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COM: February 2018

Bunnyman (2017)



This month let's look at a can I finally got ahold of, one that came out in autumn 2017, a Bunnyman from Bad Wolf Brewing in Manassas, Virginia. First off, who, or what, is The Bunnyman?

Bunnyman is an urban legend from Fairfax County Virginia (where I live). Here is the editied description from Wikipedia.

The first incident was reported the evening of October 19, 1970 by U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Robert Bennett and his fiancée, who were visiting relatives on Guinea Road in Burke. Around midnight, while returning from a football game, they reportedly parked their car in a field on Guinea Road to "visit an Uncle who lived across the street from where the car was parked". As they sat in the front seat with the motor running, they noticed something moving outside the rear window. Moments later, the front passenger window was smashed, and there was a white-clad figure standing near the broken window. Bennett turned the car around while the man screamed at them about trespassing, including: "You're on private property, and I have your tag number." As they drove down the road, the couple discovered a hatchet on the car floor.

When the police requested a description of the man, Bennett insisted he was wearing a white suit with long bunny ears. However, Bennett's fiancée contested their assailant did not have bunny ears on his head, but was wearing a white capirote of some sort. They both remembered seeing his face clearly, but in the darkness, they could not determine his race. The police returned the hatchet to Bennett after examination. Bennett was required to report the incident upon his return to the Air Force Academy.[citation needed]

The second reported sighting occurred on the evening of October 29, 1970, when construction security guard Paul Phillips approached a man standing on the porch of an unfinished home, in Kings Park West on Guinea Road. Phillips said the man was wearing a gray, black, and white bunny costume, and was about 20 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall, and weighed about 175 pounds. The man began chopping at a porch post with a long-handled axe, saying: "All you people trespass around here. If you don't get out of here, I'm going to bust you on the head."

The Fairfax County Police opened investigations into the 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 reported the incident of the "Bunny Man" eating a man's runaway cat, including the following articles in The Washington Post.

"Man in Bunny costume Sought in Fairfax" (October 22, 1970)
"The 'Rabbit' Reappears" (October 31, 1970)
"Bunny Man Seen" (November 4, 1970)
"Bunny Reports Are Multiplying" (November 6, 1970)

The Legend

The Bunnyman legend is a bit different. Again, from Wikipedia.

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 1990s by a "Timothy C. Forbes". This version states that in 1904, an asylum prison in Clifton, Virginia was shut down by successful petition of 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, ten 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 the trees in the surrounding areas. 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 name the last missing inmate, Douglas J. Grifon, as their suspect and call him "the bunny man".

In this version, officials finally manage to locate Grifon but, during their attempt to apprehend him at the overpass, he nearly escapes before being hit by an oncoming train where the original transport crashed. They say after the train passed, the police heard laughter coming from the site. It is eventually revealed that Grifon was institutionalized for killing his family and children on Easter Sunday. For years after the "Bunny Man's" death, in the time approaching Halloween, carcasses are said to be found hanging from the overpass and surrounding areas. A figure is reportedly seen by passersby making their way through the one lane bridge tunnel.

Fairfax County Public Library Archivist/Historian Brian Conley has done a lot of research on this tale, and notes that this version is demonstrably false. Among the problems with the legend.

1. There has never been an asylum for the insane in Fairfax County

2. Lorton Prison didn't come into existence until 1910

3. Lorton Prison was part of the District of Columbia Corrections system, not Virginia's

4. Court records show neither a Grifon nor a Wallster.


I like this can because it reflects "legend-tripping." Many of us have done this, it's when young people (usually teens) make a nighttime visit to a location where some horrible local event supposedly occured--a murder, a tragic fire, an accidental death. Often these stories involve the death of children or young adults. One famous example I talk about in one of my classes is the Gore Orphanage near Cleveland, Ohio. Sometimes there is a ghost or monster reported to be at the site. Other common themes include hearing the cries of victims, seeing ghostly lights, strangers appearing then disappearing, killers still stalking the area (usually with a sharp instrument), etc. Movies like the Friday the 13th series play with these stories.

Young people often visit such sites, proving their courage to one another in a rite of passage.


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