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Woman Strikes Up Friendship With Joe Exotic In Jail Because She 'Felt Sorry For Him' - And His Letters Are Wild

 Woman Strikes Up Friendship With Joe Exotic In Jail Because She 'Felt Sorry For Him' - And His Letters Are Wild

A woman who became the unlikely pen pal of Tiger King star Joe Exotic has shared passages from letters he wrote to her during solitary confinement.

In hand-written notes posted from a Texas prison, the former big cat owner describes his torment, saying his soul "dies a little each day" and his "heart will stop like an animal."

The former zoo keeper is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence for his involvement in a murder-for-hire plot against his long-standing rival, Big Cat Rescue founder Carole Baskin. He reportedly pens letters to a mind-boggling 430 fans on a regular basis.

In the letter dated 5th May 2020, Joe (real name Joseph Allen Maldonado-Passage) wrote: "They do all they can here to make my life suck, locked down, 24/7 alone."

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The 'Tiger King' star has written to 29-year-old Kathleen Lafferty during solitary confinement in a Texas prison (Credit: Netflix)
The 'Tiger King' star has written to 29-year-old Kathleen Lafferty during solitary confinement in a Texas prison (Credit: Netflix)

The Netflix antihero, 57, goes on to claim that he has been denied the opportunity to call his husband Dillon Passage, 22.

"Can't even call Dillon. My soul dies a little each day. Not long and my heart will stop like an animal that morns [sic] itself to death," he wrote.

The recipient of the letter is 29-year-old Kathleen Lafferty, who felt sympathy for Joe after watching Tiger King on Netflix and decided to write to him in prison.

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According to Joe's lawyer Francisco Hernandez, Kathleen is one of over 400 fans that the former zoo keeper corresponds with on a regular basis.

Kathleen explained that she felt the urge to write to Joe because she too knows how solitary confinement can impact a person's mental health.

"When I was a little kid, I was in foster care and they changed my medications around a lot," said Lafferty, of White Water, Wisconsin.

Joe is currently serving a 22-year prison service for his involvement in a murder-for-hire plot against his rival Carole Baskin and animal cruelty charges (Credit: Netflix)
Joe is currently serving a 22-year prison service for his involvement in a murder-for-hire plot against his rival Carole Baskin and animal cruelty charges (Credit: Netflix)
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"I ended up in a type two facility in solitary confinement, so I know what it's like. Normal people don't know what it's like and how dangerous it is.

"You can have hallucinations and panic attacks. I feel bad for the guy. It doesn't seem like he has a lot of people left. Drug addiction will do that to you.

"I think he's going mentally insane in that cell. He said 'I love you' in the letter."

In a second letter titled 'Media Statement', Joe asks Kathleen - who he has never met in person - to be his voice to the public: "No email, 4 calls per month, no commissary like others get, unable to buy shampoo-conditioner or basic health care needs," he wrote.

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He then urges President Trump and his son to pardon him and "make the world smile during this pandemic."

Joe's lawyer, Francisco Hernandez, supports the claims the Tiger King made in his letters.

Joe claims that he is denied the opportunity to call his husband Dillon Passage, 22 (Credit: Netflix)
Joe claims that he is denied the opportunity to call his husband Dillon Passage, 22 (Credit: Netflix)

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The Criminal Law Specialist, 55, said of his client: "He is in the Special Handling Unit for unexplained reasons.

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"The worst part about it is they're denying him visits with his lawyers. You have a [constitutional] right to counsel.

"All his mail is being held up to a month and they're screening mail from his attorneys.

"It's unprecedented. Why would they have you in solitary confinement if you haven't done anything wrong?

"[Solitary] is supposed to be a maximum of 14 days. He hasn't seen the sun in two years."

Mr Hernandez also claims that Joe is not receiving appropriate medical care.

"Exotic suffers from CIVD, an autoimmune disease that requires him to have a blood infusion every four weeks.

"He has gone three months without a blood infusion. For him, this is a life and death deal. If he doesn't get an infusion he could die.

However, Mr Hernandez disagrees with Kathleen's notion that Exotic is losing his mind.

"All cylinders are firing," he said regarding his client's mental state. "He's writing on a regular basis. He's corresponding with 430 fans on a regular basis."

Kathleen plans to continue corresponding with the Tiger King.

"I think everybody makes mistakes and that everybody deserves a second chance," she said.

Emery Nelson, a rep. from the Bureau of Prisons, stated that Exotic's situation was temporary, and due to Covid-19 safety protocol: "While we decline to comment on allegations or provide information about conditions of confinement for any particular inmate for safety and privacy reasons, we can provide you with the following information.

"On June 1, 2020, in light of extensive protest activity occurring around the country, the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) - in an abundance of caution - implemented a national lockdown.

"These additional, temporary security measures were implemented to ensure the good order and security of our institutions, as well as ensure the safety of staff and inmates.


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Not too late for #tbt? From the vault: sept 2014.
A post shared by Joe Exotic (@joe_exotic) on


"On June 8, 2020, these additional security measures were lifted and all operations returned to Phase 7 of the COVID-19 Action Plan.

"During the lockdown, inmate access to telephones and electronic communication was limited.

"However, inmate mail through the U.S. Postal Service was collected and delivered regularly to every inmate."

Featured Image Credit: Netlix

Topics: tiger king, TV and Film, Joe Exotic, TV News, TV Entertainment, Netflix

Mary-Jane Wiltsher

Mary-Jane Wiltsher is a freelance lifestyle and culture journalist. Elsewhere she writes for Stylist, Euronews, PHOENIX and What We Seee.