Could Carole Baskin be investigated for the murder of her husband? Lawyers weigh in

Do you think she did it?! We're, of course, referring to Carole Baskin and the mysterious circumstances around the disappearance of her former husband, Don Lewis. Baskin, who became a viral star in 2020 thanks to Netflix's Tiger King, captivated viewers with her cheery demeanor — "Hey, all you cool cats and kittens!" — as well as her feline-inspired fashion and popular animal park. And while the docu-series focused on Baskin's feud with the tiger king himself, Joe Exotic, the show also suggested that she could be the one responsible for Lewis's possible death.

Jack Don Lewis went missing in August 1997, after he "left his [family's] residence," according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. People explains that Lewis, a "self-made millionaire," disappeared "without a trace...  soon after the couple decided to divorce." The outlet also notes that Lewis's relatives "questioned at the time whether Baskin may have been involved, and whether she may have fed his remains to her tigers." If you need a minute to, er, digest that, go ahead. 

Lewis's family still seems to think that Baskin had something to do with his disappearance. During her debut on Dancing With the Stars, they aired a commercial offering a $100,000 reward for information. A sheriff also used the renewed attention around Baskin in March 2020 to ask for leads.

Does this mean that Baskin could face an investigation surrounding the potential murder of Lewis? Read on to find out what two lawyers think!

Don Lewis's disappearance 'seems to point to foul play'

"There were a lot of suspicious aspects of this story," criminal defense attorney Lara Yeretsian, principal of Yeretsian Law in Los Angeles, told Nicki Swift of Carole Baskin's former husband's disappearance. While giving us some exclusive insight into the situation, Yeretsian noted some particularly curious aspects, such as "her husband's abandoned vehicle at the airport with the keys in it, his will being forged, [and] a story about a possible co-conspirator." Frankly, Yeretsian stated that "everything seems to point to foul play." 

But wait! That doesn't mean it's a straightforward case. "Without a body or a witness, it's unlikely the prosecutor will bring charges. It's a much more difficult case to make," Yeretsian explained. "I've seen convictions based on circumstantial evidence, but after all these years they've never found a body, even after going to Costa Rica to look for evidence. Unless someone else with reliable evidence cracks, there isn't enough to build a case."

But what about the renewed interest and possible payout? Yeretsian says that "the $100,000 reward will probably bring people out of the woodwork," adding, "it's genius the way they've flipped [Baskin's] PR machine against her." Yeretsian continued, "She's using Dancing With the Stars to rebuild her image, but this ad is pointing a finger at her and planting a subliminal seed in the minds of potential jurors that she's the one they want information about."

That surely leaves you wondering what our second expert thinks.

There's no 'hard evidence' implicating Carole Baskin

When it comes to the attention surrounding Carole Baskin and her possible involvement in the disappearance of Don Lewis, former U.S. Assistant Attorney Neama Rahmani, co-founder of West Coast Trial Lawyers, told Nicki Swift that "media attention and financial awards are always helpful in raising awareness and tips." However, the expert also noted that "it is unlikely Carole Baskin will ever be prosecuted for her ex-husband's death."

Why is that? Well, Rahmani explained that "Lewis disappeared more than 20 years ago, but law enforcement still hasn't found a body, murder weapon, or any hard evidence tying [Baskin] to his death." That is, if he is indeed dead and not just hiding out somewhere.

Beyond that, "Motive and monetary gain isn't enough," Rahmani says. He points out, "Spouses or significant others are often the most likely suspects when police suspect foul play, but prosecutors need a lot more than motive and means to prove a murder case beyond a reasonable doubt." And according to this expert, "We're nowhere near that now." 

Granted, that may currently be the case, but things can always change in the future.