Don Lewis is the ex-husband of Tiger King star Carole Baskin, and his long-unsolved disappearance is back in the spotlight thanks to Baskin's stint on Dancing with the Stars.
Lewis had disappeared back in 1997, and he was declared dead in 2002. Officials have not been able to solve his disappearance, though many fans of Tiger King came to suspect that Baskin could have played a role.
New Attention On Millionaire's Cold CaseAs The Inquisitr reported, the popularity of the Netflix docu-series about big cat breeders brought a rush of new attention to his case, and Lewis' family is now trying to use Baskin's appearance on the ABC dance competition to dredge up potential clues. A lawyer representing the family reportedly purchased a television commercial that will air during the Dancing with the Stars premiere on September 14.
Family members had already purchased billboards bringing attention to the missing person case, asking for information about "Who Murdered Don Lewis?" and offering a $100,000 reward for information.
The man's disappearance became a major focus of Tiger King, with animal park owner Joseph "Joe Exotic" Maldonado-Passage claiming that Baskin had her husband murdered and fed to the big cats.
Others have shared gruesome details about his alleged killing. Trish Farr-Payne, who was married to a handyman named Kenny Farr who previously worked for both Lewis and Baskin, claimed during an appearance on CBS News' 48 Hours that the missing millionaire may have been thrown into a meat grinder.
She revealed that during a fight with her husband, he threatened her with this and claimed that he had done the same to Lewis.
"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 added that there were other clues that this may have been Lewis' fate, including her now-ex-husband coming to their home with the missing man's van, which had guns inside. When she asked about the firearms, Farr allegedly claimed that they belonged to Lewis, who was now "gone."
Carole Baskin Denies Involvement, Slams Netflix
Baskin has pushed back against these allegations, saying she had nothing to do with her former spouse's suspected killing.
Her participation in Tiger King has come with some controversy, as she spoke out afterward to claim that the series painted her in an improper light. In a message posted to her website BigCatRescue.org, Baskin said that the producers of the show told her they were trying to "make the big cat version of Blackfish," the 2013 documentary that shed light on the abuses that orcas face in captivity.
But instead of highlighting the abuses that take place among breeders of big cats, Baskin said the Netflix series instead focused on the mysterious circumstances surrounding her former husband -- and improperly painted her as the villain.
"The series presents this without any regard for the truth or in most cases even giving me an opportunity before publication to rebut the absurd claims," she shared. "They did not care about truth. The unsavory lies are better for getting viewers."