|Posted on March 9, 2011 at 9:12 AM|
THE LIZARD MAN OF SCAPE ORE SWAMP AND OTHER REPTOIDS
One of the most bizarre creatures reported in recent times is undoubtedly a nightmarish entity from South Carolina, which has been aptly nicknamed Lizard Man. Oral reports go as far back as 1972 but written documentation does not take place until 1988. This creature, if it does indeed exist, is a fairly young monster as far as legendary beasts go.
In 2008, after an apparent hiatus of twenty years, the Lizard Man returned and caused havoc to cars and livestock.
The Lizard Man is reported to be approximately 7-8 feet tall, bipedal, covered in green scaly skin and nocturnal. His eyes glow red at night and his head and face are like a cross between human and snake. He has a center ridge that comes from the top of his head to his snout. He is described as well-built and has only 3 digits on each of his hands or feet. His claws are reported to be black and ranging anywhere from 2-4 inches long. No odors or sounds have been reported in connection with the Lizard Man but, when you have 4 inch long talons, who really needs an offensive odor? He seems to reside in the Scape Ore Swamp of the Pee Dee River region including Sumter, Florence, Darlington and Lee Counties. He predominantly hangs about Lee County near the town of Bishopville, which has an approximate population of 4000.
Reports of the Lizard Man are said to have started in 1972 with oral stories but there are legends among the Native Americans of the Inzignanin near Chicora—sandwiched between North and South Carolina—of fishy humanoids covered in scales. However, these fish-men were only 5 feet tall, had relatively inflexible tails approximately 18 inches long and as thick as a man's arm (similar to that of the alligators or crocodiles) and webbed hands. They consumed only raw fish and are said to have died out when the fish population was depleted.
In 1988 the first documented reports of the Lizard Man occurred in the form of police reports and newspaper articles. Apparently, on June 29, 1988, at approximately 2:00 a.m., Christopher Davis, then 17, was on his way home from working the late shift at a local McDonalds. He was traveling on a road that borders the Scape Ore Swamp when a tire blew out. Exhausted and just wanting to go home, Davis exited his car and changed the tire. Reports say that as he was putting the jack back into the trunk after the tire change was complete when he heard a loud 'thump' coming from a field. He turned to look for the source of the noise and that's when he spotted the Lizard Man.
Running at a high rate of speed, the Lizard Man was coming straight for the startled motorist. Davis ran to the driver's door, managed to get in the car, and locked the door just as the creature reached him. It tore and clawed at the mirror, the door handle and the window. It then jumped onto the roof of the car and began to claw and scratch at the roof and the front windshield. Davis, overcoming some of the initial shock at seeing a giant human-like lizard, started the car and drove off. He swerved to shake loose the creature.
At home, Davis woke his parents and explained what happened. Davis was visibly shaken and his father decided to check out the car and see if he could determine what had happened. There were scratch marks on the roof and door, and the side mirror was twisted. The event was reported to the police but an investigation was inconclusive.
The massive media publicity generated by the Davis incident led to many other Lizard Man reports emerging during the summer of 1988, but there were no solid leads and no sufficient evidence was ever uncovered. Two weeks after Davis' incident, the Sheriff's Department did find some strange tracks and made plaster castings of what appeared to be three-toed prints measuring 14 inches in length. However, the castings were never sent to the FBI and there is no report as to what happened to the casts or where they may be now. According to Johnny Evans, a spokesman for the South Carolina Marine Resources Department, the tracks did not match and could not be mistaken for any known animal of record, nor could he say that they were the prints of some mutated creature. The prints were in hard ground and about four-feet apart which would be consistent with a creature of a stature of seven-feet.
Christopher Davis drew an image of the being that attacked his car and got wired up for the test. A series of questions about the event were put to him and Christopher answered them without hesitation. Although believing that they were victims of an imagination gone wild, the officers administrating the lie detector test and Liston soon realized otherwise. Christopher had passed the test with flying colors.
While Christopher Davis' adventure into the unknown had ended, Sheriff Liston Truesdale's had just begun.
In the months that followed, Sheriff Truesdale began to receive more and more reports from individuals claiming to have seen a large, wild beast near Scape Ore Swamp. It's not unusual to hear such stories, seeing that the swamp had a long history of mysteries involving reports of hauntings, sightings of strange lights, and the occasional bear or two. But the new reports were different.
