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Exclusive: Dog 'Bounty Hunter' claims he's close to 'War Machine' arrest, warns him to 'stop now' unless he wants to die

The hunt is on ... for real.

Photo courtesy of CMT

It's no joke.

Duane "Dog" Chapman is hot on the trail of Jon Koppenhaver, a.k.a. "War Machine," who is wanted by law enforcement in Las Vegas, Nevada, after an alleged early-morning sadistic rampage that put his ex-girlfriend, Christy Mack, in the hospital with a host of horrific injuries.

The damage done was remarkable (photo evidence).

"Dog," of course, is the world's most famous bounty hunter thanks to a hit show on A&E (and now CMT) that followed him and his crew as they tracked down criminals who skipped bond or who otherwise alluded authorities. And when he took to last night to warn "War Machine" that he was coming, most figured it was much ado about nothing.

It's not.

In fact, "Dog" has been on the case for several days, way before the warrants for "War Machine" were issued earlier this week. Indeed, he's already completed most of his investigation -- spoken with friends, family and others, etc. -- and is set to start pounding the pavement in search of the mixed martial arts (MMA) veteran ... with camera crew in tow.

Not before, however, he gave "War Machine" the opportunity to turn himself in. He's already imposed a six-hour deadline, one that expired at 8 p.m. ET. In other words, the hunt for "War Machine" is officially on.

We spoke with "Dog" moments before he and his team set out -- "from an undisclosed location"-- and he's confident that he will be the one to bring him to justice.


How on Earth did you get involved in something like this?

I have friends in the MMA world, so you know how that goes. If it's something that happens in your domain or area of expertise then you know what's going on. We heard about it right away. And there was a couple of people who requested that we get involved so, that's what I do for a living. That's how we actually first found out about it. It took awhile for the seven warrants, or whatever it is, to be on paper and be issued. I can't pull the trigger until [those] are out there. Once everything was entered into the system, we could do our thing.

What makes you so interested in this specific situation ... is it for publicity or is there some emotional reaction after hearing her account of what happened. This is a domestic violence situation between a low-life MMA fighter and a porn star.

That's a good question. Honestly, anytime a fugitive in America is on the run, that's what I do for a living for the past 30 years. And then, of course, I am a husband and a father. Anytime any kind of girl is beaten like this by any kind of man -- and he's been on the run -- he enters into not an MMA ring, but "Dog's Ring." Any fugitive in America knows that if you go on the run and you do something that horrendous to be on the run, Dog Chapman and crew are coming after you. Everybody has at least known that for 11 years from the television show, but probably 20 years in the area in which we used to live. It's kind of like a natural thing, like a fireman who sees a building on fire. He is going to be attracted to that. And the circumstances with her being a defenseless girl and him being a modern-day O.J. Simpson, everyone is lucky -- especially her -- that she is not dead. I didn't know what she did for a living until today, actually.

What do you say to those folks who think she brought this on herself, knowing he had a violent, checkered past and she was an adult film star?

I try to be a Christian, or I at least claim to be, and there's a story about Jesus and a young lady named Mary Magdalene, and I think she might have done the same thing for a living. So, I don't care what she does for a living, what her preferences are or anything like that. This guy did a terrible, horrendous thing to a woman. And there is so many people who I can't believe on social media who thought she deserves this. And I was thinking, wait a minute, these kids -- these younger guys -- need to realize and be taught that you don't hit a woman. I was told, "There was no referee. He just kept beating her and the blood was flying off her face into his mouth. There was no ref to stop it." And when you hear that kind of stuff, it's like the "D" is in the sky, brotha.' It just gets my adrenaline and Americanism [pumping] ... the bounty hunter in me comes out.

As you know, there are three sides to every story ... any sliver of belief that "War Machine" might be getting the short end of the stick as he claims to suggest?

I would think that unless he was born like this -- and I hear his dad was a retired police detective in Los Angeles, Calif., who was one of the best. So let's start with who made him, okay? I think that there is some kind of drug, brother, that is involved, whether it be steroids or some other substance because I hope to God this guy isn't naturally like this. I don't think he was drunk. What I found through my initial investigation is that in the last three or four years, his life and personality took a nose dive. That comes from talking to people on both sides -- families, neighbors, relatives -- we've talked to a lot of people already. I think that he needs to turn himself into me, tell his side of the story and get out of whatever is causing him problems. Again, I've heard it's steroids, but whatever, he needs to get in prison, dry out and then maybe come out and be a referee or something. We just have to teach these young guys and young people that you don't hit a woman. And I guess, like a said, bruh, she has so many bones broken that she is very lucky to be alive. I guess he broke the knife he [pulled on her and cut her with] ... she's very lucky to be alive and he's very lucky he's not being sought for first-degree murder right now.

What do you say to those who might be harboring him?

He's got a lot of friends. So what you are going to see soon through social media -- this is a social media kind of hunt, you don't go to 7-Eleven and pass out mugshots on this one. This one we have to cover everything ... and social media does that. So, pretty soon on social media some of his best friends, relatives and people close to him are going to start telling him to call Dog because this is it. And, hopefully, he doesn't want to do suicide by cop -- he's very depressed. Very soon you are going to see pleas for him to come in because we are going to catch him -- we are very close to him right now. We just have to handle it right because we don't want anyone killed.

