Carole Baskin’s ex-husband’s family have criticized her for saying he still lives in Costa Rica

Carole Baskin’s ex-husband’s family have criticized her for saying he still lives in Costa Rica

The family of Carole Baskin’s legally dead husband told they investigated claims he was “alive and well” in Costa Rica in 1997, but found the “witness” retracted their testimony.

A TV interview surfaced this week that Baskin gave to Good Morning, Britain in November 2021, in which she said she learned about the sighting of Don Lewis in Central America while filming Tiger King season 2.

During her appearance, Baskin said she only found out about the sighting while filming the Netflix hit.

Don Lewis was last seen in August 1997. At the time of his disappearance, he had issued a restraining order against Baskin and told police that his wife had told him she was going to kill him. He was pronounced legally dead in 2002.

In a statement to , Lewis family members said Baskin’s 2021 claims were “simply not true” and that she was merely “creating a false narrative”. Baskin has always denied any role in the Lewis disappearance.

A 2021 British TV interview in which Carole Baskin claimed her legally dead husband Don Lewis was alive and living in Costa Rica has recently resurfaced

Jack Smith, a spokesman for the Lewis family, told that the document Baskin used to support her claim in Tiger King season 2 dates from 1997 and not from after 2002 as she claimed .

The statement said Baskin used the document “to fill in another narrative about what happened to our father. Our father is still listed as a missing person on the National Missing and Unidentified Persons database.’

The press release continued, “The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department is still actively working on our father’s case, and we are in constant communication with them as they continue to advance our father’s case.”

Smith said the document seen in season two about the sighting was created by US Customs in September 1997.

Baskin said the title of the document reads Department of Homeland Security, which was only created in 2002.

The unconfirmed letter from the Department of Homeland Security claiming Don Lewis is alive and well and residing in Costa Rica.  He was 59 when he disappeared and would be 84 now

The unconfirmed letter from the Department of Homeland Security claiming Don Lewis is alive and well and residing in Costa Rica. He was 59 when he disappeared and would be 84 now

Baskin and Lewis in Tiger King season 2. He left his residence in 1997 and was never seen again by friends or family members

Baskin and Lewis in Tiger King season 2. He left his residence in 1997 and was never seen again by friends or family members

However, the details from the report are identical to details described by the Tampa Bay Times in a September 1997 article. Baskin is quoted in the article as saying, “I really don’t know what to think [about the sighting.’ 

She continued: ‘If this is true, I’m really, really glad he’s not in jail somewhere.’

Smith told that in November 1997, Donna, Don Lewis’ eldest daughter traveled to Central America to follow up on the sighting. 

He said that she and her husband went to the various properties he owned across Costa Rica and spoke to multiple local residents but had no success in locating Lewis. 

Joe Exotic (pictured), whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is now serving a 21 year prison sentence for hiring two hitmen to kill Baskin

Joe Exotic (pictured), whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, is now serving a 21 year prison sentence for hiring two hitmen to kill Baskin

Smith continued: ‘They later learned that the informant had recanted his statement about seeing Don Lewis, and also learned that his main car of use in Costa Rica, his Toyota Land Cruiser, had been sold within four days of his missing persons report being filed.’ 

He added: ‘The signature on the paperwork of his Land Cruiser didn’t match his signature, according to Mark Songer, a handwriting expert.’ 

The claim that Lewis is ‘alive and well in Costa Rica’ had earlier been called into question by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, which remains in charge of the hunt for Lewis and still has an open missing persons case for him.

Jack Don Lewis remains listed as a ‘missing endangered adult,’ who on August 18, 1997 ‘left his families [sic] residence and has not been seen or heard from since.’

The New York Post reported Thursday that the sheriff’s office largely dismissed Baskin’s comments that her ex lives and thrives in the tropics.

A spokesman for the office said they had not heard anything about Lewis’ whereabouts, despite Baskin’s claims that a Homeland Security officer had been in contact with her ex and subsequently informed the sheriff’s office.

The Sheriff’s Public Information Office, Fentress Fountain, said: “We have received no communication from our federal partners confirming the whereabouts of the missing person, Mr. Don Lewis.”

“The investigation into the disappearance of Don Lewis remains a priority for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, as do all missing persons cases.”

When the claim was first made, the lead detective on the case – Cpl. Moises Garcia – told the Tampa Bay Times that the case remains open despite the document.

“We continue to look into this case intensively … We still have a few options. Not a week goes by that we don’t have our hand in this case,” he said.

He told the outlet that federal officials recently assisted the sheriff’s office by “shutting down leads in Costa Rica,” but did not confirm those leads led to reports that Lewis was found “alive and healthy.”