'Tiger King': Florida sheriff's office flooded with tips on Carole Baskin's husband who vanished 22 years ago
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FLORIDA: A sheriff in Florida is using the hype surrounding Netflix's new documentary 'Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness' to find new leads in the cold case of Jack Donald 'Don' Lewis.
Lewis, who was married to Big Cat Rescue owner Carole Baskin, has been missing since 1997. Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister shared that the show has been creating a lot of buzz about the cold case and has generated a lot of interest in the case.
He shared that his office is receiving around six tips every day. "We are already receiving new tips and we hope to close this cold case soon with the help of the public," he told CNN. "Since the documentary came out we've been receiving about six tips a day related to this case. We are looking into each one thoroughly," he added.
While doing a video conference on Tuesday, Chronister shared with reporters that he has assigned a detective supervisor to follow up on any new leads that have been generated as a result of the show. "The case remains open we never close a cold case," he said.
So far, none of the tips received have been credible. He also shared a new call for information on his personal Twitter handle. "Since @netflix and #Covid19 #Quarantine has made #TigerKing all the rage, I figured it was a good time to ask for new leads," he wrote.
He also shared some information about Lewis and urged anyone with information to contact the Sheriff's Office non-emergency number. Lewis who would be around 81 now was last seen on August 18, 1997, as per the sheriff's post.
According to Chronister, the series is "interesting" though it did not present any information that investigators didn't already know. "They certainly spun it a certain way for entertainment purposes," he added. Chronister also shared that the case was extremely convoluted and everyone had their own theory as to what happened to Lewis.
He revealed how investigators had never found enough probable cause to be able to charge anyone with a crime or to even determine that a crime was committed. Chronister added how at the time, there was no GPS or cellphone that may have helped locate Lewis.
Investigators have entered some DNA samples from Lewis' known relatives into law enforcement databases with the hope of finding a match.
A man Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage known as "Joe Exotic", an Oklahoma zoo owner is in jail serving a 22-year sentence for his role in a murder-for-hire plot involving Lewis' wife, Carole Baskin. In the Netflix documentary based on his life, Joe Exotic repeatedly accused Baskin of killing her husband and feeding his body to the tigers at her animal rescue.
Baskin has denied having any involvement in the vanishing of her husband. Chronister said that Baskin did reject taking a polygraph test a few years ago as her attorney said it would not vindicate her if she passed. Chronister added that there was no new information or evidence that would justify them asking her again.
"Like any case at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's office, we want to bring closure to the families involved and the community. We are seeing greater interest in this case thanks to Tiger King and we encourage anyone who knows something to call 813-247-8200," Chronister shared.