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September 12, 2023

Dog the Bounty Hunter considers joining manhunt for Danelo Cavalcante

The reality-TV star known for tracking down fugitives has been following the search for the convicted killer

Investigations Manhunt
Dog Bounty Hunter Joe Lamberti/USA TODAY NETWORK

Duane Chapman, also known as Dog The Bounty Hunter, reportedly is weighing the idea of joining the search for escaped killer Danelo Cavalcante in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Hundreds of police officers, search dogs and helicopters have not proven savvy enough to capture escaped murderer Danelo Cavalcante, who has led authorities on a manhunt through Chester County for nearly two weeks.

LATEST: Convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante captured, ending the 13-day manhunt for escaped Chester County prisoner

Dog the Bounty Hunter, the grizzled reality TV star, reportedly wants a piece of the action. The 70-year-old former bail bondsman, whose real name is Duane Chapman, made a name for himself in the 2000s as a charismatic connoisseur of tracking down fugitives. He's been closely following the Cavalcante case and is considering joining the effort in Pennsylvania, TMZ reported.

Cavalcante, 34, broke out of Chester County Prison on the morning of Aug. 31, less than two weeks after he was convicted and sentenced to life behind bars for fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend in 2021. He's also suspected of killing a man in Brazil in 2017. Cavalcante's extraordinary escape, caught on surveillance video, showed him horizontally crab-walk up a pair of prison walls to access a roof and escape undetected.

Dog the Bounty Hunter reportedly has been glued to coverage about the ensuing manhunt and has reached out to law enforcement in Pennsylvania to inquire about the terrain and the possibility of lending his services. He wants to get a "lay of the land" before making any decisions about joining the effort.

The search for Cavalcante escalated Monday night when police say a man matching his description stole a .22 caliber rifle with a mounted scope from the garage of a resident in South Coventry Township. The homeowner used a pistol to shoot at the intruder, who fled from the property. It's unclear whether he was hit. A green sweatshirt and white t-shirt found near the edge of the driveway are believed to be Cavalcante's, and police also found a pair of shoes in the area.

Cavalcante is now thought to be armed, police said. Residents in the area have been warned to lock all doors and windows and secure their vehicles. Over the weekend, Cavalcante stole a refrigerated truck from a dairy business and used it to travel to an area of northern Chester County about 25 miles from the prison. He later abandoned the truck.

About 100 police officers wearing tactical gear have created a search perimeter in South Coventry.

Years before launching his career as a bounty hunter, Chapman was convicted of first-degree murder in connection with the fatal shooting of a man in Texas in 1976. He was part of a motorcycle gang, and during a marijuana deal gone wrong, his friend pulled the trigger. Under Texas law, Chapman was charged for his involvement in the crime and spent five years in state prison. 

He rose to fame with his Dog the Bounty Hunter persona in 2003, when he was instrumental in the capture of Andrew Luster. The heir to the Max Factor cosmetics company's fortune was on the run in Mexico after being convicted of raping multiple women and videotaping the assaults. Chapman, his son and an associate went to Mexico and found Luster. Though they drew international headlines for bringing him to justice, the trio were arrested by Mexican authorities for bounty hunting in violation of the country's laws. The subsequent case helped make Chapman a household name just as his new show on A&E became a hit, mixing personal drama with chasing down some of America's most wanted fugitives.

More recently, Dog's run of reality TV spinoffs came to an end after his daughter and others accused of him of racism and homophobia. Those claims were made in a lawsuit connected to the cancellation of a new show, "Dog Unleashed," that never made it to air. When Chapman got involved in the Gabby Petito case and the subsequent search for Brian Laundrie — including a trudge through Florida swamp water — his daughter called it a "publicity stunt" intended to drum up support for his show.

If Dog the Bounty Hunter manages to enter the frightening Danelo Cavalcante saga, it could be the final touch that transitions this situation into a full-blown circus.