Multiple eyewitnesses began to surface. Many of those whom Sheriff Truesdale interviewed were upstanding members of the community. They were people who risked losing credibility and possibly business. Most of all, Liston noticed the highly charged emotional state of some of the eyewitnesses. His investigation-training at the FBI academy taught him to look for signs of emotional distress to help him determine when someone was recovering from a truly traumatic event, and many who reported seeing the "Lizard-Man" were showing all the signs.
It wasn't long before word spread throughout Bishopville and beyond. The press, curiosity seekers, avid out-of-town hunters, and television crews from around the world began to show up. Gradually, businesses began to profit from the invasion. Lizard-Man mania engulfed the small community and the nation when the Bishopville Lizard-Man story was reported on CBS news. Stories were also printed in the Los Angeles Times, the Charlotte Observer, the Herald Examiner, and Time Magazine. Serious investigators, the international press, and the societal "fringe" arrived on the scene.
Sheriff's department spokesman Billy Moore told reporters that although hundreds of the 3,500 plus residents of Bishopville ventured into Scape Ore Swamp in search of the "Lizard-Man," armed with shotguns, most of the citizens believed that the sightings were hoaxes. After looking into it himself, however, Moore said that he had no doubt that there was something very real on the road with young Christopher Davis that strange night. He thought, though, that there had to be a more conventional explanation.
Meanwhile, George Hollomon Jr., 32, from Bishopville reported seeing the Lizard-Man while collecting water from an artesian well near the Scape Ore Swamp bridge. Hollomon and an unnamed friend were both frightened away by a creature fitting Christopher Davis's description. Hollomon's brother told reporters that George was visibly shaken by the event and that, despite his pleas for George to stop telling the story, because he didn't want to hear it anymore, he continued talking about it. He said it took time for George to settle down.
Also, a young couple by the name of Brian Edward (23) and Michelle Nunnery (20), Elmore, informed the Sheriff’s office that they almost hit a huge, bipedal beast while driving on Cedar Creek "Gum Springs" Road at 12:30 am. They provided statements and were interviewed by officers.
Lizard-Man mania soon began to bring out the worst in people, and Sheriff Truesdale knew that it was only a matter of time before some gun-toting Lizard-Man hunter was going to accidentally shoot someone in the swamp.
Most subsequent reports were of damage done to cars or of small pets disappearing.
By July of 1988, just a short month later, the reports were already dwindling until August 5, 1988 when one man claimed to have shot and injured the Lizard Man. Kenneth Orr, an airman at Shaw Air Force Base (in Sumter, about 30 minutes south of Bishopville), filed a report that he encountered the Lizard Man on Highway 15. This highway is a state highway that goes through some uninhabited terrain such as swamps and forests. It is not unusual to come across large wildlife such as a deer, coyote or black bear on Highway 15. Orr claims that he encountered the Lizard Man and shot and wounded it. He even presented several scales and some blood samples as his proof. Two days later, he was arraigned for making a false report and for unlawfully carrying a firearm. According to Orr, he invented his story of the Lizard Man in order to keep the legend going. Authorities have not disclosed where he acquired the scales and blood or where said evidence is now.
One eyewitness, a Colonel in the Army Corps of Engineers, reported seeing a half-dinosaur, half-man running alongside his car late one night. He informed Sheriff Truesdale of the event and, after seeking counsel from his attorney, decided not to place a formal report on file regarding his sighting.
The stated reason for his refusal was that his attorney told him he would lose his privacy. As an officer who had spent years at the Pentagon, and who was about to be promoted to General, Robert Cooper may have thought that filing the report would be a death sentence to his military career.
