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Sheriff says more than one person killed ‘Tiger King’ star Carole Baskin’s ex-husband

Carole Baskin from Netflix's 'Tiger King.'.
Carole Baskin from Netflix's 'Tiger King.'. Netflix

Fox’s hour-long special titled TMZ Investigates: Tiger King — What Really Went Down? aired on Monday night and Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister shared his thoughts on what happened to Carole Baskin’s ex-husband, Don Lewis.

Tampa authorities confirmed that they have been receiving numerous tips concerning the cold case since the release of Netflix’s Tiger King.

Members of the big cat community claim in the Netflix series that Baskin murdered Lewis and fed him to tigers. Lewis was last seen alive on Aug. 18, 1997, before disappearing.

READ MORE: ‘Tiger King’ — Police receiving at least ‘6 tips a day’ on disappearance of Don Lewis, Carole Baskin’s ex-husband

“I’m extremely suspicious, but not just of her, of this whole circle here,” Chronister said during the special. “I don’t want to allude to the fact or insinuate that she’s [Baskin] a person of interest and that this is who we are focusing on. I’m not comfortable saying that yet.
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“Listen, there’s normally not one person that commits a homicide, it’s always a couple of people.

“This had to be extremely planned out, this had to be well thought out. There’s someone else involved in this, there is someone who is paid to do it, there is someone who helped do it.”

He went on to say that if anyone involved comes forward, they will be offered a deal or “immunity.”

“I’m hoping that person wants to come and get this off their chest and help law enforcement do the right thing,” he said.

“Deals are cut and listen, every deal is on the table right now. Help us solve this case.”

READ MORE: ‘Tiger King’ special — Fox to air TMZ-produced follow-up to answer all your burning questions

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TMZ’s Harvey Levin, who produced the special, told Fox News that Chronister believes Lewis was murdered and more than one person was involved.

“He believes with a promise of immunity, which he will give, he can get the culprit,” said Levin.

“Don didn’t disappear and just into thin air,” he added. “There are reasons why the sheriff is very suspicious.”

Nobody has been charged in connection with the disappearance of Lewis but he was declared legally dead in 2002, five years after he disappeared.

READ MORE: Miranda Lambert defends pictures with ‘Tiger King’s’ Joe Exotic

Two months before Lewis’s disappearance, he filed for an order of protection against Baskin and alleged that she had threatened to kill him.

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Baskin denied Lewis’s claim and the request was denied.

“[Tiger King] has a segment devoted to suggesting, with lies and innuendos from people who are not credible, that I had a role in the disappearance of my husband Don 21 years ago,” Baskin wrote. “The series presents this without any regard for the truth or in most cases even giving me an opportunity before publication to rebut the absurd claims. They did not care about truth. The unsavory lies are better for getting viewers.”

Baskins inherited millions of dollars and their animal sanctuary after Lewis was declared dead.

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Joe Exotic claimed that Baskin had killed Lewis and used the meat grinder to feed him to the wild cats.

Baskin denies the claims and has never been charged.

Chronister previously said his office was getting at least six tips a day about Lewis’s disappearance after the release of Tiger King, but none of the leads were credible.

The sheriff confirmed Baskin said her lawyer told her to refuse a polygraph test.

“There is a lot of suspicion that surrounds that will,” Chronister said.

He also said that the meat grinders mentioned in Tiger King were removed several days before the sheriff’s office searched Baskin’s property, so there was no way to test them.

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