The Bunny Man

The bunny man bridge

While searching for my great white whale of a tale, I came across an urban legend with a title that alone gave me a smirk on my face and sparked my curiosity.  As I’m reading the legend of the Bunny Man I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the true events of the Bunny man and another piece of folklore that I picked up when I was a kid going to summer camp.  I’m not  going to give it away, but if you see it or possibly hear it in your head while reading this blog,  please give me some form of validation that I’m not the only one who thinks this is funny.

The legend takes place in FairFax County, Virginia.  On Halloween at the stroke of midnight while you are hanging out under the Colchester overpass, which is also nicknamed the Bunny Man Bridge, a flash of light will appear.  Anyone under the bridge will have their throats slashed and will be hanged from the bridge.

overpass

There are some variations of the story that created the origins of this urban legend; however, the main part of the story starts in the early 1900s.  An insane asylum was built deep in the wilderness of a nearby town called Clifton.  After the Civil War, the population started  to grow in FairFax County.  As the population increased the fears of living near an insane asylum arose and eventually a petition was signed by the populus of the county to have the inmates transferred to another facility known as the Lorton Prison.  One of the transports crashed and the guards and some of the inmates died.  Ten inmates escaped into the woods and after several exhausting months of manhunts eight of the inmates were apprehended.  Two of the inmates, Marcus Wallster and Douglas Griffin, vanished into the woods.  The inmates managed to evade the authorities long enough to cause the manhunts to be called off.  The police figured if they’re not dead by now they would be soon.

Soon after, skinned rabbits were being found and sometimes hanging on the Colchester overpass.  Eventually the body of Marcus Wallster was found hanging from the overpass.  The police suspected Douglas Griffin for the crime and he became known as the Bunny Man.  Douglas Griffin was convicted of murdering his family on Easter Sunday which is what landed him in the asylum in the first place.

Some versions of the story state that the authorities caught up with Mr. Griffin and while pursuing him he was  hit by a train.  Another variation stated that the authorities found Mr. Griffin’s dead body lying on the train tracks that run over the Colchester overpass.

Now there have been many tales of teenagers hanging out under the Bunny Man Bridge on Halloween night and found the next day hanging from the bridge.  Here is where I’m starting to smell the presence of good old fashioned parenting.  Scare your kids by telling them ghost stories to prevent them from doing stupid things, which inevitably causes them to do those stupid things when they become teenagers.

According to my sources there are  no documents whatsoever to validate the origins of this legend.  There are also no police reports confirming that there have been people found hanging dead on this notorious bridge.  However it is pretty common to find abandoned buildings or remains of buildings in the backwoods of Virginia.  It is possible that one of those remains could have been the abandoned asylum that was shut down.  And it is possible that documents could disappear.  If you don’t believe me ask a lawyer or a unscrupulous business person.

paper shredder

Anyways…

This is where it gets a little silly and weird.  In 1970, a series of the Bunny Man sightings started to pop up.  Police reports were made and even some of the local newspapers started chiming in on these mysterious encounters.  The first report was made by an Air Force Academy cadet Robert Bennett who was on leave in Virginia  and was visiting his uncle.  Towards the end of his leave he spent the evening with his fiance.  They were sitting in a car in the 5000 block of Guinea Road when a man dressed in a bunny suit came out of the bushes wielding an axe shouting out, “You’re on private property and I have your tag number”.  The man tossed the axe through the right passenger front window of the car and then skipped off back into the dark woods.  Another report was made less than two weeks later by Paul Phillips who was a private security guard for a construction site.  Phillips reported to police seeing a young male appearing to be in his 20s dressed in a bunny suit carrying an axe.  As Phillips approached this bunny man the man struck a wooden support with his axe on a new house being built and shouted out, “All you people trespass around here.  If you don’t get out of here, I’m going to bust you on the head”.  There were over 50 reports of sightings of the Bunny Man in the 70’s.  Even to this day there are sightings of a man in a bunny suit near the overpass or somewhere along Guinea Road.

While reading about these true encounters the Little Bunny Foo Foo song started to play in my head.  If you have never experienced or heard of this song I have provided a link below.  Warning this song is very catchy so I give you my apologies in advance.

http://bussongs.com/songs/little-bunny-foo-foo.php

I extended my research for this blog just to see if there are any correlations between the folklore of the “Bunnyman” and “Little Bunny Foo Foo” and there are none.  However it did inspire a “Little Bunny Foo Foo” parody of mine.

