CAROLE Baskin gifted properties worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to her handyman shortly after husband Don Lewis’s disappearance, The Sun can reveal.
The new twist comes after handyman Kenny Farr’s ex-wife Trish claimed he told her Don was ground up and fed to the alligators.
A cadaver dog also recently picked up the scent of human remains just meters from a lake house that once belonged to Don, raising further questions about the mysterious case, which gained worldwide attention in the docu-series Tiger King.
Investigator Jim Rathman, who conducted a lengthy probe into the case for Tigers, Lies and Cover Ups, an Investigation Discovery documentary, says he uncovered unusual connections between Carole, Don and Kenny including how Kenny brought home all of Don’s gun collection around the time he went missing.
Property records shared with The Sun also show how Kenny was gifted six properties by Carole for under $20k – when they were worth 15 times that sum, according to property records in Florida.
Carole hit back against the claims, telling The Sun the properties were not gifts as she was just trying to help him get started in business and he later signed them back over.
“[Kenny’s ex wife] Trish revealed that missing link to me telling me about the property transfers,” Jim told The Sun.
“Baskin gave multiple properties to Kenny, just a month after her husband went missing.
“And these transactions were under $10k value, which you do not have to report to the IRS.
“But they were worth hundreds of thousands.
“I mean I care for the handyman that fixes up my house, but I don’t think I am going to gift him six properties.”
Kenny, now a landscape gardener, refused to respond to Rathmann’s questions during his investigation, even when confronted in person but he has previously stated that he has had nothing to do with Don’s disappearance.
“You have to be fair to the fact Kenny could have answers to this, but my gut feeling, with my experience levels, if it were me accused of these accusations, which I had nothing to do with is that I would want to clear my name,” he said.
“Because if I have nothing to hide and I can speak to the family on the information they need, It provides closure for the family and I want to clear my name.
“The fact he is not is surprising and puzzling.”
Jim, an ex-secret service agent and homicide detective, added: “He spoke to detectives way back, after Trish told Hillsborough Police about recovering Don’s firearms.
“I believe he took a polygraph, but what information is out there now is a completely different set of questions that he would be asked.
“He may have been off the radar 23 years ago, but there are a lot of questions now.”
Jim has handed details of his independent probe to Joe Exotic’s “Team Tiger”, who are working on having the eccentric zoo-keeper’s 22 year murder-for-hire prison sentence quashed.
They also shared the investigation with Lewis’ family attorneys, led by lawyer John M Phillips.
Jim said: “I have a lot of hope for the family that they get closure and justice, not only do they need it, but they deserve it.
“I believe this case is going to be solved one day, and we are going to find Don Lewis’ body.“
Don disappeared a day before a scheduled trip to Costa Rica in 1997, and was declared legally dead in 2002.
Carole and Don, 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.
Jim, who hosts a podcast Real Life Real Crime, said he believes there was definitely foul play involved in Don’s disappearance.
“I actually think something happened to Don,” he said.
Carole Baskin hits back
Carole Baskin hit back against the claims, telling The Sun she is tired of all the “lies and innuendos” about Don’s disappearance – which she is adamant she had nothing to so with.
She said: “Kenny wasn’t able to keep up the payments on most of the properties and ended up signing them back over to the conservatorship in lieu of foreclosure.
“These weren’t gifts. They were an attempt to help him get a start in business, but it’s harder than most people think and he signed them back when he couldn’t afford to try any longer.
“I’ve addressed all of the lies and innuendo at BigCatRescue.org/netflix but no one seems to read any more.
“The time frame when I tried to help Kenny out and when he signed everything back over were all during the conservatorship where I had a co-conservator approving every action, as did the courts and Don’s daughters were all kept apprised of everything that transpired in the conservatorship as well.
“What I don’t understand is why the media wants to keep quoting people who have lied over and over when the truth has been in the public records for 23 years?”
The Sun has reached out to Kenny Farr but received no response.
Previously he has said: “I can tell you I have no idea why my ex wife has come up with an outlandish lie.
“I cooperated with authorities at the time of Don’s disappearance and took a polygraph.
“I had absolutely nothing to do with Don’s disappearance or any knowledge of.”
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Carole Baskin has always vehemently denied any wrongdoing or involvement in her husband’s disappearance.
Joe Exotic: Tigers, Lies And Cover Ups is streaming now at IDGO.