In July of 1990 there was supposedly a story involving a Camden woman and her 5 children. Camden is approximately 30 minutes west of Bishopville, where reports took place in 1988. The Camden report was never publicized, but Truesdale states that he maintains a record of it. While driving home after getting dinner at a fast food restaurant, Bertha Blythers, then 36, her then 18-year-old son Johnny Blythers, his sisters aged 11 and 5 and twin brothers aged 4 were laughing about the Lizard-Man sightings when their lives took a sudden, frightening turn. Coincidentally, Johnny was just stating to his mother that he didn't think the reports of the Lizard Man could possibly be real. In response to his skepticism, the Lizard Man jumped out of the bushes and into the road. His mother swerved to avoid hitting it and stomped on the brakes. The creature acted as if it wanted to get into the car. The Blythers—all except the youngest children—were questioned separately, and they all related the same experience. However, their sighting involved a tall creature with brown fur and big eyes. Bertha Blythers stated that its chest was "huge and took up almost the whole passenger window."
The last report that Truesdale said he was aware of (until the 2004 supposed river attack and the now infamous 2008 sightings) was in 1991 but no details of that report could be found.
In 2004 there was a report of a creature trying to snatch and drag a young girl into a river as she walked by. This was attributed to the Lizard Man, but details of the story are sketchy, and it is possible that is was merely an American Alligator, a creature no less frightening and dangerous but not so mystical. American Alligators are indigenous to South Carolina and on average they grow to six-feet, but larger alligators have been reported and even caught. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) keeps close tabs on the alligators. Anything over six feet they will capture and release in less inhabited areas. Reports of attacks are minimal (the website "Southeastern Outdoors" reports only 8 fatal attacks in 30 years and also states that of the 750 alligator related complaints investigated by the DNR each season, more than half involved alligators of less than 5 feet in length). Alligators are less aggressive then their more feared cousins, the Saltwater Crocodiles, and stick to smaller game. The do not flip over boats or chase their victims on land, and they rarely attack humans unless provoked, or possibly if the human is injured. They can be a danger to small children, but usually it is pets that have the greatest reason to fear alligators in the south east.
In July of 2005 the Lizard Man made another appearance but of less frightening proportions. In a marketing ploy for the promotion of the South Carolina State Education Lottery, the Lizard Man's image was used. A series of commercials were filmed and aired. The commercials resembled a news report and were filmed "live" as the action was happening. The commercials allowed viewers to follow the Lizard Man buying a ticket and cheesy puff snacks at a local convenience store. When spotted he runs out of the store spewing cheesy puffs all over the floor. Later, the Lizard Man is seen in his "white trailer trash" trailer eating cheesy puffs and waiting to see if his ticket is the winning ticket. He wins $500,000 and the newscaster leaves viewers wondering if the Lizard Man will show up for the prize money. In the last commercial, he has indeed shown up amongst a crowd of adoring fans. No longer camera shy, he waves to the crowd and camera and ends the commercial by pinching the newscaster on the butt. Four broadcasts were aired with the slogan "expect the unexpected." The state teamed up with a Hollywood and a prosthetics company to recreate the Lizard Man in a full-body suit. The effect is a realistic, but likeable, Lizard Man (
Then, in October 2005 a woman in Newberry County (approximately 70-90 miles from the sightings in Lee County) reported seeing two creatures outside of her home. The officer called to the home to investigate told the woman that sometimes they "just like to check on humans from time to time." Nothing further was done for the report.
For three more years the Lizard Man was apparently in hibernation or on vacation, but in the spring of 2008 he returned with a vengeance.
On a Thursday morning in February, Bobby and Dixie Rawson woke up to find that almost $2000 worth of damages had been done to their 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan. The front fender was chewed up, metal was twisted, the grill had bite marks and both sides of the wheels were bitten. There was also blood on the front and sides of the car. Sheriff Liston Truesdale, now in retirement, was the investigator of the report in 1988, and he returned to speak briefly with the Rawson's about their case. He took a look at the damage, comparing it with the damage done in 1988 to the Davis car. Truesdale stated that the two incidents were closely related, the only difference being that in 1988 there was a witness to the attack.
The Rawson's also reported that the local newspaper (The Item, which is also the paper that reported the recent incidents) was strewn all over the road, and some towels that were in boxes on the side porch were also all over the road. The boxes themselves were not disturbed, leading the Rawson's to believe it could not have been a coyote or a bear, as skeptics like the Rawson's son-in-law believed. The fact that the boxes were emptied without being torn open haphazardly the way a bear or coyote would do, was certainly an indication that the perpetrator had hands and opposable thumbs and possibly a degree of higher intelligence. The Rawson's also reported that they had 20 cats that slept in their barn, and over half of them were missing the morning after the attack.
