The Mysterious Disappearance of Don Lewis and Carole Baskin’s Involvement
The Netflix documentary series “Tiger King” took the world by storm, and one of the most intriguing figures was Carole Baskin, who runs Big Cat Rescue in Florida. However, she became embroiled in controversy when her rival, Joe Exotic, accused her of murdering her husband, Don Lewis. From the show, it appeared that Lewis disappeared in 1997, and his fate and whereabouts remain unknown. However, new evidence has surfaced that has reopened the mystery of Don Lewis and the role Carole Baskin played in his disappearance.
On August 10, 2020, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office released a press release stating that the case was officially open due to new evidence. The evidence comes from an individual who claimed that Baskin was involved in Lewis’s disappearance. The individual, who remained anonymous, provided a recording of a conversation he had with Jim Rathburn, a handyman who worked for Baskin. In the recording, Rathburn claimed that Baskin had asked him to dispose of Lewis’s remains. However, it’s important to note that Rathburn passed away in 2018.
Another significant development is the discovery of a document that Lewis’s assistant, Anne McQueen, wrote on the day he disappeared. McQueen wrote that Lewis was in Costa Rica and that she believed he left behind a “miraculous power of attorney.” This power of attorney gave Baskin complete control over her husband’s assets, which included millions of dollars. The power of attorney gave her the ability to change Lewis’s will, which she executed a month after his disappearance. The will left Baskin all of the assets, but it stated that if Lewis was found alive, she would be awarded nothing.
Moreover, an interview with Ray Hernandez, a former employee of Baskin, presented another theory. Hernandez claimed that Baskin told him she wanted to kill Lewis. According to Hernandez, she said, “If I ever need to get rid of somebody, all I have to do is feed them to the tigers.” Although Hernandez did not witness Lewis’s disappearance or any evidence of Baskin’s involvement, his statement adds weight to the idea that Baskin had a motive to harm her husband.
Joe Exotic’s Accusations
In the Netflix show, Joe Exotic had accused Carole Baskin of killing her husband, but he has spent 22 years in prison for plotting a murder-for-hire scheme against Baskin. Nonetheless, he had claimed that Baskin was involved with Lewis’s disappearance, and in the show, he presented a fake music video that mocked Baskin, with the lyrics hinting that she fed her ex-husband to the tigers. Exotic and Baskin have a long history of open hostility, with both sides suing each other over defamation and trademark infringement.
Carole Baskin’s Denial of Involvement
Baskin has vehemently denied any involvement in her husband’s disappearances and has criticized the Netflix show for what she perceives as misrepresentations of her character. She has even challenged the show’s portrayal in court, arguing that participants were coerced into making false statements or were misled about the documentary’s subject.
The evidence disclosed by Hillsborough County in August 2020 only led to speculation, and Baskin’s attorney has dismissed the evidence as “unreliable hearsay.” Baskin contends that whoever had a role in Lewis’s disappearance or murder should be brought to justice, but that the media circus around the incident has made it difficult to find the truth. She maintained there is no evidence to support the theory of feeding Lewis’s corpse to the tigers, and that it is physically impossible to do so.
The mystery of Don Lewis’s disappearance remains unsolved, but new evidence has brought it back into the spotlight. The new evidence has given more seemingly credible reasons to reopen the case officially. There is still no concrete proof that Carole Baskin was involved in her husband’s disappearance or murder. But, the claims made by Rathburn and Hernandez, as well as the handwriting script from Lewis’s assistant, Anne McQueen, add another layer of complexity to the mystery. The truth of the case may never be known, but Lewis’s family deserves closure and justice, and we hope that the Hillsborough County investigation will ultimately lead to the truth.