Lawrence sorority put on lockdown after clown sightings, police say

The precise origin of clown hating in America will likely remain a mystery for scholars to debate for centuries to come.

I’d imagine Stephen King’s 1986 horror novel “It” contributed significantly to the movement with Pennywise the Clown. King, though, seems to be aware of the damage he has caused and recently on Twitter went so far as to offer an olive branch to the red-nosed, oddly dressed folks.

Recently I’ve been seeing a number of clown sighting reports from across the country. In fact, one local sorority actually locked itself down after one report, police said.

So far this week, the Lawrence Police Department has had no fewer than three clown reports, said Sgt. Amy Rhoads. All three took place Monday after 9 p.m.

The first sighting was reported at 9:47 p.m. in the 4700 block of Bauer Farm Drive, Rhoads said. Two people were reported wearing clown masks and walking through a business parking lot.

No crimes were reported, Rhoads said. In fact, the two clowns were seen simply waving at traffic.

The second sighting came in around 10:49 p.m. at a sorority house in the 1600 block of Oxford Road, Rhoads said. There, someone dressed as a clown was reported near the residence.

Officers checked the property, but found no one, Rhoads said.

About an hour later, in the same block of Oxford Road, police received yet another report, Rhoads said. This time a concerned mother called police because her daughter, a sorority member, had said her sorority was on lockdown because of clowns in the area.

The daughter did not see the clowns, however; she only heard about them through her sorority, Rhoads said. Once again, police checked the area but found no one.

When police arrived the second time, the sorority was no longer on lockdown, Rhoads said.

It is unclear what’s bringing the clown characters out into the streets. Political unrest, perhaps. Or it could be that Halloween is just around the corner. Either way, keep your eyes peeled.

I report on crime and courts for the Journal-World. I can be reached by email at, by phone at (785) 832-7284 or on Twitter @Conrad_Swanson.