Carole Baskin’s millionaire husband vanished without a trace in 1997. Although there are no suspects in his disappearance, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister tells Nancy Grace that he’s optimistic that the case will be solved after an influx of leads, following the premiere of a popular Netflix show.
Carole Baskin, the owner of Big Cat Rescue and the centerpiece of the Netflix show, “Tiger King,” says she has no idea where her husband Jack “Don” Lewis is. She claimed he disappeared one day and never returned.
At the time, Lewis owned a home and a 200-acre park in Costa Rica, but according to Chronister, no one had seen him there for at least six months before he disappeared and no one saw him in Costa Rica after he disappeared.
King vanished after he went to the Pilot Country Airport in Springhill, Florida, on August 18, 1997. Police found his keys, briefcase, and luggage left behind in his white 1989 Dodge van, parked at the airport. Chronister said there is no money trail and Lewis’ two passports to Costa Rica were not flagged.
“His house manager there hadn’t seen him in six months,” Chronister told Nancy Grace on the latest ‘Crime Stories’ episode. “His security guards that worked on the property hadn’t seen him in six months. Some of the business associates he had, hadn’t seen him in six months. We’re not operating under the theory that he went to Costa Rica.”
“Not only did he have a home [in Costa Rica], he had a girlfriend in Costa Rica.”
Lewis’ girlfriend said she hadn’t seen him, according to Chronister.
Chronister also explained why he thought Lewis’ mysterious disappearance made no sense, considering the man’s extreme net worth and an odd clause put into his will.
“What wealthy person disappears and doesn’t take their money with them?” Chronister asked. “We estimate his net worth, at the time he disappeared, to be around 5 to 7 million dollars.”
“And then you have the will they thought was forged. What will have you ever seen that has a provision in there that says, ‘If I’m ever kidnapped or disappear, I leave the bulk of my wealth..well, my entire wealth to this individual?’”
The other subject of “Tiger King,” eccentric former zoo owner Joseph Maldonado-Passage, who named himself “Joe Exotic,” said he was convinced that Baskin fed her husband to a cat and likely hid any remains under a large septic tank at her sanctuary.
Joe Exotic, who had been in a tumultuous battle “zoo rivalry” with Baskin, is now serving prison time for trying to have her killed.
Meanwhile, the mystery into Lewis’ disappearance continues. Chronister said they will continue to investigate leads until they can solve the mystery.
“I’m optimistic. I am hoping that this will be, during this series, this will again rehash some relationship that’s been soured as in an employee..something; some piece of evidence, interview, something that will help us finally solve this disappearance”
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[Feature Photo: Joe Exotic/AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File]