CADAVER dogs have detected a scent of human remains near the lake house of Carole Baskin’s missing husband, The Sun can reveal.
It comes as Dancing With The Stars candidate Carole is set to be widely questioned under oath over Don Lewis’s disappearance by lawyers in the Lewis family’s lawsuit against her, according to an independent investigator into the case.
The discovery of a corpse dog will be revealed in an explosive new documentary airing Sunday on Investigation Discovery (ID).
The show – Tigers, Lies And Cover Ups – will uncover several new pieces of evidence related to Don’s disappearance in 1997, which may add more fuel to Tiger King Joe Exotic’s claims that he was murdered.
Carole has vehemently denied all allegations that she was involved in Don’s disappearance and death and no charges have been brought against her.
Former Secret Service agent and retired homicide detective Jim Rathmann, who has conducted a lengthy investigation into the show’s open case, told The Sun how a corpse dog allegedly picked up a scent of leftovers from a few yards from the Don Lake house in Brandon, Florida.
He said: “Corpse dogs can detect human remains 20 feet underwater and the fact that we were letting her alert in the same spot was extremely exciting.
“But after 23 years everything in there is covered in mud, do a search, there is no visibility and there are alligators there.
“We’re not going to find a body, but if Don, hypothetically, had gone through a meat grinder, we’re looking for soft bone fragments, clothing, or maybe a tooth.” In the best-case scenario, you find a tooth or a bone that you extract DNA from.
“The best way would be to put up a barrier, pump the water out, let this area dry out, and bring the corpses back in search.”
The search was carried out by the corpse dog of CSI underwater specialist Mike Sinszer, which has been used around the world to uncover human remains, according to Jim.
After the animal allegedly located a point of contact a few feet from the back of Don’s property, Hillsborough Sheriffs sent detectives and divers to the alligator and snake infested lake, but did not nothing could be discovered due to the bad conditions.
Jim is optimistic that “some nonprofit companies” may donate resources to do the dig after the identity show airs this weekend.
“It’s really important about something of this nature, since the corpse dog is highly trained, you can’t ignore it, we have to explore it further,” he said.
“The sheriff has the coordinates of the grid and I hope he uses the resources to pump the water and investigate, because there is definitely something there.”
Carole, who survived the expulsion from DWTS after doing the last two this week, has always firmly denied any involvement in Lewis’s death.
But since new information on the case emerged and Netflix’s Tiger King raised questions, Baskin has not faced a legal investigation.
Jim has said that due to the lawsuit against her, Carole will face hours of questioning from civilian lawyers, which could eventually lead to a criminal interview.
“I think there is a very good chance that there are new questions,” he said.
“Much of these sworn interrogations will occur as part of the discovery process in the trial of Don Lewis’ daughters against Carole.
“Under oath, at least questions will be asked and perjury will be imposed, if people are caught lying.
“And I’m sure the sheriff’s office will pay close attention to those depositions as well, to see what information comes out of it, because that might help them.”
“There are a lot of unanswered questions regarding Don’s disappearance. ”
Jim’s investigation revealed several new avenues explored by Hillsborough County Sheriffs.
In the three-hour show, Jim reveals how another possible burial place for Don was a septic tank at the Animal Rescue Wildlife On Easy Street – now renamed Big Cat Rescue.
For years Joe Exotic has said on TV shows and online that “Don’s remains are buried under the septic tank.”
While police said the septic tank was “not put in place until years later”. Jim allegedly discovered the permits issued two weeks before Don’s death and the receipts showed that a tank had been delivered on August 14 – a day before Don disappeared.
Carole strongly denies the theory of septic tanks.
Jim also shares his concerns about the van, the last car Don drove before his disappearance, which was found at a nearby airfield.
Investigators found no print of Carole or Don inside the vehicle.
Jim handed the details of his independent investigation to Exotic’s “Team Tiger”, which is working to overturn his 22-year prison sentence, as well as to lawyers for the Lewis family, led by attorney John M Phillips.
Jim, who hosts a Real Life Real Crime podcast, added, “I think there is definitely some foul play involved.
“There are a lot of holes in the story. I actually think something happened to Don.
“The last person to physically see Don, besides Carole on Friday August 15, 1997, was his assistant Anne McQueen in his Tampa office.
“I believe something happened when he got home early in the afternoon, because he never contacted Anne as promised this afternoon.
“And she never had any contact with him again and that makes me believe that out of all those I have spoken to had interactions with Don, he was extremely reliable.”
“So the fact that all communication went down that day leads me to believe that there is a window of a few hours where something probably happened to him at Wildlife on Easy Street.”
Don went missing a day before a planned trip to Costa Rica and was declared legally dead in 2002.
The former couple, who opened an animal sanctuary together in Tampa, Florida, got married when they went missing.
Records confirm he had sought a restraining order against her two months earlier, with others claiming Lewis told them, “I’m afraid for my life.”
Carole did not respond to The Sun’s request for comment on the latest developments – but has always denied any suggestion that she was involved or had knowledge of Don’s disappearance.
Tigers, Lies And Cover Ups is a three-hour special, which also includes exclusive interviews from Exotic’s prison.
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It begins with Parts 1 and 2 which air Sunday September 27 at 9 / 8c and ends with Part 3 on Monday September 28 at 9 / 8c on Investigation Discovery.
Lewis’s attorney, John Phillips, did not respond to requests for comment. The Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office said it would not comment on an ongoing investigation.