Blood samples were taken and sent to the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) for analysis. As of this article, no reports on the analysis (if any was done) have been reported. Law enforcement officers believe that the damage was done by a coyote; they have also had other reports of small animals being attacked which are consistent with coyote attacks.
Word of these reports made it to the state's capitol, Columbia, and the TV station WIS TV 10 did a newscast on the recent events as did CNN, These reports also attracted the attention of Janson Cox, the Executive Director of the South Carolina Cotton Museum in Bishopville. Cox, a curator of Charles Town Landing for 25 years and the person responsible for the housing of 100 wildlife animals, stated that she believes the attacks on the Rawson's vehicles came from a canine creature no more than 20 inches tall, such as a Pit bull. She also stated that wild animals don't typically hurt themselves (the blood on the car). She also did not entirely rule out the Lizard Man but, but she does not believe he or it is responsible for the missing cats. "He is a vegetarian," she states. But she has provided no information to support this dubious statement.
Four days later another article came from The Item newspaper regarding the Lizard Man. The Rawson's called in another report after finding two dead animals in a field. The couple first spotted buzzards flying over a field about a mile from their home. They investigated and found a dead cow and coyote. By the time law enforcement arrived, the cow had been buried by its owner. Sheriff E. J. Melvin of Lee County was the officer on the scene. He stated that he thinks the coyote damaged the Rawson's van days ago and that the coyote also killed the cow. He did not state what he believed killed the coyote. It is unlikely that the coyote and the cow struggled and both died in the fight. Melvin also did not report why he thought a coyote would attack an immobile and inanimate object; especially something as big as a car.
The Rawson's don't necessarily believe it is a giant half-human and half-lizard that is the cause of the damages, the animal deaths and their missing cats. But they also do not believe that it is the work of a coyote. Dixie Rawson states that she is still missing six cats and that something is out there.
What could be the cause of the Lizard Man attacks: indigenous animals that are only perceived as an unknown creature? Fear and shock can play tricks on the imagination, as can the nighttime and seclusion of the Scape Ore Swamp area. South Carolina is certainly home to predatory animals such as coyotes, bears and alligators. There are even reports of mountain lions being seen in more remote areas.
Alligators, which are similar in appearance to lizards, can be as long as reports of the Lizard Man's height of 7-8 feet, and they do have black claws that can measure anywhere from 2-4 inches. It is even possible for alligators to attack a car if they are in the road and view the car as a threat, but that is rare. They could also be responsible for the attacks on animals and the missing cats. But, as stated earlier, alligators do not generally attack adult humans, especially out of the water, and it is also rare (but possible) for an alligator to grow larger than 5 feet in length. The DNR keeps close tabs on South Carolina's alligator population. More important, alligators never walk on only two feet. They can rear up for an attack but not to a height of more than a few inches. There is no action that an alligator does that could resemble a bi-pedal creature, especially a bi-pedal creature that runs with amazing speed, as reported by Davis in '88.
Alligators do not stray very far from water and would be less able to take down a large creature on dry land. Alligators do not, move as fast on dry land as they do in water, and if they were to take down something as large as a cow or coyote, it would have to be near the water. After their initial attack, an alligator loses the element of surprise and therefore its chance at a hearty meal. Perhaps both creatures were only injured near the water and made their way to where the Rawson's found them. But it is unlikely that an alligator missed two animals in one night, after which both animals happened to drag themselves to the same spot in a field. There are also no reports of trails of blood being found leading up to the animals, suggesting that they were killed on the spot.
The Black Bear is also prevalent in the woods of South Carolina. A Black Bear can definitely stand on two legs and can reach a height of seven feet. Black bears have black claws that can range from 2-4 inches long depending on the size of the bear. A bear could certainly be the cause of missing cats and the death of a cow or coyote. It is not so far-fetched that a bear might even attack a car. However, a bear does not run for long distances on its hind legs, as reported in the Davis case. Bears also are not scaly and even in the dark could not be mistaken for a lizard-like humanoid. Bears also lack the capability to go through boxes and remove items without tearing the boxes apart, as the Rawson's reported.
