TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister confirmed on average, over the past three or four days, “six tips a day” are coming into his office regarding the disappearance of Jack Donald Lewis.
“Don” Lewis is the missing ex-husband of Big Cat Rescue owner Carole Baskin, a subject of “Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness,” one of the most popular shows on Netflix in recent memory.
Lewis was last seen in August of 1997. No arrest has been made in the case and the sheriff’s office has never had a person of interest.
On Tuesday, Hillsborough County sheriff Chad Chronister said leads, though none credible, have been coming in to the sheriff’s office since people across the nation began to watch “Tiger King.”
The sheriff confirmed the case has been open since Lewis’ disappearance in 1997. He said since the case has become popular, a detective supervisor has been assigned to the leads coming in to the office.
The sheriff’s office had a meeting on Monday regarding the case and will be reviewing “a lot of the evidence.”
The sheriff confirmed Baskin said her attorney told her to refuse a polygraph test.
Lewis’ will is going to be reviewed by the sheriff’s office.
“There is a lot of suspicion that surrounds that will,” Chronister said.
He said the meat grinders mentioned in the documentary series were removed several days before the sheriff’s office searched Baskin’s property, so there was no way to test them.
The septic tank mentioned in the series, the sheriff said, was put in place years after Lewis’ disappearance and is not relevant to the case.
“Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness” – a documentary series about former Oklahoma Joe Exotic’s life and arrest – is currently one of the top Netflix shows in the United States.
Exotic is serving 22 years in prison for his role in a murder-for-hire plot after he was convicted of an attempt to hire a hitman to kill Tampa’s Big Cat Rescue owner Carole Baskin. He was also convicted and sentenced for killing five tigers.
The sheriff’s office does not believe Exotic had anything to do with Lewis’ disappearance and will not be interviewing him.
Baskin and her big cat sanctuary are also heavily documented in the series. The disappearance of her first husband, Lewis in 1997, who remains missing to this day, has sparked days of social media debate. Since the Netflix series took off, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has put out a notice seeking leads in Lewis’ disappearance.
Sheriff Chronister said in his media briefing he had watched the series with his wife and son and called it “interesting.”
“Raise your hand if you’re not a Joe Exotic fan,” the sheriff joked.
Baskin has since spoken out about the documentary series and called it “disappointing.”