Carole Baskin home targeted by investigator who will use CADAVER DOGSApril 16, 2023
EXCLUSIVE: Tiger King star Carole Baskin targeted by private investigator who will use CADAVER DOGS to search for star’s missing husband Don Lewis
- READ MORE: Baskin’s behavior ‘strange’ after husband disappeared
Tiger King’s Carole Baskin is being targeted by a private investigator who intends to use cadaver dogs to search her former Florida animal sanctuary in a bid to shed light on the disappearance of her first husband, Jack ‘Don’ Lewis.
Baskin, 61, who announced this month she will close her Big Cat Rescue sanctuary, was famously accused by Joe Exotic of murdering her ex-husband Lewis – who mysteriously disappeared in 1997 – and putting his body through a meat grinder. Since then, she has protested her innocence.
Don Lewis was last seen in August 1997. At the time of his disappearance, he had filed a restraining order against Baskin and told police that his wife had told him that she was going to kill him. He was declared legally dead in 2002.
Leading investigator, ex Secret Service agent and homicide detective Jim Rathmann wants to probe the site with cadaver dogs and forensic experts to see if there are signs of human remains after years of conspiracy theories and locals’ allegations that Lewis was murdered on site.
Rathmann plans to ask the buyers of Baskin’s property to allow him and a team of experts to examine the region, as he has ‘ideas where there are potential places of interest’.
Rathmann, who made his own TV series about the death of Lewis, believes that the DWTS contestant Baskin still has ‘many questions to answer’, after refusing to discuss the case.
Speculation: Tiger King’s Carole Baskin is being targeted by an investigator who intends to use cadaver dogs to search her Florida sanctuary in a bid to shed light on the disappearance of her first husband, Jack ‘Don’ Lewis (seen with second husband Howard Baskin)
Mysterious: Baskin, 61 was famously accused by Joe Exotic of murdering her ex-husband Lewis (pictured) – who mysteriously disappeared in 1997 – and putting his body through a tiger meat grinder
Baskin is considered by some fans as a ‘prime suspect’ in the disappearance and alleged murder of her first husband.
Rathmann feels a study of the Big Cat Rescue grounds ‘could finally prove or disprove these accusations and claims’.
DailyMail.com contacted a representative for Baskin for comment – who directed the publication to a previously issued 2021 statement denying any involvement in Lewis’ disappearance.
The twist comes three years after Baskin and jailed animal abuser Exotic shot to prominence in Netflix docu-series Tiger King.
Rathmann questions Baskin’s claims to police that Lewis fled to Costa Rica, and suspects that the multi-millionaire was likely killed.
Rathmann said: ‘I would like to investigate the grounds of Big Cat Rescue. I have worked with cadaver dogs in the past, who detect the scents of human remains as much as 20ft above water and can pick up on scents even after over twenty years since a death.
‘I am not accusing Carole of murdering Don, but there remains many questions of doubt about how Don disappeared.
‘An extensive investigation conducted by my team could help eliminate doubts or provide new evidence that could help bring Don’s family closure.
‘Joe Exotic alleged that Don was buried on the property underneath a septic tank, which was installed after his disappearance. We do not know if that it’s true. But attempts to have that area dug up have been denied. It would be good to get on the property.
Uncovering the truth: Leading investigator Jim Rathmann (pictured) wants to probe the site with cadaver dogs and forensic experts to see if there are signs of human remains after years of conspiracy theories
Rathmann, who made his own TV series about the death of Lewis, believes that the DWTS contestant Baskin still has ‘many questions to answer’, after refusing to discuss the case (Baskin and Lewis pictured together before his disappearance)
The Tiger King: Exotic, 60, is currently serving a 21-year prison sentence after being found guilty of a murder-for-hire plot against rival Baskin
Cadaver dogs are trained to detect and track the scent of decomposing flesh to find dead people (stock image)
‘If any human remains’ fragments exist, like teeth and bone, we would still be able to extract DNA after all these years.
‘So forensics could determine, from the smallest of bone fragments, whether it could be Don’s body.’
Rathmann hopes to also get to the bottom of the meat grinder theory.
He spoke to Trish Farr, the ex-wife of the sanctuary’s former handyman Kenny Farr, who previously claimed that her former spouse had ‘threatened to put her in the grinder like I did Don’
Trish said: ‘I thought he was telling the truth. At that time. I thought, you know, at least that is probably the turning point where I knew – I knew deep down that Kenny has some part in Don’s not ever coming back. I knew then for sure.’
She also alleged Kenny had Lewis’ van and guns and told her Lewis was ‘gone’ days before he was reported missing. Kenny denies any claim of involvement in Lewis’ disappearance.
Rathmann feels Trish is ‘credible’ and reveals the on-site meat grinder was sold a week after Lewis went missing.
