The family of Don Lewis, whose mysterious 1997 disappearance is a major talking point on the “Tiger King” documentary series, has hired a lawyer in hopes of finally figuring out what happened to him.
Attorney John Phillips announced the investigation into Lewis’ disappearance during a news conference Monday, and urged people with information to come forward.
“Resolving this case is in everyone’s best interest,” Phillips said at the Riverhills Church of God in Tampa, Florida.
With the investigation, a reward of $100,000 has been offered in exchange for information to help solve the case.
Phillips said Monday that he has asked Lewis’ former wife, big-cat activist Carole Baskin, to speak about the situation. On Friday, the legal team filed a lawsuit against Baskin in an effort to depose her and get her to speak on the record.
“Justice is spelled one way, but defined in many different ways,” Phillips said in a statement. “After meeting with the family, justice to them is primarily defined by answers to what happened to Lewis, but also includes a full and open criminal investigation and the taking of statements under oath and subpoenas.”
Phillips said Monday that the hope is to provide closure for Lewis’ family members, who were present at the press conference.
Baskin, who was prominently featured in “Tiger King” series, has long denied speculation that she played a role in Lewis’ disappearance.
In an email to local news outlet WFLA, Baskin addressed Lewis’ family’s investigation.
“I believe it is a publicity stunt orchestrated by (family spokesman) Jack Smith to bolster his YouTube views but do hope that all of the attention from Tiger King and the aftermath will result in us finding Don,” she wrote.
In March, following the launch of “Tiger King” that month on Netflix, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Florida renewed its search for information regarding the disappearance of the millionaire Lewis.
“Tiger King” highlighted the lives of several major figures in the world of big cats, with Baskin, the CEO of Big Cat Rescue, and now-incarcerated zoo owner Joe Exotic among the most prominent.
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