The lingering question over the mysterious disappearance of Don Lewis — the tiger breeder, pilot, and wealthy late husband of "Tiger King" Joe Exotic's chief rival Carole Baskin — is now the center of a Sunday night Investigation Discovery special.
The special, called "Joe Exotic: Tigers, Lies and Cover-Up," features retired homicide investigator Jim Rathmann, who used cadaver dogs to search the area surrounding one of Lewis's lake houses.
The ex-cop assures that "a lot of people are going to be surprised" at the information the investigation uncovered.
"In an investigation, you have to let the facts drive the train," Rathmann said. "You have to let those facts take you to where it needs to go. There are so many theories but a lot of theories can be disproved very quickly. And then there are some theories where you go, ‘You know what? This is very plausible. It's possible that this could have happened this way,' and you investigate further which is amazing. So we actually will disprove some of the theories and be able to reveal some new information on what is more possible that could have happened."
Throughout the record-shattering series, Exotic repeatedly promoted the conspiracy theory that Baskin had murdered Lewis and fed his body to their tigers.
Baskin, the archenemy of Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, has maintained her innocence, theorizing that he likely flew his private plane out of the country and disappeared by choice.
Rathmann credits the "Tiger King" Netflix special for drawing attention to what had otherwise become a very cold case.
"You know, it's amazing. Twenty-three years this case was completely unheard of other than the very initial stages," Rathmann said. "Completely unheard of. And then everybody watched that Joe Exotic saga several months ago [on Netflix] and boom, this is on a worldwide stage. Everybody's focused on it."