People all across the country have heard tales of Bigfoot, but it should come as no surprise that every state has its own local legends, too. In South Carolina, it’s the Lizard Man, a giant reptile that’s said to live in the Scape Ore Swamp near Bishopville. 

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The Bishopville Lizard Man

Now, we get how you’d assume that this is some costumed person hiding out on the woods waiting for people to get just a glimpse of them, but you’d be wrong—the Lizard Man not only makes himself seen out in the open, but has even been known to charge a car or two.

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Vice

Real or fake? You be the judge.

The first sighting was almost 30 years ago.

On June 29, 1988, a 17-year-old boy named Christopher Davis was driving home from a late shift at work around 2 a.m. Though it was a drive he likely made often, he got a bit of an unexpected surprise on this particular night when his tire blew out. He stopped on the side of a road near the local Scape Ore Swamp to change it before finishing his trip back home, and that’s when his encounter with the Lizard Man occurred.

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According to Davis, he was just about finished changing the flat tire when he suddenly he heard a strange thumping sound coming from behind him. What he saw when he turned around was, understandably, pretty shocking.

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College of Charleston

“I looked back and saw something running across the field towards me,” Davis said of that night. “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 front windshield, where they curled around on the roof. I sped up and swerved to shake the creature off.”

The damage to his car backed up what he said.

Though Davis was not hurt during his encounter with the Lizard Man, he got home and found that his car wasn’t so lucky. His side-view mirror was basically unusable after what happened, and there were numerous scratch marks on the roof of his vehicle. Davis then told his father about what happened, though it’s not clear whether he believed his son’s story or not.

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Horror Buzz

However, Davis’ father did finally share the incident with the police after reading a story in the local paper about a car that had been mauled in a similar fashion to his son’s.

That car belonged to the Waye family.

On July 14, 1988, just a few weeks after the experience that Davis had while driving home from work, a couple named Tom and Mary Waye called the police to their home in Bishopville to report a bizarre incident involving their vehicle. Unbeknownst to them, something had come along during the night and ripped the chrome fender off of their car, broke its hood ornament, scratched its sides, bent the antenna, and even ripped out some of the motor wires.

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Liston Truesdale/Reptoids

Even weirder was that police noticed that the fender looked as if it had been chewed on—as if an animal had used its teeth to rip it off the car. The Wayes also discovered several muddy footprints all over the car, as well as clumps of red hair nearby.

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iStock

One of the main investigators for this particular incident, Sheriff Truesdale, spoke to several locals who gave him their theories on what happened to the Waye’s car. Their reports were eerily similar to what Davis said he saw.

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Animal Planet

“We learned that people in the Browntown community had been seeing a strange creature about seven feet tall with red eyes,” Truesdale said. “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].”

Reports of Lizard Man sightings kept coming after that.

Within a month of Davis’ encounter with the Lizard Man, multiple people in the Bishopville area claimed they saw him or woke up to unexpected damage to their cars. Though law enforcement officers were skeptical, they were still concerned that the tales could be real, as people they knew to be trustworthy were among those who said they had encounters. Still, they responded with skepticism and told the concerned townspeople that the creature was more likely to be a bear than a giant lizard.

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Leslie McKellar, College of Charleston

Well, at least until they made a plaster cast of its footprints. They had three toes and were approximately 14 inches long, and local biologists deemed them as unclassifiable. Johnny Evans, a spokesperson for the South Carolina Marine Resources Department at that time, said that the tracks didn’t match those of any animal that had been previously recorded, and they couldn’t be mistaken for the track of any other animal, either. He also expressed doubt that the prints could’ve come from a known animal that had some sort of mutation.

The sightings eventually became less frequent…until 2005.

A woman in Newberry, South Carolina, reported in October 2005 that she had seen not one, but two Lizard Man creatures outside of her home. Three years later, a Bishopville couple named Bob and Dixie Rawson discovered that their car had been damaged overnight and that a few of their cats had gone missing.

To add to their fears, they also noticed patches of blood on their car, which an examination determined came from a dog. A sheriff later discovered a dead coyote and a dead cow in the field next to their home.

There have even been sightings as recent as 2015.

In August 2015, a woman named Sarah Berra snapped the photo below of the Lizard Man after she stepped outside of church for a moment. It’s one that would make most people laugh, with its bulging muscles, fake looking red eyes, and plasticky appearance. However, the photo she shared later encouraged an anonymous man to share video footage he had taken of the creature in May of that year.

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Sarah Berra

“‘I saw your lizard man story and it’s given me the courage to send you a video I took in early May,” the man wrote to a local news station. “Though my wife believes me that it’s real, she said she would be embarrassed that everyone would think I was a loon so I kept it a secret.”

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USGS

His 24-second video shows a tall figure darting in and out of the trees in a patch of woods, though it doesn’t get close enough to show any real detail on what it is.

Shortly after that video was released, another local man named Jim Wilson claimed he too had seen a tall, dark figure with a scaly tail while on South Carolina’s Highway 34. He tried to take a photo but said the creature darted across the Scape Ore Bridge.

Still, there are doubters.

Though some in the Bishopville area would swear up and down that their encounters with the Lizard Man were real—backed by many testimonies such as those featured in the video below—a local professor named Scott Poole claims these recent sightings are just part of the cyclical nature of these folk legends.

“Once a monster narrative is born, it re-emerges every few years when people need to tell the story again,” he said.

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