UPDATED: The massively popular Netflix docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness has sparked renewed interest in a missing person cold case in Florida that is featured in the docuseries. Authorities in Tampa confirmed Tuesday that they’ve received a slew of tips in the case of Jack Donald “Don” Lewis, who’s been missing since 1997.
Lewis was married to Big Cat Rescue owner Carole Baskin, the intended target of a murder-for-hire plot which has been a focal point of the docuseries.
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Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in a media briefing from his home Tuesday that his office is receiving about six tips a day and “will be reviewing the evidence,” Tampa’s WFLA News 8 reports.
Due to all the interest surrounding the show, Chronister had asked for new leads Monday via Twitter. “Since @netflix
and #Covid19 #Quarantine has made #TigerKing all the rage, I figured it was a good time to ask for new leads,” Chronister tweeted.
Lewis was last seen in August of 1997 and the case has been open since then. There have been no arrests nor persons of interest.
The Netflix docuseries centers on the story of Joseph Maldonado-Passage, aka “Joe Exotic,” a former Oklahoma tiger-zoo owner who’s serving a 22-year prison sentence for his role in the Baskin murder-for-hire plot and other charges. Joe Exotic has repeatedly accused Baskin of killing her husband and feeding his body to the tigers at her animal rescue center, an allegation Baskin vehemently denies.
Baskin has previously slammed the Netflix docuseries, calling it “disappointing,” saying when the directors approached the sanctuary five years ago, they said they wanted to “make the big cat version of Blackfish, that would expose the misery caused by the rampant breeding of big cat cubs. “There are not words for how disappointing it is to see that the series not only does not do any of that, but has had the sole goal of being as salacious and sensational as possible to draw viewers,” Baskin wrote in a Big Cat Rescue blog post.
She also wrote that the docuseries “has a segment devoted to suggesting, with lies and innuendos from people who are not credible, that I had a role in the disappearance of my husband Don 21 years ago.
“The series presents this without any regard for the truth or in most cases even giving me an opportunity before publication to rebut the absurd claims.
“They did not care about truth. The unsavoury lies are better for getting viewers,” she wrote.
Cronister confirmed Baskin said her attorney told her to refuse a polygraph test, WFLA 8 reports.
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
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