Manual Bunnyman Bridge: A Novel

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Bunnyman Bridge: A Novel

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This contrasts sharply with versions of the tale I collected from the s which generally involved only one to three victims, usually children. More importantly, the earliest versions dating to the s did not mention any deaths at all. More research was clearly needed. After nearly eight years of research I finally got a solid lead. The November 11, Washington Post 28 ran an article highlighting an interesting collection called the Maryland Folklore Archive. From the s through c.

This material has finally come to rest in the holdings of the University of Maryland. She interviewed 33 students from Prince Georges County, Maryland ages 15 to Johnson relates that the tale met all of the qualifications of an Urban Belief Tale. She goes on to state "included in this collection is an article from the Washington Post which verifies the story as truth.

I was extremely frustrated to find that the page containing the referenced article was missing from the original paper. With any hope of a quick resolution gone, I turned to examining the paper itself. Johnson's informants told 54 variations of the story. A rough tally revealed the following:. Fourteen different geographic locations are mentioned b. Eighteen involve the Bunny Man chasing or frightening people, usually children, with a hatchet or ax c. Fourteen tell of attacks on cars d. Nine claim he attacked a couple parked in a car e.

Five accuse him of vandalism on homes or buildings f.

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Only three mentioned a murder. Based on the widespread geographic locations and the significant variation represented in the tales Johnson concluded that the Bunny Man was an Urban Belief Tale. In short, the Bunny Man did not exist. After re-reading Johnson's paper several times I finally noted that she heard the tale for the first time around Halloween Having no better leads I began a systematic search of the Washington Post for October of that year in hopes of finding the previously cited news article.

I was elated and not a little surprised to find the following:. Man in Bunny Suit Sought in Fairfax 33 Fairfax County police said yesterday they are looking for a man who likes to wear "white bunny rabbit costume" and throw hatchets through car windows. Air Force Academy Cadet Robert Bennett told police that shortly after midnight last Sunday he and his fiancee were sitting in a car in the block of Guinea Road when a man "dressed in a white suit with long bunny ears" ran from the nearby bushes and shouted: "You're on private property and I have your tag number.

As soon as he threw the hatchet, the "rabbit" skipped off into the night, police said. Bennett and his fiancee were not injured. Police say they have the hatchet, but no other clues in the case. They say Bennett was visiting an uncle, who lives across the street from the spot where the car was parked. The cadet was in the area to attend last weekend's Air Force-Navy football game. When I began this project the aspect that puzzled me most was the bunny suit. I expected to find that the legend was spawned by an event that was strange or in some way notable, but I never suspected the Bunny Man really was a "Bunny Man.

Less than two weeks ago a man wearing what was described as a rabbit suit accused two persons in a parked car of trespassing and heaved a hatchet through a closed window of the car at Guinea Rd. They were not hurt. Thursday night's rabbit, wearing a suit described as gray, black and white, was spotted a block away at Guinea Rd. Paul Phillips, a private security guard for a construction company, said he saw the "rabbit" standing on the front porch of a new, but unoccupied house. The security guard said the man was about 5-feet-8, pounds and appeared to be in his early 20s.

Two documented appearances by a bunny-suited figure in the same Fairfax County community. Was this the Bunny Man or just copy-cats acting out stories they had heard from somewhere else? I again turned to Johnson's paper for clues.


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As mentioned earlier 14 of her tales mention a couple in a parked car being attacked, but nine of these specifically mention a hatchet being thrown into the car. Of the five mentioning vandalism, two describe "columns" being chopped. The story told by year-old G. Taylor was particularly revealing. She related:. I came home from school. I was listening to the news. I had just gotten in and I heard there was a man and a woman sitting in a car.

It could have been teenagers, but they were just parked and all. And all of a sudden, they looked up and there was this bunny. You know, this giant bunny just ran out of the woods, you know, from behind the trees and all. And he ran in front of the car. And he had a hatchet, and he threw it through the car and just turned around and went back away. They were just shocked. They just sat there and watched.

Then an old man came out of the house and warned them to get off of his property. You know, they tried to explain and everything but he just wouldn't listen. And then, they took it to the police afterwards. And the police, you know, went back and all and asked him if he had seen anything.