Little Bunny Foo Foo hopping through the forest…Slicing people’s throats and hangin’ em on the bridge…

I’m not going to continue on with it.  I will leave the rest of it up to your imagination.

References

The Bunny Man Unmasked – Page 4. (n.d.). Retrieved May 30, 2016, from http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library/branches/vr/bunny/bunny4.htm

A.K. (2014). The Strange True Story Behind the Legend of the Bunnyman Bridge. Retrieved May 30, 2016, from http://www.oddlyhistorical.com/2014/04/25/strange-true-story-legend-bunnyman-bridge/

B.S. (2015, May 18). Beware of the Bunny Man! | Mysterious Universe. Retrieved May 30, 2016, from http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2015/05/beware-of-the-bunny-man/

Mckendry, D. I. (2015, December 22). Virginia Haunted by Killer Dressed as Giant Rabbit: The Legend of Bunny Man Bridge. Retrieved May 30, 2016, from http://www.blumhouse.com/2015/12/22/virginia-haunted-by-killer-dressed-as-giant-rabbit-the-legend-of-bunny-man-bridge/

 

 

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Bloody Mary: True Stories Behind the Legend

bloody mary 1

As many of us have probably experienced as kids going to slumber parties, summer camps, afterschool programs, or having older siblings trying to scare you; have more than likely have heard and maybe even brave enough to play Bloody Mary.  I can recall playing the game in the 1st grade while attending an afterschool program a.k.a. daycare.  Some older kids told us about the story of Bloody Mary and then dared us to play the game in the bathroom.  You had to turn the water faucets on and chant “Bloody Mary” three times in the dark.  Nothing happened really, except one of the older boys thought it would be funny to put a pack of red Kool Aid in his mouth.  When the light switch was flicked back on it looked like he had blood flowing out of his mouth and his arms were flailing in the air like he was possessed.  But enough with one of my early childhood traumas,  There are many true stories behind the legend of Bloody Mary.

Mary I, Queen of England a.k.a Mary Tudor

bloody mary

The English Catholic Queen reigned from 1553 until her death in 1558.  During her reign, she ordered the execution of hundreds of Protestants and had them burned at the stake for committing heresy.  Her religious campaign towards making England a Catholic nation is what earned Mary I the nickname Bloody Mary.  Mary was afraid that if she didn’t produce a male heir to the throne of England that her religious efforts would have been undone.  Mary experienced several false pregnancies and eventually died in London, on November 17, 1558.  The variation to the Bloody Mary ritual involving a part of the chant saying “I got your baby” is suspected to be mocking Mary Tudor and her failure of giving birth to a successor.

There are many other true stories that have been linked to this legend, but I decided to start with the earliest story because it makes sense how Mary Tudor could have been the first inspiration to the creation of the Bloody Mary legend.  There are many other stories that were credited to the legend.  Some of them make sense and have some aspects to them that has some to little correlation to the rituals that partake in the game.

Mary Worth

Mary Worth was assumed to be a witch who lived in Chicago during the Civil War.  She supposedly captured runaway slaves and locked them up in her barn to use them for her rituals.  Once the locals of the area caught wind of Mary’s dirty little secret, they took the law into their own hands and burned Ms. Worth at the stake.

Mary Worthington

Sometime in the 1960s, Mary Worthington was a beautiful girl who spent countless hours looking at herself in the mirror.  One day Mary was involved in a car accident and her face was horribly disfigured.  No one could stand to look at her.  Then one day she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and she committed suicide.

There have been other stories that have been tied to this notorious legend.  There are also other variations to the Bloody Mary legend throughout the world.

Sweden: Svarta Madam (Black Madame)

Russia: Dama Pika  (Queen of Spades)

Spain: Veronica

Japan: Kuchisake-onna (The Slit-Mouth Woman)

In 1978, Janet Langlois’ study found that the Bloody Mary ritual/game served the purposes of providing thrill of excitement to children and was considered to be a form of entertainment.  However, many scholars have stated that the elements of the rituals can be traced back to earlier superstitions and myths.

public domain mirror

Mirrors:  considered to be a “looking glass” into the spirit world.  The story of Snow White, written by the Brothers Grimm in 1857, was based off of a ritual throughout the British Isles in the 1700s.  Young Girls would stand in front of a mirror with a candle while combing their hair and then eat an apple.  The young woman would see in the mirror her future spouse appearing behind herself.   Through the 1800s there was a superstition that claimed that if one is to admire themselves for too long before a mirror it would cause the devil to appear.  Another belief that is present to this day, is if one dies in a room with mirrors,  the mirrors should be covered with clothes to prevent the spirit from  being trapped in the house.

