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Carole Baskin's claim that her ex-husband is alive is refuted by the sheriff

She must be a lioness! Tiger King star Carole Baskin’s claim that her ex-husband is alive is shot down by the sheriff – who said he hasn’t been seen or heard from since 1997

  • Baskin’s allegations hinge on an unverified letter from the Department of Homeland Security that was featured in the second season of Netflix’s Tiger King.
  • The document appears to say that Don Lewis has been located in Costa Rica and is ‘alive and well’, despite having disappeared without a trace for over two decades.
  • Florida Sheriff’s Office officials overseeing Lewis’ missing person file say they never received confirmation from DHS that he is alive.

The shocking claim that Tiger King star Carole Baskin’s ex-husband Don Lewis is actually alive was a surprising development in the case, particularly for the Florida Sheriff’s Office, which is still looking for him.

In a televised interview months ago, Baskin claimed that her ex-husband, who was declared legally dead in 2002 after disappearing years earlier, is still alive.

The claim that he is “alive and well in Costa Rica” has been questioned by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, which remains in charge of the search for Lewis and still has an open missing persons case for him.

Big cat rescuer Carole Baskin (left) with her first husband, Don Lewis, before her mysterious disappearance in 1997

Big cat rescuer Carole Baskin (left) with her first husband, Don Lewis, before her mysterious disappearance in 1997

The unverified letter from the Department of Homeland Security stating that Don Lewis is still alive and well and living in Costa Rica.  He was 59 when he disappeared and would be 84 now.

The unverified letter from the Department of Homeland Security stating that Don Lewis is still alive and well and living in Costa Rica. He was 59 when he disappeared and would be 84 now.

Jack Don Lewis remains listed as an ‘endangered adult’ who on August 18, 1997 ‘left his family [sic] residence and has not been seen or heard from since.’

The New York Post reported Thursday that the sheriff’s office largely dismissed Baskin’s remarks that her ex is alive and thriving in the tropics.

An office spokesman said he had not heard anything about Lewis’ whereabouts, despite Baskin’s claim that a Department of Homeland Security employee had contacted his ex and subsequently informed the sheriff’s office.

The Sheriff’s Office of Public Information, Fentress Fountain, said: ‘We have not received any communications from our federal partners confirming the location of the missing Mr. Don Lewis.’

“The investigation into the disappearance of Don Lewis remains a top priority for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, as do all missing persons cases.”

Baskin said that she herself did not know about the DHS letter until Tiger King season 2 aired and briefly included an undated and unverified Homeland Security letter that said in part: ‘Don Lewis is alive and well in Costa Rica .’

At the time the claim was first raised, the lead detective on the case – Cpl. Moises Garcia – told the Tampa Bay Times that the case remains open despite the apparent letter from DHS.

‘We continue to insist on this case… We still have some ways to go. Not a week goes by that we don’t have our hand in this case,’ he said.

He told the paper that DHS had recently assisted the sheriff’s office by “combing through leads in Costa Rica,” but would not confirm that those leads led to reports that Lewis was found “alive and well.”

Baskin and Lewis in the second season of Tiger King.  In 1997, he left his residence and was never seen by friends or family again.

Baskin and Lewis in the second season of Tiger King. In 1997, he left his residence and was never seen by friends or family again.

A 2021 UK TV interview in which Carole Baskin claimed that her legally dead husband, Don Lewis, is alive and living in Costa Rica recently resurfaced.

A 2021 UK TV interview in which Carole Baskin claimed that her legally dead husband, Don Lewis, is alive and living in Costa Rica recently resurfaced.

Joe Exotic (pictured), whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is serving a 21-year prison sentence for hiring two hitmen to kill Baskin

Joe Exotic (pictured), whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is serving a 21-year prison sentence for hiring two hitmen to kill Baskin

Two years after Don Lewis was declared legally dead, Carole remarried Howard Baskin, her current husband.

Two years after Don Lewis was declared legally dead, Carole remarried Howard Baskin, her current husband.

A lawyer for Baskin’s current nemesis, Joe Exotic, also criticized the claim that Lewis is still walking among us.

“He is not alive,” wrote John Phillips, sharing a link to coverage of Baskin’s claim.

‘During the filming of Tiger King, detailed efforts were made to find Don Lewis. All failed. He is now alive,” he wrote.

Lewis was 59 when he disappeared, he would be 84 now if he was still alive. In his missing persons file he is listed as being 5ft 10 and 170lbs.

Several years after her disappearance, Baskin married her current husband, Howard.

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