And nobody had seen it. Until a couple of days later, then a lot of people were saying that they had seen the bunny man. And then, after that, the police tried to investigate, but they couldn't get anything. And then they found these places that sell costumes and all. And they found that it hadn't been but three people that had..

Bought costumes. Then they, you know, long put theirs away and brought them back and all. And it wasn't them. And nobody every found out about the bunny man. It just went on for a couple of weeks and then it died out.

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Miss Taylor's recollections are important for a number of reasons. First, she identifies the television news as her source of information. Second, she accurately relates the hatchet thrown into the occupied car, the teenage couple, the accusation of trespassing, and police involvement. Third, she states that it went on for "a couple of weeks" then stopped. Lastly, she identifies the time frame to within six months. The October 22 news story is clearly the origin of the tale she told.

Moreover, although the story had mutated noticeably in 22 years, many of Johnson's 53 other versions also contain recognizable elements of the October incidents. Newspapers accounts and oral reports can be revealing, but neither can be trusted to be completely accurate. It was time to look for more trustworthy records. Although FCPD is not required to release any information relating to misdemeanor offenses, they kindly supplied a redacted 36 copy of the report for this project.

The investigation report confirms the basics of the event as told in the October 31 Washington Post article. At p. Johnson of the Criminal Investigation Bureau. Johnson began with a visit to the construction offices of the Kings Park West Subdivision on October He found no rabbit, but did receive a call shortly after his visit from someone who worked at Kings Park West. The police set up a stake out, but the "Axe Man" never materialized.

On November 4, Investigator Johnson received a call from a resident of the area who informed him that her son claimed to know the identity of the "Bunny Man. Johnson interviewed the son age 8 and eventually learned that he had not actually met the Bunny Man but "had only heard of the Bunny Man at school, from the rest of the children talking about him. The only people who have seen this so-called white rabbit have been children of rather young ages, and the complainant in this case.

Upon interviewing every one in this case that may have had any knowledge of any incidents concerning a white rabbit, that has been no significant information uncovered that would lead to the identity of the person or persons that were posing as a white rabbit. Who was the Bunny Man, and what was he trying to accomplish? Sadly, we will likely never know his identity. Likewise his true motivations are known only to himself, but there are a few clues contained in the foregoing sources.

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Said development was extensive in , too. Until the second World War Fairfax County was a rural farming community. The build-up of Federal employment in the region fueled intensive residential development in the closer suburbs of Arlington and Fairfax Counties. The somewhat modest developments of the early s eventually gave rise to near town-size projects like Reston and Burke Centre. Kings Park West is a subdivision of over homes, and was one of several such developments either built or under consideration for the Burke area at the time of the incidents.

James W. Robinson Secondary 45 School opened the next year with nearly 3, students. While Fairfax County began to look seriously at land use planning issues in the s, the first countywide Comprehensive Land Use Plan was not adopted until Many people living in Fairfax County in the s and '70s were disturbed to see pastures and woods giving way to roads, subdivisions, and shopping centers.

Being forced to watch helplessly while the face of your community changes around you can elicit strange behavior in some people. Who the Bunny Man was and what motivated him to act in such a bizarre manner is still a mystery, however, the available evidence points to the October events as the genesis of the Bunny Man legend. Many of the tales collected by Patricia Johnson in clearly derive from the events as reported in the newspaper and the television news of that period. The official police report makes no mention of any pre-existing stories that this individual could have been copying. Furthermore, William L.

Johnson specifically stated to the author that he found no indications of any earlier stories or criminal incidents involving an individual dressed as a rabbit. It is also plainly evident that the story began to take on the features of an urban legend quite soon after the events were reported. Investigator Johnson was following leads generated by school-yard rumors less than two weeks after the first appearance of the Bunny Man, and by the time Patricia Johnson began her work two-and-a-half years later, the story had mutated in location, frequency, and severity.

Printed indexes to the Washington Post are available from to present, and their online Archives www. Washington Post , Feb. Side bar P. Fairfax Herald , June 16, , P. Fairfax Herald , Mar. Fairfax Herald , Jan. Alexandria Gazette , Sept. Alexandria Gazette , Oct. Washington Post , Nov,. The Bunny Man May 12, Maryland Folklore Archive, Box Washington Post.