There has also been speculation that Coyotes, a much smaller predator, may have been the culprits in the attacks. Coyotes do have black claws (although nowhere near 2-4 inches long) and are predatory. They could definitely be responsible for missing cats. However, a coyote also is not a bi-pedal creature and could never run at great speeds on its hind legs. It is unlikely that a coyote would attack a car, since it is such a large object (except in the event that it was rabid). One theory might be that the car was an unintentional victim and was scuffed as the coyote tried to clamor up on it in an attempt to get to the Rawson's cats. This is perhaps the most likely of explanations. However, this does not explain the eyewitness and close-up account of the Davis youth in 1988. This also does not explain the method in which the contents were removed from the boxes while the boxes remained unharmed. Again, a coyote, like a bear, lacks this capability. A coyote could take down a young, weak or sick cow but coyotes generally hunt in pairs or small packs, so where is the second coyote?
The coyote scenario also does not explain why both the cow and coyote were dead at the scene. Perhaps having been injured in the encounter, one animal died after killing the other. The hooves of a cow or horns could harm a coyote. Or maybe a second coyote is the culprit, and after killing the cow, it fought with its partner. But no reports of the dead coyote having been partially eaten made their way to the public. Most animals do not kill for sheer sport, they kill for food.
None of these suspect animals explain the footprints reported in 1988. The Lizard Man is reported to have three-toes, while all of the other animal possibilities have 4 primaries and 1 back claw.
Perhaps, the Lizard Man is nothing more than a series of promotional gimmicks? In 1988 the sightings attracted tourists wanting to see the creature and hunters wanting to capture it. Local radio and television stations even offered 1 million dollars as a reward for the capture of the Lizard Man, alive. For local businesses, that is a lot of money to put up. Unless they knew that the capture was impossible because there is no Lizard Man? At one time, thousands of roadside stands were set up all along Browntown Road (a rural road just off of Interstate 20) selling Lizard Man T-shirts and other paraphernalia.
In 2005 the state used the Lizard Man to promote the South Carolina Education Lottery. And, following the incidents in 2008, Janson Cox, who earlier was reported as stating that she felt a coyote was the culprit, also stated that Lizard Man T-shirts were being ordered and would be for sale soon at the South Carolina Museum of Cotton.
But, if this is so, then why in August of 1988 was Orr arraigned for making a false report when he claimed to have shot and wounded the Lizard Man? He confessed later that he simply did not want the legend to die; he should have been given kudos and allowed to tell his story to draw in tourists. And, if only to draw in tourists, why is there not a Lizard Man festival or why hasn't Bishopville become the official home of the Lizard Man? And why are sightings so rare and infrequent?
One theory that is floating around out there closely resembles many of the Bigfoot theories: a man in a costume. Truesdale does not believe that this is a case of a "man in a monkey suit" for two reasons: 1) he doesn't know why anyone would do that and, 2) the Lizard Man is reported to run at least 30-40 m.p.h (even record-setting sprinters only hit maybe 27 m.p.h) and has also been known to run in front of cars. It is unlikely that any human would risk his or her life for the sake of perpetuating a fake monster hoax. Local farmer, Lucious Elmore, is the suspect for the "monkey-suit," or "lizard-suit" scenario as it were. He knows he is suspect and knows that people believe he contrived the Lizard Man sightings in order to keep unwanted visitors from breaking into his butter-bean shed (sounds a lot like an episode of "Scooby-Doo"). Elmore stands by his innocence. He states that if he is the Lizard Man he must be pretty good to be able to run at least 30 m.p.h. Elmore would have been 47 at the time of the first reported accounts in 1988. The TV show "Good Morning America" even broadcast live from Elmore's butter-bean shed, but no Lizard Man appeared. Elmore stated that it was a "hot topic" and that it was "good fun for the county." He also stated that it gave people something to do during the summer and a way to make a little extra cash.
Is the Lizard Man simply a concoction created for insurance claims when unknown damage has been done to a car? All reports seem to be of cars being attacked. Damage from accidents can be claimed on insurance, but when no accident is involved how does one explain unknown damage? I have received scrapes on the roof of my car due to tree branches scraping on it. Perhaps the damage was being done by trees on these rural roads rather than a large lizard. Unable to receive money for tree related damages, are claimants creating wild stories of creature attacks?
