The Loveland Frogman
Sitting in southern Ohio, on the outskirts of Cincinnati, is the small town of Loveland, Ohio. Founded in 1870, about 14,000 people call this small-town on the banks of the Little Miami River home.
Loveland wasn't known for much until the spring of 1972, when 2 police officers would claim to see something over the course of 2 weeks in March that would become a mystery and legend for the next 50 years.
Our story begins, oddly enough, in 1955.
According to legend, a businessman/traveling salesman named Robert Hunnicutt was driving through Loveland, Ohio on a late night as he was headed home. Approaching a bridge that spanned the Little Miami River, he noticed something in the shadows. As he drew closer, he could make out 3 figures, wearing hooded cloaks, standing on the bridge in a small huddle.
He slowed down his car as he pulled up next to the figures, trying to get a better look. In the dim light from a nearby streetlamp Robert could just barely make out the face of one of the figures. He knew he must be seeing things because it looked like the face of a frog. Through his open window he could hear them whispering something amongst themselves, oblivious to the fact that they were being watched.
Suddenly, one of them spotted him!
Before he knew what was happening, the creature in the middle of the group raised its arm above its head, holding what looked like a wand that a witch or wizard would use high in the air. It spoke some strange words and a light appeared at the end of the wand, blinding Robert. In an instant everything went dark again and the place where the 3 figures had been standing was vacant. Not sure of what he had just witnessed, Robert put his foot back on the gas pedal and sped away into the night, knowing that no one would ever believe his tale.
This story is often cited as the first sighting of the Loveland Frogmen, but there is no hard proof that it ever happened. Even with the name and approximate date of 1955, I couldn't find a single shred of evidence that anyone had even told this story prior to the internet. Despite that, however, there is plenty of reports from 1972.
Rendering of the Frogman made by Tim Bertelink.
On March 3, 1972, police office Ray Shockey was out on a late-night patrol, driving around Loveland. As he made his way up Riverside Drive, just past the Totes Boot Factory, he spotted something in the road. He slowed down his car to get a better look at what he was seeing, coming to a stop and stepping out of it.
About 20 feet ahead of him, a strange animal of some kind was moving across the road, toward the river. It was 3-4 feet long, had leathery skin and was crouched like a frog. As he looked on in amazement, the creature would look back at him briefly before climbing over the guardrail and out of sight. When it looked back at him, it appeared to have the face of a frog!
Officer Shockey would finish his patrol and return to the station as quickly as he could. There, he would meet up with his friend and colleague Mark Matthews. He would tell the shocked Mark what he had seen and ask him to keep an eye out for anything strange when he was in the area along Riverside Drive.
Officer Matthews thought that Ray was just pulling his leg, saying he saw something as a joke. That was until he had his own sighting 2 weeks later.
Driving along the same stretch as his friend had 2 weeks prior, Officer Matthews had more or less forgotten about the tale Officer Shockey had told him. As he rounded the bend near the Totes Boot Factory, he would get the shock of his life. Standing in the middle of the road was a small, man-like figure, of a frog! Officer Matthews would stop his car and get out as the creature started to move away. In an attempt to stop the thing from getting away, Mattews would fire 3 shots at the creature. As far as he could tell, none of the shots hit and the creature scurried away again, over the railing and toward the river.
Upon telling Shockey what he had seen, the two decided to try and figure out what it was. They enlisted the help of an artist friend of theirs to draw a depiction of the animal they saw so they could take it and show it to an expert.
They would take the resulting image to the curator of the Cincinnati Zoo, Bob Lotshaw, and ask for his expert opinion. Mr. Lotshaw would take a look at it and ultimately agree it was odd, saying it looked like the creature from the movie "The Creature from The Black Lagoon", but that the only thing he thought it realistically could be is a big frog.
For the next 44 years there would be no significant sightings of the mysterious Loveland Frogman, until August 2016 when two teens would claim to spot the creature in Lake Isabella, on the south side of Loveland.
Sam Jacobs said that he and his girlfriend were playing Pokémon Go one evening when they spotted something in the water. Sam took out his phone and took some video (seen to the left) and pictures. He thought at the time it looked like maybe a big frog, but he couldn't be sure. He said that after he took the pictures and video that the thing stood up on its hind legs and walked away.
The sighting would spark a new interest in the tale, and in the sightings reported by the police officers in 1972.
After seeing the news story about the sighting that Sam Jacobs had, Mark Matthews reached out to a reporter at a local news station to correct the record on his and Ray's original sighting.
According to Mark's updated story, he and Ray both had the reported sightings, but his sighting went a little different than he originally said. It turned out the shots he fired hit their mark and he killed the creature. He loaded the body up in the back of his patrol car and headed back to show Ray, who was able to verify that it was the animal he saw. The animal wasn't a frog though, rather, it was a very sickly-looking iguana that was missing its tail.
He said he figured the animal had been someone's pet that had escaped or been set free and had been surviving the cold weather by living in the nearby pipes that were used to expel the water used to cool the boot factory ovens.
Even though the whole thing was a big hoax, it is still fun to think about what if it really existed? How would you react if you saw something like officers Shockey and Matthews saw late one night?