If Dog The Bounty Hunter were to find fugitive Brian Laundrie, he wouldn’t be able to arrest or detain him or he’d run the risk of being charged with kidnapping, DailyMail.com can reveal.
That’s because Dog, whose real name is Duane Chapman, is not actually licensed as a bounty hunter or private investigator in Florida – or anywhere else that DailyMail.com has found – making his hunt for Laundrie potentially dicey as he’s legally banned from arresting or holding anyone against their will.
According to professional Florida bounty hunters, there is no legal difference between Dog or any citizen who decides to join the search for Laundrie, whose girlfriend Gabby Petito was found murdered on September 19 in a secluded part of Teton County, Wyoming.
And making a citizen’s arrest is verboten – unless you catch the offender in the act of committing a crime.
Dog The Bounty Hunter joined the manhunt for Brian Laundrie last month and has mainly been searching a Florida camp site. DailyMail.com can reveal that Dog, real name Duane Chapman, cannot arrest or hold anyone against his will or he’d risk charges of kidnapping
Chapman and an entourage of ex Marines and Navy SEALS have scoured islands off the west coast of Florida and the nearby Fort De Soto Park in search of Laundrie who has been missing for weeks
Florida bounty hunters, whose job it is to find and arrest suspects who fail to show up to court, are amused that Dog, who rose to fame with his long-running reality show about his hunt for suspects in Hawaii, joined the search.
Chapman recently surrendered to the FBI what he considered evidence, including a can of Monster caffeine soda found in the state park.
He also set up his own tip line and claims to have received ‘more than 2,000 calls’ from as far north as Tennessee.
In 1976, Chapman was arrested for participating in a drug deal gone bad in Texas when his accomplice shot and killed a 69-year-old
That, however, could all be for naught if Chapman can’t even so much as touch Laundrie.
Mike Harrison, vice president of the Florida Bail Bondsmen Association, said Chapman could end up charged criminally himself if he were to make the mistake of grabbing Laundrie.
‘That would be kidnapping or false imprisonment,’ Tallahassee area bail bondsman Harrison said.
Harrison says Dog’s lack of licensing is well known in the business and stems from an old murder conviction.
In 1976, Chapman was arrested for participating in a drug deal that went bad in Texas when his accomplice shot and killed 69-year-old Jerry Oliver.
While Chapman was in the getaway car and didn’t participate in the shooting, he was found guilty of first-degree murder and was sentenced to five years in a state prison.
Chapman says he’s still trying to clear his name and wipe the conviction from his record. But he’s been unable to obtain the proper permissions to bear arms, write bail bonds, investigate cases or even travel to countries like the United Kingdom.
Jennifer Willingham, Dog’s publicist, responded to DailyMail.com’s request for comment in an emails saying in an email there’s ‘nothing tenuous’ in Chapman’s legal status.
She refused to expand, and said Chapman is in the field and can’t be reached for comment.
Chapman, seen wading in swamp water to find Laundrie, lacks any license as a bounty hunter or private investigator in Florida or anywhere else, making his hunt for Laundrie legally dicey
Chapman recently surrendered to the FBI what he considered evidence, including a can of Monster caffeine soda found in the state park
According to state records, the only active and valid license Chapman possesses is to sell insurance in Hawaii.
That’s why Chapman was often accompanied by his namesake son when looking for bail jumpers on eight seasons of the A&E show Dog The Bounty Hunter; and why Dog was armed with a taser and bear repellent instead of a gun.
Chapman’s son Duane Lee Chapman II now works as a bail bondsman in Jacksonville, Florida.
He appears estranged from his dad and often complained on the show that his old man worked him like a, well, dog.
Laundrie’s home state of Florida regulates those who hunt human beings in a strict manner, according to Harrison.
He says Florida struck the words ‘bounty hunter’ from the laws that regulate bail bondsmen in 2007.
‘They changed the verbiage in the law to prevent guys like Dog from coming here from out of state to track down people they have no business tracking,’ Harrison said.
Dog has focused much of his search around the campsite at Fort De Soto in Pinellas County, Florida (pictured)
A map shows the Fort de Soto Park campsite’s location, the Laundrie family home and the Carlton Reserve where authorities have focused their search and Laundrie’s parents say he was headed
‘For example, only I can go out to find someone who jumped the bail that I put up,’ he said. ‘To each his own.’
‘Everybody in the business knows Dog is doing this for publicity, maybe to land another TV show,’ Harrison said. ‘This is about getting more likes on social media, more exposure. But if he can find this kid (Laundrie), I guess more power to him.’
Over the past weeks, Chapman and an entourage of ex Marines and Navy SEALS have scoured the islands off the west coast of Florida and the nearby Fort De Soto Park in an attempt to find Laundrie.
Authorities have yet to name a suspect in Petito’s death, deemed by a coroner to have been a homicide. But they named Laundrie as a ‘person of interest’ and want to talk to him about his use of Gabby’s credit card after she went missing.
While authorities looked for Laundrie in forests, bogs and swamps near her home in North Port, Florida, a hiker on the Appalachian Trail more than 800 miles away in North Carolina claimed he encountered Laundrie over the weekend.