Carole Baskin wants to set the record straight about her husband’s disappearance, once and for all. In an update to her blog post on the Big Cat Rescue website, Carole Baskin refuted Tiger King‘s "meat grinder" theory about Don Lewis’ disappearance. While the series was ostensibly about Baskin’s years-long feud with Joe Maldonado-Passage — better known as Joe Exotic — the third episode of Tiger King focused on the 1997 disappearance of Baskin’s second husband, Jack "Don" Lewis, mentioning the allegation that Baskin killed her husband fed him to her animals using a meat grinder.
In the episode, Maldonado-Passage accused Baskin of killing Lewis and feeding him to her tigers, a theory which was first posited by Lewis’ daughter, Donna Pettis, in a 1998 interview with People magazine. "It’s a perfect scenario to dispose of someone," she told the outlet at the time. "We were upset that the cops didn’t test the DNA on the meat grinder." While Baskin denied the accusations in the article, telling People that "my tigers eat meat; they don’t eat people," Tiger King brought up the theory once more, and implied that there was likely foul play involved in Lewis’ disappearance.
"This is the most ludicrous of all the lies," Baskin wrote in an updated version of her blog post slamming Tiger King and its "sensationalized" content. "As [Lewis’ ex-wife] Gladys and the daughters did everything they could to make life difficult for me after Don disappeared, they spread this rumor that they thought I had ground Don up and fed him to the cats. And the media loved it."
Baskin also accused the Tiger King producers of purposefully misleading viewers, by showing an "enormous" meat grinder onscreen, despite the fact that the one Baskin and Lewis owned was, according to her, "one of those little tabletop, hand crank things." Explaining that the meat grinder at the center of discussion was a small, kitchen-sized one, Baskin also wrote that it would have been physically impossible for her to put a human body through it in order to grind Lewis up and feed him to the tigers. "Meat had to first be cut into one-inch cubes to go through it," Baskin wrote. "The idea that a human body and skeleton could be put through it is idiotic. But the Netflix directors did not care. They just showed a bigger grinder."
This is not the first time that Baskin has accused the Tiger King team of using "lies and innuendo" in order to draw in viewers, particularly by implying that she was involved in Lewis’ sudden disappearance. "The series presents [this accusation] without any regard for the truth or in most cases even giving me an opportunity before publication to rebut the absurd claims," Baskin wrote. "They did not care about truth. The unsavory lies are better for getting viewers."
While Baskin admitted in her blog post that "Don was not easy to live with," she maintained that she was in no way involved in his disappearance. In fact, the animal rights activist also added that she "did everything I could to assist the police" when Lewis disappeared, and even hired a private investigator to go to Costa Rica — where he was supposed to go the day that he went missing — in order to look for her husband.
On March 31, Florida sheriff Chad Chronister asked his Twitter followers for new leads about Lewis’ disappearance, in the hopes that the renewed attention on the case might help the authorities solve the mystery. While it’s unclear whether or not anyone will know for sure what happened to Don Lewis in 1997, it’s possible that Tiger King and Baskin’s comments about the series will manage to shed some new light on this very cold case.
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