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‘Tiger King’ Don Lewis’ chilly case revisited, Florida sheriff seeks new ideas from public

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“Tiger King: Homicide, Mayhem and Insanity” has shortly grow to be the largest diversion from the coronavirus pandemic. Now, a Florida sheriff is revisiting one of many collection’ lingering mysteries: What occurred to Carole Baskins’ husband?

For many who aren’t up to the mark, Carole Baskin is the proprietor of Large Cat Rescue in Tampa, Fla. Netflix’s “Tiger King” documentary follows Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also called “Joe Unique,” a former Oklahoma zookeeper who loves weapons, youthful males and massive cats.

Earlier this yr, Maldonado-Passage was sentenced to 22 years in jail for his function in a murder-for-hire plot. He was convicted of attempting to rent somebody to kill Baskin, who had tried to close him down, accusing the Oklahoma zoo of abusing animals and promoting large cat cubs.


Joe Exotic, real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

Joe Unique, actual title Joseph Maldonado-Passage was sentenced to 22 years in jail. (Netflix/’Tiger King’)

In retaliation, Maldonado-Passage raised questions on Baskin’s former husband, Jack “Don” Lewis, who disappeared in 1997. His usually violent and expletive-filled rants about Baskin weren’t solely broadcast on his internet TV present, but in addition within the Netflix documentary. Because the present was launched, hypothesis about Baskin and Lewis has run rampant — and Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister needs to make the most of all the eye.

“Everybody’s residence. They’re watching Netflix they usually’re residence,” Chronister mentioned in a information convention Tuesday, including that Lewis’ case stays open and that he has lately assigned a detective supervisor to deal with new leads.

Big Cat Rescue founder Carole Baskin appears in a scene from 'Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.'

Large Cat Rescue founder Carole Baskin seems in a scene from ‘Tiger King: Homicide, Mayhem and Insanity.’ (Netflix)

The documentary extensively coated Maldonado-Passage’s accusations that Baskin killed her husband and probably fed him to her tigers. Baskin has by no means been charged with any crime and launched a assertion refuting the accusations made within the collection.

“We hope the Sheriff’s plea for leads will lead to new details about what occurred to Don Lewis,” mentioned Susan Bass, Large Cat Rescue’s spokeswoman, in an e mail to The Related Press.


Left to right is Carole Baskin, Joe Exotic and Doc Antle of 'Tiger King.'

Left to proper is Carole Baskin, Joe Unique and Doc Antle of ‘Tiger King.’ (Netflix/’Tiger King’)

Chronister mentioned his workplace has acquired a minimum of six new leads a day over the previous week.

“Nothing credible,” he mentioned. “Most ideas are extra theories.”

The sheriff debunked a number of allegations raised by Maldonado-Passage within the documentary, together with that Lewis is buried below the Large Cat Rescue septic tank (that wasn’t put in till years after Lewis’ disappearance) and that Lewis’ physique was put by the meat grinders used to course of meals for the tigers (these had been eliminated a number of weeks earlier than his disappearance, Chronister mentioned).

The documentary filmmakers “definitely spun it for leisure functions,” Chronister mentioned, including that he, too, binge-watched the collection. “I feel that’s why all of us had been so intrigued and engaged.”


Maldonado-Passage is not giving up, both. From behind bars, he filed a federal lawsuit looking for practically $94 million in damages, claiming — amongst different issues — that he was convicted based mostly on false and perjured testimony. He additionally claims he was singled out for prosecution as a result of he “is an brazenly homosexual male with the most important assortment of generic tigers and crossbreeds.”

In the meantime, a bunch of celebrities have grow to be enthralled within the “Tiger King” chilly case debate, with Kim Kardashian, Cardi B and extra sharing their theories on social media.

The Related Press contributed to this report. 

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