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Tiger King brought us a lot to think about when it debuted on Netflix toward the end of March. But, for all the fun that was had during celebrity-hosted watch parties, on late night TV, and in mulling over the wild lives of this group of big cat rescuers and / or zoo-keepers, everyone who tuned in to the docuseries realizes that there are some very serious issues at play, including the disappearance of Carole Baskin's previous husband, Don Lewis. Now, it looks like Baskin could be in some big trouble, because she's being accused of forging her husband's signature on the documents that gave her control of his fortune.
While Tiger King focused mostly on Joe Exotic, it would be pretty hard to tell his story without getting into the life of Carole Baskin. As we know, Exotic was so angered by Baskin's efforts to stop his private zoo, that he eventually hired someone to kill her, and he's now in prison for that murder-for-hire plot (along with other charges). Exotic maintains that Baskin killed her husband, and even though she was never arrested or charged with any wrongdoing which would have led to his disappearance, the case was never closed.
According to Fox News, Joseph Fritz, former attorney and friend to Don Lewis, is now saying that he believes the signatures on legal documents which gave Carole Baskin control of Lewis' money in the event of something happening to him, have been forged. And, Fritz seems to believe that Baskin is the forger in question.
Because of the success of Tiger King, and renewed interest in the disappearance of Don Lewis, Tampa’s Hillsborough County Sheriff, Chad Chronister, recently called for people to submit tips if they thought they had any leads in the case. This may have encouraged Joseph Fritz to review some documents his client signed before he disappeared in 1997, and now that forensic document examiner and handwriting expert Thomas Vastrick has reviewed Lewis' power of attorney and will, he said:
In conducting the examination of the durable family power of attorney and the will, both of which were created on Nov. 21 in 1996, I was struck by the uncanny similarity between each set of signatures. It was nearly exact replication to the extent that I was very confidently able to opine that what I was dealing with – at least with Mr. Lewis's signature – [was] that these signatures were traced. Every time you sign your name, there's a level of variation from one signature to the next and these are just way, way too similar. I did not find this a difficult determination at all.
Man, that does not sound good. I, for one, know that I haven't singed my name the same way twice since I was 12 and trying to write exactly like my best friend Danielle, so I completely believe a handwriting expert when he says that the signatures on these documents are too similar to be believed as the real deal. Adding to the suspicion is the fact that Don Lewis met Carole Baskin in 1980, and left his wife and children in order to marry her. Then, when he disappeared, his $10 million estate was left to Baskin, and all of his kids and other family were cut out.
But, it gets even worse. When Thomas Vastrick did his examination, he looked at the signatures of Don Lewis, multiple notaries who singed off on the documents and two witnesses. While he is clearly suspect of Lewis' signatures (which he believes were copied from his marriage license to Carole Baskin), one of the witnesses has recently come forward and told the sheriff's department that she felt pressured at the time to say that the documents were signed by each individual.
Fritz also noted that the truly important document to verify (and to forge, should one desire to gain total control of someone else's fortune in a situation such as this) was the power of attorney. Having Lewis' power of attorney allowed Baskin to move every asset in his name so that it was in her control way before he was declared legally dead, which came five years later.
It's clear that this case is still developing and probably will be for quite a while, so be sure to stay tuned to CinemaBlend for the latest. In the meantime, you can revisit Tiger King on Netflix, and if you need something else to watch you can look into our 2020 Netflix guide and see what's coming to TV this summer.