News, Jazz, NPR
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Courts / Law

‘Tiger King’ Brings New Interest To Hillsborough Cold Case

Don Lewis cold case poster
Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister hopes a popular Netflix series will help solve the disappearance of Don Lewis.

Lewis’ story is featured in Tiger King, a limited-run series that delves into the cutthroat world of exotic animal rescue.

Lewis co-founded Big Cat Rescue with wife Carole. He disappeared in August 1997. The only trace of him found was his van, parked at a private airport in Pasco County.

Investigators suspected he fled to Costa Rica, where he owned a wilderness park, but searches in that country turned up nothing. Lewis was declared dead in 2002.

Chronister says the show is bringing new interest to the case, and he’s assigned a detective to sort through new leads.

“Maybe someone has had a change of heart,” he said. “Maybe a relationship status has changed. Anything that will prompt someone to call with a legitimate lead a piece of evidence.” Chronister says none of the leads so far have been credible, but he hopes that changes as more people watch the show.  

WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online at WUSF.org/ways-to-support.