the life of his late wife in which only loved ones and selective members of the press attended. The service itself featured one of Beth's favorite inflatable river tubes filled with an assortment of flowers, along with a framed photo, which was then set down Colorado's South Platte River.

Among those in attendance were Dog's daughter Bonnie, as well as his newly betrothed fiancée, Francie Frane. The event, which took place Father's Day Weekend, was specifically intended to both honor the memory of Beth and to thank Francie, who Dog said he couldn't have gone through the grieving process without.

"In a lot of religions and a lot of beliefs, they mark it as a tradition on the one year date that someone has passed away," Dog stated at the time. "Every Father's Day, Beth would like to come to this river and come down in the exact raft...I would always sit here — cold, wet, raining — she always went."

While he's experienced a few major losses, Dog won't let his loved ones be forgotten.