Magic Rituals:     The rituals vary when playing Bloody Mary.  The most common rituals either involve turning in circles, the use of candles, and repeating incantations, or all of the above, are typical magic rituals that can be found in many cultures.

References

“Mary Tudor.” Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 22 May 2016. <http://www.biography.com/people/mary-tudor-9401296>.

“Bloody Mary Legend.” Scary Website. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2016. <http://www.scaryforkids.com/bloody-mary-legend/>.

“The Mythical and Paranormal Realm.” Mary Worth and the Origin of Bloody Mary. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2016. <http://mythical-and-paranormal-blog.blogspot.com/2012/05/mary-worth-and-origin-of-bloody-mary.html>.

Bloody Mary Legend. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2016, from http://paranormal.lovetoknow.com/Bloody_Mary_Legend

 

The Legend of Sawney Beane

sawney bean depiction greater size

The legend of Sawney Beane and his clan of cannibals is a story that has gone through over 600 years of the telephone game. The clan of 38-48 was responsible for killing and eating more than a thousand people in a span of 25 years. The earliest printed story (The Newgate Calendar which was republished as Chapbooks in 1775) stated that the clan consisted of Beane, his wife, eight sons, six daughters, eight grandsons, and fourteen granddaughters; which to my calculations comes out to 38. Most of the variations stated the clan consisted of 48, but there are also many other conflicting or added embellishments to this story. The legend occurred either in the 15th or 16th century Scotland. Alexander Sawney Beane ran away from his ditch-digger father with a female companion. Some variations of the story claim that his girlfriend was a witch.

The couple made a home in a cave off of the coast near Girvan, Scotland. The high tides kept the entrance of the cave and the couple’s brood of cannibals concealed for 25 years.

google maps Girvan

The growing clan from incest would attack travelers outside of villages and towns. They would hack their victims up into pieces and carry all evidence back to their cave. One common element from the variations of the story is how the authorities apprehended the family. The Beane clan attacked a couple leaving a fair. The man managed to escape the fate of his wife’s demise and alerted the authorities of the crime. The story gets tangled with variations of what happened next.

One version states that the head of the family along with the children and grandchildren were apprehended. They were seen as subhuman and unfit to stand trial. The adult men were tortured and slowly executed in front of the women. Then the women were burned at the stake and the children were quickly put to death. Another variation claimed that dynamite was placed at the entrance of their cave sealing in the clan causing them to face the dreaded fate of suffocation.

clan of cannibals

The Newgate Calender was a publication that originated from the Newgate Prison in London that told the tales of notorious criminals. Scottish historian Dr. Louise Yeoman stated that the name Sawney is a derogatory name used by the English towards the Scottish. Yeoman also suspects that the English writer created the story to dehumanize the Scots by portraying them as barbaric savages.

Many people have searched for legal documents trying to authenticate this legend. No records have been found to validate any facts. Despite that the story took place either a hundred or two hundred years before it was documented and that the possibility of the story was made up to paint the image of the Scots as savages, the story has not only transcended time, but it has sparked an interest across the globe and even inspired the imaginations of directors such as Wes Craven and his film “The Hills Have Eyes”. In fact, the imagery of psychotic rednecks terrorizing travelers has developed it’s own Horror Genre. Movies such as “Wrong Turn”, “The Devil’s Rejects”, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, have created the fear of taking the backroads or “lets take a short cut” a legitimate fear

References

Scottish myths, folklore and legends. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2016, from http://www.scotland.org/features/scottish-myths-folklore-and-legends/

Brocklehurst, S. (2013, February 22). Who was Sawney Beane? Retrieved May 10, 2016, from http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-21506077

Sawney Beane’s Cave. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2016, from http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/sawney-Beane-s-cave

Sawney Beane. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2016, from http://userhome.brooklyn.cuny.edu/anthro/jbeatty/Scotia/issue23/issue23a.html

Louise Yeoman. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2016, from http://www.shca.ed.ac.uk/Research/witches/lyeoman.html

Summon 2.0. (n.d.). Retrieved May 11, 2016, from http://nls.summon.serialssolutions.com/search?cx=004988112283334510717:lqhse3e39qi