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Trail of missing millionaire is all dead ends

Published Oct. 2, 2005

After searching all over Tampa Bay, two Hillsborough sheriff's investigators flew to Costa Rica this month to look for a missing Tampa millionaire, who was supposedly seen in the Central American country in September.

They could not find Jack Donald Lewis anywhere.

Not at the 200-acre farm Lewis owns, where he lets tigers and big cats roam.

Not at his apartments in San Jose, where a business partner reportedly threatened to have Lewis killed, according to Lewis' wife.

Investigators returned to Florida last week with no more clues than when they left.

Lewis, 59, who runs an animal sanctuary in Citrus Park called Wildlife on Easy Street, vanished in August. He left home one morning and never came back. A few days later, his van was discovered at a private airstrip in Pasco County.

In September, someone reportedly saw Lewis slip into one of his apartments in Costa Rica in the middle of the night, according to Lewis' family. The real estate tycoon owns 200 acres and several apartments there.

Earlier this year, he began transferring ownership of property in Hillsborough County to a South American company, Witco Corporacion, that he controls in San Jose, records show.

_ DAVID KARP