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 along with the sewers and abandoned subways in towns near the swamp.
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 a car. A few witnesses have reported seeing a tail, although in the majority of cases, a tail was not seen.
The first reported sighting of the creature was made by Christopher Davis, a 17 year old local, who said he encountered the creature while driving home from work at 2 AM on June 29, 1988. According to his account, Davis stopped on a road bordering Scape Ore Swamp in order to change a tire which had blown out. When he was finishing up he reported having heard a thumping noise from behind him and having turned around to see the creature running towards him. Davis said the creature tried to grab at the car and then jumped on its roof as he tried to escape, clinging on to it as Davis swerved from side to side in an effort to throw it off. After he returned home, Davis’ side-view-mirror was found to be badly damaged, and scratch marks were found on the car’s roof, though there was no other physical evidence of his encounter.
Chris’ father, prompted by a story that ran in the newspaper of a strange car mauling, brought his son to the Lee County Sheriff’s Office on July 16, 1988, at which time he told his story to Sheriff Liston Truesdale.
Prior to Chris Davis coming forward to report his encounter, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office was called to the scene of a strange instance of vehicle damage. On the morning of July 14, 1988, deputies made their way to the residence, which was located in a small rural community known as Browntown on the outskirts of Bishopville, South Carolina. When they arrived, home-owners Tom and Mary Waye showed them the vehicle in question. Police found that the chrome moulding had been torn away from the fenders, the side-walls 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 moulding 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 coloured hair and muddy footprints that had been left all over the car. While Sheriff Truesdale was investigating the car, locals informed him there might yet be another, more bizarre possibility.
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 at the end of the summer with the last credible sighting of the year being reported in July.
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, South Carolina, Bob and Dixie Rawson, reported strange damage to their vehicle, traces of blood, and the disappearance of some of their cats. Based on how the damage looks, some have claimed that this is 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. Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin believes it was a coyote or wolf. Soon after the incident at the Rawsons’ home, Lee County Sheriff E.J. Melvin discovered a dead cow and a dead coyote in a field next to the Rawsons’ home.
Interviews with Lizard Man witnesses can be seen on History.com’s MonsterQuest Videos/Cold Cases page. That same episode showed that three hundred pounds of torque would have to have been exerted by the alleged dog to cause that much damage to the Rawsons’ car fender, making it highly unlikely that the damage could have been inflicted by a stray canine (not without losing a considerable amount of teeth).
In 2010 on the TV program Destination Truth, Josh Gates and his team found Lizard Man footprints in the swampland which they determined to be a hoax, and concluded the creature was fabricated. As Destination Truth noted, 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 “Lizard Man” shirts and a “Lizard Patrol” shirt.
In 2011, Bishopville, South Carolina residents, Leon and Ada Marshall, reported that their car had been mauled by some kind of animal. Former Lee County Sheriff stated that the damage on the car looks much like the damage from earlier incidents. Deputy Fletcher Williams inspected the car and surmised that teeth were responsible for the damage, as if the car had been “chewed up.” To further suggest that an animal had been the vandal, a clear trail of saliva was visible from “the front passenger door across the front of the vehicle to the driver door” and on the discarded strips of bumper material. He also found long white and brown hairs.
In 2013, the Lizard Man story was featured on the television show Mysteries at the Museum.
In 2014, the Chris Davis’ Lizard Man sighting was re-enacted on the television show Monsters and Mysteries in America. The complete story of the Bishopville Lizard Man is told in this book by Lyle Blackburn.The book, published in 2013, covers the history of the Lizard Man sightings and examines popular theories regarding the true identity of this strange creature.
Every town has it’s urban legend and for me “The Lizard Man Of Scape Ore Swamp” is just that, a legend.