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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Lawyer suggests that Carole Baskin's husband was strangled, thrown out of plane

Illustration for article titled Lawyer suggests that Carole Baskin's husband was strangled, thrown out of plane
Photo: Tiger King (Netflix)

The world seems to be cooling on Netflix’s quarantine-defining true crime documentary Tiger King, at least in the sense that we’re not all still constantly talking about it all the time, but not everyone is ready for the saga of Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin to fade from the spotlight just yet. Joseph Fritz, the lawyer for Baskin’s missing husband Don Lewis—who Joe Exotic (real name Joe Maldonado-Passage) was convicted of hiring someone to kill—is now offering up a theory of his own, and he specifically says that he’s doing it now to “keep the ball up in the air for as long as humanly possible” in hopes of getting more information about Lewis’ disappearance.


For those who haven’t gotten around to Tiger King yet: Lewis disappeared in August of 1997, with authorities finding his van abandoned at an airport where he was supposedly planning to fly to Costa Rica. Lewis was never found after that, there was no evidence that he actually left the United States, and there was no sign of a struggle. Maldonado-Passage maintains that Baskin herself fed him to a pet tiger, and the buzz created by Tiger King was enough to convince a Florida sheriff to ask for new leads in the case—not that he was actively reinvestigating the case, just that he was willing to listen if anybody wanted to point him toward new evidence.

As for Fritz, his theory is somehow just as dramatic as Lewis being eaten by a tiger. Speaking with People, he says that he’s heard from “two sources” that Lewis was “strangled with an electric cord” and thrown out of a plane into the Gulf Of Mexico. “In my working theory,” he adds, “one person [was] flying the plane and one person [was] strangling.” To be clear: As far as we know, he’s completely making this up, and he freely admits that he’s saying this just to keep people talking about Lewis’ disappearance either way. That means it’s worth taking this theory with a significant portion of salt. Fritz does note that he doesn’t know who supposedly strangled Lewis and he also doesn’t “know who they are not,” but he thinks the real killer will be caught someday.

Meanwhile, the aforementioned sheriff told People that—while he also thinks Lewis was murdered—there’s no evidence to even consider Baskin a “person of interest.” Post-Tiger King, Baskin has said she was “betrayed” by the series’ producers and has criticized Tiger King for emphasizing sensational theories about Lewis’ disappearance over the mistreatment of animals.