Someone allegedly forged Carole Baskin’s late husband’s signature on his will
Back in March, Netflix dropped Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, a wild docu-series about big cat enthusiasts and the weird and (often) criminal stuff they get into. The show introduced us to a host of characters, including Carol Baskin, who runs Big Cat Rescue in Tampa Florida and also might have been involved in her missing husband’s death. Baskin’s husband Don Lewis has been missing since 1997 and — how do we say this — a lot people think she was highly involved in his alleged murder. Highly involved. Now, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister is on the hunt to find out what really happened to Don Lewis and the latest update is that Lewis’ will — the same will that awarded millions to Baskin — was forged.
Tiger King and murder mystery enthusiasts have been saying this for a while, but it’s only now coming to light. When Lewis died, Baskin received almost all of his money. She reportedly received $10 million and according to the Netflix doc, his family got close to zilch. Last month, Lewis’ friend and former lawyer Joseph Fritz suggested that Lewis’ signature on the will was forged and the Clarion Ledger spoke to two handwriting experts who believe Lewis’ signature was copied from his 1991 marriage record. Handwriting expert Thomas Vastrick of Apopka, Florida, said the signatures on the will were definitely “traced.”
“It’s always possible one was genuine, and one was traced. They’re all virtually identical. They’re all from a model signature,” Vastrick stated.
The Clarion Ledger obtained photos of Lewis’ signature on both the will and the marriage certificate and I’m no expert, but yeah, it’s weird how identical they are. Plus, there was also a witness who claimed she was there for the signing of the will, when it was later discovered she actually wasn’t.
The latest news is that Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister confirmed all the facts regarding the alleged forgery and told 10 Tampa Bay on June 2, 2020 that “They had two experts deem it 100 percent a forgery.”
The problem is the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s department looked into these forgery accounts years ago, but when they turned the case over to Florida attorney general’s office, it was determined that the five-year statute of limitations on forgery had passed and that was that.
But, Chronister says the case isn’t totally dead and his department is still investigating Lewis’ disappearance (Chronister thinks it’s a murder) and even hinted at the fact that some relatives and Lewis’ office manager have come forward with new information.
“Investigators have some great leads,” Chronister added. “They’re working through them. I hope something pans out.”
In related news, Carol Baskin has just taken over the Joe Exotic’s old zoo which is the most on-brand thing to happen to Baskin, a woman who continually finds herself at the center of cat-related murder-plots and somehow always seems to eek out on top.