Duane "Dog the Bounty Hunter" Chapman has one idea about how the prisoners who escaped from an upstate New York prison have eluded law enforcement for almost two weeks: the Internet.
“I do think these guys are watching everything the cops are doing on social media,” the famed bounty hunter tells PEOPLE. “I think they are watching the cops’ every move. I think they’re Googling their names and information about the search. I wonder if the authorities can track them that way.”
Since June 6, law enforcement officials have been searching for convicted murderers David Sweat, 35, and Richard Matt, 48, who escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York.
Despite a massive manhunt, the two dangerous killers are still on the run, leaving a cold trail behind them.
Chapman, 62, the star of Dog and Beth: On the Hunt, which premieres July 18 on CMT, has brought in many a fugitive. His biggest catch to date? Max Factor heir Andrew Luster, the convicted rapist that he and his wife, Beth, and sons, Leland and Tim, captured in Mexico in 2003, following an international manhunt.
While Chapman, who has done time himself has seen it all when it comes to crime, this escape leaves him impressed.
“In all the years I have studied crime, I have never seen such an unbelievable break like this,” he says. “That prison is known on the streets as Hotel California. You can come in anytime you like, but you can never leave. No one has ever escaped from this prison since the 1800s. This is the most elaborate, genius prison break I’ve ever seen in my career.”
While Chapman is itching to bring them in, is standing down for now. “I don t want to step on any toes,” he says. “But if somebody says, ‘Hey Dog, come help ‘ I’m in.’ I’ve had many people call me and say, ‘Dog – When are we leaving?’
“I can’t sleep thinking about these guys on the run. When I do sleep, I’m having dreams about these guys. Mentally I’m there. Physically, not yet.”
For now, Chapman is helping the search from afar. On Wednesday night, he Tweeted, “Cash Reward If Your Tip Leads to the Arrest of David Sweat and Richard Matt,” asking the public to contact him and his crew at
“We caught Luster through social media,” he says. “I did open this one up on social media and I have leads coming in already. My fans, who call themselves ‘The Dog Pound,’ are vicious. They are also very observant. They’re like, ‘Dog – we’re gonna get the bastards.’
“The Canadians are writing to me too and are like, ‘Dog – if they’re up here, were going to find them.'”
Adds his wife, Beth: “I think the cops are doing everything right,” she says. “There is an enormous amount of manpower out there and at this point, they have saturated the area, combed the area quickly and now have to have skilled teams of guys hunting them down and tracking every lead.
“The public is important, too. It’s going to be someone in the public who spots them and makes that call.”
The Convicts Had a Plan A
Based on his years catching criminals, he says he doesn t think Sweat and Matt’s Plan A included prison worker Joyce Mitchell, the prison worker who is accused of helping them escape and who authorities said had planned to be their getaway driver.
“These are seasoned cons,” he says. “You don t take a woman on a crime spree. They knew she is a flake and probably wouldn’t be there to pick them up. I think they had a completely different plan. They could have had someone else pick them up and gotten out of there.”
While authorities have said that Mitchell failed to pick up the two convicts after they emerged from a manhole cover near the prison because she got cold feet, Chapman says he isn’t so sure about that.
“It’s not because she got cold feet and all of a sudden said, ‘I see Jesus,’ ” he says.
“She didn t pick them up because she realized, ‘These guys will kill me. I am meeting them in the dark. They are going to steal my car and kill me.’
“They would have killed her because she was the only one who would have known where they went. Plus, they probably knew she would spill as soon as the cops talked to her, which she did.”
Chapman also says he thinks the convicts are being strategic about their escape plan. “They are moving by night and hiding underground during the day,” he says.
“The cops are using heat seekers in helicopters to find them, so I am betting they are hiding in metal pipes or underneath some kind of metal during the day. That’s how cops found one of the Boston bombers in the boat – with heat seekers on the bottom of helicopters.”
Police are looking in drain pipes, he says. “But because it rained, the search dogs cannot pick up their scent. The trail has gone cold because of the rain.”
He also says the two men may have preyed on another woman – or other women – to help them in their escape. “Look what they already got from a woman,” he says. “Out of there. That’s their M.O.”
Convicts ‘Could Easily Be’ in Canada
While he thinks there is still a chance that the men are hunkered down near the prison, “I think they could easily be in Canada,” he says. “I think there’s a good chance they are out of the country because they know every swinging badge in the U.S. is looking for them.”
Prisoners always know where the ‘holes in the wall’ are – areas where police don’t go, he says. “They probably know all about the areas in Canada where the Mounties never go.”
He also thinks there is a remote chance they could be in Mexico, since Matt fled there before. “When you are on the run like that, you want to go into a place where everybody else is wanted, too.”
The convicts’ headline-grabbing escape will probably lead to more prison escape attempts, he says. “There’s camaraderie in prison and when someone escapes, they all say, ‘Run, Willie, run!'” he says. “This escape is probably going to cause a chain reaction. This is going to wire up a lot of convicts to try to make a break.”
While Chapman normally captures fugitives himself and with his team, giving them his famous “talk” afterward about redeeming their lives, with this one, he says, “I will hunt them and I will find them but when I do I’m dialing 911,” he says.
“I’m calling Big Brother. I would drop a dime on them and I don t do that. I’m not a snitch. I’m a bounty hunter. But this one I’m snitching on.”
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