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Hillsborough County Investigators Says Carole Baskin Denied Interview Requests About Disappearance of Don Lewis

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) - Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office provided an update on a missing persons case dating back to 1997 on Thursday.

Officials are naming Carole Baskin, a Netflix star from the show Tiger King, as a high profile suspect in the disappearance of her ex-husband, Don Lewis.

The show Tiger King highlights the world of people who own many tigers...including one that Baskin owns, called Big Cat Rescue. Big Cat Rescue has been closed to the public since March of 2020 and no trespassing signs now cover the entrance...but it's also closed to law enforcement.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says Carole Baskin has denied investigator's access to the property and has denied several interview requests.

Corporal Moises Garcia, with the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, says "There has been no interaction with Carole Baskin. We've attempted at least three times to talk to her and three times we were denied by her attorney."

Carole Baskin is a name now known by all fans of the popular show on Netflix, Tiger King, but now it's also the name of a person who is now a high profile suspect in a missing person case.

"Most missing persons, families, wives, spouses, they cooperate with the law enforcement, they want to know what happened to their loved one," said Garcia.

Former husband of Carole Baskin, Don Lewis, went missing back in 1997. Netflix released Tiger King in March of 2020 and the cold case was reopened.

"Collected all flight records related to Don Lewis, all passport entries in and out of the United States related to Don Lewis, all federal documents related to Don Lewis," said Garcia.

Garcia says investigators tried to get access to Carole Baskin's property called Big Cat Rescue, after rumors surfaced that maybe Lewis was buried in or under a septic tank. Officials say Baskin denied them access.

"It is frustrating, I'd like to get on that property," said Garcia.

Alex Camerlengo and Marykate Hughes started watching Tiger King season two on Netflix Wednesday night, and Thursday tried to go to Big Cat Rescue.

"I do think it's super weird that Carole Baskin doesn't want to let law enforcement do their job and doesn't want to let them on the property," said Hughes.

Both girls found out Big Cat Rescue is closed, something they say is disturbing.

"It seems like there's a reason why they've taken down all the signage, everything. They don't want people to find it," said Camerlengo.

Investigators say they are working to get more information to get a warrant so they can investigate the Big Cat Rescue property.

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