Is a television bounty-hunting team ready to leave their tropical paradise for a trip to the Adirondacks to monitor the manhunt for escaped convicts Richard Matt and David Sweat?
Beth Chapman, wife of Duane “Dog” Chapman, hinted during a 30-minute telephone interview Tuesday that the team may be heading to New York to get a closer look at the intensive hunt in the dense woods where the search for the two convicted killers is continuing. If they do, they will be armed with fistfuls of credible tips – sent to their website at a rate of four to eight a day.
“We’ve been on this case for the past week and a half, and I think we may be there sooner or later,” Beth Chapman confirmed.
“Beth and I together – which we haven’t done in years – researched back to Matt’s childhood,” Chapman said. “This guy’s been a troublemaking bully since way back. His friends tell me that he could go off at any second. That’s ‘Ricky the Ratt.’ He’s like a freak.”
Chapman appeared on CNN recently with tips generated from the couple’s website – dogthebountyhunter.com. Beth Chapman said the tips are coming from the “dog pound,” a group of 4 million fans, many of whom have had run-ins with the law themselves.
“They are a little bit timid and they don’t want to deal with the law, but they will talk to Dog,” she said from their home in Hawaii. “The public don’t necessarily wish to speak with the FBI or the Feds. They don’t want to be questioned for 14 hours. In this day and age people are not so forthcoming with information because of retribution. We’re getting four to eight legitimate tips a day,” she said.
What compelled the bounty-hunting team to follow this escape so closely?
“Extreme danger to the community,” Beth Chapman said. “That’s when you jump in. The likelihood is high these guys will kill someone.”
Chances are their show has a lot to do with it, too. “Dog and Beth: On the Hunt” begins its third season next month on Country Music Television. Each day Beth climbs the 1,100-stair path up Koko Head, a popular landmark on Oahu’s south shore. Each stair is made from a railroad tie, she said.
“It’s a hiker’s dream,” Beth said. “I’ve hiked most of the ridges here. It’s getting me ready for the woods in New York.”
Together for 25 years and married for nine, the Chapmans played a huge role in the 2003 capture of Andrew Stuart Luster, Max Factor’s great grandson.
“Eighty-seven counts of rape and I caught him in Mexico,” said Chapman. “He went to the beach and took pictures with college kids and told them he was a surfer from Hawaii. How stupid was he to do that?”
Chapman said he has chased criminals for 35 years, capturing more than 8,000.
“I have not chased any worse killers than this,” he said.
Chapman said that two weeks of running from law enforcers with dogs, helicopters, lights and infra-red cameras must be taking a toll on the fugitives.
“They’re like Barbie dolls that were tossed in the jungle. In prison, they were fed, showered, clothed,” said Chapman, 62. “They are not having a good time. We’ve all been waiting for a mistake to be made.”
One element of the escape continued to puzzle Chapman, who, like Matt, escaped from a Mexican prison.
“I can’t believe that this escape was so elaborate, so well-thought out and they had no backup for the getaway,” he said. “They depended on a woman, which was a mistake, and now they are screwed.”
Chapman believes the escape served to bond the two men together.
“Ricky the Ratt is the leader, so the red-headed guy is following him around. They are each other’s rabbit foot,” said Chapman. “They did something right together. It worked and they’re hooked. When they were digging in that prison, one was awake, one slept. It’s their MO. They’re watching each other’s back. The closer they are to getting caught is when I worry they will turn on each other.”