May 20, 2022 I Brent Swancer

Freakish Aquatic Humanoids from Ohio and the Ohio River Area

Among the various aquatic anomalies reported over the years, including sea monsters, lake monsters, and mermaids, certainly in a class all its own are the various reports of strange amphibious humanoids, typically described as reptilian, frog-like, or fish-like, as if something straight out of the film The Creature from the Black Lagoon. These outlandish accounts tend to fly off into the extreme fringe of cryptozoology and defy any real efforts to understand or classify them, only adding to the mysteries that the world's waterways hold within their depths. One region that seems to have its fair share of aquatic humanoids is the state of Ohio, as well as the Ohio River, which meanders through it and neighboring Indiana and Kentucky, itself having plenty of weirdness going on. Here we have reports of a veritable menagerie of all manner of fish-men, frog-men, and other, less identifiable aquatic humanoid monstrosities. 

A very weird case of what can only be described as some sort of underwater lizard man is known as simply “The Green Clawed Beast,” and is known primarily from one particularly dramatic and frightening witness report from 1955. On August 21, 1955, a Mrs. Darwin Johnson and her friend, a Mrs. Chris Lamble, were reportedly swimming on the Ohio River near Evansville, Indiana on a clear and calm summer’s day when they encountered something rather bizarre to say the very least. At some point during their relaxing swim, Johnson purportedly suddenly had difficulty swimming and began thrashing about in a panic in the water, as if something was intentionally and inexorably pulling her down. Lamble looked on in horror as her friend clutched at the water and gasped for air, and Johnson apparently once managed to break free from whatever was yanking on her leg, which would later be described as a scaly, clawed hand, only to be pulled down yet again as she desperately screamed for help. Lamble furiously splashed her way across the water in her inner tube in an effort to reach her terrified, drowning friend, and as she approached the mysterious assailant then released its grip and sank away in the murky depths of the river.

The Ohio River

Once on shore, Johnson displayed gashes and bruises on her leg consistent with powerful claws, as well as a green palm print of a massive hand etched upon her flesh, which could apparently not be washed off for several days. While neither of the women had gotten a good look at the vicious mystery beast, they both seemed to agree that it had been a very large, fish-like humanoid of some sort, very much like the beast depicted in the 1954 film The Creature From the Black Lagoon. As weird as all of this is, it would all get even stranger still, when investigator Terry Colvin interviewed the women years later and found out that they had been visited soon after the incident by a mysterious individual identifying himself only as an Air Force Colonel, who had questioned them and then advised them against talking about it with anyone else. Just what was it that tried to drag Johnson down to her death and why was that “Colonel” snooping around and telling them to remain quiet on the matter? No one knows.

Also from the Ohio River are sightings of something strange in October of 1975 at the portion of the river that runs across the northern boundary of Milton, Kentucky. Described in cryptozoologist Loren Coleman’s book Mysterious America, one witness, a Clarence Gable, claimed that there was a massive frog-like creature lurking in the area of his junkyard. The creature was described as having bulging eyes, a forked tongue, and as being a dull white color with black and white stripes. Other witnesses at around the same time would see the same or similar creature around the Ohio River at Trimble County, Kentucky, and say it was some sort of bipedal and amphibious lizard-like beast. Other “gill-man” sightings covered by Coleman have come in from the region as well. In March of 1959, witnesses Michael Lane, Wayne Armstrong, and Dennis Patterson sighted a “green-eyed, seven-foot-tall, seemingly armless humanoid” at Charles Mill Lake in Mansfield, Ohio, that left behind tracks like the flippers of scuba divers. This particular entity was seen again in 1963, and a major detail was that it was “luminous and green-eyed.” 

Perhaps the most well-known of the tales of such beasts in the area is that of what has come to be known as the Loveland Frog, of Loveland, Ohio. One of the earliest accounts of this frog-like mystery monster comes from May of 1955, when a businessman was traveling down a remote rural road along the Little Miami River in Clermont County, near the town of Loveland. As the witness approached a bridge at around 3:30 AM, he says that he saw three bipedal frog-like creatures measuring around 3 to 4 feet in height gathered under a bridge. The strange beasts were described as being somewhat reptilian in appearance, with webbed hands and feet, thick leathery skin, and “frog-like heads,” and as having many wrinkles over their bodies, as well as having wide, lipless mouths. One of the mystery beasts then allegedly raised its arm to produce a bar or wand of some sort that was said to emanate sparks and a pungent odor of “alfalfa and almonds,” an odd detail that just sinks the whole thing deeper into the strange.

Thus would begin the odyssey of the Loveland Frogman. In March of 1972 the bizarre frogman would make an appearance again when it was purportedly spotted near Loveland by a Ohio police officer identified as a Ray Shockey as he drove in his cruiser along East Kemper Road, which winds along with the Little Miami River near town. The creature was described as bipedal and around 4 feet tall, with rough, leathery skin, and a head and face like a frog or lizard. The officer explained that he saw it leap over a railway to apparently jump into the Little Miami River. A later examination of the scene turned up strange scratch marks on the handrail the thing had reportedly jumped over, but no other physical evidence of any kind.

Just two weeks after this sighting it was seen yet again, this time by another police officer named Mark Mathews. In this case the creature was spotted lying on a rural road on the outskirts of Loveland. The witness supposedly at first took it to be a dead animal on the road, but as he got out of his cruiser to investigate it allegedly stood up and crouched down on the road before walking over to the guardrail while intently watching the witness. It was described as a frog-like bipedal creature around 4 feet in height, this time with a tail clearly visible, and the startled police officer then took a shot at it with his sidearm but missed as the beast scurried off into the night. In later years Matthews would begin to doubt what he had seen, and started to claim that it must have been some exotic reptile pet that had escaped from its owner, although how this could be confused with an upright walking frog is anyone's guess. It is unclear why he retracted his original report, but an investigation by Weird Ohio in 2001 interviewed a local named Ron Schaffner about the possible reason, and he said thus:

Why, after all these years is Matthew’s debunking the story? I’m not sure. Could be a number of reasons. But both officers told us that it resembled the sketch in 1976. Why would they shows 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.

There have been other sporadic sightings over the years of the Loveland Frogman, and as recently as 2016 there was a report that someone had actually filmed the creature. According to WLWT5, witness Sam Jacobs was playing the popular video game “Pokemon Go” along with his girlfriend behind the Beth Adam synagogue on Loveland Madeira Road, in Ohio, when they saw a strange, frog-like creature in the water of the nearby river. Jacobs would describe what happened thus:

We saw a huge frog near the water. Not in the game, this was an actual giant frog… then the thing stood up and walked on its hind legs. I realize this sounds crazy, but I swear on my grandmother’s grave this is the truth… Not sure if it was a frogman or just a giant frog. Either way, I’ve never seen anything like it.

The couple managed to take a video clip of the alleged creature on their phones, which shows what seems to be something standing in the water with glowing eyes, but it is so indistinct and grainy it is hard to make out just what we are seeing here. It could be the Frogman or it could be a person in a suit. It is very possible that it is a hoax, but the couple are adamant that they actually saw this thing. If the Loveland Frogman was ever real, then what could it possibly be? Is this a cryptid, an alien, or what? It is hard to say. Indeed, it is hard to say just what is going on in any of these cases, and they really stretch at the fringes of the weird. What are these things and why are there so many sightings of them in this area? No one knows for sure, and it adds more bizarreness to an already bizarre little corner of cryptozoology.

Brent Swancer
Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He's written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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