The internet is losing its mind over the revelation that Carole Baskin’s former husband is alive and well – and, apparently, we all missed the memo.
Baskin appeared on the British talk show This Morning in November 2021 and revealed that her ex – who she has been accused of murdering – is alive in Costa Rica after having been declared legally dead in 2002.
Don Lewis married Baskin in 1991 before going missing on August 18, 1997. He reportedly left behind over $5 million in assets. His disappearance grew in popularity after the broadcast of Netflix’s Tiger King which honed in on Baskin’s feud with the now-jailed private zoo owner Joe Exotic.
Baskin became the target of online abuse with many speculating that she was involved in the disappearance of her ex-husband. The song “Carole Baskin (Free Joe Exotic)” by Dubskie went viral in 2020, featuring lines such as, “Carole Baskin / killed her husband / whacked him”.
However, the animal rights activist has alleged that Tiger King 2 produced a letter from Homeland Security stating that her former husband is “alive and well.”
“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 Fernandez, which means this had to have happened after 2002, because Homeland Security wasn’t even around until 2002,” Baskin told This Morning, per Sky News.
“And they said that my husband, Don Lewis, is alive and well in Costa Rica,” she added. “And yet all of this hay has been made about me having something to do with his disappearance, when Homeland Security has known where he is at least since back then.”
These claims are reiterated in a blog post on Baskin’s Big Cat Rescue website, published in November 2021. The writer insinuates that Netflix painted an inaccurate depiction of Lewis in the first season, stating the the second season “confirms he was still flying planes without a license and therefore could have gone down over the gulf, that he could have gone to Costa Rica with small planes by making stops along the way without it showing on his passports because he had other fake passports, that he was bringing large amounts of cash to Costa Rica, and, importantly, that he was dealing with dangerous individuals who may have been responsible for his demise.”
The post also mentioned the Homeland Security document and asked, “Why is this just appearing?”
Decider has reached out to Netflix for comment, but did not hear back by the time of publication.
Many have just discovered this not-so-new news, stating that they’ve been invested in the story but never realized Lewis was still alive. “I can’t get over Carole Baskin’s husband being found alive,” wrote one Twitter user.
John Phillips, who is an attorney representing Exotic, released a statement on the convicted felon’s behalf: “During the filming of Tiger King, detailed efforts were made to find Don Lewis. They failed. He is not alive. The 2021 report by Carole Baskin was further unsupported allegation. It’s being republished as if it has veracity…”
He continued, “It doesn’t. Tiger King is filled with lies, set up and misdirection. We await a hearing for Joe’s freedom. The lies are spelled out in his Motion for New Trial. The Cosmopolitan article based on the ITV report is false and designed to bring more attention to Carole Baskin.”
Lewis’ family has also made comments against Baskin’s innocence and have speculated that she was involved in his disappearance. They ran an ad during her 2020 debut on Dancing With The Stars, which included the line, “Do you know who did this or if Carole Baskin was involved?”
Baskin has dismissed their actions as a “publicity stunt,” and told CNN in a statement, “If it helps us find Don, then that will be a huge relief.”
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