For Beth Chapman, it was love at first sight when she met Duane “Dog” Chapman.
In an A&E Dog the Bounty Hunter interview, the late reality star, who died Wednesday at age 51, detailed the moment she first laid eyes on her “blonde bombshell” husband — and how her accidentally stealing lemons (and winding up in jail) led to a lifetime of romance and happiness for the pair.
“I was working for a state senator in Colorado and I had gone to the grocery store to buy some lemons. The senator started paging me, and it’s kind of like the bat line — you know when the senator calls, you get on the phone immediately. So I was waiting in the line, waiting in the line and there’s like five people in front of me, so I just walked around the line, went to the pay phone, was going to use the pay phone. I had the lemons in my hands,” Beth explained in the confessional.
“The store security kind of swarmed me and go, ‘You’re shoplifting the lemons.’ I was like, ‘Oh my God,’ right? ‘I’m not shoplifting the lemons.’ Now I’m a criminal, right? So I go to jail, I call this big dog lawyer … in Denver, Colorado, who happened to be a friend of Dog’s and he said, ‘You call up my friend, Dog.’ And I go, ‘Dog?’ ” she explained.
“I finally get the bond, I finally get out of jail and this guy starts calling me. He’s like, ‘You better get in here to do your paperwork’ and I was like, ‘Yeah, well, you took your sweet ‘ole time, I’ll take mine,'” she continued. “So then he calls my daddy up and he tells my daddy, ‘if she don’t get down here, I’m going to go find her and drag her back to jail.’ “
Despite her unfortunate arrest, Beth managed to turn lemons into lemonade.
“So of course I go sauntering in there and I’m waiting and then all of a sudden, this blonde bombshell comes walking out from this back room dressed in black all studded out with this long, wavy, blonde hair with this thing,” she said about Dog as she gestured to her forehead.
From that moment forward, “I thought, oh yes, he will be mine. Let the stalking begin now,” Beth said.
To make sure that she would get to know Dog, Beth became a bail bondswoman.
“But I knew on that day that the only way that I was going to win that man’s heart is if I could somehow figure out how to spend time with him so he could get to know me. So I immediately went down and took the bail bonds test and became a bail bondsman because I knew that if I wrote a whole bunch of bad bail that the bounty hunter would have to come sit in my office so that he could go and chase my fugitives,” she said with a laugh.
Thankfully, her plan was a success!
“So I proceeded to write the worst bail that there was. ‘No collateral, no co-signer? Sure, come on down.’ ‘You don’t have any money? Great, come on down. You have a pulse, right?’ ” she continued. “So I wrote all the bad bail I could write so that I would spend all this time with him and it worked.”
On Wednesday, Dog, 66, announced on Twitter that his wife had died early that morning in Hawaii.
“It’s 5:32 in Hawaii, this is the time she would wake up to go hike Koko Head mountain,” he wrote. “Only today, she hiked the stairway to heaven. We all love you, Beth. See you on the other side.”
A rep for the Chapmans told PEOPLE, “Beth died at 5:32 this morning, the same time she would wake up to go hiking Koko Head. The exact same time. She was surrounded by family and Dog was there, holding her hand.”
The Chapmans first opened up about Beth’s illness in September 2017 when they publicly announced her stage II throat cancer diagnosis.
News of her death comes after Dog revealed that Beth was admitted to Hawaii’s Queen’s Medical Center on June 22. According to Hawaii News Now, she was placed in a medically-induced coma. In a statement to the outlet, her husband said both he and his family “humbly ask everyone to please pray for Beth.”
“It’s quite serious,” the family rep told PEOPLE at the time.
She is survived by Dog and their children: Cecily Chapman, Bonnie Chapman, Garry Chapman and Dominic Davis.
This weekend, she will be honored in an oceanfront celebration in the place she loved most: Hawaii.
“Beth had two homes — Hawai’i and Colorado. ‘I love Hawai’i the most,’ she said, so she will be sent off in true Hawaiian style, with aloha,” a rep for the Chapman family told PEOPLE.
The gathering will take place on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Fort DeRussy Beach in Waikiki, where Beth will be honored with a “Hawaiian ʻOli (chant), prayer, followed by a paddle out with family and friends.”
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