Things are kicking up a notch now that Carole Baskin’s missing husband’s family is offering a reward of $100,000 for anyone who can offer information to help solve the case of his disappearance. While the Tiger King star’s ex-husband Jack Donald “Don” Lewis went missing in 1997, his cold case has since been reopened by the Hillsborough County Sheriff after the widespread popularity of the Netflix docuseries. Now, his family is intent on getting the answers they’ve been waiting for.
Theories about how Carole Baskin’s missing husband disappeared often lead back to Carole herself, with many believing she may have murdered Don. Just about every member of Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness cast—including the show’s main subject, Joe Exotic (née Maldonado-Passage)—agree that Carole killed her husband. It appears Don’s family is taking that lead.
Don’s three surviving daughters have reportedly filed a lawsuit against the Big Cat Rescue CEO in an attempt to have her submit information about his disappearance on the record. The family’s lawyer, John M. Philips, explained in a press release to the Tampa Bay Times on Monday, August 10, that Carole would be “invited to the table,” along with fellow Tiger King subject, Kenny Farr, to turn over any electronic device data, diaries, and other investigative materials related to Don’s disappearance as part of the investigation.
At a press conference on Monday, Don’s daughter Gale Rathbone also noted how much Tiger King has helped her family’s mission to find answers. “Amazingly, our little family tragedy has become your tragedy,” she said. “Our search for closure and truth has become your mission also.” The press conference also revealed that the funds for the $100K reward for information were generously offered by an anonymous donor.
In a statement to the Associated Press following the news of the family’s suit, Carole Baskin cleared up some of her earlier comments about the press conference. “It’s been my policy not to discuss pending litigation until it’s been resolved,” she told the outlet, adding, “I had told some news outlets that I thought the press conference on 10 August was just a publicity stunt, but at that time was not aware there would be pending litigation.”
Baskin has repeatedly denied rumors of her suspected role in Don’s disappearance in the past. The millionaire went missing in 1997, a day before a scheduled trip to Costa Rico. Following his disappearance and legal declaration of death in 2002, Carole received most of his $6M estate and ownership of their exotic cat rescue center, which she remains CEO of today.
In response to rumors that she killed Don, Carole issued a statement titled “Refuting Netflix Tiger King” where she opened up about their relationship. “Don was not easy to live with and like most couples, we had our moments. But I never threatened him and I certainly had nothing to do with his disappearance,” Carole writes on the site. “When he disappeared, I did everything I could to assist the police. I encouraged them to check out the rumors from Costa Rica, and separately I hired a private investigator.”