| US bounty hunter Duane Lee ‘Dog’ Chapman in a Mexican jail in Puerto Vallarta. (Reuters)
Mexico City, June 20 (Reuters): Although he styles himself as a modern-day Wild West hero, it is hard to tell at first glance if bounty hunter Duane Lee “Dog” Chapman is one of the good guys or one of the baddies.
With long, blond 1980s-style hair and an unshaven face deeply etched with lines, Chapman sports a leather waistcoat over his bare, muscular torso and a tattoo on his left arm.
He is now languishing in a Mexican jail after being arrested while abducting Andrew Luster, a convicted rapist and heir to the Max Factor fortune, in a Pacific beach resort.
The 39-year-old Luster, who had been on the run since January 3, was immediately taken to a prison in central California to start serving the 124-year jail term he was given in absentia for drugging three women, raping them while they were unconscious and video-taping his attacks.
Luster, whose personal fortune is estimated at around $30 million, jumped bail during a break in his trial in January. He was sentenced to 124 years in prison.
An ex-felon and born-again Christian with 12 children, Chapman hunted Luster to the city of Puerto Vallarta to try to claim a bounty which may be worth $200,000.
The plan went awry.
Mexican police, alerted by passers-by when Chapman pounced on his prey in the street. They gave chase and arrested Luster as well as Chapman, along with two of his sons and two other men he brought along to film the capture.
The FBI has said it will not help free the bounty hunter from jail and Beth Smith, Chapman’s partner of 15 years, said US officials have been ungrateful.
“He unselfishly sacrificed himself to make sure Andrew Luster was captured, and the US has turned their back on him and has just left him there,” Smith said by telephone from their home in Hawaii yesterday.
In January, Luster jumped $1 million bail during his trial. He was convicted in absentia by a California court of sexually assaulting three women and sentenced to more than 120 years.
Luster was on a list of fugitives on the website (www.dogthebountyhunter.com), which boasts of 6,000 captures in the past two decades. The site says Chapman won his nickname as a Christian in a motorcycle gang. It spells “God” backward.
Messages from supporters and critics poured onto the site, which lists Chapman’s “Dogisms” like: “Six men can carry you or 12 men can judge you. You decide!” and “Born on a mountain, raised in a cave. Arresting fugitives is all I crave.”
“I hope you get substantial jail time in Mexico for your aborted kidnapping of Luster. Go get a real job!” wrote an irate member of the public.
“Dog, You deserve a medal not a jail cell. I hope the Mexicans let you out real soon, so you can be treated like the hero that you are,” said another message.
Mexican police said Chapman and his team are under investigation for entering Mexico illegally and for kidnapping, which carries a maximum penalty of 35 years in Jalisco state where they are being held.