Bishopville, South Carolina. Located kind of in the central part of the state in Lee County, it’s a small town where everybody knows each other. Although located in one of South Carolina’s poorest counties, the local residents here pride themselves on being home to a World War 1 Medal of Honor Recipient, and the 1945 Heisman Trophy winner.
However, what once was a place full of sunshiney streets and friendly smiling faces would quickly turn into what can almost be described as a warzone.
In the Summer of the Year of Our Lord 1988, just a couple weeks before yours truly was born, a truly diabolical series of events would unfold that would leave gun shops completely gutted out, and home depots all over the state of South Carolina completely sold out of dead bolts.
The county was thrown into chaos as thousands of armed men and media descended into the area hellbent on ridding the town of a sinister force that had begun terrorizing local residents, leaving the folks who were old enough to remember the events completely traumatized, and the subsequent generations gripped by fear ever since, having never gotten the answers that they deserve.
Mid-July, 1988. As the dog days of summer were in full swing in the deep south, and while kids were outside selling lemonade, playing baseball, and shooting at each other with BB guns, Sherif Liston Truesdale, an old-fashioned, small town lawman was out in the field investigating a report made by a couple regarding their 1985 Ford LTD having been chewed up or mauled just outside of their residence in Browntown, located to the southwest of Bishopville. The chrome trim of this stylish sedan had been completely peeled off, in addition to the wheel well having been torn off, with the entire mess being left in a pile on the ground.
In addition, visible claw and tooth marks were also left on the vehicle, having apparently been mauled by someone, or some THING, that was lurking in this small town community. Furthermore, strange, three-toed footprints were found around the vehicle.
Sheriff Truesdale began his investigation by interviewing local Browntown residents, and several of them described seeing “a 7-foot tall Lizard Man” with red eyes in the area.
Unsure of what else to do, Truesdale quickly put the word out that if anybody knew anything about the damaged car or this so-called Lizard Man creature, they should quickly get in contact with him.
“Now, when you’ve got a creature that’s 7 feet tall with red eyes scaring people, you better look into that. I probably collected 10 names, and not one of them had reported it. No one came and volunteered information. I had to pull it out of them.” Truesdale later recalled.
In one account, a man by the name of George Holloman stopped at an artesian well on the bank of the Scape Ore Swamp at 1 AM several months earlier to collect some water. Then, he noticed something that at first, he mistook as a dead tree laying in the road that suddenly moved off into the swamp, describing it as huge, dark in color, with red eyes.
Then on July 16th, only a matter of days after Sheriff Truesdale’s initial investigation, the plot thickened when 17-year-old Christopher Davis, along with his father Tommy Davis, walked into the Sheriff’s office and told them a story that would send Lizard Man Mania into a full-on frenzy.
Late one night a couple weeks prior, young Chris Davis was driving home after his shift working at the local McDonald’s Fast-Food Dining Establishment. Due to it being late and him being an impatient teenager, he decided to take a shortcut down a rural dirt road when his ’76 Celica got a flat tire. Chris was mad, as anyone would be at the prospect of having to change a blown-out tire late in the night, but he did what he had to do, and pulled out all of his tools, jacked his car up and threw on the spare tire he had in the back.
But upon finishing the job and putting away his tools, he noticed something large (and in charge) coming his way. Unsure of what he was seeing at first, his puzzlement soon turned into sheer terror, and was shocked and horrified by what he saw: a tall, bipedal, red glowing-eyed creature with green, scaly skin and 3-clawed hands running on two legs toward him and his car.
Acting quickly, he jumped back into his car, turned the ignition, and floored it out of there, undoubtedly sending a cloud of dust in his wake. He had gotten away – or so he thought.
Soon after he hauled ass out of there, he felt a thud – the creature had lept onto the roof of his car and was holding on, determined to not let Chris get away.
Like a scene out of some shitty horror movie, Chris began to swerve his car back and forth and then slammed on his brakes, and the creature lost its grip and launched off the front of his car, landing like a limp ragdoll on the ground. By this point, Chris was able to finally speed away and head straight home, his heart pounding and his adrenaline surging at full blast.
Davis was so frightened by his encounter that night, that according to him and his father, it took him over 2 hours to calm down enough to tell his parents what had happened.
Chris was even administered a polygraph test by the authorities, which he passed.
“That’s the story that he told me – and I believe him… I believed all they said, but I couldn’t believe what they were saying.” Sheriff Truesdale said.
Within 3 days of Chris Davis’ report, the story was all over the news, and not just the local news – reporters from national journalistic institutions such as Good Morning America, Time Magazine, and People Magazine were calling the Sheriff’s office, and the story even went international, being plastered on the headlines of newspapers as far away as South Korea.
“We were getting so many calls, we had to set up a separate office just to deal with the media.” Sheriff Truesdale said.
