SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Multiple law enforcement agencies are investigating a rash of incidents involving clown sightings at apartment complexes and other areas of Greenville and Spartanburg, South Carolina.
The Greenville Police Department and the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office have open cases, and the Spartanburg Police Department confirmed Thursday that a clown sighting had been reported at an apartment complex there.
Capt. Art Littlejohn with the Spartanburg Police Department said officers were called to Canaan Pointe Apartments on Wednesday night for reports of a suspicious person.
The complainant, a woman, told officers that a person dressed as a clown was standing in her backyard. She snapped a photo and the person ran off. Littlejohn said the responding officer tried to view the photo on the woman’s phone but the image was too dark to make out.
Deputies in Greenville County said the clowns were initially seen in wooded areas, where they reportedly tried to encourage children to join them, but the situation escalated to reports that clowns were also knocking on the doors of homes.
Investigators said no conclusive photo or video evidence has surfaced and no suspects have been named in any of the incidents.
Officer Gilberto Franco with the Greenville Police Department said the biggest obstacle investigators are facing is lack of detail in the descriptions they are receiving of the clowns.
Franco said of the three reports his agency is investigating, not enough information was received about the costumes, hair colors and whether or not the suspects had on masks or painted faces.
The warning letter
Residents at an apartment complex shared a letter earlier this week they found on their apartment doors that left hem them concerned for the safety of their neighborhood.
The letters, which were reportedly posted at the apartment complex on Aug. 24, said the property management has received complaints of a person dressed as a clown trying to “lure children into the woods.”
The letter, which appears to be printed on Fleetwood Manor Apartments letterhead, reminds the public children should never be alone or walking through the woods at night.
The property management in the letter indicates Greenville County law enforcement is conducting daily patrols of the property due to the reports. Below is the full text of the letter:
Donna Arnold, one of the people residing at the complex who received the letter, said she called the Greenville County Sheriff’s Office to come out to the complex after her son and others reported seeing clowns behind the basketball court.
“I thought my child was seeing things,” Arnold said. “And then the next day I had about 30 kids come up to me and say, ‘Did you see the clown in the woods?”
Community activist Bruce Wilson said he is getting involved at the apartments to make sure children are safe, even if the sightings turn out to be harmless.
“We have about two to three hundred children out here,” Wilson said. “I want to make sure that law enforcement is doing the right thing.”
Officer Gilberto Franco with the Greenville Police Department said Wednesday that there were still many unknown variables.
“(Investigators don’t know) if there’s any ill intent towards it, or if it’s just somebody that is out there causing a disturbance,” Franco said.
Franco admits officers have never received reports quite like these, but if it turns out that masked men are behind it, they could face charges.
“It’s unlawful for you to wear a mask in public whether it’s a mask itself or conceal your face while you’re out in public,” Franco said.
Police are also encouraging parents to be extra cautious until the situation is resolved.
“We want to make sure parents are still remain vigilant and to make sure you keep track of your children playing, don’t leave them playing isolated.”
Clown performers weigh in
Kelly Montfort owns Over the Top Enterntainment. He’s better known at birthday parties and special events as Mr. Twister.
Montfort said his clown antics are only aimed at making people happy and is concerned that the clown sightings in Greenville may be bad for business.
“”I am terrified of that actually,” Montfort said. “I truly hope it’s being made up. I truly hope there is not a psychopath that is going after kids, and if there is, I hope that someone catches them.”
Montfort suspects the clown sightings are not part of a sinister plot but rather part of a marketing strategy.
“I believe there is a chance that it could be a big publicity stunt for someone, a haunted house or some sort of production that will be coming in the next few months,” Montfort said.