Experts Say Carole Baskin's Missing Husband's Will Likely Forged - Rolling Stone
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Experts Say Carole Baskin’s Missing Husband’s Will Likely Forged

“They had two experts deem it 100 percent a forgery,” Hillsborough County sheriff says of will that left Big Cat Rescue founder with Don Lewis’ estimated $10 million estate

FILE - In this July 20, 2017, file photo, Carole Baskin, founder of Big Cat Rescue, walks the property near Tampa, Fla. A federal judge in Oklahoma has awarded ownership of the zoo made famous in Netflix's “Tiger King” docuseries to Joe Exotic's rival, Carole Baskin. In a ruling Monday, June 1, 2020, U.S. District Judge Scott Palk granted control of the Oklahoma zoo that was previously run by Joseph Maldonado-Passage — also known as Joe Exotic — to Big Cat Rescue Corp.  (Loren Elliott/Tampa Bay Times via AP, File)

A pair of experts believe that the will of 'Tiger King' subject Carole Baskin’s missing husband was likely forged.

Loren Elliott/Tampa Bay Times/AP

A pair of experts believe that the will of Carole Baskin’s missing husband — which left the Tiger King subject with an estimated $10 million estate — was likely forged.

Don Lewis, the former husband of Big Cat Rescue founder Baskin, vanished in 1997; the Netflix series revived rumors pushed by Joe Exotic that Baskin killed Lewis and then fed him to her tigers. Baskin has denied any involvement in the disappearance of Lewis, who was declared legally dead in 2002.

Following the pop culture-seizing popularity of Tiger King, Lewis’ disappearance has been reexamined by authorities; on a May episode of Crime Stories, handwriting expert Thomas Vastrick and lawyer Joseph Fritz told Nancy Grace that Lewis’ will was likely forged, and that the signature on the will was probably “traced” from Lewis and Baskin’s 1991 wedding certificate.

“They had two experts deem it 100 percent a forgery. But, we knew that… we knew that before,” Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister told Tampa Bay 10

Additionally, the Clarion-Ledger reported that both the notary and the attorney listed on Lewis’ will don’t remember authenticating the document. “I don’t remember a will at all,” notary Sandra Wittkopp, a former employee of Baskin and Lewis, told the newspaper.

While the statute of limitations to pursue forgery charges has expired, Chronister — who believes Lewis was “murdered” — said the will “certainly cast another shadow of suspicion.”

“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 Baskin said in a statement after Tiger King premiered on Netflix. “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.”

In This Article: Tiger King


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