The Tiger King story has just taken another interesting turn. A county sheriff in Florida has declared that the will of Don Lewis, Carole Baskin’s long-missing husband, was a complete forgery. However, there will be no recourse of any kind and no charges brought against Baskin because of the statute of limitations.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister told Tampa Bay’s CBS affiliate WTSP earlier this week that two different experts have said that Lewis’ will – which left Baskin everything he had – was “100 percent a forgery.”
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“We knew that before,” Chronister said. “Because the girl who came forward and said ‘Hey, I was forced to witness and say that I witnessed this signature.’ The problem was the statute of limitations had already expired. The will had already been executed at that point.”
Chronister explained that a judge deemed the will valid, so the civil side of the matter would be the execution of the will and the disbursement of funds. But, on the criminal side, she will not be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations.
Chronister admits that declaring the will a forgery casts “another shadow of suspicion” on Don Lewis’ disappearance, which happened in 1997. He said that investigators have some great leads that they are working through, and he hopes that something pans out.
After Lewis went missing, Baskin had him declared dead the first minute she got the opportunity, which was five years after he disappeared. After watching the Netflix docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness, many viewers believed that Baskin was responsible for her husband’s mysterious disappearance. And, this latest declaration from the sheriff just adds fuel to that fire.
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After Tiger King premiered in March, Baskin issued a statement on the Big Cat Rescue website where she explained that Lewis “was not easy to live with.” She added that like most couples, they had their moments.
“But I never threatened him and I certainly had nothing to do with his disappearance. When he disappeared, I did everything I could to assist the police. I encouraged them to check out the rumors from Costa Rica, and separately I hired a private investigator,” said Baskin.
Earlier this week, a judge awarded Baskin the property at the center of the docuseries – Joe Exotic’s GW Exotic Animal Park – after it was ruled that he fraudulently transferred the property to his mother to avoid his creditors, including Baskin who won a trademark infringement lawsuit against him.
Joe Exotic is currently serving his 22-year prison sentence after being found guilty of a murder-for-hire plot to kill Carole Baskin, plus numerous animal cruelty charges.
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is available to stream on Netflix.