8:37am PT by Ryan Parker
'Tiger King': Authorities Hope Doc Inflames Sour Relationships Leading to Cold Case Tips
Authorities in Florida have a hunch the wildly popular Netflix docuseries Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness will inflame some sour relationships between those featured in show, which in turn leads to some tips on a cold case.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister told Time in a story published Thursday that he is taking full advantage of the series' massive popularity in hopes that it will help solve the 1997 disappearance of Jack Donald "Don" Lewis. The sheriff's office has received a slew of tips since the docuseries premiered last month.
A multimillionaire, Lewis was married to animal rights activist Carole Baskin, and together they ran a wildlife sanctuary in Tampa when he vanished. His story is featured in Tiger King, the series that revolves around the bizarre tale of Joseph Maldonado-Passage, aka "Joe Exotic," a former tiger-zoo owner who is in prison for a murder-for-hire plot.
Chronister explained how the show might inflame emotions and lead to a breakthrough.
"Because [Carole and Don] were so competitive, they were skeptical of everyone who came and worked for them," the sheriff told Time. "It was almost like each individual employee had to prove their allegiance each and every day. What I'm hoping is that maybe one of those relationships has since soured, maybe [one of the employees has] watched this documentary and [has] been flooded with emotions, and maybe they or anyone else who has any kind of knowledge of this case will be motivated to contact us and give us the piece of evidence that we're missing to be able to solve this disappearance."
Maldonado-Passage, who is serving a 22-year prison sentence after being convicted of trying to hire a hitman to murder Baskin, claims in Tiger King that Lewis was murdered and fed to his own wild cats. Baskin denies the accusations. Authorities interviewed for the series say there was no evidence to support Maldonado-Passage's claim. There are currently no persons of interest.