The Mysterious Disappearance of Don Lewis: A True-Life Mystery
Carole Baskin has been in the headlines lately, thanks to the hugely popular Netflix series, ‘Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,’ a true-life story of the eccentric characters involved in the exotic animal underworld. While the show focused mainly on Joe Exotic, the flamboyant zookeeper and his rivalry with Baskin, the founder of Big Cat Rescue, one of the questions that remains unanswered is what happened to Baskin’s second husband, Don Lewis, who went missing in 1997?
Don Lewis was a wealthy businessman, who along with Baskin, founded the animal sanctuary Big Cat Rescue. Their marriage was far from stable, fraught with infidelity, and domestic abuse allegations. In the months leading up to his disappearance, Lewis had grown increasingly distant from Baskin, who was also rumored to be having an affair. In the days before his disappearance, Lewis had reportedly told multiple people that he believed Baskin was going to kill him, and he had even made plans to divorce her.
On August 18, 1997, Don Lewis disappeared without a trace. Baskin initially claimed that he had told her he was going to leave, and she had never seen him again. This was later contradicted by someone who had seen Lewis and Baskin together on the night of his disappearance. The police were notified, and Baskin claimed that Lewis had taken off in his private plane and had never come back.
Lewis’ disappearance was suspicious from the beginning, with no evidence of any financial transactions, or phone calls or sightings. The police investigation was hindered by Baskin’s hostility towards them and her unwillingness to answer any questions. Baskin was not named as a suspect, and the case went cold.
The Reopening of the Case
The case was revitalized in the early 2000s when an article in the Tampa Bay Times raised the question of whether Don Lewis had been murdered. The article brought renewed attention to the case, and Baskin became the subject of intense scrutiny. Suspicion was only heightened when it was revealed that days after Lewis’ disappearance, Baskin had filed to have Lewis declared legally dead so she could administer his estate. His estate was worth millions of dollars, and Baskin appeared to be the sole beneficiary.
In recent years, the case has gained further attention as a result of the Netflix series ‘Tiger King.’ The series has sparked widespread interest in the exotic animal trade and the people who make their living from it. It has also brought renewed focus to Baskin and the question of what happened to her husband.
The Accusations Against Carole Baskin
In the series, Joe Exotic accuses Baskin of being responsible for her husband’s disappearance, claiming she fed him to her tigers. The accusation is most likely false, but it highlights the suspicion that surrounds Baskin and the unanswered questions surrounding her husband’s disappearance.
It is worth noting that Baskin has always maintained her innocence and has called the series a biased portrayal of her life and work. She has repeatedly denied any involvement in her husband’s disappearance and says she was devastated by his disappearance.
The Unsolved Mystery
Despite the renewed attention, the case remains unsolved, and Don Lewis’ disappearance continues to be one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in Florida. The police have never been able to uncover any concrete evidence of foul play, and Baskin has never been brought to trial for the disappearance. Lewis’ family continues to search for answers and justice.
The Lessons Learned
The story of Don Lewis is a sobering reminder of the dark side of exotic animal trade and the lengths people will go to gain control of it. While it may never be known what exactly happened to him, the case has raised important questions about the treatment of animals in captivity and the dangers of allowing private individuals to own exotic animals.
In conclusion, the disappearance of Don Lewis is a mystery that remains unsolved, and the highly publicized attention it has received only adds to its intrigue. Until new evidence comes to light, it will remain one of the greatest true-life mysteries of our time.