Dog the Bounty Hunter Cancels Appearance With ‘Duck Dynasty,’ ‘Swamp People’ Stars to Focus on Gabby Petito Case

by Jennifer Shea
Bennett Raglin/Getty Images

Duane “Dog the Bounty Hunter” Chapman is not letting anything get in the way of his search for slain hiker Gabby Petito’s boyfriend Brian Laundrie. So he’s canceled an appearance at Tennessee’s Hazzard Fest, where he was to meet fans alongside the stars of “Duck Dynasty” and “Swamp People.”

Hazzard Fest announced Chapman’s participation last month. But he likely signed on to do the event even earlier than that. Still, the search for Brian Laundrie is a high-profile case that Chapman seems to be invested in pursuing.

Chapman’s representative confirmed the cancellation to TMZ and told the outlet that he’s making the hunt for Laundrie his No. 1 priority. His son, Leland Chapman, will show up at the meet-and-greet in his stead.

Gabby Petito Turned Up Dead in Teton-Bridger National Forest

Gabby Petito, 22, disappeared on a cross-country road trip with Laundrie in late August. The two had been traveling westward in a white Ford converted camper van. And by the time they reached Utah, things had begun to unravel. Police stopped their vehicle in Moab, Utah after a 9-1-1 caller reported seeing Laundrie hit Petito. But police there concluded it was more a shared mental health crisis for the couple than a case of domestic battery, and they sent Laundrie and Petito on their way.

Petito’s final social media post went up on Aug. 25. Sometime between then and Sept. 1, Laundrie took the van and drove back to his parents’ house in Florida alone. Once he got back, he promptly lawyered up and refused to speak to the Petitos or to authorities about Gabby’s whereabouts. (His family likewise refused to talk to authorities or to Dog the Bounty Hunter.) The Petito family reported her missing on Sept. 11.

On Sept. 19, searchers came across Petito’s remains in Teton-Bridger National Forest. The Teton County Coroner pronounced her death a homicide. Her family is awaiting the final autopsy report to learn the cause of death.

Shortly before they found Petito’s body, Laundrie himself went missing. His parents say he went for a hike and never returned. They claim he left three days before they reported him gone. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has obtained a warrant for his arrest, but they’ll have to find him first.

Dog the Bounty Hunter Joined Search for Laundrie Last Month

In the last week of September, Chapman announced that he was joining the hunt for Laundrie along with local and federal officials. And he vowed to track down Laundrie before the missing man’s birthday on Nov. 18, per the New York Post.

Soon after Chapman made that announcement, tips began pouring in. Following up on one that seemed credible, Chapman headed to Fort De Soto Park outside St. Petersburg, where, it turned out, the Laundries had gone camping from Sept. 6 to Sept. 8. Chapman questioned why the Laundries – with whom Petito had been living before the cross-country trip – went camping while their former housemate was still missing.

Laundrie’s attorney has publicly slammed Dog the Bounty Hunter, seeming upset that the reality show star has joined the search for his client.

There has been no shortage of tips, both to Chapman and to authorities, about suspected sightings of Laundrie. But so far none of them have proved to be him. Chapman’s ability to sift through a massive pile of leads may now determine how much help he can be to authorities in their search.