Lewis' disappearance was a major sub-plot in the Netflix documentary series Tiger King, in which Oklahoma animal park owner Joe Exotic and Tampa animal-rights activist Baskin battled about the world of large cat collecting. In the midst of their battle, Exotic alleged that his nemesis murdered her husband in 1997 and fed his remains to tigers.
Officially, the disappearance remains unsolved, and the sheriff involved in the case, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister, has confirmed that Baskin is neither a suspect nor a person of interest. However, the case remains open, and his body has never been found.
Trish Farr-Payne believes she knows what happened, and she shared her suspicions with "48 Hours" correspondent Richard Schlesinger, in a special report to air Wednesday night. Her allegation is roughly in line with what Exotic has been claiming for decades: that Baskin did, in fact, have Lewis killed, and that his body was disposed of in a gruesome manner.
Back in the mid-to-late 1990s, Farr-Payne was married to Kenny Farr, a handyman who worked for both Lewis and Baskin. She stated that he was often violent with her and their relationship was volatile.
She said that one night, not long before Lewis was reported missing, her ex-husband turned up at their home with Lewis' van. Inside were guns that she said Farr claimed were Lewis'. When she asked about it, Farr allegedly responded that Lewis was "gone," and that he was taking care of the vans and guns for a while. He also insisted that she was not to talk about the situation to anyone and to not say anything if anyone asked questions.
"He would blow up real easy at me … I just didn't question it," she said when asked by the interviewer why she didn't question her ex-husband further about it.
When news broke that Lewis was missing, Farr-Payne became even more suspicious.
"Everything started kinda coming together. Kenny's got Don's van. Kenny's got Don's guns. Don's gone and I knew Don was gone the day before he was supposedly missing. It — something wasn't right," she said.
Meanwhile, a freezer reportedly turned up on the family's property, locked with a padlock, before disappearing some time later. However, she didn't ask her husband any follow-up questions because of his violence.
At a later date, the couple had a fight, and Farr allegedly threatened to put his wife in a meat grinder.
"Kenny had threatened to put me in a grinder, he said, 'If you try to leave me again, I'm gonna put you in the grinder, like I did Don.'"Farr-Payne said that's when she knew for sure her husband had killed Don Lewis and ground up his body.
However, she didn't go to the police until three years later, out of fear. After her husband was jailed on domestic violence and gun charges, she did go to authorities with her claims.
CBS News tried unsuccessfully to reach Farr for his side of the story. The sheriff's office had no comment on the allegations.
Baskin declined to be interviewed for the segment. However, in an email, she described Farr-Payne's allegations as "ludicrous and clearly fabricated."