The popular image of clowns has morphed from one of jolly circus entertainers to one of evil child abductors and serial killers in recent decades, an image bolstered by recent news that sheriff’s deputies in Greenville County, South Carolina, have investigated a report someone dressed as a clown was attempting to lure children into the woods near an apartment complex.

According to an incident report filed on 21 August 2016 at the Fleetwood Manor Apartments on Fleetwood Road, a resident stated that her son had told her he had seen “seen clowns in the woods whispering and making strange noises,” and when she went to investigate, she “observed several clowns in the woods flashing green laser lights [who] then ran away into the woods.”

Another resident maintained she “saw a clown with a blinking nose, standing under a post light near the garbage dumpster area” around 2:30 AM. The clown “waved at her and she waved back while she made her way to her residence,” but the clown “did not approach her or harm her.”

Additionally, some children claimed clowns with “chains” and “knives” attempted to entice them into the woods by flashing money at them and promising candy, and that they believed “the clowns stay in a house located near a pond at the end of a man-made [trail] in the woods.”

A sheriff’s deputy said he investigated the trail in the woods and saw nothing suspicious at the indicated home. The sheriff’s office also said this was the only incident report filed with them concerning reported clown sightings.

Nonetheless, the Fleetwood Manor Apartments sent out a warning letter to residents stating the following:

There has been several conversation [sic] and a lot of complaints to the office regarding a clown or a person dressed in clown clothing taking children or trying to lure children in the woods. First and foremost at Fleetwood Manor Apartments childrens [sic] safety is a top priority. At no time should a child be alone at night, or walking in the roads or wooded areas at night. Also if a person or persons are seen you are to immediately call the police. Greenville County Police Department is aware of the situation and have been riding the property daily. Remember there is a 10pm curfew for the property so to ensure your childrens [sic] safety please keep them in the house during night hours and make sure at ALL times children are supervised. Anymore information that comes regarding this issue will be sent out to residents.