The Florida county sheriff investigating a suspicious, decades-old disappearance, revived by the Netflix series "Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness," said that his police department is not involved in a cover-up related to the case.
Among the cast of bizarre characters featured in the Netflix documentary is Hillsborough County, Fla., animal sanctuary owner Carole Baskin.
She is also the former wife of apparent multi-millionaire Don Lewis, who went missing in 1997. Baskin vehemently denies any role in his disappearance.
In a new interview with former prosecutor and Fox Nation host Nancy Grace, Hillsborough County sheriff Chad Chronister took on theories that Baskin's brother, who was a deputy sheriff on the Hillsborough county police force and on duty the night of Lewis' disappearance, is somehow involved in the case.
"If you dare to Google yourself, you're going to find out that there's a conspiracy theory going on and a suggestion of a cover-up," said Grace on a new episode of the Fox Nation series, "A Tiger King Investigation."
"So let's just grab the bull by the horns, Sheriff," she pressed. "She had a brother on your force, on the sheriff department force... What do you say to claims that he helped her cover up a murder and that he helped her that night?"
"I would say those claims are false," replied Chronister.
"He was actually assigned to a call," continued Chronister, "He had actually had someone under arrest. Someone was in his car. He went to booking during that time. Any type of theory of cover-up is dispelled when you can track back and see that his actions that night were accounted for."
On the night of Lewis' disappearance, Baskin claimed to have gone to the grocery store at 3 a.m. to buy milk for tiger cubs and that her vehicle broke down.
Chronister said that Baskin's brother and another officer at the time corroborated that account.
"[Baskin's brother] had asked for one of his other friends, another deputy, to please take her to the home," said Chronister. "Another deputy sheriff did pick her up from the Albertson's and give her a ride back to the animal sanctuary."
While Chronister dismissed any theories of a law enforcement conspiracy, he does believe that Lewis was murdered, in a "sophisticated and complex" plot, involving more than one person.
Lewis' abandoned car was found in the parking lot of a private country airport and Baskin has said that Lewis was planning on traveling to Costa Rica, where he had a home.
"This individual was murdered and this individual never left the country," said Chronister. "I think it was staged and meant to appear like someone had just pulled up, parked, and I think they wanted us to believe that he would never [have] intended on returning and that he had left.
"No doubt in my mind. I'm thoroughly convinced that he was killed," Chronister continued while stressing that he is not naming Baskin as a person of interest in the disappearance.
"There are other people who benefited by [Lewis'] death... That's why it would be irresponsible to call Carol Baskin's even a person of interest," he concluded.
To hear more of Grace's fascinating interview with Sheriff Chronister, including his recollections of Baskin's suspicious behavior following reports of her former husband's disappearance, watch all of "A Tiger King Investigation with Nancy Grace" on Fox Nation.
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