Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Bunnyman, the Urban Legend

There are urban legends of the man with the hook in Lover’s Lane,  the Halloween campus murder, the babysitter story, and many more of serial killers that are not real. Or are they? But the Bunnyman is unique in that he wears a bunny costume.

The myth first popped up in 1976. It had the Bunnyman responsible for the deaths of two children in Clifton, Virginia. Rumors of the disappearance of other children, plus the horrible mutilations of animals, circulated during the telling of the story that same year. No one dared go out at night, especially not near the bridge where this psycho is supposed to be hanging around.

In 1992, more was added to the tale of the Bunnyman, where murdered children hang from a covered bridge and the supposed killer is an inmate escapee dressed in a bunny suit. The Bunnyman earned his nickname because he nourished himself on rabbits while perused by the police. Other variations of the tale had him hunting rabbits and using their pelts to make clothing for himself.

Years later, when people began to use the Internet, this terrifying legend got new rebirth. One widely circulated version on the Net has inmates from an insane asylum escaped in 1904 while being transferred to Lorton prison. One of the inmates was named Douglas J. Grifon. He murdered fellow inmate Marcus Wallster. He became the Bunnyman. The location, plus the names of several victims Grifon killed as the Bunnyman and dates of their murders are mentioned and says anyone can check the Clifton Town Library to verify the facts. Facts that are not true.

There’s no insane asylum in Fairfax County. Lorton Prison never came to be until 1910. And when it did, it was part of the District of Columbia corrections system, not Virginia’s. Neither Wallster nor Grifon appeared in any court records, and there is no Clifton Town Library.

More is added to this tale of this murderer dressed as a Bugs Bunny from Hell. It says that a note found on the inmate, Marcus, who supposedly was found hanging from the tunnel entrance beneath Bunnyman Bridge. The words on the paper written, "You'll never find me no matter how hard you try! Signed, The Bunnyman."

It is claimed that if you walk all the way down the tunnel at around midnight (which believe me isn’t much of a walk, as I’ve been there), the Bunnyman will snatch you before you get a word out and hang you from the entrance of the bridge. Then you’ll swing back and forth like a Halloween decoration left over after the spooky night itself.

Another story told in 2001 has a guide and six local students (no mention if they were in high school or college) had found parts of mutilated rabbits strewn around, heard noises, and thought they saw figures moving in the woods. Frightened, they left the area.

There are many stories told by young people about Bunnyman. The Internet is a great breeding ground for the Bunnyman legend where once it was spread by word of mouth, except now the world learns of this scary being, where before it was just the localities of Northern Virginia and lower Maryland.

In Reston, Virginia, there used to be a dirt road leading off of Sunset Hills Road, just before it intersected with Reston Avenue. The kids in town knew that it led to the Bunnyman’s house. Supposedly, one Halloween night he dressed up in a bunny costume, shot his wife and kids, then opened the door to trick-or-treaters all night with the corpses of his family still in the house.

Another tale has a guy in a bunny costume standing in the middle of the road at the bottom of a hill in Clifton. As cars came down the hill, he would throw an ax at the vehicle and somehow, he always killed the person or persons inside.

There’s the tale of a mental patient that escaped from a bus transporting patients when it crashed in the woods near the bridge. The authorities were called in, but when they searched for the man, they never found him. Later, carcasses of rabbits began to be found, scattered around the bridge. It seems that the mental patient was living in the woods, surviving off of the meat of the rabbits. But when they discovered some teenagers gutted and hanging from the bridge, the local authorities put out a manhunt for "the Bunnyman,” as the local children called him. The story goes that they eventually caught up with him. Just as they were about to apprehend the Bunnyman, though, he jumped in front of a train roaring down the tracks. Since then, it is said that the Bunnyman’s spirit haunts the bridge, and that on Halloween at midnight, his spirit becomes visible right over the bridge that bears his name. Drunken teenagers can always be found at the base of the bridge at midnight on Halloween, waiting to see if the spirit of Bunnyman will appear.

Another take on the legend has a young man from Clifton, Virginia who came upon the bridge while traveling. Later, he killed his parents and dragged their bodies into the woods to hang them from the bridge, and then committed suicide. In 1943, three teenagers, two men and a young woman, went to the Bunnyman Bridge on Halloween night. The next morning they were found dead, hung from the bridge, their bodies slashed open. Notes were found attached to their feet, with the words written," You'll never catch the Bunnyman!"

One witness claims to his own personal experiences with Bunnyman Bridge. He has been out there about a dozen times, since it’s about fifteen minutes from his house. Most of the time, he and his friends hang around the bridge, waiting to see if anything would happen. Nothing does, but they feel as if someone or something is watching them. Even though the bridge is located about twenty-five miles from Washington D.C., it is still in the middle of nowhere. Only a few houses nestle within the woods that surround the bridge and railroad tracks. If you drive through the tunnel, only one car at a time, as it is small. The last time he and his buddies went out there, they heard voices that came from the woods, whispers that sounded as if they originated twenty feet from where the young men stood. Frightened, they bolted.

So scary is the Bunnyman, that he inspired a cult horror flick, Donnie Darko.

To read more bout the truth and more about the Bunnyman, check out my book, Haunted Virginia: Legends, Myths and True Tales, published by Schiffer Publishing. Buy it at AMAZON, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, and other brick and motar bookstores and online places.

The next time you decide to check out Bunnyman’s Bridge, especially on Halloween night, watch out for rabbits. Especially if one of those bunnies looks bigger than normal, and after standing up, and suddenly is clutching an axe: RUN!


Andrea Allison said...

The Bunnyman was the first topic I wrote about on Ghost Stories. I admit, looking back at it now, the information I listed is quite inaccurate and needs to be updated.

Your write-up is very informative. Good job!

Pamela K. Kinney said...

Thanks, Allison. You should read my book, I go on more about the truth, etc... on this urban legend. Been there at the bridge, too. :)

Erin O'Riordan said...

Not being from the South, I probably never would have heard of the Bunnyman if it hadn't been for 'Donnie Darko.'

Anita Clenney said...

Fascinating post. It makes you wonder how much truth is in the myth, any myth for that matter. Very interesting!

Sharon said...

Fascinating! Good ghost stories never die, and you tell them well. Except, "...If you drive through Bunnyman tunnel..." is a fragment. Keep 'em coming.