Netflix’s ‘Tiger King’ prompts sheriff to seek leads in cold case

A Florida sheriff is scratching for new leads in a 23-year-old missing person case — thanks to the popular Netflix series “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.”

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister turned to the show in a search for clues into what happened to Jack “Don” Lewis, who disappeared in 1997, with some viewers of the true crime drama wondering if he was murdered, according to NBC News.

The show centers around the life of Joseph Exotic, an imprisoned Oklahoma zookeeper who planned a murder-for-hire plot against Lewis’ wife, Carole Baskin, an animal rights activist and owner of Tampa’s Big Cat Rescue.

Baskin — who ran the wildlife sanctuary with Lewis before he vanished — plays a major role as Exotic’s nemesis in the seven-part series, which offers several theories about the case, including that she fed her hubby to the tigers.

Among the other theories was that the multimillionaire was shoved off a plane over the Gulf of Mexico or that he ended up in Costa Rica, where Baskin has said he was going to transport vehicles with her help.

His van was found at a private airport in Pasco County, but he has left no trace of his whereabouts.

“Since @netflix and #Covid19 #Quarantine has made #TigerKing all the rage, I figured it was a good time to ask for new leads,” Chronister said in a tweet.

Baskin, who has since remarried, has denied rumors of her involvement in Lewis’ disappearance and has never been charged.

“Don was not easy to live with and like most couples, we had our moments,” she wrote in a blog. “But I never threatened him and I certainly had nothing to do with his disappearance.”

Baskin and her current husband, Howard, also said the producers tricked them into believing the series would be about stopping the abuse of big cats.

“As far as I can tell, their only goal was to make something as inflammatory and salacious as possible so that Netflix would pay them millions for it,” Howard said in a video posted on Big Cat Rescue’s Facebook page, according to ABC Action News.

Filed under 3/31/20