Investigation Report October 29, Fairfax County Police Department. March 14, Johnson confirmed that he investigated that incident as well. He recalled that there was physical damage to the car and that the couple seemed genuinely frightened by the event. Telephone interview with William L. Johnson, December 5, Oct 22, , B2. Washigton Post. Robinson's enrollment would top students within 10 years. Ruth M. Enter Search Words Search. Local History Virginia Room Research. Conley, Historian-Archivist Fairfax County Public Library Introduction There is a story that a man dressed as a bunny haunts the residential neighborhoods around our nation's capital.

Was the Bunny Man a murderer? Eliminating "run of the mill" domestic murders and concentrating on multiple murders and those involving children both of which were mercifully rare served to pare down a list of more than possible events to the following three: 1 Frances and June Holober: February It would be hard to imagine a more disturbing event for a growing community like Fairfax than the gruesome murders of year-old Frances Holober and her eight-month-old daughter, June.

Fact vs.

Folklore After nearly eight years of research I finally got a solid lead. The police returned the hatchet to Bennett after examination. Bennett was required to report the incident upon his return to the Air Force Academy. The second reported sighting occurred on the evening of October 29, , when construction security guard Paul Phillips approached a man standing on the porch of an unfinished home, in Kings Park West on Guinea Road.

The man began chopping at a porch post with a long-handled axe, saying: "You are trespassing. If you come any closer, I'll chop off your head. The Fairfax County Police opened investigations into both incidents, but both were eventually closed for lack of evidence. In the weeks following the incidents, more than 50 people contacted the police claiming to have seen the "Bunny Man".

Several newspapers, including The Washington Post , reported that the "Bunny Man" had eaten a man's runaway cat. The Post articles that mentioned this incident were:. In , Patricia Johnson, a student at the University of Maryland, College Park , submitted a research paper that chronicled precisely 54 variations on the two incidents. The legend has circulated for years in several forms. A version naming a suspect and specific location was posted to a website in the late s by a "Timothy C.

This version states that in , an asylum near Clifton, Virginia was shut down due to a petition by the growing population of residents in Fairfax County. During the transfer of inmates to a new facility, one of the fifteen transports crashed; most, including the driver, were killed, but ten inmates escaped. A search party found all but one of them. During this time, locals allegedly began to find hundreds of cleanly skinned, half-eaten carcasses of rabbits hanging from trees in the nearby forest.

Another search of the area was ordered, and the police located the remains of Marcus Wallster, left in a similar fashion to the rabbit carcasses, hanging in a nearby tree, or under a bridge overpass—also known as the "Bunny Man Bridge"—along the railroad tracks at Colchester Road. Officials named the last missing inmate, Douglas J. Grifon, as their suspect, and called him "the bunny man".

In this version, officials finally managed to locate Grifon, but during their attempt to apprehend him at the overpass, he nearly escaped, before being hit by an oncoming train where the original transport crashed. Supposedly, after the train passed, the police heard laughter. It was eventually revealed that Grifon had been institutionalized for killing his family on Easter Sunday. For years after the "Bunny Man's" death, in the time approaching Halloween, carcasses are said to have been found hanging from the overpass and from trees in the surrounding area.

A figure was reportedly seen by pedestrians making their way through the one-lane bridge tunnel. According to Conley, this version is demonstrably false. Among other inconsistencies, Conley notes "there has never been an asylum for the insane in Fairfax County", and that " Lorton Prison didn't come into existence until , and even then it was an arm of the District of Columbia Corrections system, not Virginia's. Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman , on his blog Cryptomundo and in his book Weird Virginia , in a section on the Bunny Man, wrote about a direct association between the legend and that of the Goatman of nearby Maryland.

Colchester Overpass was built in about [6] near the site of Sangster's Station, a Civil War era railroad station on what was once the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. Virginia Railway Express and Amtrak together account for 90 trains using the overpass each week.

In Fairfax County, Virginia, it is illegal to trespass on posted railroad tracks and to loiter in a public roadway. The slasher film Bunnyman is an exploitation -style version of the story.

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  5. In , Badwolf Brewing Company, of Manassas, Virginia, released their hoppy, red lager known as The Bunny Man in a can that depicted the tunnel, a figure in a bunny suit, and a child holding a red balloon. The Amazon original series Lore , based on the podcast of the same name, uses the Bunny Man legend to introduce the second episode of Season 1.

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