TAMPA, Fla. (WGN) -- A Florida sheriff is asking the public for tips regarding one of the lingering mysteries raised in the recently released Netflix documentary “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness”: What happened to Carole Baskin’s husband?
Carole Baskin is the owner of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. Tiger King, the documentary, is about Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as “Joe Exotic,” a former Oklahoma zookeeper who loves guns, younger men, and big cats.
Earlier this year, he was sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in a murder-for-hire plot. He was convicted of trying to hire someone to kill Baskin, who had tried to shut him down, accusing the Oklahoma zoo of abusing animals and selling big cat cubs.
In retaliation, Maldonado-Passage raised questions about Baskin’s former husband, Jack “Don” Lewis, who disappeared in 1997. His often violent and expletive-filled rants about Baskin were not only broadcast on his web TV show, but also in the documentary. Since the show was released, speculation about Baskin and Lewis has run rampant, and Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister wants to take advantage of all the attention.
The documentary extensively covered Maldonado-Passage’s repeated accusations that Baskin killed her husband and possibly fed him to her tigers. Baskin has never been charged with any crime and released a statement refuting the accusations made in the series.
Chronister said at least six new leads a day about Lewis have come in over the past week.
The sheriff debunked a few allegations raised by Maldonado-Passage in the documentary, including that Lewis is buried under the Big Cat Rescue septic tank (that wasn’t put in until years after Lewis’ disappearance) and that Lewis’ body was put through the meat grinders used to process food for the tigers (those were removed several weeks before his disappearance, Chronister said).
Last week in jail, Maldonado-Passage filed a federal lawsuit seeking nearly $94 million in damages, claiming among other things that he was convicted based on false and perjured testimony. He also requested a pardon from President Trump.