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The Disappearance of Don Lewis

Subject: The Strange Disappearance Of Don Lewis 1938-1997
Sources: Saint Pete Times Sept 1997 & Aug 1998, People Magazine, Two Orders of Protection, Hillsborough County case #97-069-358

Jack Donald Lewis, founder of Wildlife on Easy Street, now Big Cat Rescue, disappeared on August 18, 1997. On June 12, 1997, two months before Lewis went missing, he filed a Domestic Violence Injunction against his wife, Carole Lewis (Baskin). Don was 60 and Carole 36, a 24 year age difference.

Don, a self-made millionaire, told a Hillsborough Circuit judge (case #97-7370) that Carole threatened to kill him, but the judge did not take the threat seriously and dismissed it. Don's plea for protection says, "She ordered me out of the house or she would kill me and if I came back she would kill me. She has a 45 revolver and she took my 357 and hid it". 

There were actually a total of six domestic violence incidents on record involving Carole Stairs Murdock Lewis Baskin as seen here, including two Orders of Protection filed by husband Jack Donald Lewis and lover Jay Baykal. Murdock is the first husband, who Baskin was married to when she began her 10 year affair with the married Don Lewis.

An acquaintance writes, "I asked Carole about their property in Costa Rica. She answered that she wished her husband Don would go there and never return. A few weeks later Don disappeared and his body has never been found. After a seven year wait, the court declared Don legally dead and Carole inherited his fortune". View the article by Lynn Culver, the Executive Director of the Feline Conservation Federation.

Carole Lewis said she never seriously fought with her husband and that Don was not serious about wanting to divorce her, as he told his daughters and others many times.

Yet a document purported to be Carole's diary is full of entries with insight into an unhappy marriage as early as 1994.

"I've been listening to tapes called, 'The Angry Marriage' in an effort to understand how I can love a man I can't stand to be around". "He said that he wants me to get Jamie and get out of here because he doesn't want to worry about me spending his money. I hope Jamie never finds herself in such a sick and perverted relationship. I wish there were some way out for me".

In Carole's 'History and Evolution' which appeared after Bay News 9 exposed her lies, Baskin claims that Don "showed signs of mental deterioration" (as a possible explanation for just wandering off and leaving his millions to her?) but people who lived on the property as well as some who did business with him shortly before he disappeared say Don was perfectly normal.

The suspicious disappearance of Carole's older millionaire husband gained national media attention, from nationally known news sources such as People Magazine and NBC'S Dateline. Unfortunately, the media has lost interest in this now cold case. It has been assigned to detective Chris Fox, case #97-069-358.

Carole Lewis was asked to take a polygraph test, but she declined. Lynda Sanchez, one of Don's three daughters wonders why. "Everyone of us...have volunteered to take a lie detector test, Sanchez said. "Carole is the only one that will not take one."

Lewis said if it were up to her she would take the polygraph, let detectives search the wildlife sanctuary's 40 acres and even inspect the meat freezers. "I would rather be cooperative, but all the legal advice is against it", said Lewis.

What wife would not want to cooperate fully with detectives trying to find her missing husband? Why would Lewis not jump at the opportunity to take a lie detector test and put the rumors to rest once and for all?

The newspaper report closes with this sentiment from Carole. "At the wildlife sanctuary where Don and Carole lived, Carole Lewis said she can't imagine living with another man."

In 2002 live-in lover Jay Baykal filed his own petition for protection against domestic violence (case #02-17366). "(Carole) told me she will kick my ass out of there, whatever it takes." I honestly fear I am in danger of death or serious bodily injury because her prior husband is missing and presumed dead. One day she said to me when I asked her what happens if your husband shows up now? Her response was "dead body can not talk".

Not only was Carole living with another man, this man was also in fear of his life, just as Don Lewis had been. As far as we know, Jay Baykal is still alive. Don Lewis has been declared dead, and his body has never been found.

Note: There is a $20,000 reward for the recovery of Don's body. If you have any information on Don's disappearance, please leave a comment. You can remain anonymous.

More on the story here: read now

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