However, tree-damage would not explain the twisted metal of the Rawson's car, and while an accident, which was the fault of the Rawson's might do so, driver-caused damages are less likely to receive insurance money. Perhaps the Davis boy also used the Lizard Man as an explanation for why there were scratches to his car. Stand-up Comic and actor Dane Cook states that the best lies to get out of a sticky situation involve lying about yourself being in danger. Is it possible this is what the Davis boy did? <
However, accidents as a result of trees or a driver-caused minor accident do not explain towels and newspapers strewn all over the road or a dead coyote and cow.
In addition to the mysterious 1990 report, Truesdale is reported to maintain a collection of sighting accounts, plaster casts, photos of the prints, and photos of the damage done to the Davis vehicle. Truesdale laughs off many accounts and the hubbub that the stories brought to one sleepy swamp town, but he is convinced that the eyewitnesses saw something they could not explain. He attributes it to the "skunk-ape" which is a lesser known and smaller cousin of "Bigfoot" and under some speculation itself as to its existence. He states that the media misnamed the creature by calling it a lizard. He states that an if an animal with fur gets wet, its fur could appear glossy and perhaps like skin or scales at night. Certainly, people's imaginations play tricks when they are scared or in shock, and the creature does live in swamps, making wet fur a real possibility. As far as his collection is concerned, Truesdale stated that he had thought about publishing a book. However, the only known book on the subject so far is titled The Lizard Man of South Carolina by authors Nancy Rhyne and Mauro Magellan, and it is for elementary children. It is set in the 1800's and based loosely on the accounts of 1988. Truesdale also reports that polygraph tests were given to eye-witnesses and they all passed. However, a polygraph will show a person is telling the truth if they believe what they are saying is true. That does not necessarily mean that a 7-foot lizard lives in the swamps of Lee County.
Interestingly, these bizarre episodes of the Lizard Man are far from being unique. Many other parts of North America have also hosted encounters with semi-aquatic man-monsters, some being described as having heads more frog-like in appearence, some more fish-like, and some astonishingly similar in appearance to the amphibious "gillman" starring in Hollywood's classic movie Creature from the Black Lagoon.
GREEN CLAWED BEAST
On August 21, 1955, Mrs. Darwin Johnson had a terrifying encounter with what she claimed was a hideous creature beneath the surface of the Ohio River near Evansville, Indiana. While enjoying a leisurely swim with a friend (one Mrs. Chris Lamble), Mrs. Johnson claims that she was suddenly clutched around the knee by a large, claw-like hand.
Only 15-feet from shore, Mrs. Johnson struggled to disengage herself and head for safety. Mrs. Lamble could only stare in horror as her distraught friend was yanked beneath the surface of the river. Miraculously, Mrs. Johnson managed to kick her leg free, but almost instantly she was seized again, this time from behind.
Mrs. Lamble's shrieks echoed across the river as she helplessly watched her friend being pulled below the river's murky surface once again. After resurfacing a second time, Mrs. Johnson lunged for Mrs. Lamble's inner tube and the splash of her impact apparently scared the beast away. Once back on shore, Mrs. Johnson was treated for multiple contusions on her leg, at which point it was discovered that she bore a green, palm-print shaped stain. The stain could not be removed for several days.
Although neither Mrs. Johnson, nor Mrs. Lamble, were able to get a clear or sustained look at the creature, it seems to bear a marked resemblance to the THETIS LAKE MONSTER, particularly in regards to its hostile nature.
Other researchers have even gone so far as to suggest tha this incident may be related to another aquatic, Ohio area mystery, that of the LOVELAND FROGMEN.
An interesting footnote to this case was reported by Fortean investigator Terry Colvin. Colvin, who had interviewed the Johnson's, claimed that soon after the incident Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were visited in their Godtown, Indiana home by an individual who claimed to be an Air Force Colonel.
Apparently the Colonel took extensive notes regarding Mrs. Johnson's encounter with the Green Clawed Beast and admonished the couple to talk no further about the incident.
THETIS LAKE MONSTER
Located in the wilds of Victoria, British Columbia, Thetis Lake is the reputed home of a man-sized, gill-bearing humanoid known as the Thetis Lake Monster. This cryptid has been compared by some cryptozoologists to the notorious GREEN CLAWED BEAST of the Ohio River, the LIZARDMAN of Sumter, South Carolina, or the LOVELAND FROGMEN.
