Meet these new residents of Marco Island – Francie and Duane ‘Dog the Bounty Hunter’ Chapman
Marco Island is getting some new neighbors: Duane "Dog the Bounty Hunter" and Francie Chapman are moving in!
After a whirlwind romance and wedding in September 2021, the Chapmans have settled in and are now on the hunt for a new adventure together — helping abused women in Southwest Florida.
The television star secured a large and loyal fanbase with his various shows over the years, chronicling the life of a bounty hunter and his family in their everyday lives. He met the native Colorado rancher in 2019, after both had experienced the loss of the spouses due to cancer.
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What started out as a friendship built on healing soon blossomed into something more.
Francie Chapman spoke to The News-Press Friday about how the couple found each other due to a chance phone call, as well as what drew them to Marco Island community and their mission to help women that were once in a similar spot as she was.
She said while it was a bit overwhelming to step into Dog's world, it was no doubt God's plan to bring them together and help change lives.
"God brought us together at a time when we were at the most broken place that we both of us have been through in our lives," Chapman said. "God really changed our hearts and brought us together and he built this friendship between us and then this incredible love just started to build between the two of us and it's been amazing."
An unlikely way to meet
"I had no idea who (Dog the Bounty Hunter) was," Francie Chapman admits, while starting off the story how they first were connected.
She had lost her husband, Bob, back in 2018 due to cancer, just seven months before Dog would lose his late-wife, Beth, also to cancer, in 2019.
Originally hailing from Colorado after living in Hawaii for two decades, Dog had come back to plan Beth's second funeral. Upon arriving at their former house, he remembered that his neighbors had given him a hard time about the state of his driveway. Looking for contractors, he asked his neighbor for suggestions.
That neighbor recommended Chapman's late husband, who ran a excavating business alongside her. Dog gave him a call and left a voicemail.
"Bob had been passed away eight months when he called but I still wasn't ready to shut Bob's phone off, I also wasn't calling clients back because by that point, when people were calling, they didn't know that Bob had passed away … then I ended up consoling them on the phone 'I'm so sorry to tell you,' and then I just am a wreck for the rest of the day," she said.
"When he had left the message, there were three messages on Bob's phone and I didn't even listen to the other two messages. I just erased them. Then Dog's message starts playing out loud on the speaker of the phone, and while I'm trying to figure out how that's happening and why and how do I erase the message, I heard him say that he was friends with (our client). That's the only reason why I called him back."
Preparing herself to have to tell another client about the death of her husband, she called the number back and asked if "Doug was there?" Confused by being called a different name, she said he asked who was calling him.
She explained that she was calling him back about his project and shared that her husband had passed. That's when she heard the sound of crying on the other end of phone.
"I'm like, 'who the heck is Doug and why is he crying over Bob like this?' This is crazy and all of a sudden, I hear him take a deep breath … he goes, 'My name is not Doug. It's Dog the bounty hunter. I just lost my wife to cancer a couple of months ago.'" Chapman said. "We both ended up crying and we spent like two hours on the phone."
The pair talked about everything, from what they had been through to where they were right then in the moment. Further along in the grieving process, Chapman said she kept trying to offer encouragement for him. The pair ended the phone call, but not before Dog asked if he could reach out again.
She said yes.
'God brought us together'
Chapman wouldn't hear from Dog for another eight months.
She told a trusted group of friends about the phone call at first, who all freake out about their friend talking to the famous bounty hunter, she said.
Then she got a sudden phone call from a friend at 4 a.m., who sent her a video of Dog talking about their phone called during an interview. She recalled him saying that they really healed each other and that God was going to use them together.
Through the encouragement of her friend, she sent Dog a quick text about the interview. He called her back soon after.
"He goes, 'I can't believe you reached out to me. I wanted to call you so many times, but it had been a while and I felt stupid to call you. It's so cool you're calling me,'" Francie recalled. "I was like: I don't know what's going on but I know that I don't believe in coincidences. God has a plan always and I really felt like we're supposed to meet. I don't know why."
Not long after the pair had met for coffee and had clicked on multiple levels, she said.
"I never watched the show but he wasn't what I was expecting," she said. "He's a bounty hunter and he chases bad guys but he's got this amazing heart and he loves God and he just is so genuine and real. And I was really taken back by it when I met him."
As the two got to know each other, their friendship turned into deeper love for one another that neither expected to find so soon. The Chapmans officially tied the knot in September 2021 in Colorado Springs.
Chapman has since gone on to use her new platform to help advocate for women who have been abused or trafficked. Along the way, she said Dog has been the best teammate and partner.
"We have connected on so many levels, and our personalities are so much alike and we love people and we love the Lord. We love God and we want to make a difference," Chapman said. "With everything that we've gone through in our life, we have this passion of helping people change their lives."
The move to Marco Island
Francie joked that after living in Hawaii for several years, Dog didn't want to stay in Colorado and experience cold winters for too long.
Since moving to Marco Island, the pair have been heavily involved in community, especially for various churches throughout Naples. She gushed about how much the community has welcomed them and embraced them.
"The people are just wonderful here and we're starting to build community and get plugged in … everybody has just been so incredible. It has amazed and floored me how embracive people are over what we're doing," Chapman said.
So what led them to Marco Island? Francie said it was several reasons, highlighting her best friend, author Katie Souza.
After coming down several times to speak at Souza Ministries and appear on Marco Island-based Faith TV, they were able to connect with those helping abused and trafficked women in the community.
"We just started feeling like God was calling us down here to be the place where we would bring our ministries together, Katie's ministry and the Dog Foundation … we created the House of Bounty and we're feeling like God was calling us all down here to help abused women and help trafficked women get healed … All three of us, Dog and Katie and I," Francie said. "We said all right. We feel like we're being called to this so we're all in and we're going to make a move together and come to Florida, so since Faith TV is already on Marco, that's how we decided to land here."
Next Steps for the Chapmans
Currently, the Chapmans are in the process of purchasing five acres of land in Naples for one of the first Houses of Bounty.
Referring to these future properties as "whole homes" rather than halfway houses, Chapman said they, along with Souza, have started the program to help women in need recover.
"We're building whole houses and we have a program that will be in stages and the girls would be in the program for 18 months, so they would live there and they would go through stages of the program and graduate to different levels," Chapman said. "We want to help them be able to get healed and whole and get out of the life and get out of their abusive situations and help find what their destinies are."
She said they will help women in a variety of different abusive situations. Since it's not rehab, the girls will need to have gone through detox and they have to be clean already before they come to them.
They have already seen an outpouring of support for their program and even had members of the Marco Island community reach out to help. Chapman said it's been great to see and that doing this work for women means a lot to her. She hopes to help women into a better situation than she once was in.
"I didn't have anyone when I came out of my abusive marriage the first time and then I ended up in a second abusive marriage. Then I did have these amazing people that came alongside me and helped me get a place to live and helped me to start getting into counseling and start getting some healing," she said. "It is my passion and my heart to be able to do that for other women."
Among other ventures, she said Dog is working on a brand new book and a podcast "Dogcast", with the latter to debut in the next few months.
While she didn't realize exactly why then, Chapman said she is blessed to have Dog in her life and to be on this new path here in Southwest Florida.
"At the beginning, I really thought that (we met) because we had gone through such similar things and God was really changing my life and helping me get healed from my grief, and getting healing for what I was going through … I really thought that that's why God brought me into his life was to help him," Chapman said. "I didn't realize at first that it was this, it's so much bigger than just that. It was God using us to change people's lives. It was this love story that God brought us together."