The Unsolved Mystery of Don Lewis\’s Disappearance: A Look into Tiger King\’s Most Enduring Storyline
In the world of true crime documentaries, perhaps none have generated as much buzz and controversy as Netflix\’s “Tiger King,” which chronicled the bizarre antics of Joe Exotic and his rival, Carole Baskin. While the series focused mostly on the ongoing feud between the two big cat enthusiasts, one subplot that captured viewers’ attention was the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Baskin’s second husband, Don Lewis. The eccentric millionaire went missing without a trace in 1997, and despite numerous investigations and a barrage of speculation, the case remains unsolved to this day.
The Timeline: Understanding Don Lewis at the Time of his Disappearance
One of the central questions surrounding the disappearance of Don Lewis is his age at the time of his disappearance. Though it might seem like a simple detail, this information is important in piecing together the timeline of events leading up to and after his disappearance.
Don Lewis was born on April 30, 1938, in Dade City, Florida, which would have made him 59 years old at the time he went missing. He had been married twice before meeting Carole Baskin in the early 1980s while she was still married to her first husband, Michael Murdock. Lewis was a self-made millionaire who made his fortune in the used car business and had a particular interest in big cats, which he kept on his private property in Tampa, Florida. After he met Baskin, the two began a relationship and eventually married in 1991.
According to Baskin, she last saw her husband on the night of August 18, 1997, when he left their home late at night, supposedly to go to Costa Rica. Lewis had been making plans to move there permanently and had already purchased a property near San José. Baskin claimed that Lewis had deposited $50,000 into a bank account in Costa Rica and had taken out a restraining order against her just days before he left. She alleged that Lewis was mentally unstable and was prone to making impulsive decisions, including buying planes and boats with no prior experience.
The Official Investigation: What Happened After Lewis Disappeared
The official investigation into Lewis’s disappearance began on August 19, 1997, when Baskin contacted the authorities to report him missing. She told the police that Lewis was often unpredictable and had taken trips before without telling her, so she wasn’t initially concerned. However, when he didn’t return after a few days, she became worried and began searching for him. The police conducted an extensive search of the area around Lewis’s home and his properties, but no sign of him was found.
Over the years, multiple theories and rumors have emerged regarding what happened to Don Lewis. Some have speculated that Baskin was involved in his disappearance, as she would have stood to gain financially from his death. She inherited his estate, valued at $4 million, after he was declared legally dead in 2002. Additionally, the restraining order that Lewis had taken out against Baskin has been called into question, as it was filed using an incorrect code and was never served on Baskin.
Other theories suggest that Lewis’s interest in exotic animals might have led him into dangerous territory or that he staged his own disappearance to escape from his complicated personal life. The lack of physical evidence in the case has made it difficult to come to a definitive conclusion, and many of the people involved in the case have conflicting stories and motivations.
The Aftermath: Did Tiger King Fuel the Investigation into Don Lewis’s Disappearance?
In 2020, after the release of “Tiger King,” the case gained renewed attention, with Baskin publicly denying any involvement in her husband’s disappearance. She has accused the filmmakers of manipulating footage to make viewers believe that she was responsible for her husband’s disappearance, and she has also suggested that Lewis might have been killed and his remains fed to the tigers at the Big Cat Rescue sanctuary. However, no evidence has been found to support this claim, and it remains a fringe theory among those investigating the case.
Despite the ongoing speculation and controversy surrounding Don Lewis’s disappearance, it’s unlikely that we will ever know the full truth of what happened to him. The mystery of his disappearance has only served to fuel public interest in the bizarre and often disturbing world of big cat ownership, adding another layer of intrigue to an already surreal story. As more information comes to light, it’s possible that new theories will emerge and the case will continue to captivate audiences for years to come.