First brought to international attention in the early 1970's, this grisly aberration of natural selection has been described as being nearly 5-feet tall and weighing approximately 120 lbs., with an epidermis consisting soley of silver scales. This animal's horrifying visage is made complete by the six, razor-sharp spikes—connected to one another by a thin, membranous webbing—which are said to protrude from its amphibious skull.
With it's dark, bulbous eyes, fish-like mouth and webbed hands, feet and ears, the Thetis Lake Monster bears more than a passing resemblance to the iconoclastic image of "The Creature From the Black Lagoon". What lends credibility to these reports however, is the fact that for centuries North Americans natives have reported numerous—and oft times fatal—encounters with various creatures which they describe as being carnivorous, aquatic-humanoids.
These man-like anomalies purportedly lurked in the mist shrouded lakes and rivers of the Pacific northwest. One of the beasts chronicled in these Native American legends was the Pugwis, which reputedly tormented the Kwakiutl Indians of the Puget Sound region for years. These accounts, of course, vastly pre-date the Thetis Lake Monster as well as its cinematic companion.
On August 19, 1972, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police launched a brief investigation into this phenomenon after two teenage boys—Robin Flewellyn and Gordon Pike—claimed to have been attacked by the creature on the shores of Thetis lake. According to the two witnesses, as they were standing on the beach near the Thetis lake recreational center when they both saw a spontaneous surging of water just off the shoreline.
Suddenly, the monstrous head and silver-scaled, torso of the creature rose from the lake and—with an almost preternatural speed—shot from the churning surf. According to their reports, this vicious creature pursued the young men almost back to their car.
Narrowly escaping this voracious predator, Flewellyn and Pike made their way to the nearest RCMP station, where one of the teens displayed a laceration across his hand, which he claimed was the result of contact with the spike-like fin that adorned the monster's skull. The officers on duty were so impressed by the sincerity of the boys' tale that an immediate manhunt (or monsterhunt, as the case may be) was launched.
Nothing was turned up on that occasion, but just four days later, at approximately 3:30 pm. on the 23rd of August, the monster reared its head again. This time the creature—which perfectly matched previous descriptions—was seen by Mike Gold and Russell Van Nice on the opposite side of the lake.
Unlike the Flewellyn and Pike encounter of the previous week, these witnesses claim that the creature merely rose out of the water, looked around, then submerged. The men further claimed that they did not linger long enough to see whether the beast would manifest its previously displayed tendency towards aggressive behavior.
THE LOVELAND FROG MEN
One of the most intriguing cases took place in May of 1955, on a lonely stretch of road that runs along the Miami River in Clermont County, just on the outskirts of a small town known as Loveland, Ohio. At approximately 3:30 a.m., an un-named business man claimed to have witnessed three, bipedal, quasi-reptilian entities congregating by the side of the road. The man pulled his car to the curb and observed these creatures for what he estimated to be about three minutes.
During this time he noticed that these strange beings stood between 3 and 4-feet tall, were covered with leathery skin, and had webbed hands and feet. Their most distinguishing characteristic however, was their distinctly "frog-like" heads, which the man claimed bore deep wrinkles where there hair should have been. Just as the man was about to steal away, one of the creatures suddenly held what the witness could only describe as a "wand" above its head. The anonymous source further claimed that sparks spewed out of the end of this device. He left posthaste.
Thus began the legend of the Loveland Frog Men. This tale would be fascinating enough if it ended there, but the most significant encounters in this case—and indeed one of the most significant encounters in the annals of cryptozoology—was yet to come. At about 1:00 a.m., on March 3, 1972, a police officer (who understandably chose to remain anonymous) was traveling along Riverside Road heading towards Loveland, when he saw something that would forever change his life. The officer claimed that he was driving slowly, due to the substantial amount of ice on the road, when he saw what looked like a dog by the curb. Suddenly, the animal darted in front of the cruiser, forcing the officer to slam on the brakes in order to avoid a potential collision with the creature.