In this day and age, does technology make it easier to track a fugitive (cell phone triangulation, social media, ATM withdrawals, etc.)? Do you have any access to that technology?

Oh yeah, we do. In today's world, as you know, there more information you have, that's your armory. The more connections you have, the better. So we have the best connections in the world. Now, what these guys do though is maybe hit the ATM one time -- BING! Then they throw away their cards, throw away their phones -- all that stuff is gone. So, they have to create all brand new stuff. They're not stupid. He is smart enough to throw away that stuff, don't use credit cards, don't check into a hotel with his real name. Somebody is going to see him. And as far as someone harboring him, you can get as much time for harboring someone as you can for doing the actual crime. Especially in a case like this where a guy almost kills a girl. He's going to make a move soon and end up by himself. I hope no one would hide someone like that -- that's just awful. He has to stop right now unless he wants to die.

But, wait, you don't use lethal force ...

For 31 years, I've used non-lethal weapons. My weapons will drop a rhinoceros. Brother, I can not believe the new stuff they got going on, I'm telling you. I used it the other day and I was like, "Oh my God!" And this guy was huge, more than 300 pounds. So, you don't have to kill them. Over the years -- after 6,500, 7,000 arrests -- you realized you don't need to use deadly force. We've gone up against guns, but it's about who is quickest on the draw. If you have a firearm, and he outdraws you, you're shot. It's all about being smart. If you have a non-lethal weapon, and you're quicker on the draw than him, he's going down. We won't kill him, but at the same time, you won't see Dog Chapman versus the "War Machine" because I'm not stupid -- he'd probably break my nose. But, you may see him eat Dog Chapman's taser.

If you cornered "War Machine" in a home or building, how would something like that go down ... would you bring extra muscle? Your son, Leland, of course is well-versed in mixed martial arts.

No, we have the exact same crew that we always do. Every single one of them have their own connection to the MMA world. I need the whole team there even though this guy isn't the most dangerous guy we've gone after. We've gone after murderers and [Max Factor heir] Andrew Luster was wanted for like 18 counts of rape - that guy was insane. He had like $200,000 cash in his hand, too. He's definitely not the most dangerous, but we still need to be careful. He's not like your local crackhead, you know?

I saw that before we got on the phone that you gave him a six-hour warning, which is now essentially expired. What's all that about?

I try and give everyone a warning -- a shot across the bow -- to come on in so we can work things out. Obviously, he's not doing it so he needs to be hunted down. And once that deadline expires, it's go time.

Are cameras rolling right now?

Yes, I'm employed by CMT. I don't know how much you know about the show, but we signed a contract. And whatever we do, the cameras are following us. We can't say, "Don't share this," or "Don't do this." Cameras actually protect everybody -- it's the reason mostly all cops use them on their dashboards now. The camera protects everybody. We'll give him a chance to tell his side of the story, if there is a side to that.

In terms of compensation, "War Machine" hasn't jumped bond and the only thing on the table, it seems, is a $10,000 purse put up by Mack and her supporters. Is this not about a reward because it wouldn't seem to be worth your while financially otherwise?

I don't deal with money. I know there was a $10,000 reward and I think I heard someone else offered $5,000. That's Beth's job, it's all up to her. I haven't even really thought about it, but if it's coming from Christy, we wouldn't take that. It's all about ... I bet the next guy wouldn't do it. When we catch him, I bet it deters a couple of others. This is America, you're not going to get away with stuff like this, not while I'm living and breathing. No, you're not. And if you're going to do this, we're going to come and get you. This guy knew when he pulled this that Dog was coming after him ... I'm telling ya.'

Knowing what you know, and after hearing that you are "close," what happens if someone calls you right now and says he's in their basement. Does that deadline still stand or do you roll out now?

[Laughs]. It's like a cowboy who I was in a standoff with once. I said, "On three, ready? 1, 2 ..." and I shot my non-lethal. I don't know what I would do in that situation. Maybe if he hasn't turned himself in and we're two hours ahead of time, we'll call it daylight savings [laughs]. That's a little too close for comfort.

Just out of my own curiosity, if you don't catch "War Machine" this week -- or ever -- will we ever see that footage? Because whether you catch him or not, I'm curious to see what happened before our conversation and what goes down after.

Let me tell you: Every single show has a budget and the network only orders so many shows. Brother, if you don't catch him, they are showing that. I don't mean to blow my own whistle, but there was only one guy in eight years when we filmed with A&E who got away. He was captured later on in Mexico and we put his mugshot at the end of the episode and said if you see this guy, call us. That's why sometimes I apologize for being so good at my job. The one that gets away, truly, I hope never gets shown on television, but it is. You'll see what we do.

Finally, if you do catch him, any words of advice or encouragement that you might be willing to impart as he faces the music?

If? It's not a matter of "if," Tom, but "when" I catch him. When I go after someone, I need to have a beginning, middle and end. As I develop who you are, what you do, what you eat, what you smoke, what you love, what you hate, what you watch on TV, what books you've read, who's you're favorite grandma -- once I've been through all of this with those close to you, who told me all about your personality and what you were like when you were six years old, like that time your daddy died in your arms -- I'm old enough to know a lot about people that I can categorize. So, I have to know, how do I fix this guy? I've already planned it. I know what I'm going to say....

... Wait, what? They're calling me, I've got to go, Tom.

For more on the entire "War Machine" and Christy Mack saga be sure to check out our complete story stream right here.

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