The entire area by this time was in a full scale panic, as people were even going as far as covering all the chrome on their vehicles with masking tape, as rumors had started to swirl that the lizard man was attracted to chrome. To add insult to injury, an estimated 50,000 outsiders had swarmed Lee County, which for reference, had less than half of that number in permanent residents at the time.
The following is an article published on July 23, 1988 from the Washington Post, which was written by Michael Kernan.
They still haven't caught Lizardman, the seven-foot scaly-backed green monster with red eyes that has half of South Carolina up in arms.
The creature came out of a Lee County swamp outside of Bishopville and attacked a car, people say, and chased a guy all the way to Browntown.
As of yesterday at least 75 hunters with guns were parked outside the swamp, and more were expected this weekend.
"Looked like a football game out there," said Sheriff Liston Truesdale. "They had a fire going, and campers."
Right now the sheriff's main problem is the media, who have been calling him from all over the continent and demanding to be driven to the swamp.
Furthermore, the owner of the Charlotte Hornets up in North Carolina wants to talk to the seven-footer about a job as a power forward. "If he's that big I hope they don't shoot him," said George Shinn. "Oh, I hope they save him."
Sheriff's deputies are publicly doubting the report that Lizardman stole a hood ornament from one couple's car. Experts contend that the scratches on the car were made by a red fox.
Now there's a flaw right there. What would a red fox want with a hood ornament? He couldn't even begin to twist it off with his little paws.
When Christopher Davis, aged 17, told about the three-fingered Lizardman who came after him when he was changing a tire near the swamp, state wildlife officials responded by reminding everyone that alligators are protected by law.
Alligators? An alligator on two feet that can run from Bishopville to Browntown? This is clearly an obfuscation, and a clumsy obfuscation at that. Alligators do not have three fingers.
First of all, the authorities should check out everybody who rented "The Creature From the Black Lagoon" recently. If that doesn't turn up a suspect, then we know we have an authentic monster here. Derivative, but authentic.
A monster with an eye for hood ornaments. What does that say to you? An upwardly mobile monster? But why would he attack a teen-ager changing a tire? Maybe he wanted a ride out of the swamp. But he did get out, when he ran to Browntown. He could have stayed in Browntown and opened an auto supply store.
No, no, no. This goes nowhere until you read that radio station WCOS in Columbia, 50 miles to the west, is offering $1 million for Lizardman's capture.
Here is conclusive evidence that the whole episode is an obfuscation, because for a lousy million who would bother turning him in? All the lottery winners will tell you -- a million just messes up your life style and more often than not leaves you in debt with your friends all mad at you.
The point is this: Somebody wants Lizardman (sorry, Lizardperson) to stay out there in the swamp. Somebody wants those cars to get terrorized and people to get chased and hunters to churn up the underbrush with their campers.
Because what else is there to do with all those news reporters, and feature writers, and editors, and technicians, and van drivers, and balloon blowers, and anchormen, and foreign correspondents and e'minences grises still simmering after Atlanta and the next convention three weeks away?
We're going to Lee County, people. Call the Holiday Inn.
(END OF ARTICLE)
Local merchants began to cash in on the craze, selling Lizard Man themed T-Shirts and other crap, and tourism to the area began to increase exponentially. A local radio station began giving eyewitness accounts of the lizard man intensive coverage, and even offered a $1 million bounty to anyone who could bring in the creature, dead or alive.
In August of that year, a US Air Force serviceman who was stationed at Shaw Air Force Base near Sumter, SC, reported to local police that he saw the Lizard Man while driving on I-20 while on his way to the base.
According to his claim, he pulled over and shot the creature in the neck with his handgun and even collected scales and a sample of blood from the beast. But upon being interrogated by police, he admitted that he made the entire story up, and Sheriff Truesdale charged him with unlawful possession of a handgun and filing a false police report.
All-in-all, more than 12 people saw the lizard man in the summer of 1988. Some witnessed the creature crossing the road out in front of their vehicles. Some claimed to have been chased out of the area by it. Others claimed to have heard strange eerie howling and screeching coming from the swamp. The police even found strange 14 inch long three-toed footprints that were allegedly left by the monster, which were cast with plaster. Pictures of these casts can be found online.
In 2008, another couple living in the area reported very similar damage done to their vehicle while it was parked outside of their house one night. Bite marks were left on the wheel well, along with blood. However, DNA testing of the blood found that it belonged to a domestic dog – or at least, that’s what they WANT you to think.
Tragically, on June 17, 2009, Christopher Davis, the teenage McDonald’s employee who had first reported his harrowing encounter with the lizard man back in 1988, was found shot to death in his home in an apparent drug-related incident. 19-year-old Lakiem Davar Butler of Camden turned himself in shortly afterward, while a second suspect, Anogory Santrell Slater, went on the run but was quickly captured by authorities. Both men were charged and convicted in his death.
