He stands 7 feet tall with glowing red eyes, a scaly body and three-fingered hands, and has a nasty habit of biting, ripping and pulling apart car fenders, hood ornaments and radio antennas. Some local citizens think it could be the work of the infamous Lizard Man of South Carolina.
"Whatever it is, somebody needs to find out what's mauling these cars because if it can do that kind of damage to a vehicle, look what it could do to a person," former Lee County, S.C., Sheriff Liston Truesdale told The Huffington Post.
After an automobile had a run-in last week with something mysterious in the rural area of the state, the car owners, Leon and Ada Marshall, discovered that their vehicle was riddled with what appeared to be teethmarks that went completely through the fender, according to WLTX television.
It had all the earmarks, or toothmarks, of similar occurrences in the county that began in 1988.
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"I can remember it just like it was yesterday," said Truesdale. "We got a call that something had mauled a car, and whatever it was did a good job on it.
"We dispatched two deputies to go see what had happened. Then they called me, saying, 'Sheriff, we've never seen anything like this before,' and you know what? I never have seen anything like that before!"
Truesdale recalled that the chrome on the front car fender "was snapped in two, like you would snap a toothpick. It tore off sides, other pieces of chrome and the radio antenna -- it was all over the car. While we were there, we learned there had been a big strange creature seen lurking around a nearby swamp."
The 82-year-old retired sheriff told the story of a 17-year-old eyewitness who claimed to have a very close encounter with the creature in 1988, dubbed locally as Lizard Man. Truesdale added that the young man came from a responsible, respectable family and he even passed a polygraph test.
"He never changed his story," said Truesdale. "He was coming home from work and putting his tools back in his car after fixing a flat tire. He saw something running toward him which he described having red eyes and three-fingered hands. When he jumped in his car, he felt a bump on the back of it as he drove out of there like a bat out of hell.
"The creature went from the trunk to the top of the car, looking down at him through the windshield, and he was able to move his car back and forth to throw it off the car. His parents said he was so afraid, it took two hours to settle him down."
Two years ago, Truesdale was called in again to help with the investigation of another case because of the similarities to the 1988 reports, when something mauled a van by biting through the metal and bending the fenders.
"Back in 1988, I tried to find out if anywhere else in the southeast had anything that had mauled cars, and nobody came up with anything," he said.
Not to be outdone by what could be considered his competition, Erik "Lizardman" Sprague is familiar with the reports of his South Carolina counterpart. Counterpart? Well, Sprague has actually become a lizard man in his own right.
What began as a conceptual art project in college, and has evolved via a body modification process, Sprague has transformed himself into a green, scaly, well, lizard man.
"It was an art piece about exploring what it means to be human and it's developed beyond that," Sprague told The Huffington Post with a forked tongue. "The tattooing covers my entire body right now, so I'm kind of like a coloring book where we're filling in the scales green. The only actual surgery was my tongue bifurcation, but there were other intensive procedures like the implants on my forehead."
If you happen to do an Internet search for lizard man, you'll most likely either come up with items about the South Carolina beast or about Sprague.
"Yeah, that's my main competition for search results -- it's my nemesis," Sprague said.
He scoffed at the notion that another guy might be out there with similar body modifications, going around the countryside mauling cars.
"I don't think anybody would manage to do that, especially not somebody who's 7 feet tall and only has three fingers [on each hand]. I think we would've spotted him somewhere beforehand.
"The skeptic in me says 'No, it's not real.' The artist-prankster in me really hopes that it's somebody's very cool project, that somebody's out there with a costume and they're doing this for fun in a great spirit.
"Finally, the cynic in me wishes that people would just appreciate it in that vein of classic hoaxes and stop making crappy T-shirts and exploiting it as a tourist thing."
So now, South Carolina has two potential lizard men in its jurisdiction. The one reportedly mauling cars is sticking close to swamps, and the one making publicity appearances is heading to the Ripley's Believe It Or Not! Odditorium in Myrtle Beach to display his lizardness in all its glory between July 17-24.
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