TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office says Don Lewis is still a missing person despite Carole Baskin’s claims to the contrary.
In a resurfaced 2021 interview that is currently going viral, the “Tiger King” star alleged her ex, who was declared legally dead in 2002, was found alive in Costa Rica.
“They said my husband, Don Lewis, is alive and well in Costa Rica,” Baskins told ITV’s This Morning. “And yet all of this drama has been made about me having something to do with his disappearance when Homeland Security has known where he is.”
She also asserted that the Department of Homeland Security had been in touch with him.
“One of the really exciting things that came out of ‘Tiger King 2’ is that they produced a letter from Homeland Security and it says that a special agent in charge with the FBI at Homeland Security reached out to the sheriff’s detective George [Jorge] Fernandez, which means this had to have happened after 2002 because Homeland Security wasn’t even around until 2002,” Baskin said.
In 1997, Lewis disappeared without a trace. His van was found at a remote airport in Pasco County. The keys to the vehicle were on the floorboard.
Lewis’ lawyer, Joe Fritz told Fox Nation his client, who was an amateur pilot, was likely lured to the airport with a business opportunity, kidnapped and thrown from a plane mid-flight.
“What I had heard was that he was strangled from the backseat of an airplane over the Gulf [of Mexico] at 50 feet and dropped out over the Gulf,” Fritz said.
Lewis was declared dead in 2002, around five years after his disappearance. There is no evidence that suggests he was murdered, although investigators suspect foul play.
Baskin has repeatedly denied any involvement in the disappearance of her ex-husband, but authorities aren’t ruling out anyone, including her.
“The only person in this case who is not considered a suspect and a person of interest is myself. Everyone else is a possibility, with Carole being a high possibility,” Corporal Moises Garcia, the lead detective on the case told reporters a year ago.
The sheriff’s office tells WFLA Lewis’ disappearance is still an active case.
Baskin and Lewis ran Wildlife on Easy Street, an animal sanctuary in Tampa, which later became Big Cat Rescue Corp. Baskin still owns the sanctuary, which is home to more than 50 exotic animals.