Florida authorities already knew that the will of Carole Baskin’s missing husband had been forged, according to a new statement from the Hillsborough County sheriff.
Carole Baskin, the centerpiece of the popular Netflix show, “Tiger King,” gained the estate of husband Don Lewis, a multimillionaire whose assets were valued at around $10 million. Lewis’s will cut out his family members, including his daughters, while everything was left to Baskin.
Lewis vanished without a trace after he went to the Pilot Country Airport in Springhill, Florida, on August 18, 1997. Police found his keys, briefcase, and luggage left behind in his white 1989 Dodge van, parked at the airport. There was no money trail and his two passports to Costa Rica were not flagged.
While the Netflix series raised questions among viewers and spurred speculation that someone forged Lewis’s will, Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister told CBS 10 that they already knew it was forged.
“They had two experts deem it 100 percent a forgery. But, we knew that … we knew that before,” Chronister said.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, forensic document examiner Thomas Vastrick analyzed a signature made on the will. His analysis matches that of Willa Smith, a handwriting expert hired by the Lewis family to examine the documents. Both agreed that it appeared that Lewis’s signature had been traced onto the will.
Lewis’s family challenged the will and power of attorney produced by Baskin, according to a report issued last week by the Mississippi Center for Investigative Reporting (MCIR).
The family didn’t pursue the matter. Lewis’s daughter Donna Pettis said, “our attorney was afraid that if Carole continued serving as conservator over the entire estate, then we were risking that our trust fund would be depleted by the end of the five-year term.”
In April, Lewis’s attorney Joseph Fritz told CrimeOnline’s Nancy Grace that he, too, felt that the will had been forged. Fritz added that he knew “very little” about the days leading up to Lewis’s disappearance. There were no signs or indication that Lewis planned to flee.
Lewis was presumed dead in 2002; no arrests have been made and there’s no clear indication of how he died.
Meanwhile, the statute of limitations for any criminal charges pertaining to the will has expired, according to Chronister.
“The will had already been executed at that point. But, it certainly cast another shadow of suspicion, by all means.”
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[Feature Photo via Fox Nation]