The fate of Tiger King actress Carole Baskin’s ex-husband is being questioned online after a claim that he was found alive in Costa Rica surfaced.
Baskin stated in a recently discovered 2021 interview on British television that Tiger King 2 “produced” a document from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) claiming Don Lewis was found “alive and well” in 2002. Lewis went missing in 1997 and was officially confirmed dead in 2002. If he were still alive, he would be 84 years old.
Baskin said during the interview on ITV’s This Morning:
They said that my husband, Don Lewis, is alive and well in Costa Rica. And yet all this hay has been made about me having something to do with his disappearance, when Homeland Security has known where he is, at least since back then.
Some Netflix documentary series viewers have accused Baskin of murdering Lewis, and a variety of ideas linking her to the disappearance have emerged since the show’s launch in 2020. Currently imprisoned “Tiger King” Joseph “Joe Exotic” Maldonado has made similar claims. There is no proof that Baskin was involved.
Following the publishing of a Cosmopolitan article about her This Morning interview on Wednesday, the assertion that Lewis was still alive ignited an online frenzy.
Baskin’s interview largely went unnoticed at the time it aired, though it was mentioned in a November 2021 E! News report that her statements may have been in response to a document revealed in Tiger King 2 and described as coming from DHS. Baskin was not involved in the subsequent series’ production.
An image apparently representing the letter in question appears in a 2021 statement on Baskin’s website concerning Tiger King 2. According to the letter, which is labeled “official use only” and “law enforcement sensitive,” a detective with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office was notified that Lewis was “currently alive and well in Costa Rica.”
Lewis “has loaned money to various individuals in Costa Rica and could live quite well on the interest earned on those loans,” according to the letter, allowing him to “reside in Costa Rica indefinitely.”
Although no date is discernible on the letter, Baskin asserted that because it was labeled as coming from DHS, Lewis must have been alive in 2002 or later, as the agency was established in November 2002.
The statement on Baskin’s website reads:
For everyone who still wants to believe that Carole killed Don, then please explain to us why you think armchair detectives … are better informed than the Special Agent in Charge at the FBI in this Homeland Security Document which says Don Lewis is currently alive and well in Costa Rica
Aside from the alleged letter, there appears to be no evidence to support the allegation that Lewis is still alive. At the time of publication, we had not confirmed independently the letter’s authenticity.
Corporal Moises Garcia of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office allegedly stated in November 2021 that Baskin had consistently refused to participate in a revived inquiry into Lewis’ disappearance.
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In a message shared on Twitter on Wednesday, Maldonado’s attorney, John Philips, responded to the repeated claim.
“Detailed efforts were made to find Don Lewis during the filming of Tiger King,” Philips added. “They failed. He is not alive. The 2021 report by Carole Baskin was a further unsupported allegation. It’s being republished as if it has veracity.”
Statement from John Phillips, attorney for @joe_exotic: During the filming of Tiger King, detailed efforts were made to find Don Lewis. They failed. He is not alive. The 2021 report by Carole Baskin was further unsupported allegation. It’s being republished as if it has veracity. https://t.co/DaA4bAVElw
— John M. Phillips (@JohnPhillips) January 18, 2023
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