TAMPA (CBSMiami) – Hey all you cool cats and kittens. Did you know the Netflix true crime docu-series “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” is the number one show in the country?
Due to its immense popularity, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister in Tampa is using the spotlight to hopefully get some new leads into the mysterious disappearance of Jack “Don” Lewis, a Florida multimillionaire who disappeared more than 30 years ago.
Since @netflix and #Covid19 #Quarantine has made #TigerKing all the rage, I figured it was a good time to ask for new leads. #CaroleBaskin #DonLewis #Netflix #Tiger #BigCatRescue #JoeExotic #TigerKingNetflix #HCSO pic.twitter.com/LHoJcBZVOI
— Chad Chronister (@ChadChronister) March 30, 2020
“Only you can help solve the Jack “Don” Lewis cold case.”
For those who haven’t watched “Tiger King” yet, Lewis was married to Carole Baskin, who runs the Big Cat Rescue in Tampa. He disappeared without a trace in 1997 amid speculation about whether he left on his own or was murdered.
The docu-series speculates on a number of theories in the third episode, including that Baskin murdered her husband and fed him to her tigers. Other theories in the series included that he was pushed from a plane over the Gulf of Mexico or he ran off to Costa Rica where he allegedly had a mistress and wanted to open a cub-breeding operation. His van was found at an airport about 40 miles from his animal sanctuary, but he was never found.
Tiger King star Joe Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, ran an exotic animal park in Oklahoma and had a long feud with Carole Baskin. She didn’t like his operation of breeding animals for captivity and exploiting them for profit.
She also didn’t like Lewis’ idea of a cub-breeding operation in Costa Rica. After Lewis disappeared, she stopped any plans to begin breeding cubs and made her Tampa sanctuary a place to rehabilitate large cats like lions and tigers, not breed them.
The docu-series also includes interviews with Lewis’ ex-wife and children who also suspect Baskin of foul play in his disappearance.
Lewis was declared legally dead 5 years after his disappearance but nobody has ever been charged in his death or knows if he is even dead or alive. Baskin has always denied having anything to do with his disappearance or death.
Nevertheless, Sheriff Chronister is using “Tiger King” to try and dig up any new leads on this extremely cold case.
As for Joe Exotic, he is currently serving 22 years in prison for several crimes including a murder-for-hire plot against Baskin.
Chronister is asking anyone with potential new leads about Lewis’ disappearance to call 813-247-8200.