In 2015, the lizard man was once again spotted and filmed on an iPhone by a local resident named Sarah near Camden Highway in Bishopville. According to her account, she took the 20 second video while she was standing outside of her church. Still frames of the video went viral.
Just before the solar eclipse of August 2017, the South Carolina Emergency Management posted a tweet with a map which showed places where local residents were most likely to spot the Lizard Man due to the enhanced paranormal activity caused by the eclipse.
Every summer beginning in 2018, the so-called “Friends of the Lizard Man Committee” host the “Lizard Man Stomp”, a festival with live music, Lizard Man themed merchandise, and of course, thousands of like-minded tourists who share their love for cryptid creatures.
Much like the Mothman of Point Pleasant, the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp has become somewhat of a mascot to the community. Real or not, it has helped drive much needed tourism revenue into the relatively poor area and has put the town on the map as being the birthplace of such a legendary creature, up there with the likes of bigfoot and the Fresno Nightcrawler.
Some local residents embrace the legend and have integrated it into their own lives in different ways – through music, artwork, and oral tradition. Others scoff at the entire story, and see it as a source of shame and embarrassment. Others are left with a more agnostic position on the matter, neither believing nor disbelieving – and either through curiosity, paranoia, or doubt, make the occasional glance over into the Scape Ore Swamp as they happen to be driving by, in the off-chance that they may catch a glimpse of the 7-foot-tall Lizard Man.
So if you ever find yourself driving through Browntown, South Carolina, keep your eyes peeled, and stay frosty – you never know what might leap out of the swamp and latch onto the hood of your car shrieking a blood-curdling shriek.
A FEW OF THE MOST COMMON THEORIES
One of the most common beliefs is that the legend of the Lizard Man originated from a small handful of people who either made the story up or wrongfully believed that they saw a humanoid lizard man stalking their community, and sought to explain certain events like a teenager damaging his car through his own recklessness, or vandalism, in a way that absolved themselves from responsibility by blaming it all on something that can never be proven positively or negatively. From here, the story then snowballed into a monster of its own – irrespective of its actual authenticity.
Entrepreneurs and merchants added fuel to the fire by marketing the Lizard Man by selling merchandise and driving much welcomed tourism revenue into the community, offering little incentive to debunk any of the claims made.
Others believe that ALL the stories were just a collection of hoaxes, which, some accounts were proven to be.
Skeptical inquirer Benjamin Radford listed some inconsistencies in Chris Davis’s story and concluded that his account was unconvincing. The skeptic claimed that the details of Davis’s report changed over time. He also alleged that the teenager gave contradictory accounts about the creature’s appearance.
Radford argued it was unlikely that Davis would have noticed details about the creature’s features in the dark. He said that Davis’s accounts about the creature attacking his car also had contradictions.
He concluded that the teenager’s claims were likely a publicity stunt organized by a company that reportedly arranged and managed his public appearances.
Some people believe that the Lizard man of Scape Ore Swamp may have been a misidentification of a more well-known and more commonly sighted cryptid creature: Bigfoot.
Due to the creature’s tall stature, some have made the assertion that this could have been a Sasquatch that was living in the swamp, and due to living in the swamp, appeared green in color due to moss and algae either growing on its body, or that was used as some sort of camouflage.
However, some problems with this argument are the apparent 3-toed footprints found near the scenes of two Lizard Man sightings, and eyewitness descriptions of it having 3-clawed hands, when Bigfoot is alleged to have 5 fingers and 5 toes, similar to humans. Furthermore, some eyewitness accounts of the Lizard Man describe it as having a tail, which Bigfoot does not.
Reptilian Race of Humanoids
One theory about the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp is that the creature was one, or several, of the reported “reptilians”, that allegedly shapeshift into human form.
According to Reptilian Conspiracy Theorists such as David Icke, this race of highly malevolent reptilian alien beings rule every part of our society, and are responsible for most, if not all, of the ills and highly tragic events that happen in our world. One notable example of an alleged reptilian is Mark “The Zucc” Zuckerberg, CEO of Meta and founder of Facebook, who to many, doesn’t appear completely human, and has been on a PR campaign in recent years trying desperately to improve his public image by releasing videos of himself doing normal everyday hu-mon activities such as searing the flesh of animal carcasses on a hu-mon-made BBQ grill, and making outdated Nickelback jokes that somebody else wrote for him in order to prove that he is a hu-mon just like you or I, with normal hu-mon emotions and a normal hu-mon sense of humor.
Could Mark Zuckerberg be the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp?
In 2016, during an hour-long online Q&A session, Zuckerberg was asked by one user “Mark, are the allegations true that you’re secretly a lizard?”
Visibly taken aback by the question, he nervously licked his lips with his forked tongue and blinked sideways before responding with “I’m gonna have to go with ‘no’ on that. I am not a lizard.”
But to be fair, that’s exactly what a lizard man would want you to believe.