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.
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.
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.
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.
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/