Jack Donald Lewis


Jack, circa 1997

Missing Since
Missing From
Tampa, Florida
Date of Birth
04/30/1938 (81)
59 years old
Height and Weight
5'10, 170 pounds
Clothing/Jewelry Description
A t-shirt from Kmart, and blue jeans.
Distinguishing Characteristics
Caucasian male. Blond hair, blue eyes.
Jack's nickname is Don.
He may use the alias name Bob Martinez.

He wears eyeglasses for reading.

Details of Disappearance
Jack was last seen in Tampa, Florida on August 18, 1997. He left home early that day and made a delivery around 6:00 a.m. He has never been heard from again.

The next day, his white 1989 Dodge van was found abandoned at the Pilot Country Airport, a private airport near State Road 52 and U.S. 41 in Pasco County, Florida. The keys were on the floorboard and there was no sign of Jack. He knows how to fly a plane and he owned several, but he'd been involved in three aviation accidents and his pilot's license was suspended at the time of his disappearance.

Jack had made millions of dollars in his real estate career; he was noted as a "ruthless" businessman. He had a habit of carrying large sums of cash and buying expensive things, including airplanes, on impulse. In spite of his wealth, however, he lived frugally and sometimes even scavenged for food in dumpsters.

He and his wife, Carole, owned Wildlife on Easy Street, later called Big Cat Rescue, a forty-acre wildlife park in Citrus Park, Florida where approximately 200 animals, including about 120 exotic cats as well as otters, llamas, and horses, lived.

In June 1997, two months before his disappearance, Jack had sought a temporary domestic violence injunction to remove his wife, Carole, from their home, telling a judge that she had threatened to kill him and told him to be out of the house by June 12. The judge refused to issue the injunction, however.

Carole said she asked Jack to go see a psychiatrist, and he went, but only for one appointment; he didn't return for any follow-up visits. She stated he had told her several times that he wanted a divorce, but she didn't think he was being serious. She also denied having ever had a serious argument with him, in spite of what Jack had claimed earlier.

After his disappearance, Jack's four children from his first marriage fought with Carole over control of his businesses and property. They believe foul play was involved in his disappearance. Carole refused to cooperate with the police investigation into his disappearance or take a polygraph, saying her attorney had advised against it. All the other members of the family volunteered to take polygraphs.

Authorities got reports that Jack was in Costa Rica, where he owned 200 acres of land and several apartment buildings. Earlier in 1997, he had begun transferring ownership of his properties in Florida to Wito Corporation, a Costa Rican company he controlled. Police went to Costa Rica, investigated for five days, and spoke to most of Jack's acquaintances there, but found no evidence that he'd traveled there after his disappearance.

The circumstances of his case are unclear.
Investigating Agency
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office 800-873-8477
Source Information
Florida Department of Law Enforcement
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
The Tampa Bay Times
The Tampa Tribune
Updated 1 time since October 12, 2004. Last updated September 22, 2018; casefile added.

Media - Jack Donald (Don) Lewis has been #missing from Tampa, FL since 18 August 1997- Age 81
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Guess Who

Well-known member

'Tiger King's Carole Baskin says she'd support ex-husband Don Lewis if he was found alive: 'I loved' him​

"Tiger King" star Carole Baskin is further defending herself against accusations she played a role in the mysterious disappearance and death of her first husband, Jack "Don" Lewis.

In a new interview with Fox News, the big cat enthusiast recalled what a "challenge" it's been to be accused of Lewis' death. In 1997, Lewis went missing and was ultimately declared dead by authorities. Baskin, who has never been charged with a crime related to the cold case, spent much of 2020 releasing statements refuting the accusations made in the series by her chief rival Joe Exotic, also known as Joseph Maldonado-Passage, as well as Lewis' kin.

Baskin claims the Netflix docuseries "gave a megaphone to disreputable people who painted the situation to make people believe that narrative."
"loved" past tense :sigh:


Staff member

Hillsborough detective on Don Lewis ‘Tiger King’ disappearance case will answer questions​

The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office will hold a news conference Thursday at 10 a.m. to discuss the case of Jack “Don” Lewis, whose story was made famous by the Netflix documentary Tiger King.

The news conference will be held over Zoom, a sheriff’s spokesperson said, and will feature the lead detective assigned to Lewis case, Corporal Moises Garcia.

The sequel, Tiger King 2, was released today at 3 a.m., despite a legal fight mounted by Lewis’ former wife, Carole Baskin, to stop it. Baskin remarried and still runs Big Cat Rescue in Tampa.

The sheriff’s office update comes 19 months after the original Tiger King documentary became a pandemic-lockdown hit. Lewis was a Tampa millionaire who vanished in 1997, leaving a wife and dozens of big cats at their animal sanctuary.

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister said in the days after Tiger King’s release that his agency was reviving its investigation into Lewis’ disappearance and reviewing case files from 1997. He said he’d assigned a detective supervisor to handle the many tips coming in after Tiger King premiered.

New detectives questioned old witnesses in the case, but there has been no official public update on the investigation since.


Special specialist
You can tell Carole isn't playing with a full deck. Lights are on but nobody's home. I fully believe she is responsible for his disappearance and obvious death. I think she had someone else do it. Paid them. IMO.

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