Christopher Davis was killed shortly before 11 p.m. in an incident at his home at 5230 DuBose Siding Road. Investigators say Davis was targeted in a drug-related incident.
“We’ve had several leads, but nothing has panned out so far,” said Capt. James Turner of the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office.
Davis, a Lee County native, recently moved to Sumter County, Lee County officials said. Davis became an international celebrity at the age of 16 when he reported the first sighting of the legendary Lizard Man of Lee County.
Former Lee County Sheriff Liston Truesdale said there would be no Lizard Man without Davis.
“In July 1988, Chris was the first witness interviewed as seeing the Lizard Man,” Truesdale said. “And what impressed me was that he told the same story every time. And he had to tell the story over and over again to the media and others. If you’re lying, you can’t tell the same story twice.”
Everybody wanted to hear the Lizard Man story from the eyewitness, Truesdale said. Davis served as a grand marshal at a festival parade and signed T-shirts at a mall in Myrtle Beach, he said.
“At that time, he was super, nice kid,” he said. “You know, I bet he told the story more than 100 times every week for several weeks.”
Truesdale said he believes the media attention and publicity became too much for him. “He could have made a mint from this,” Truesdale said. “A lot of people don’t know that he was scheduled to go to the Oprah (Winfrey) Show, but he canceled it. I think finally he just had enough.” Davis’ death marked the fourth homicide in Sumter County jurisdiction in 2009. There have been five in the city of Sumter jurisdiction.
Sumter County Sheriff Anthony Dennis said the county saw nine homicides within his jurisdiction in 2008. Dennis, in office since 2004, said the number of homicides during his tenure has varied from two or three a year to five to seven to the nine people killed last year. Funeral services for Davis will be held at 1 p.m. Monday at the New Haven United Methodist Church in Bishopville.
If anyone has information on the shooting, call the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office at (803) 436- 2700 or Crime Stoppers at (803) 436-2718. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.
Some bits about the original story:
Twenty years ago Dan Rather on CBS News reported that Lizard Man had attacked a car driven by a high-school student in South Carolina. The monster beat on the roof of the car and chewed on its chrome bumper. – monsterous
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.
- “I looked back and saw something running across the field towards me. 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.”
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 three-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 (360 mm) 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.