'Tiger King' update: Sheriff says will of Carole Baskin's late husband Don Lewis was forged

Raechal ShewfeltEditor, Yahoo Entertainment
Yahoo Celebrity

The Tiger King drama never stops.

Two-and-a-half months after it debuted to phenomenal ratings on Netflix, the saga continues to play out. The latest is that Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister declared in a June 2 interview with Tampa, Fla., CBS affiliate WTSP that the will of Carole Baskin’s missing husband is “100 percent a forgery.”

In the series, formally titled Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, multiple people speculate on the 1997 disappearance of Don Lewis. They allege that Baskin, the animal activist who runs Big Cat Rescue in the Florida city and married Lewis in 1991, was responsible.

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Carole Baskin reads her diary on YouTube. (Photo: YouTube)
Carole Baskin reads her diary on YouTube. (Photo: YouTube)

Baskin has repeatedly said she has nothing to do with his disappearance, and Lewis was legally declared dead in 2002.

Asked about Chronister’s latest comments, Baskin directed Yahoo Entertainment to the detailed statement she’s previously given on the topic, where she refutes many points made in the documentary. “I don’t have any comments other than what is posted at BigCatRescue.org/netflix where you will find that all of the documents were authenticated by at least two expert firms and everyone involved in the conservatorship agreed by stipulation ratified by the court to their authenticity.”

There was similar speculation in May, when another news organization, the Clarion-Ledger newspaper in Jackson, Miss., reported that the notary listed on the multimillionaire’s will didn’t recall signing off on the document.

“I don’t remember a will at all,” Sandra Wittkopp told the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting. “I was the housekeeper.”

The newspaper said then that two handwriting experts concluded Lewis’s signature was “traced” from his 1991 marriage record.

Chronister explained to WTSP on Wednesday that, despite his suspicions, the statute of limitations in the case has expired.

“The will had already been executed at that point," said Chronister, who is running for reelection. “But, it certainly cast another shadow of suspicion, by all means.”

The TV station reported that Chronister has previously told them he thinks Lewis was murdered by someone.

“Investigators have some great leads, they’re working through them,” Chronister said. “I hope something pans out.”

Chronister asked the public for new information on the case in March, just after Tiger King was released.

There was another Tiger King development earlier this week when a federal judge in Oklahoma sided with Baskin in a case against Joe Maldonado-Passage, who’s better known as Joe Exotic. She was given control of Exotic’s former Oklahoma zoo as part of a $1 million trademark lawsuit she won against Exotic that he never fully paid.

Exotic is serving a 22-year sentence for trying to hire someone to murder Baskin, among other crimes.

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