In the months since Netflix’s documentary series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem, and Madness brought big cats, their rivalries, and a mysterious murder to our screens, new details have come to light in the disappearance of Carole Baskin’s former husband Don Lewis.
Tiger King, the show which centered around the raising of big cats in small cages — and the rivalry of Baskin and Joe Exotic — was an early quarantine staple, with many speculating about the disappearance of Baskin's husband. Although Joe Exotic, the private zookeeper at the center of the docuseries and Baskin’s arch nemesis, has propagated his unproven suspicions that Baskin killed Lewis back in 1997 (and then fed him to the tigers), Baskin has denied this — and all questions regarding Lewis — for decades. Now, new details could provide context to the mystery.
In an upcoming episode of the true crime docuseries 48 Hours Suspicion, there appears to be some new information about Lewis’ disappearance. In the season premiere, "The Tiger King Mystery," which airs on September 9, a woman named Trish Farr-Payne comes forward with claims that her ex-husband Kenny Farr, who worked as a handyman for Baskin and Lewis, may have played some role in his disappearance. Purr-ty wild, huh?
Two days before Lewis went missing, Farr-Payne recounts that her husband warned her, “Don's gone, and I don't want you talking about him.” Farr-Payne says someone left a large, padlocked freezer on her front porch that vanished “about a week after Don disappeared.” She says she waited to come forward to the police about what happened because she was afraid for her family's safety. “You know, I had my kids. I was afraid for them. I was more afraid for them than anything,” said Farr-Payne.
The episode will also include interviews with Lewis' ex-wife, and his three daughters, though it’s unclear whether Baskin or Joe Exotic will make an appearance. But it’s unlikely, at least for the latter, who is currently serving 22 years in federal prison after he allegedly hiring an undercover FBI agent to kill Baskin.
Still, Exotic says he wants to be helpful to the case. In August, he apparently offered to help the Lewis family in their search for Don, whose body has never been found. While some think Lewis disappeared to Costa Rica, his children believe the theory that Baskin fed him to her tigers.
Despite these theories, Baskin is not a suspect in the case and has repeatedly denied any involvement in Lewis’s disappearance. “My tigers eat meat; they don’t eat people,” she told People magazine in 1998. “There would be bones and remains of my husband out there. I’m amazed that people would even think such a thing.”
While many loose ends remain in Lewis’ disappearance, and people continue to wonder what really happened, Baskin will be dancing her way around the Dancing With The Stars stage later this month, along with some “cool cats and kittens.”