Tiger King’s Carole Baskin Sued By Family of Long-Missing-Husband Don Lewis

carole baskin's husband don lewis

Sheriff\'s Department release Don Lewis, Carole Baskin's husband.

The family of Don Lewis, Carole Baskin’s long-missing and presumed-dead husband has hired an attorney and issued a $100,000 reward to try to get answers to what happened to their father 23-years-ago when he disappeared.

The mystery was thrust into the international spotlight with the popularity of Netflix’s Tiger King docuseries, in which owners of so-called big cat rescues are depicted as bitter rivals, and ends with the show’s star, Joseph Maldonado-Passage — better known as Joe Exotic — being sentenced to 22 years in prison for abusing the cats in his care and for sending a hitman to kill Baskin.

But some say Baskin is the real killer, the one who is responsible for her second husband Lewis’s disappearance all those years ago, saying she killed him for his money. Investigators have never been able to prove anything and Lewis’s body was never found. Baskin has maintained her innocence all along, but with the popularity of the show, the investigation was invigorated.

As recently as June in June Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said that Lewis’s signature on his will was “100% forged.”

Attorney John M. Phillips who is representing Lewis’ family said Monday in a press conference with Lewis’ family in Tampa that the civil lawsuit was filed in lieu of a criminal one, believing that if more information is compelled from the three defendants close to the case, that may lead to answers.


The Lawsuit Isn’t for Money — It’s for Information

It’s called a Pure Bill of Discovery Suit and the three defendants are Baskin, a long time employee of Baskin and Lewis named Kenneth Wayne Farr, and Susan Bradshaw, who is the woman who allegedly testified she witnessed Lewis sign his will when she did not, according to the complaint.

The suit specifically allows the plaintiffs — which are Lewis’s three daughters and his longtime assistant — to “obtain the disclosure of facts within the defendant’s knowledge, or deeds or writings or other things in [the defendant’s] custody, in aid of the prosecution or defense of an action pending or about to be commenced,” according to the complaint.

Phillips claims there is a lot of information that points to more than one person being involved with Lewis’s disappearance, and a private Facebook group dedicated to the cold case has supplied a good amount of that information as a fascination with this story has led to private citizens working together to try to solve the case.


Phillips Said the Rumors About What Happened to Lewis are Uncivilized to Perpetuate Yet There May be Merit to Some of Them

Don Lewis Lawsuit

John M. PhillipsThe daughters of Don Lewis and his long time assistant pose with attorney John M. Phillips.

Phillips believes there are people out there that know something but are afraid to come forward. Yet for Lewis’s family, it’s time for some “civility” and some answers, he said.

The family has suffered all of these years not knowing what happened to their relative and vicious rumors about what happened to him only make it worse, according to the attorney.

Phillips said:

Think about your, your grandfather your father. Being rumored to have either been eaten by alligators be under a septic tank of feces or in a meat grinder…it shouldn’t even be tolerated. And I’m not, I’m not shaming reporting it, I’m shaming, why can’t we just now stop and say, let’s, let’s just stop that. Because it takes people to perpetuate that.

Now, the fact is we’re going to have to investigate that because I think there could be merit to some of those theories. I spoke to somebody the other day that indicated there might be merit to one or more of those theories. But somebody that has something to hide may not want to go sit at a table and communicate. And that’s what we’ll determine first.

Phillips said he invites Baskin to pick up the phone and call him and he’d be on the phone with her in 30 minutes.

Baskin told Heavy “it’s been my policy not to discuss pending litigation until it’s been resolved…I had told some news outlets that I thought the press conference on Aug. 10 was just a publicity stunt, but at that time was not aware there would be pending litigation.”

READ NEXT: Video Shows Key West Police Arrest 8-Year-Old Who is Too Small For Cuffs