Celebration of life held for Don Lewis on anniversary of disappearance

Local News

TAMPA (WFLA) — A ‘celebration of life’ for Don Lewis is scheduled to take place Saturday afternoon on the anniversary of his disappearance.

Don Lewis disappeared 23 years ago. Interest in the cold case has spiked recently following Netflix’s release of the extremely popular docu-series “Tiger King.”

The celebration of life is scheduled to take place at the Riverhills Church of God at 6310 Sligh Avenue in Tampa at 1:30 p.m.

What exactly happened to Lewis remains unclear, but there has been much public speculation about his disappearance over the past year after it became one of the main plotlines in “Tiger King,”

Netflix’s true-crime docuseries about eccentric tiger trader Joe Exotic and his rival Carole Baskin, the owner of Big Cat Rescue in Tampa. Baskin is Lewis’ ex-wife.

In the show, Exotic accuses Baskin of being responsible for Lewis’ disappearance and feeding her husband to the tigers after murdering him.

Judy Watson runs Survival Outreach Sanctuary in Pasco County, but worked with Lewis at the time of his disappearance.

“He loved his animals as much as I did, and I just want to know. And if this can bring closure, then that’s why I’m here,” said Watson. “I’d like to see justice for this man and for his family. I’ve always wanted to know what happened to Don. I liked the man, he was kind.”

Donna Pettis, Don’s oldest daughter, was also present at the march. She calls the community support overwhelming.

“Well, it’s very emotional. Ever since Tiger King came out it’s stirred up memories that we’ve had to surpress for a lot of years,” said Pettis. “So, it feels like we’ve got a band of angels behind us. We didn’t start this. We had no idea there were people investigating this.”

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