Don Lewis' daughter Donna Pettis is looking to hire a lawyer after Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said earlier this week that Tiger King star Carole Baskin forged Lewis' will. As seen in Netflix's Tiger King series, Lewis' family have long suspected Baskin of wrongdoing in 1997, when Lewis went missing. An entire episode of the series was dedicated to Joe Exotic's conspiracy theory that Baskin killed Lewis for his money and fed him to her tigers.
Following Chronister's latest comments, Pettis told TMZ she also had four experts look at the will and they have all concluded it was a forgery. Pettis has had meetings with several lawyers about taking on the case to finally see some justice. She and her sisters are thinking about hiring a criminal and civil attorney but are "still weighing options." Unlike Exotic, Pettis is not accusing Baskin of killing her father but does believe the Big Cat Rescue founder knows more than she has ever told before.
Baskin has long denied she had anything to do with Lewis' disappearance and death, but there was renewed interest in the case after Tiger King was released in March. In May, Lewis' former lawyer and friend Joseph Fritz told Fox News' Nancy Grace he believed Lewis' will was forged so his fortune went to Baskin. Lewis' estate is believed to have been worth $10 million and his family was cut out.
Around the same time as Fritz's interview, the notary listed on the will told the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting she had no memory of a will at all. Two handwriting experts agreed Lewis' signature was "traced" from the 1991 marriage record. "It's always possible one was genuine, and one was traced. They’re all virtually identical. They’re all from a model signature," Florida handwriting expert Thomas Vastrick said.
Chronister agreed the will was forged. He told 10 Tampa Bay his office spoke with two experts who believe the will is "100 percent a forgery," which they already suspected. The statute of limitations expired on any crime connected to the will though since it was already executed. Chronister previously said he believes Lewis was "murdered" and investigators are working on new leads. Although Lewis' body was never found, he was declared legally dead in 2002.
Baskin has not commented on the latest will developments. She has long denied having anything to do with her second husband's death and has distanced herself from Tiger King. In April, she said she felt betrayed by the filmmakers when she saw the series centered more on the rivalry between herself and Exotic than the conservation of big cats. Baskin did not appear in the follow-up episode The Tiger King and I, and her representative said she would not participate even if she was asked to.