Detective Says Carole Baskin Refuses to Talk About Missing Husband, Who Vanished in 1997

Tiger King standout Carole Baskin has reportedly turned down requests by law enforcement to talk about the disappearance of her second husband.

Corporal Moises Garcia of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is currently investigating the disappearance of Don Lewis, whose case was reopened after the 2020 premiere of Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness. The Netflix miniseries exploded in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Lewis's 1997 disappearance and the suspicions raised toward Baskin were a significant part of Tiger King's overarching storyline.

After the case was reopened, Garcia attempted to contact Baskin for interviews and information regarding the disappearance of her husband. However, he said that she turned him down three times and is generally uncooperative with the investigation.

"If you ask a homicide investigator, 'Can you solve a case?' and they say no, you should take his badge away," said Garcia during a press conference.

According to the local newspaper The Tampa Bay Times, he also found it suspicious that Baskin is not cooperating with him or other law enforcement on the matter. When asked if Baskin is a suspect, Garcia said that she is a high-profile person of interest in the case.

"Most missing persons' family members, wives, spouses, they cooperate with law enforcement," he explained. "They want to know what happened to their loved one and they cooperate wherever possible."

Baskin maintains that she has had nothing to do with the disappearance of Lewis. However, she does have a theory that her former husband had tried to fly to Costa Rica in an experimental airplane but crashed in the Gulf of Mexico. She explained it during a Reddit AMA.

"He wasn't licensed to fly, yet did all the time. He couldn't file a flight plan and had to take off from closed airports to evade detection," Baskin said. "I think this was the most likely scenario."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Baskin in LA
Despite three different interview requests from the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, Carole Baskin of "Tiger King" fame has been uncooperative. Baskin is seen on September 15, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. Photo by fupp/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

The probe is ongoing.

Lewis was a Tampa millionaire who vanished in 1997, leaving Baskin with dozens of big cats at their animal sanctuary. The series launched rumors about how Lewis disappeared, including conjecture that he was buried in a septic tank on the sanctuary's property or living in Costa Rica.

The detective said he and his investigators had conducted 50 interviews and followed up on 200 leads.

When asked about the Costa Rica rumor, Garcia refused to comment, but he said federal agents had run down leads in the Central American country. Getting a search warrant for the animal sanctuary to follow up on the septic tank rumor would require probable cause, either evidence showing something happened on the property or a witness who could testify to that effect, he said.

Besides Baskin, a former handyman at the sanctuary, Kenny Farr, also "didn't interview with us," the detective said.

Baskin recently sued Netflix and a production company to try to prevent the use of interviews and footage involving her in the Tiger King sequel, which was released Wednesday. Netflix countered that Baskin and her husband agreed in writing that the material could be used in the future and that she is trying to block the company's First Amendment right to free speech.

Garcia said he is confident Lewis' disappearance will be solved.

Baskin 2017
In this July 20, 2017, file photo, Carole Baskin, founder of Big Cat Rescue, walks the property near Tampa, Fla. A detective in Florida investigating the disappearance of the former husband of Baskin said Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, that the “Tiger King" star had three times refused requests for interviews, and that the probe was ongoing. Loren Elliott/Tampa Bay Times via AP, File