The Mystery of Travis Maldonado’s Death: What We Know about Joe Exotic’s Third Husband
Joe Exotic, also known as Joseph Maldonado-Passage, became a household name with the release of the Netflix documentary series, Tiger King. The show exposed Joe’s eccentric personality, his zoo full of exotic animals, and the dramatic events that led him to prison. However, one mystery that still remains unsolved is the disappearance of Joe’s third husband, Travis Maldonado. The circumstances surrounding Travis’s death are still shrouded in mystery, and many questions remain unanswered. In this article, we attempt to uncover the truth behind Travis Maldonado’s tragic end.
Background: Who Was Travis Maldonado?
Before we delve into the details of Travis’s disappearance, let’s first understand who he was. Travis Maldonado was a 23-year-old who met Joe Exotic in 2013 when he came to work at the G.W. Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma. In 2014, he got married to Joe Exotic’s other husband, John Finlay, in a three-way ceremony that also included Joe. Travis was known to be jovial, easy-going, and loved to party. He frequently used drugs, and Joe often gave him meth, which led to him developing a severe addiction.
Travis’s Death: What We Know
On October 6, 2017, Travis Maldonado died of a single gunshot wound to the head. The incident occurred at the G.W. Exotic Animal Park while Joe Exotic was running for Governor of Oklahoma. The details of Travis’s death are still murky, and many conflicting accounts exist.
According to Joe’s testimony in court, Travis was playing with a gun and accidentally shot himself. Joe claimed he was in the room when the accident happened, and there was no foul play involved. However, Travis’s mother, Cheryl Maldonado, claims that her son was not a fan of guns and would never have played with one. She called it a suspicious death and questioned Joe’s involvement. Moreover, the interview footage of Travis shown in the documentary series portrays him as someone afraid of guns.
Another theory suggested that Travis was threatening to leave Joe and his polyamorous relationship, and Joe shot him in a fit of jealous rage. Some of Joe’s employees also claimed that they heard gunshots before Joe entered the room, where Travis was found dead. While these claims could not be substantiated, it fueled the rumors surrounding Travis’s death.
Furthermore, several people close to the situation talked about Travis’s mental state being troubled. He was apparently not doing well with his addiction, and it seemed to be affecting his relationship with John and Joe. He had made several statements that he wanted to end his life, and the gunplay was not unfamiliar at the zoo. Additionally, the health and safety regulations at the park were severely lacking, which led to multiple reports of animal escapes and mistreatment. Moreover, the park was frequently visited by people under the influence of drugs and alcohol, which could have further complicated the situation.
Investigation and Legal Proceedings
The official investigation conducted by the Garvin County Sheriff’s Department ruled Travis’s death as accidental. The investigative team believed that Travis was under the influence of drugs and alcohol, and his lack of experience handling firearms led to the accidental discharge of the weapon. However, this report was challenged by Travis’s mother and other critics, who claimed that the investigation was rushed and incomplete.
In March 2019, a year and a half after Travis’s death, Joe Exotic was convicted on several charges, including murder-for-hire plot against rival Carole Baskin, under the Wildlife Protection Act, and multiple counts of animal abuse. He is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence. However, he was not charged for Travis’s death. The court dropped that charge against him because of a lack of evidence.
The mystery surrounding the death of Travis Maldonado is one of the many threads in the sordid story of Joe Exotic. While official reports suggest that Travis’s death was an accidental suicide, many questions remain unanswered. The lack of evidence and conflicting accounts make it challenging to unravel the truth. Travis was a young man who deserves to have his story told and the circumstances around his death clarified. However, the bizarre and chaotic world of Joe Exotic makes it unlikely that we will ever know the complete truth behind Travis’s untimely demise.