First Reported Sighting of the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp Anniversary Special:
Something’s out there.
⁓The Voice before the Void
“Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp”
The Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp (also known as the Lizard Man of Lee County) is a reptilian humanoid cryptid which is said to inhabit areas of swampland in and around Lee County, South Carolina, as well as sewers and abandoned subways in towns near the swamp.
1. Strange car mauling
In the summer of 1988, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office was called to the scene of a strange instance of vehicle damage. On the morning of July 14, deputies made their way to a residence located in a small rural community known as Browntown on the outskirts of Bishopville, South Carolina. When they arrived, homeowners Tom and Mary Waye showed them the vehicle in question. Police found that the chrome molding had been torn away from the fenders, the sidewalls were scratched and dented, the hood ornament was broken, the antenna was bent, and even some wires from the motor had been ripped out. Upon closer inspection, it appeared that parts of the molding had actually been chewed, as if an animal had used its teeth to inflict the damage. To further support the animal theory, the Wayes pointed out clumps of reddish colored hair and muddy footprints that had been left all over the car. However, while Sheriff Liston Truesdale was investigating the car, local residents informed him that there might be yet another, more bizarre possibility. Truesdale said, “While we were there looking over this situation, we learned that people in the Browntown community had been seeing a strange creature about seven feet tall with red eyes. Some of them described it as green, but some of them as brown. They thought it might be responsible for what happened [to the car].”
2. Davis sighting
Prompted by a newspaper article about the strange car mauling, a local father brought his terrified son to the Sheriff’s Office on July 16. Seventeen-year-old Christopher Davis reported that he had encountered a creature while driving home from work at 2 AM on June 29. According to his account, Davis stopped on a road bordering Scape Ore Swamp in order to change a tire that had blown out. When he was finishing up, he heard a thumping noise from behind him and turned around to see a creature running towards him.
In Davis’ words:
“I looked back and saw something running across the field towards me. It was about 25 yards away and I saw red eyes glowing. I ran into the car and as I locked it, the thing grabbed the door handle. I could see him from the neck down – the three big fingers, long black nails and green rough skin. It was strong and angry. I looked in my mirror and saw a blur of green running. I could see his toes and then he jumped on the roof of my car. I thought I heard a grunt and then I could see his fingers through the windshield, where they curled around on the roof. I sped up and swerved to shake the creature off.”
After he had returned home, Davis’ side mirror was found to be badly damaged, and scratch marks were found on the car’s roof.
3. Further incidents
In the month that followed the Davis sighting, there were several further reports of a large lizard-like creature, and of unusual scratches and bite marks found on cars parked close to the swamp. Most of these are said to have occurred within a 3-mile (5 km) radius of the swamps of Bishopville.
At the time, local law enforcement officials reacted to reports of the Lizard Man with a mixture of concern and skepticism, stating that a sufficient number of sightings had been made by apparently reliable people for them to believe that something tangible was being seen, but also that it was more likely to be a bear than a Lizard Man.
Two weeks after the Davis sighting, the sheriff’s department made several plaster casts of what appeared to be three-toed footprints – measuring some 14 inches (36 cm) in length – but decided against sending them on to the FBI for further analysis after biologists advised them that they were unclassifiable. According to South Carolina Marine Resources Department spokesperson Johnny Evans, the tracks neither matched, nor could be mistaken for, the footprints of any recorded animal. Evans also dismissed the possibility that they could have been made by some form of mutated creature.
The sightings attracted tourists interested in seeing the creature and hunters interested in tracking it, and nearby radio station WCOS offered a $1 million reward to anybody who could capture the creature alive. However, reports of the creature began to decline, with the last credible sighting being reported in July.
On August 5, Kenneth Orr, an airman stationed at nearby Shaw Air Force Base, filed a report with the police saying that he had encountered the Lizard Man on Highway 15, and that he had shot and wounded it. He presented several scales and a small quantity of blood as evidence. Orr recanted this account two days later when he was arraigned for unlawfully carrying a pistol, and for the misdemeanor offense of filing a false police report. According to Orr, he had invented the sighting in order to keep stories about the Lizard Man in circulation.
4. Blythers sighting
Two years later, on July 30, 1990, Bertha Blythers and her five children witnessed a strange creature near Scape Ore Swamp as they drove home from a restaurant in Bishopville. At approximately 10:30 PM, they crossed over the Interstate and were nearing the intersection of Hickory Hill Road when suddenly a large figure appeared out of nowhere and lunged toward the passenger side of the car. In a statement given to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office, Bertha described the creature as being tall, wide, and having “two arms like a human.” She could only see it from the waist up, but there was no question that it was “big.” She was not able to make out any clear facial details in the short time that it was in front of her, but she was quite sure that the body was covered in brown hair. She told the police, “I never seen anything like it before. It wasn’t a deer or a bear. It was definitely not a person either.”
5. Description of the creature
The Lizard Man is generally described as being 7 feet (2.1 m) tall, bipedal, and bulky, covered in dark hair with scaly lizard-like skin on its hands, feet, and face. It is said to have three toes on each foot and three fingers on each hand. The creature has an incredible degree of strength, more than capable of ripping into an automobile. A few witnesses have reported seeing a tail, although in the majority of cases, a tail was not seen.
6. Contemporary events
In July 2005, the Lizard Man “reappeared” in television promotions for the South Carolina Education Lottery.
In October 2005, a woman in Newberry, South Carolina reported to the police that she had seen two creatures resembling the Lizard Man outside her home. The responding officer, Michael Kennedy, apparently amused, told the woman that the creatures “just like to check on humans from time to time.”
In February 2008, a couple in Bishopville, Bob and Dixie Rawson, reported strange damage to their vehicle, traces of blood, and the disappearance of some of their cats. Based on the appearance of the damage, some claimed that this incident marked the “return” of the Lizard Man. The blood traces from the Rawsons’ vehicle were sent to a veterinary lab in California and were found to be from a domestic dog. Soon after the incident at the Rawsons’ home, Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin discovered a dead cow and a dead coyote in a nearby field.
In 2011, Bishopville residents Leon and Ada Marshall reported that their car had been mauled by some kind of animal. Former Sheriff Truesdale stated that the damage on the car looked much like the damage from earlier incidents. Sheriff’s Deputy Fletcher Williams inspected the car and surmised that teeth were responsible for the damage, as if the car had been “chewed up.”
A book by Lyle Blackburn entitled Lizard Man: The True Story of the Bishopville Monster was published in 2013. The book covers the history of the Lizard Man sightings and examines popular theories regarding the true identity of the creature.
The Lizard Man has become the focus of extensive local merchandising. The Lee County Chamber of Commerce hosts a Lizard Man 5K run and sells shirts reading “Lizard Man” and “Lizard Patrol.”