He said: ‘I think there is definitely foul play involved. There are a lot of holes in the story.
‘I actually think something happened to Don. I wish I had the opportunity to speak with Carole because I have so many questions.’
Asked if he thinks Baskin murdered Lewis, Rathmann replied: ‘That is up for the court system to decide. I believe that she certainly had the most to gain from Don disappearing.’
Rathmann was hired by the Investigation Discovery channel to probe Baskin for 2020’s TV series Tigers, Lies And Cover Ups.
In the series, cadaver dogs were also used and allegedly detected the scent of human remains close to Lewis’ lake house in Brandon, Florida.
However after so much time has passed and with the muddy deep waters it was almost impossible to locate anything in the lake.
Rathmann is considered one of the US’s leading criminal investigators. He served as a homicide detective in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, solving a raft of high profile cases.
He left the police force after five years moving into the US military serving with The 82nd Airborne Infantry, including a deployment to Afghanistan. During his three year service, Rathmann was honored with a Bronze Star for combat actions.
The Secret Service hired him as close protection detail for President Barack Obama during US and international travel as well as VP Joe Biden, from 2011 to 2014. He was assigned to protect visiting international leaders and dignitaries on US soil.
After his service, Rathmann turned his elite skills and extensive experience into criminal investigative consulting and motivational speaking.
Animal activist Baskin recently faced the spotlight on social media after a resurfaced 2021 television interview clip saw her claim Lewis was alive in Costa Rica.
In the series, producers show documents, allegedly from the Department of Homeland Security, that purport to describe Lewis’ whereabouts in Costa Rica.
Rathmann hit back revealing that Homeland Security did not exist until 2003 – six years after his disappearance – and such officials would protect borders, not carry out a husband hunt in Costa Rica.
Baskin and Lewis in Tiger King season 2. In 1997, he left his residence and was never seen by friends or family members again
Rathmann added: ‘There is nothing to show Don flew to Costa Rica and there were no records of money withdrawals there. ‘The plane she says he used, would have needed to refuel a couple of times, which was impossible.’
Rathmann also raises concerns about the van, the last car Lewis drove before his disappearance, which was found at a nearby airfield. Investigators found none of Baskin or Lewis’ prints inside the vehicle.
He added: ‘How did the van they drove, that was at the airport, not have their fingerprints on? Did someone wipe it down and why?’
A UK TV interview from 2021 in which Carole Baskin claimed her legally dead husband Lewis is alive and living in Costa Rica recently resurfaced
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office also dismissed Lewis being alive and well, insisting: ‘The investigation into Don Lewis’ disappearance remains a priority.’
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.’
Lewis was 59 when he went missing, he would be 84 now if he is still alive. In his missing person file, he is listed as being 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds.
Several years after his disappearance, Baskin went on to wed her current husband, Howard.
After Lewis’ disappearance Baskin won a disputed probate case and inherited the majority of Lewis’ estate, including the big cat sanctuary they founded together.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate the circumstances around Lewis’ disappearance to determine if anything criminal occurred and no one has been ruled in or out as a potential person of interest.
In January 2023, the family of Lewis told DailyMail.com that they investigated the claims that he was ‘alive and well’ in Costa Rica back in 1997 but found that the ‘witness’ had recanted their statement.
In a statement to DailyMail.com, Lewis’ family members said that Baskin’s 2021 claims are ‘simply not true’ and that she is merely creating ‘a false narrative.’ Baskin has always denied any role in Lewis’ disappearance.
Recently Baskin’s husband Howard confirmed the closure of Big Cat Rescue, saying: ‘We have always said that our goal was to ‘put ourselves out of business,’ meaning that there would be no big cats in need of rescue and no need for the sanctuary to exist,’ he wrote in a note posted to the rescue’s website.
He pointed to the passage last year of the Big Cat Public Safety Act, a federal law banning the private ownership of big cats and the practice of cub petting, a main driver of captive big-cat breeding and overpopulation in the United States.
Baskin and husband Howard announced the closure last month: ‘What this means, importantly, is that over the next decade almost all of this privately held population of cats will pass away,’ he wrote. ‘Within a few years after that they will all be gone and there will be no more cats living in miserable conditions in backyards.’
As the Baskins spent most of the past decade focused on getting such a bill passed, he wrote, other sanctuaries have had more space open up, and Big Cat Rescue has put fewer resources into new rescues. Its cat population has decreased from 200 at its peak decades ago to 41 now.
Most of the animals will go to Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge outside Fayetteville, Arkansas. Turpentine Creek sits on 450 rural acres.
Exotic, 60, is currently serving a 21-year prison sentence after being found guilty of a murder-for-hire plot against rival Baskin
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