Cat loving Carol Baskin is back in the news amid the release of Netflix's Tiger King 2. The highly anticipated follow-up docuseries has sparked renewed interest in the disappearance and presumed death of Baskin's former husband Jack "Don" Lewis. Tiger King 2 became available for streaming on Netflix on Thursday, Nov. 18.
Lewis was Baskin's second husband and was a major focus of the first season of Tiger King. He reportedly rescued Baskins from an abusive relationship with her first husband. The two met in 1981 and ran Wildlife on Easy Street, a rescue for bobcats in Tampa, Florida. The company dissolved in 2003 and became Big Cat Rescue Corp. Baskin still owns and operates the sanctuary, which currently boasts 50 exotic cats including lions, bobcats, and servals.
Lewis disappeared without a trace in 1997. His van was found at a remote airport in Pasco County, with the on the floorboard. Sources close to Lewis alleged that he was an amateur pilot who owned a small aircraft. Lewis' lawyer Joe Fritz alleges Lewis was lured to the airport with a business opportunity, and thrown from a plane mid-flight.
"What I had heard was that he was strangled from the backseat of an airplane over the Gulf [of Mexico] at 50 feet and dropped out over the Gulf," Fritz told Fox Nation. Lewis was never found but was officially declared dead five years after his disappearance. How and exactly when he died remains unknown.
But for years, Baskin has been suspected of playing a role in Lewis' death. In fact, in the first season of the show, many alleged they'd heard Baskin killed Lewis and fed him to her beloved tigers. Of course, Baskin denies such, as well as any involvement. Lewis' case was reopened in 2020 amid the success of Tiger King. "We contacted and followed up on well over 200 leads, a large amount of those were virtually useless," lead detective Corporal Moises Garcia told reporters on Nov. 18, per NBC Tampa.
Since reopening the case, detectives discovered Lewis' flight records and other federal documents and reports of his. They collected his daughters' DNA and now have an age-progressed photo of what he may look like currently in the case he's found alive. Detectives spoke to several people from the Tiger King series. Baskin; however, is reportedly not cooperating. Kenny Farr, the couple's former handyman, has also refused to be interviewed. Detectives say they've attempted to speak with Baskins three times, but her attorney has declined.
Garcia also addressed speculation that Baskin buried Lewis under a septic tank at the sanctuary. "We spent an extensive amount of time trying to track down where that information was coming from, looking at the property, seeing how many septic tanks were actually on the property by permit," Garcia said, adding that they were denied access to search the property.