TAMPA (WFLA) – Carole Baskin says she thought she was participating in a documentary to expose the seedy side of the ownership and treatment of large cats in the United States. Instead, she ended up in the Netflix hit series “Tiger King.”
The show is known for it’s odd and flamboyant real-life characters. The principal among them, “Joe Exotic” who’s real name is Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage and was convicted of numerous counts of animal abuse and for his role in hiring a hitman to kill Baskin.
Now she is sharing her story in a series of YouTube videos that feature Baskin reading from her personal diaries. Baskin says some of her earliest diaries were kept by her first husband, she says other diaries were stolen by a housekeeper and then sold to a tabloid TV show.
In her videos, Baskin describes her early life in Tampa, struggling with her first marriage and then meeting Don Lewis in East Tampa.
“After a fight with my husband, Mike Murdoch that ended with my throwing a potato at him and missing, I realized he was doing to kill me,” said Baskin.
She says she then ran out of the house and as she was walking she met Lewis. At first, she talks of falling in love with Lewis, then describes how they drifted apart.
“Hindsight is 2020 and Don never loved me,” said Baskin.
In 1997, Don Lewis vanished. His body has never been found. Baskin says at the time, Lewis would frequently stay out all night and not tell her where he was going.
“Don stayed out all day and all night without calling again,” Baskin recalls in one of her video diary entries. The videos were produced recently, some of them reading from original written diary text, others a recollection of her memories of the time. She says there are large gaps in the diaries because of the ones kept by her first husband and the ones she says were stolen by a housekeeper.
On the day Lewis vanished, Baskin recalls not being too worried.
“Don has been missing since yesterday morning before dawn, which isn’t unusual,” says Baskin.
The diary entries are lengthy and detailed. Baskin says her story can’t be told in one short soundbite for TV news.
The family of Don Lewis recently announced a $100,000 reward for information about his disappearance.
Baskin will not comment on the news conference by Lewis’ daughters or the reward because of pending litigation.
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