The 1972 Loveland Frogman Sightings

(Emily Wayland / Singular Fortean Society)

(Emily Wayland / Singular Fortean Society)

In 1972, two police officers in Loveland, Ohio, claimed to have seen a large, bipedal, frog or lizard-like being. The first incident was reported by police officer Ray Shockey, who saw what he described as a being that stood three or four feet tall with leathery skin and a face like a frog or lizard. Officer Shockey was en route to Loveland in his vehicle when he saw the thing on the side of the road, and as he approached it he first thought it was a dog; it was only when it stood up and looked at him, its eyes reflecting his car's headlights, that he saw it was something far stranger. The creature turned away from the startled policeman and leaped over a guardrail, down an embankment, and into the Little Miami River.

Officer Shockey continued to the police station, where he told his story to fellow police officer Mark Mathews.

"Naturally, I didn't believe him…but I could somehow tell from his demeanor that he did see something," Mathews said in a 2016 interview with WCPO in Cincinnati.

Officer Mathews agreed to return to the scene with Shockey, and the two men said they found scrape marks leading down a hill into the river.

Just over two weeks later, on March 17th, Mathews had his own sighting. He said he was driving outside of Loveland when he came upon what he thought was an animal lying in the road. Mathews stopped his vehicle to clear what he assumed was an animal carcass, but the sound of his door opening roused whatever it was in the road. The creature was similar to that reported by Shockey, although at the time Mathews said it was standing more upright than what his fellow officer had described. The frog-like entity watched Mathews warily as it moved out of the road and began to climb the guardrail. Mathews drew his sidearm and shot at the thing, and initially claimed to have missed it. 

An illustration made by police officer Ray Shockey's sister after the sightings.

An illustration made by police officer Ray Shockey's sister after the sightings.

In a subsequent 2016 interview, 44 years after the event, Mathews would claim otherwise.

He contacted WCPO in Cincinnati after seeing a story they ran on a 2016 sighting.

Mathews said in his interview with WCPO that the creature he saw was not, in fact, walking upright, but moved on all four legs, and crawled under the guardrail instead of over it. Although he maintains in that moment he still "had no clue what it was."

"I know no one would believe me, so I shot it," he said.

Mathews claimed he put the creature's body in the trunk of his car and showed Shockey, who confirmed that it was the same creature he'd seen.

It was a three-to-four foot iguana, said Mathews. The iguana was missing its tail, he said, which is why he didn't recognize it at first.  

Mathews speculated that perhaps it was someone's pet that had gotten loose, and that the cold-blooded creature had been living near pipes that released warm water from the nearby boot factory's cooling ovens to stay warm.

"The thing was half dead anyway when I shot it," Mathews said.

"It's a big hoax," he said. "There's a logical explanation for everything."

But this explanation doesn't satisfy everyone.  \Investigators wonder why Mathews claimed at the time to have seen an unexplained bipedal entity, and why, if he had a body, did he only show it to Shockey? The policemen don't seem to have profited in any way over the years from the story, and, in fact, have apparently drawn some ridicule for it.  

“Why, after all these years is Mathews debunking the story?" asked Ron Schaffner in an interview with Weird U.S. 

Schaffner is a fortean investigator who, in 1976, had interviewed both officers involved in the sightings. 

"I’m not sure," he said. "Could be a number of reasons. But both officers told us that it resembled the sketch in 1976. Why would they show us a composite drawing of this creature back in 1976 and tell us that it looked like the drawing? I lived in Loveland for about five years and the story is still circulating with many variations. Just maybe Matthews is tired of hearing the story and all the variations.”

Perhaps Mathews is tired of the stories, and the stigma that comes with them; although one would think the time to speak of iguana carcasses would have been in the '70s, at the height of the furor, and not well into the 21st century.

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Tobias Wayland