Bishopville, South Carolina - Something apparently attacked Bob and Dixie Rawson's van in the early morning hours of Feb. 28.

The Rawsons live about two miles southeast of downtown Bishopville. They woke up Feb. 28 to find the front fender of their 2002 Dodge Grand Caravan chewed up, bite marks through the front grill, wheels on both sides bitten and metal crumpled in a wad. There was also blood on the front and sides of the car.

While there has been no "official" sighting of the Lizard Man since July 1988, the Rawsons' evidence has created a stir, not just locally but nationwide.

After the Rawsons contacted a Columbia TV station, the story was aired on CNN. In March, filmmaker and self-proclaimed Bigfoot hunter Tom Biscardi and his five-man team visited Bishopville to discover the truth of the Lee County incident.

Equipped with thermal imagers and high-tech cameras, Biscardi conducted initial forensic tests and sent the evidence to California. The team also planned to use its cameras overnight in search of the creature.

The initial evidence found by Biscardi's team is compelling, he said. "You've got the real deal here."

While Biscardi hasn't ruled out it was a bear, he thinks it was more likely a Bigfoot. "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 weigh 300 to 800 pounds. They are hairy. They climb trees and move around by doing what Biscardi describes as knuckle walking.

More than 3,500 Bigfoot creatures exist nationwide, Biscardi said. "They're nocturnal creatures and they're migratory," he said. "They move from south to north this time of year."

Biscardi said he doesn't know if Bishopville's latest incident is related to the 1988 sighting of the Lizard Man.

"I am going to talk with Liston Truesdale, who was the sheriff 20 years ago," Biscardi said. "But I'm mainly concerned with what happened to the Rawsons' van. I haven't fallen off a turnip truck. I'm a firm believer that what you have down here is unknown."

Biscardi doesn't buy local authorities' theory that a coyote damaged the Rawsons' van.

"You can look at the jaw pressure that it took to do this damage," he said. "It wasn't a coyote. I think what you have here more than likely is a Bigfoot creature."

Biscardi said the Rawsons are good, straight-up people.

"I wouldn't have come 3,100 miles here from California if I didn't think there's something here," Biscardi said. "My main concern is to find out what's happened here now. This woman (Dixie Rawson) is afraid. They have cats who haven't come around since this happened."

More than a month after the incident, Dixie Rawson said she is still concerned about what might be lurking near her home. "Let's just say that when I go outside, I have my gun with me," she said.

Biscardi said he works with state and federal officials in many states whenever there's a sighting.

"I have to admit I have a problem here in South Carolina," Biscardi said. "What is law enforcement doing to protect these people? Where is the Department of Natural Resources? Where are the game wardens? What is going on here?"

Biscardi's 2007 film Bigfoot Lives won several awards, including best documentary at the Pocono Mountains Film Festival. The documentary includes videos and interviews that show evidence of Bigfoot sightings in Texas, Minnesota, Ohio and Arizona.

Lee County Chamber of Commerce executive director Beth Hedegor said the chamber is embracing the Lizard Man.

While she personally believes the creature that attacked the Rawsons' van was some type of known animal, probably a bear, she said the publicity is a positive opportunity for the community.

"We are not fighting this," she said. "This doesn't have to be a negative. We consider this an opportunity."

"Lizard Man is Back" T-shirts are for sale at the chamber office on Main Street, Hedegor said. Hedegor gets the T-shirts from Vickie Moniz, owner and operator of the Blossom Shop on North Main Street.

"We have sold more than a hundred so far," Moniz said. "And we are ordering more."

Moniz welcomes any publicity about the Lizard Man. "I think I'll go out there (to the Rawsons) and give this team from California a free Lizard Man T-shirt," she said.