Just days after joining the hunt for fugitive Brian Laundrie, Duane Chapman, who is better known as "Dog the Bounty Hunter," has already made significant contributions to the case — and it's his Christian faith that drives him.
In a statement to The Christian Post, Dog's spokesperson, Jennifer Willingham, explained that the bounty hunter's faith compelled him to join the search for Laundrie, a person of interest in the homicide of his 22-year-old fiancée, Gabby Petito.
She revealed that Dog and his new wife, Francie, were honeymooning on Marco Island, Florida, when the manhunt began.
"Dog and Francie, who are devout Christians, felt as if their proximity to the search was not a coincidence and they wanted to do something to help the Petito family," she said. "At the same time, Dog's fans were sending him tips and urging him to join the search."
"Therefore, Dog and his team, including his daughter Lyssa and Francie's son Greg who are working from Hawaii and Colorado respectively, opened up a formal tip line, 833-TELLDOG, and volunteered their time to search for Mr. Laundrie this past weekend."
Fox News reported on Thursday that the reality star, who joined the search for Laundrie earlier this week, came across a fresh campsite deep in the woods of a Florida park where he and his team found a can of Monster Energy Ultra Gold.
Despite the find, Dog's team did not find solid evidence that Laundrie is in the woods on Egmont Key, located just southwest of the 1,136-acre Fort De Soto Park. Dog believes that Laundrie is hiding somewhere in the park, which is made up of five interconnected islands.
"This would be and could be a perfect spot for him to hide, not too many people out here. But there's a lot of environmental things that we're going to fight," he said in a video posted to Twitter.
"So here we go. The search now is really on. The search has just begun," the 68-year-old added.
Dog, who has apprehended more than 8,000 fugitives, revealed Wednesday that boat crews and ground teams had been called in and rescue dogs deployed to the search area.
UPDATE: Video is from this morning — earlier today we launched an active and specific search in a key area based on the intelligence we are receiving and researching. Boat crews and ground teams have been called in and we have search and rescue dogs deployed. More to follow... pic.twitter.com/g2tq85JTZX— Duane Dog Chapman (@DogBountyHunter) September 29, 2021
Petito, an aspiring travel blogger, was reported missing Sept. 11 by her parents after not responding to calls and texts for several days while she and Laundrie visited parks in the western United States. Her body was discovered on Sept. 19 in a remote area in northwestern Wyoming.
Though her death has been ruled a homicide, authorities in Wyoming haven't revealed how she died pending further autopsy results.
Willingham revealed that Dog and his team have the blessing of the Petito family to be involved and have been in touch periodically.
"During their search, they have unearthed multiple new leads. They will be continuing the hunt in the coming days, following evidence and tips in an effort to aid law enforcement," she said.
In the days ahead, Willingham said that Dog and Francie intend to work in ministry together and continue the search for missing persons and fugitives.
Some, like MSNBC's Joy Reid, have complained about the media's "disproportionate" coverage of Petito's case, arguing that she is receiving more attention than other missing or murdered women because she is white.
But in an op-ed for The Christian Post, Ghanaian Canadian Samuel Sey refuted such theories.
"There are several reasons why Gabby Petito has received significant attention, and there's no legitimate reason to believe racism is one of these reasons. Petito was a Youtuber with a relatively strong social media following. She was also a member of the close-knit van life community," he wrote.
"Gabby Petito is the victim of an exceptionally odd and evil missing person and murder case. That's the main reason why her case has received significant attention."