Once the police cruiser came to a halt, its headlights fell upon the prone animal, at this point the officer describes something that seems literally out of this world. In the span of seconds this crouched, frog-like creature, stood on two legs, stared back at the police man - its eyes illuminated beneath the high beams - then scrambled over the guard rail and scurried down the embankment, finally disappearing into the Ohio River. The officer in question described the creature as being 3 or 4-feet tall and weighing in the arena of 50 to 75 pounds. He also claimed that its skin had a leathery textured, and that the animal's features resembled those of a frog or lizard. Another officer investigated the scene later that evening. He saw no sign of the creature, but reported that there were distinct "scratch" marks on the guard rail where the animal purportedly crossed.
The second sighting occurred two weeks later while police officer Mark Mathews had an encounter of his own. According to the report officer Mathews, while driving into Loveland, spotted what he believed to be an injured animal lying on the pavement. Mathews climbed out of his cruiser with the intention of removing the carcass from the already ice slickened road, when the creature abruptly lurched upwards into a "crouched" position. Taken aback by the Frog Man's Reptilian visage, Mathews unholstered his revolver and took a shot at the creature, which then proceeded to hobble over to the side of the road and step over the guardrail - all the while keeping a watchful eye on the trigger-happy officer. Mathews' "Frogman" matched the first officer's description down to the last detail, with the exception of a tail, which was absent in earlier reports.
In the years which have followed these events, Officer Mathews has reneged somewhat on his tale. He now claims that the animal in question was nothing more than a large reptile which escaped from its owners clutches. He further insists that the only reason he shot at the creature was to help confirm a fellow officer's story - a story which was, of course, being met with predictable skepticism by their superiors. Wether or not Mathews' change of heart was inspired by ridicule or the fading memory of an event from which he was 30 years removed, the fact remains that there has not been a single "confirmed" sighting of the Loveland Frogmen in many years.
OTHER NON-MAMMALIAN BIPEDAL CRYPTIDS
In 1977, a State Conservation naturalist called Alfred Hulstruck claimed that a scale-covered man-beast regularly emerged at dusk from the red algae-choked waters of Southern Tier in New York State.
Equally strange was the 6-foot-tall, fluorescent-eyed monster that clawed Charles Wetzel's car on the evening of November 8, 1958 as he drove by the Santa Ana River near Riverside, California. Although often placed in the bigfoot category of mystery beasts, it was much more akin to the reptilian monsters, as noted by cryptozoologist Loren Coleman, because it was covered in leaf-like scales and had a protruding beak-like mouth.
Lizard Men have also become part of our culture in the form of television and movies. Perhaps the most famous of these "Lizard Men" appeared in the 1954 movie The Creature from the Black Lagoon directed by Jack Arnold. In this classic tale, a lizard humanoid is found living along the Amazon River. Typical of another classic movie involving a monster—King Kong—the creature is captured, escapes, and falls in love with the young beautiful heroine. In the seventies we were introduced to the Sleestacks of the TV series "Land of the Lost" (1974-1977) in which a family is transported back to prehistoric times. Giant lizards and alligators also are seen on the big screen in the form of "monster movies."
People have a fascination with what is unexplained, supernatural and paranormal. With reports of everything from ape-like creatures roaming our forests and woods, to giant dinosaurs in lakes, to vampire-like creatures, people are always looking for something that science has yet to discover or explain. Certainly, there are new species of creatures being discovered all the time. But can the existence of something as large as a Bigfoot, a Loch Ness Monster or even the Lizard Man of the South Carolina swamps be defended based only on eyewitness accounts, very little hard evidence and no specimens (either dead or alive)? The possibility of such creatures lies within the grasp of our imaginations, although admittedly within the realm of the slightly bizarre. It is a macabre way of keeping our imaginations open to the unexpected and unexplained. Yet there is often enough evidence to suggest that the possibility of their real existence also lays just this side of reality, and the fascination that perhaps we might catch a glimpse of something unnatural and unexplained is what draws us to these reports and sightings.
Scape Ore Swamp is certainly a dense and large area of wilderness resembling a jungle rainforest. Residents do not even coon hunt there because of its dense vegetation and unknown terrain. There are places humans can't go, which would certainly make a perfect home for a seven-foot lizard that wants to remain anonymous to the scientific world.
Originally published on January 24, 2009