“The Post story is idiotic” Howard Baskin bites back at Don Lewis rumors

One of the most trending topics on TikTok the last few weeks, has been about the apparent survival of Don Lewis.

TikTokers are seeing their videos go viral after using an interview Carole Baskin, CEO of the Big Cat Rescue and star in Netflix’s Tiger King, did in fall 2021. I’ll copy the exact quote she said to give you the full context.

“One of the really exciting things that came out of Tiger King 2, is that they produced a letter from Homeland Security. It says that a Special Agent in Charge (SAC) with the FBI, at Homeland Security, reached out to the Sheriff’s Detective George Fernandez. This means this had to of happened after 2002, because Homeland Security wasn’t even around until 2002,” Carole Baskin said.

The DHS website confirms the above claim by Carole.

“Eleven days after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge was appointed as the first Director of the Office of Homeland Security in the White House. The office oversaw and coordinated a comprehensive national strategy to safeguard the country against terrorism and respond to any future attacks,” DHS’s website said.

“With the passage of the Homeland Security Act by Congress in November 2002, the Department of Homeland Security formally came into being as a stand-alone, Cabinet-level department to further coordinate and unify national homeland security efforts, opening its doors on March 1, 2003.”

The Homeland Security Act of 2002 marked the start of DHS on November 25, 2002. Don Lewis was reported missing on August 19, 1997.

Below you’ll see Jack “Don” Lewis’ missing poster which can be found on CBS News’ website. Don would be 84-years-old now, if he’s still alive.

Now, back to Carole’s interview with UK talk show “This Morning. You can find the interview here.

“They said that my husband, Don Lewis, is alive and well in Costa Rica. Yet, all of this hay has been made about me having something to do with his disappearance when Homeland Security has known where he is at least since back then,” Baskin said.

I spoke with Carole’s now-husband, Howard Baskin, Thursday morning. He called the New York Post’s story “idiotic” and that he’s not sure why the Post decided to run this story now.

“TK2 (Tiger King 2) showed the Homeland Security document indicating they found Don in Costa Rica. Why in the world the Post decided to write about this now is a mystery,” Howard said. “And they mischaracterize her comment by presenting it as her claiming Don is alive. All she did was point out that Homeland Security, which was not formed for five years after his disappearance, said he was alive. There is no story and nothing to comment on.” Howard is also the Advisory Board Chairman of Big Cat Rescue.

Howard references the New York Post’s article, which can be found here. The NYP did multiple stories on this in the last 24 hours. The first headline reading “Carole Baskin says ‘dead’ husband was found alive — but no one noticed.” The second article’s headline reads “Carole Baskin’s claim that ex Don Lewis is alive shot down by sheriff.”

I received the following statement from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, which covers Tampa, Florida, the location of Carole’s Big Cat Rescue.

“We have not received any communication from our federal partners that confirms the location of missing person Mr. Don Lewis,” said Fentress Fountain, public information officer for the sheriff’s office,” said Marco Villarreal, public information officer for the sheriff’s office. “The investigation into Don Lewis’ disappearance remains a priority for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, as do all missing person cases. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office at 813-247-8200.

Since the Post’s interview, nearly every entertainment tabloid and website has covered it.

Carole declined doing an interview, but said she had mentioned her comments more than 60 times when reports ask about Don. She said she was surprised the press is “acting like they aren’t aware of it.”

“I guess Tiger King 2 wasn’t as popular as the first one that came out just as we all went into lockdown,” Carole said.

Carole said she wasn’t aware of the Homeland Security document until Tiger King 2 aired in November 2021, which was around the same time she did her “This Morning” interview virtually.

I connected with the Spokesperson at Springfield, Illinois’ FBI Office Thursday morning who put me in touch with Tampa’s FBI Office, who would have more details on the case. I have yet to hear back.

I have also reached out to the Department of Homeland Security, who has yet to respond as well.

If and when I receive responses from these two organizations, I will update you all here.

In a virtual press conference, Moses Garcia of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s said the investigation was still ongoing and there were “multiple avenues” they were pursuing, but wouldn’t get into much more detail.

Published by mattsheehanofficial

Matt Sheehan is a journalist based in Illinois. He grew up in St. Louis and went to college at Missouri State University. He's the host of On the Record, and secures exclusive interviews with celebrities for his TV morning show.

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