When you live near a wooded area, it’s pretty easy to let your imagination run wild, but what goes bump in the night in northern South Carolina?
According to local children, clowns have been seen lurking in the woods near Fleetwood Manor Apartments in Greenville County, even displaying “large amounts of money” as they attempt to lure the kids into the woods.
"It's too early to confirm if this is just a hoax or if it's someone with ill intent," Gilberto Franco, the public information officer for the Greenville Police Department, told CNN. "This is a little strange because this has to do with clowns. But it's just like any other suspicious person call. We take it seriously. We want to make sure everyone is safe, especially the kids."
The first sighting took place on Aug. 21. Police reports noted a “suspicious character ... dressed in circus clown attire and white face paint, enticing kids to follow him/her into the woods,” CBS reported.
According to the report, a woman told police that her son saw “clowns in the woods whispering and making strange noises” at about 8:30 p.m. When her son led her to where he saw the creeping clowns, she saw “flashing green laser lights” before the clowns fled.
Her older son reported “chains and banging on the front door” at around the same time.
Another woman reported seeing a “large-figured clown with a blinking nose, standing under a post light near the garbage dumpster area” near another apartment complex, Emerald Commons, at 2:30 a.m., ABC reported. The woman told police she waved back, but the clown did not approach her.
The story grew as children told the police that a gaggle of clowns live in “a house located near a pond at the end of a man-made trail in the woods,” CBS reported.
Greenville County Sheriff’s Office Master Deputy Ryan Flood told “48 Hours'” Crimesiders that a search of the house turned up no evidence —no clown clothes, shoes, noses or masks— nothing to indicate the house is inhabited.
“It’s abandoned,” Flood said. “Every time [deputies] have gone there they have not been able to find anything, clothing or anything else that would indicate someone lives there.”
A teenage girl told police that she saw a man with a blue bicycle in a black jacket taking pictures of children on Monday, Fox8 High Point reported, with another black-jacketed male in a clown mask. On Tuesday, Greenville police responded to a clown sighting, but a witness reported that the clown got away in a car, CBS affiliate WSPA reported.
Exactly how many accomplices were in the car is unknown.
CBS said another clown sighting by the playground was not reported to the police. Witnesses said they chased the dark-colored car full of clowns away.
“To my knowledge, there haven’t been any kind of circuses in town,” Flood told CBS. “There’s crazy stuff all the time, but nothing along the lines of this to my knowledge.”
No witnesses have not given their names, Flood told CBS.
Police have increased patrol in the clown hot zones, but Flood told CBS that no evidence has yet been found to support witnesses’ statements. There are no surveillance cameras in the areas where the sightings took place.