QCOSTARICA (Insider) After a viral clip from 2021 in which Carole Baskin claimed her late husband, Don Lewis, is “alive and well” in Costa Rica resurfaced, the Florida sheriff’s office on the case has denied her claims and maintains that Lewis is dead.
“We have not received any communication from our federal partners that confirms the location of missing person Mr. Don Lewis,” the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement shared with Insider. “The investigation into Don Lewis’ disappearance remains a priority for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, as do all missing person cases.”
Baskin is known for her stint on Netflix’s “Tiger King,” a docuseries that followed her and another big-cat keeper, Joseph Maldonado-Passage, also known as Joe Exotic.
In the show’s first season, Lewis’ 1997 disappearance is largely discussed, with Maldonado-Passage accusing Baskin of having something to do with his death, which authorities legally declared in 2002.
In season two of “Tiger King,” it was revealed that a letter from the Department of Homeland Security said that Lewis is “alive and well” and living in Costa Rica.
Baskin published a redacted screenshot of the letter on her Big Cats Rescue website. It states, “Don Lewis is currently alive and well in Costa Rica.”
But the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, which has been following Lewis’ case since 1997 and still has a missing person’s case open for him, has denied Baskin’s claims that Lewis is alive.
When discussing the DHS letter, a spokesperson for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office told Insider, “that has not happened.”
In a statement to Insider, Baskin said she doesn’t know why people are speaking about Lewis now, when it was already discussed in “Tiger King 2” and in interviews last year.
“I’ve mentioned it in the more than 60 interviews I’ve done since then, where reporters asked about Don, so I’m surprised everyone in the press is acting like they aren’t aware of it,” she said.
In her statement, she also questioned why the HCSO “or anyone else” would think “he knows better than Homeland Security.”
The DHS did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Baskin previously spoke about Lewis’ apparent resurfacing with ITV’s “This Morning” and questioned how “Tiger King 2” was able to produce the DHS letter that said Lewis is alive.
“So I don’t know how it is that Homeland Security says he’s alive and well in Costa Rica but I’m glad to hear it,” Baskin told ITV News in 2021.
Baskin told the New York Post that she was unaware of the DHS letter until the premiere of “Tiger King 2” in November 2021.
The original story can be found here.