Baskin sparked controversy by claiming her missing ex-husband had been spotted in Central America based on an old Homeland Security report, which was immediately dismissed as unreliable by the authorities. A family spokesman stated that the claim was already disproven by an independent investigation in 1997. Baskin’s ex-husband disappeared in 1997 and was declared legally dead in 2002.
Baskin’s claims that her missing ex-husband was spotted in Costa Rica were denied by the Hillsborough County Sheriff and previously disproven by Lewis’ family in 1997.
In January 2023, Carole Baskin, aged 61, caused quite a stir in the media with her claim that she had discovered an undated U.S. Department of Homeland Security investigative report that suggested her ex-husband, who had vanished in 1997 and was declared dead in 2002, had been spotted in a Central American country. However, her claim was immediately dismissed by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in Tampa, who stated that the case was still active.
Despite the claims of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, Baskin’s family spokesman, Jack “Ripper” Smith, maintained that a thorough investigation had already been conducted in 1997 by Lewis’ family, and they had concluded that the report from Homeland Security was based on false information. The family had gone to great lengths to investigate Lewis’ disappearance and had even hired a private investigator to help with the search.
Nevertheless, Baskin’s recent claim reignited public interest in the case, which had already been the subject of a documentary in the early 2020s. The mystery surrounding Lewis’ disappearance and the subsequent accusations against Baskin had become a cultural phenomenon, with Baskin herself achieving celebrity status due to her involvement in the case.
The dispute between Baskin and Lewis’ family has been ongoing for several years, further fueled by the recent discovery of the Homeland Security report. Whether or not the report is valid, the case has captured the imagination of the public and remains one of the most high-profile missing persons cases in recent history.