Fans can’t get enough of the new Netflix docu-series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness, and one of the biggest questions they have is: what happened to Carole Baskin’s missing husband?
Baskin is an animal activist with a love of big cats who has made a name for herself on social media thanks to her Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. Baskin’s bitter feud with Joe Maldonado-Passage (AKA Joe Exotic) – the owner of a private zoo in Oklahoma – was the main storyline of the series, but her mysterious past presented fans with more questions than answers.
BREAKING: Carole Baskin tested positive for definitely feeding her husband to tigers pic.twitter.com/VaHBI997h9
— CNN Panic Room (@CNNPanicRoom) March 29, 2020
Part of the feud between Baskin and Maldonado-Passage was his constant accusations that she killed her husband Don Lewis, who went missing in 1997 and was declared dead five years later.
Now, Maldonado-Passage is in prison after a jury found him guilty of hiring a hitman to kill Baskin, plus numerous animal cruelty charges. Baskin says that she was interested in being part of the docu-series because she is a lifelong animal lover who wanted to expose the misery caused by rampant breeding of big cats for exploitation. But, many who watched the series are voicing their suspicion that Baskin killed her husband.
“There are no words for how disappointing it is to see that the series not only does not do any of that, but has instead chosen to be as salacious and sensational as possible to draw in viewers,” Baskin told People magazine. “As part of that, they devoted an entire segment to 23-year-old lies and innuendos suggesting I was involved in my husband Don’s 1997 disappearance.”
When you realize that even though Joe Exotic is in jail for a long time he basically got what he wanted all along cuz now he's a reality TV star and the whole world knows Carole Baskin is an evil b*tch #TigerKingNetflix pic.twitter.com/KsBUxosMVz
— BoredMan, not paid (@ASAPedro831) March 28, 2020
Baskin’s husband Don was a 60-year-old self-made multi-millionaire who vanished in August 1997 and was never heard from again. His car was eventually found in the parking lot of a local airport, but many of Lewis’ relatives and Baskin’s colleagues believe that she played a part in his disappearance.
The rumor is that Baskin chopped up Lewis’ body and fed him to their big cats. In a 1998 interview with People magazine, Lewis’ oldest child Donna Pettis, then 42, said that Baskin feeding her dad’s body to the cats is “a perfect scenario to dispose of someone. We were upset the cops didn’t test the DNA on the meat grinder.”
Two months before his disappearance, Lewis filed court documents in an attempt to get a restraining order against Baskin, and many of his friends claim that Lewis was going to file for divorce. He did not get the restraining order, and Baskin claims that it was over her hauling hoarded junk away from their property not because she threatened to kill him.
Carole Baskin: “If I were gonna, you know, if someone wanted to kill you then they would like, put sardine oil all over you. Something that the cat wants to eat.”
— Christina Mahon (@ChristinaMahonx) March 28, 2020
Still, the speculation remains that Baskin was involved in her husband’s disappearance. One of the most damning pieces of evidence – according to fans – is the power of attorney she provided that read Baskin would get control of her husband’s money and estate in the case of his “death or disappearance.”
While Carole Baskin continues to run her Big Cat Rescue, Joe Exotic is sitting in federal prison and serving a 22-year sentence for the attempted murder plot and for killing five tigers, which is a violation of the Endangered Species Act.
Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is currently streaming on Netflix.