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Media Article # 557
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Thursday, May 15, 2008
DNA debunks Lizard Man attack
By Randy Burns
BISHOPVILLE — There's evidence indicating the 2008 version of the Lee County Lizard Man is a dog.
DNA testing on a swab with blood taken from the 2001 Dodge Grand Caravan reportedly damaged by a creature in the early morning hours of Feb. 28 indicates the likely culprit is a domestic dog, according to a report made by Elizabeth Wictum, Forensic Laboratory director at the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.
A copy of the report was made available by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and the Lee County Sheriff's Office.
Sheriff E.J. Melvin said he can't accept the report's findings.
"If I didn't see the van, I might believe it," Melvin said. "But I still don't think a dog is that strong. My theory is that it belongs to the canine family, but it is a coyote or wolf."
There was plenty of speculation among locals and others that Lizard Man or Bigfoot attacked the van of Bob and Dixie Rawson at their home about four miles southeast of Bishopville.
The Rawsons woke up Feb. 28 to find the front fender of their 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan chewed up, bite marks right through the front grill and both sides of the wheel wells bitten and the metal crumpled in a wad. There was also blood on the front and sides of the car.
As far as the Rawsons are concerned, the mystery has not been solved.
"That would have to be one big dog," said Bob Rawson. "I just don't believe a dog could do that."
Dixie Rawson said she also doesn't believe a dog, coyote or wolf could have inflicted that much damage on a van.
"I can see a bear doing this but not a dog," she said. "No matter what it is, it's dangerous.
And I think it's still out there."
One explanation for the DNA results was offered by the Rawsons. Before the swabs were taken from the van, the Rawsons visited a neighbor who has three German shepherds, they said.
On March 3, Cotton Museum Executive Director Janson Cox surveyed the evidence at the Rawson home and said everything suggested a strong, canine-like mixed breed animal.
As curator of Charles Towne Landing for 25 years, Cox was responsible for a wildlife animal forest that housed more than 100 animals.
"This animal is probably no taller than 20 inches," Cox said. "I think it was something like a pit bull."
Cox said Wednesday that a wild animal will typically not do anything to endanger its life such as tearing something with its mouth and teeth.
"But a domesticated animal will," he said.
While there has been no official sighting of the Lizard Man since July 1988, the evidence found by the Rawsons has created quite a stir not only locally, but also nationwide.
Renowned Bigfoot hunter Tom Biscardi of California visited the Rawsons about a month ago and said he found evidence to indicate the creature was "the real deal."
"They're called different names in the different communities," he said.
The creatures have three toes, Biscardi said. They range in height from 6 to 9 feet and they weigh from 300 to 800 pounds. They are hairy creatures. They climb trees and they move around by doing what Biscardi describes as knuckle walking.
More than 3,500 of the Bigfoot creatures exist nationwide, Biscardi said.
Contact Staff Writer Randy Burns at firstname.lastname@example.org or (803) 491-4533.
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