Carole Baskin stepped onto the famed Dancing with the Stars dance floor on last night’s season 29 premiere, but it wasn’t her fancy footwork that stole the show. What people are talking about the day after is a controversy that’s followed her for more than 20 years: her role in the mysterious disappearance of her ex-husband.
Clad in a tiger-themed costume, Baskin hit the floor with professional dancer Pasha Pashkov to perform a spirited paso doble to — you guessed it — "Eye of the Tiger." The performance wasn't mind-blowing, but the judges did praise the pair's high energy on the dance floor while giving them the lowest score of the night. Viewers watching DWTS in the Florida area likely sat up and paid special attention to Baskin's debut because it was interrupted by a commercial related to the unsolved mystery behind Don Lewis' disappearance.
Lewis famously went missing in 1997 while he was still married to Baskin, causing many to believe that she should be the number one suspect in the in case. Because their marriage was reportedly on the rocks around the time that he vanished — Lewis filed a restraining order against his wife and allegedly asked for a divorce several times — his daughters and Baskin's mustached arch-nemesis Joe "Tiger King" Exotic are claim that she fed him to one of her tigers and got away with it.
The investigation into Lewis' disappearance continues 23 years later, and his family and friends are ramping up their efforts to solve this decades-long mystery. With the help of the Law Offices of Phillips & Hunt in Florida, daughters Gale, Lynda, and Donna are offering a $100,000 reward to anyone who can provide substantial information to help their investigation.
"Don Lewis disappeared in 1997, and his family deserves answers," says family attorney John M. Phillips in the commercial. "Do you know who did this — or if Carole Baskin was involved?"
"We need to know what happened to our father," pleads oldest daughter Donna.
New details from a recent episode of true crime docu-series 48 Hours Suspicion may also help shed light on Lewis' disappearance. On the show, a woman named Trish Farr-Payne claimed that her ex-husband Kenny Farr (a handyman for Baskin and Lewis at the time) had been involved in Lewis' disappearance; after her ex-husband warned Farr-Payne not to talk about his boss anymore, a huge padlocked freezer appeared on her front porch, and it was taken away a week after Lewis vanished.
We're just one episode into this new season of DWTS, but it looks like Baskin already has much bigger things to worry about than winning that mirror ball trophy. Yikes.