KEY POINTS

  • Sheriff Chad Chronister said the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office in Florida has received multiple alleged tips on the disappearance of Jack Lewis since the release of "Tiger King" on Netflix
  • Chronister encouraged more people to come forward if they have information to share that could help lead to his discovery
  • Lewis' disappearance is a topic of interest in the documentary series that follows exotic animal enthusiast, Joe Exotic

A Florida sheriff said Tuesday that his department was receiving multiple new leads about the disappearance of Jack "Don" Lewis, the ex-husband of Big Cat Rescue CEO Carole Baskin, following the release of the Netflix documentary series, “Tiger King.”

Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister took to Twitter on Monday to ask for new leads, trying to capitalize on the pop culture phenomenon.

“We are already receiving new tips and we hope to close this cold case soon with the help of the public,” Chronister told reporters. “Since the documentary came out we've been receiving about six tips a day related to this case. We are looking into each one thoroughly.”

A detective supervisor with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has been assigned to review the alleged leads coming in.

“The case remains open; we never close a cold case,” Chronister said.

Lewis was last reportedly seen in August 1997, but no evidence was ever found that pointed to where he could have gone or if someone was involved. The case has since remained open with no arrests or person of interest and was considered cold until the release of “Tiger King.”

The case became a point of interest in the documentary that followed Joseph Passage, also known as Joe Exotic, founder and owner of Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park. He is serving a 22-year prison sentence at FMC Fort Worth in Texas on charges of murder for hire and violations of the Lacey Act and Endangered Species Act.

Shortly after founding the private zoo in 1999, Exotic found himself the subject of Baskin’s ire for his alleged mistreatment of exotic animals, poorly trained staff and a poorly designed zoo. Exotic would push pack, repeatedly accusing Baskin of killing Lewis, feeding Lewis' body to their tigers and hiding evidence.

One of the Exotic's allegations in the documentary involves a septic tank installed in Baskin’s home after Lewis’ disappearance contained evidence. However, Chronister said the tank was installed “years” after the disappearance and wasn’t relevant to the case.

Chronister said Baskin was approached to have a polygraph test done but she declined after her attorney told her it wouldn’t clear her name. He said the department hasn’t asked since because there was insufficient evidence to justify asking her again.

tiger king A production still for "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness." Photo: Netflix