United Kingdom

Carole Baskin's husband was 'strangled' and 'dumped in the gulf,' lawyer claims in new documentary

Carole Baskin's husband Don Lewis was 'strangled with an electrical cord' while flying and 'dumped in the gulf,' his former lawyer has claimed.  

The big-cat rights activist's former spouse went missing in 1997, six years after they married in 1991, and was legally declared dead in 2002 as he is yet to be found. 

The Big Cat Rescue founder, 59, has been the subject of speculation linking her with the disappearance of her second husband.

In a new documentary, Joe Exotic: Tigers, Lies & Cover-Up, Joe Fritz claims Don was murdered, saying: 'I had heard that he got strangled with an electric cord from the backseat of his airplane. With somebody else flying, he got dumped out over the gulf.'

Carole Baskin's husband Don Lewis was 'strangled with an electrical cord' while flying and 'dumped in the gulf,' his former lawyer Joe Fritz has claimed in a new documentary 

During the film, which is available to stream now exclusively on discovery+, retired officer Jim Rathmann launches a fresh investigation into Baskin’s husband’s disappearance. 

He speaks with Joe, who claims to have heard the truth about Don's disappearance.

He explains: 'I heard it from two different sources. It kind of fits the scenario, because he was a pilot, he’d owned planes, he had a license, he lost his licence. 

'His van is at Country Pilot Estates. It’s an unmanned airport, nobody logs you in, nobody logs you out. 

The big-cat rights activist's former spouse went missing in 1997, six years after they married in 1991, and was legally declared dead in 2002 as he is yet to be found

'It’s not unusual for somebody to take off in a plane. So, it all fits together.'

He continued to claim that Don was enticed into the airplane with a business opportunity, before being killed mid-flight.

He claimed: 'He got lured up there to do a great deal on an airplane. He showed up. Our Sherriff says there was more than one person involved. Yes, he’s right.'

He continued: 'There’s no question in my mind that this was a murder. The question is who did it and who is behind it?'

The Big Cat Rescue founder, 59, has been the subject of speculation linking her with the disappearance of her second husband, Don Lewis

However, Jim questions whether Joe’s theory holds any water, asking: 'Is it even possible to throw somebody out in flight?

'If you had to open that door going against 120, 140 knots, and trying to force that door open and push out a person that you would say at least weighed 150, 160lbs, that would have been very challenging.'  

Speaking about his investigation in the film, Jim suggests that Baskin had incentive in Don being out of the picture. 

'The person who had the most to gain would have been Carole. She now was able to collect all of Don’s property, she put herself as head of all the trusts, and she made millions upon millions of dollars from that.'    

Don Lewis' case is still open and gained international prominence following the success of Netflix's Tiger King, in which warring big cat owner Joe Exotic frequently claimed Carole killed her husband and fed him to her tigers

Carole and Don both divorced their respective spouses in 1991 and married each other the same year after their long affair together.

Don, a self-made millionaire through his real estate and used car businesses, continued to have affairs throughout his second marriage, according to Carole.

She said he frequently flew to Costa Rica to meet women and planned to move there, buying a one-way plane ticket in the days leading up to his disappearance.

Carole claims his mental health was deteriorating and he was showing signs of Alzheimer's, claims his attorneys and associates have rejected.

During the film, retired officer Jim Rathmann launches a fresh investigation into Don's disappearance

In July 1997, Don, then 59, filed a request for a restraining order against his wife, saying she had threatened to kill him and had hidden his gun to stop him protecting himself.

The request was rejected and the couple continued to live together, despite Don telling Carole multiple times he wanted a divorce.

On August 18, 1997, Don disappeared after leaving home around 6am and he has not been seen since.

Carole has been married to Howard Baskin since 2004 and he works alongside her at Big Cat Rescue

He left holdings worth around $5million, leading to a dispute between Carole and Don's children, who accuse her of being involved in his disappearance.

The case is still open and gained international prominence following the success of Netflix's Tiger King, in which warring big cat owner Joe Exotic frequently claimed Carole killed her husband and fed him to her tigers. 

She has consistently stated she had nothing to do with Don's disappearance.

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