One dark night near Bishopville, South Carolina, in June of 1988, seventeen-year-old Christopher Davis stopped to change a flat tire along Scape Ore Swamp. As he was finishing the task and putting the flat tire in the trunk, he heard a noise coming from a nearby field. As he peered off into the darkness, he saw a seven foot tall creature with red glowing eyes running towards him on its two hind legs and grunting as it closed in. Christopher jumped into the car and sped off down the road.
Just as he thought his nightmare was over, Christopher heard a crashing thud above him and saw a large, three-fingered hand with scales and long claws reach over his windshield. Another hand was trying to pry open his drivers side door. Christopher, now petrified and scared for his life, swerved the vehicle on the road and the creature suddenly fell off. He didn’t know what kind of animal ran on two legs and could catch up with his car, which was traveling at a relatively high speed. He had managed to get away and that’s all that mattered.
When Christopher arrived at home shaking and crying, his father settled him down and Christopher began to tell his parents about what had happened. His dad knew that his son wasn’t usually an imaginative storyteller, and Christopher’s highly emotional state compelled him to believe that Christopher did, in fact, see something highly unusual.
When Lee County Sheriff Liston Truesdale heard about what had occurred to Christopher Davis, he interviewed him and asked Christopher if he would be willing to take a lie detector test. Liston figured that if Christopher was really making up a story for attention, the idea of taking a lie detector test would make him retract his story. To Liston’s surprise, Christopher happily agreed to be tested, adding that he was sure of what happened and of what he had encountered.
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) & 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.
It was then that the inevitable happened: An Air Force sergeant was discovered trying to dress up in a lizard costume. When the press heard the story, a shadow of doubt was cast over the Lizard-Man encounters. When the press left Bishopville, Liston was happy to see his hometown return to normal. But “normal” never really returned.
During the early 1990’s, the Sheriff’s office continued to receive reports of Lizard-Man sightings.
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.
Another truly interesting eyewitness Lizard-Man encounter was that of the Blythers family. While driving home after getting dinner at a fast food restaurant, a woman and her children were laughing about the Lizard-Man sightings when their lives took a sudden, frightening turn: They almost hit a huge, hairy beast on the road. The encounter shook them up so much that they immediately drove to the Sheriff’s office and told Sheriff Truesdale and his officers about what had happened. The family was split up into different rooms and their reports were taken separately. All information provided matched.
In another strange incident, damage to a Ford LTD belonging to Tom and Mary Waye was attributed to the Lizard-Man, because of the anomalous strength that would be needed to cause the destruction. In the middle of the night, when Tom and Mary were asleep upstairs in their house, parts of their car had been ripped apart and wires were pulled away from under the hood. Remarkably, neither Tom nor Mary heard a single sound all night. (Read about Dixie Rawson’s report to a news station regarding her March 2008 Lizard Man car attack)
To this day, Sheriff Liston Truesdale continues his search for whatever it was that turned his small, sleepy community upside-down. The Lizard-Man of Bishopville occasionally resurfaces, and continues to provide a sense of mystery and wonder.
This is a year long research documentary film produced by IAP-TV.com