The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, April 01, 2020 1:00 am

Missing person case reopened after show

Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. – It might be the biggest diversion from the pandemic: binge-watching the luridly fascinating Netflix documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.”

Now a Florida sheriff is asking the public for tips regarding one of the lingering mysteries raised in the recently released show: What happened to Carole Baskin's husband?

For those who aren't up to speed, here's a primer: Baskin is the owner of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. Tiger King, the documentary, is about Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as “Joe Exotic,” a former Oklahoma zookeeper who loves guns, younger men, and big cats.

This year, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in a murder-for-hire plot.

He was convicted of trying to hire someone to kill Baskin, who had tried to shut him down, accusing the Oklahoma zoo of abusing animals in its care and selling big cat cubs.

In retaliation, Maldonado-Passage raised questions about Baskin's former husband, Jack “Don” Lewis, who disappeared in 1997. Since the show was released, speculation about Baskin and Lewis has run rampant – and Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister wants to take advantage of all the attention.

The documentary extensively covered Maldonado-Passage's repeated accusations that Baskin killed her husband and possibly fed him to her tigers. Baskin has never been charged with any crime and released a statement refuting the accusations made in the series.

Chronister said at least six new leads a day about Lewis have come in over the past week.

“Nothing credible,” he said. “Most tips are more theories.”

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