CADAVER dogs have picked up a scent of human remains near Carole Baskin’s missing husband’s lake house, The Sun can reveal.
It comes as Dancing With The Stars contestant Carole is set to be questioned extensively under oath about Don Lewis’s disappearance by lawyers as part of the Lewis family’s lawsuit against her, according to an independent investigator on the case.
The cadaver dog discovery 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 allegedly relating to Don’s 1997 disappearance, which may add more fuel to Tiger King Joe Exotic’s claims he was murdered.
Carole has vehemently denied all claims that she was involved in Don’s disappearance and death and no charges have been brought against her.
Ex-Secret Service agent and retired homicide detective Jim Rathmann, who conducted a lengthy probe into the open case for the show told The Sun how a cadaver dog allegedly picked up a scent of remains just meters from Don’s lake house in Brandon, Florida.
He said: “Cadaver dogs can detect human remains 20 feet below water and the fact we have her alerting on the same spot was extremely exciting.
“But after 23 years whatever is in there is covered in mud, makes a search, there is zero visibility and there’s alligators there.
“We are not going to find a body, but if Don, hypothetically, had gone through a meat grinder we are looking for soft bone fragments, clothing or maybe a tooth. Best case scenario is you find a tooth or bone that you extract DNA from.
“The best way would be to establish a barrier, pump water out, allow that area to dry and bring cadaver dogs to search again.”
The search was carried out by underwater CSI specialist Mike Sinszer’s cadaver dog, who has been used worldwide to uncover human remains, according to Jim.
After the animal allegedly located a hit spot meters from the back of Don’s property, Hillsborough sheriffs dispatched detectives and divers to the alligator and snake infested lake, but could not discover anything due to the poor conditions.
Jim is optimistic that “some not for profits companies” may donate resources to do the dig after the ID show airs this weekend.
“It’s really important of something of that nature, given the cadavers dog is highly skilled, you cannot ignore it, we must explore it further,” he claimed.
“The sheriff has the grid coordinates and hopefully they will use resources to pump the water out and investigate, because there is definitely something there.”
Carole, who survived eviction from DWTS after making the final two this week, has always strongly denied any involvement in Lewis’ death.
But since new information about the case has emerged and Netflix’s Tiger King raised questions, Baskin has not faced a legal inquisition.
Jim said that because of the lawsuit against her Carole will face hours of questions from civil lawyers, which could possibly lead to a criminal interview.
“I do believe there is a very good chance there will be some re-questioning,” he said.
“A lot of that questioning under oath will happen in the discovery process in Don Lewis’ daughters lawsuit against Carole.
“Under oath, questions will at least be asked and perjury will be enforced, if people are caught lying.
“And I am certain the sheriff’s office will be paying close attention to those depositions as well, to see what information comes from that, because that might help them out.
“There are a lot of unanswered questions surrounding Don’s disappearance.”
Jim’s investigation uncovered several new leads that Hillsborough County Sheriffs are exploring.
In the three-hour long show, Jim reveals how another possible burial place for Don was a septic tank at animal rescue Wildlife On Easy Street – now renamed Big Cat Rescue.
For years Joe Exotic has stated on TV shows and online that “Don’s remains are buried underneath the septic tank.”
While police said that the septic tank was not “put in until years later.”, Jim allegedly uncovered permits issued two weeks before Don’s death and receipts showed a tank was delivered on August 14 – a day before Don went missing.
Carole strongly denies the septic tank theory.
Jim also raises concerns about the van, the last car Don drove before his disappearance, which was found at a nearby airfield.
Investigators found none of Carole or Don’s prints inside the vehicle.
Jim handed details of his independent probe to Exotic’s “Team Tiger,” who are working on having his 22 year prison sentence quashed as well as to the Lewis’ family attorneys, led by lawyer John M Phillips.
Jim, who hosts a podcast Real Life Real Crime, added: “I think there is definitely 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 at his office in Tampa.
“My belief is that something happened when he went home that early part of the afternoon, because he never did reach out to Anne as promised that afternoon.
“And she never had contact with him again and it makes me believe, out of everyone I spoke with, had interactions with Don, he was extremely dependable .
“So the fact that all communication stopped that day leads me to believe that there is a few hours window where something more than likely happened to him at Wildlife on Easy Street.”
Don disappeared a day before a scheduled trip to Costa Rica, and was declared legally dead in 2002.
The former couple, who started an animal sanctuary together in Tampa, Florida, were married at the time of his disappearance.
Records confirm he had filed for a restraining order against her two months earlier, with others alleging Lewis told them: “I fear for my life.”
Carole did not respond to The Sun’s request for comment on the latest developments – but has always denied any suggestion she was involved or has any knowledge of Don’s disappearance.
Tigers, Lies And Cover Ups is a three-hour special, which also features exclusive jailhouse interviews from Exotic.
It begins with Part 1 & 2 airing Sunday, September 27 at 9/8c and concludes with Part 3 on Monday, September 28 at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.
The Lewis’s lawyer John Phillips did not respond to requests for comment. Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office said they would not comment on an active investigation.