In the folklore of Fairfax County, Virginia, there’s a chilling tale about the Colchester Overpass, often referred to as the Bunny Man Bridge. Legend has it that on Halloween night, precisely at midnight, an eerie light flashes under the bridge. It’s said that anyone found beneath the overpass at this moment faces a gruesome fate: their throats are cut, and they are left hanging from the bridge. A delightful end to the evening, one might say.
This legend has various renditions, but most commonly, it tells of a man, donning a rabbit costume, who terrorizes people with an axe or hatchet. The epicenter of these stories is the Colchester Overpass, near Clifton, Virginia, ominously known as “Bunny Man Bridge.” The details of the Bunny Man’s identity, motives, and methods differ greatly in each version. Some stories tell of horrific mutilations, while others focus on the spectral presence of the Bunny Man, haunting the area of his alleged death, especially on Halloween night, to mark the anniversary of his demise.
Origin of the Legend
The origins of the Bunny Man urban legend date back to the early 1900s in Fairfax County, Virginia. The story begins with an insane asylum in the Clifton wilderness – the evidence for the asylum’s existence seems to be tenuous at best. Post-Civil War population growth led to discomfort about the asylum’s proximity, prompting a transfer of inmates to Lorton Prison.
During one transport, a crash occurred, resulting in deaths and escapes. Eventually, all but two inmates, Marcus Wallster and Douglas Griffin, were recaptured. These two, notably Griffin, who was linked to violent crimes, became central figures in the legend, especially after mysterious occurrences at the Colchester Overpass, including discovered skinned rabbits and Wallster’s body. Various endings involve Griffin’s fate, adding to the legend’s mystique.
Enter the Bunny
The first documented incident of the Bunny Man dates back to October 19, 1970. Air Force Academy Cadet Robert Bennett and his fiancée were in Burke, Virginia, parked near his uncle’s home on Guinea Road. As they sat in their car, a man suddenly appeared and smashed their front passenger window. The couple was startled to see the assailant was wearing a white suit with bunny ears. The man angrily accused them of trespassing and threw a hatchet into the car, which landed on the floorboard without injuring anyone. The couple quickly drove away from the scene, deeply shaken by this bizarre and unprovoked attack. This strange and frightening encounter marked the beginning of the Bunny Man legend, sparking fear and curiosity throughout the community.
The Fairfax County Police Department’s investigation report on the Bunny Man legend confirms an October 29, 1970, incident. Officers responded to a report of a person in a rabbit costume wielding an axe, but found no one. The case was assigned to Investigator W. L. Johnson. He received a call claiming an “Axe Man” was upset about property damage. Despite efforts, including a stakeout, the Axe Man wasn’t found. Johnson’s investigation, largely based on children’s accounts, concluded there was no substantial evidence of a real “white rabbit” figure involved in these incidents.
Bunny Man Strikes Again
The second incident involving the Bunny Man occurred on October 29, 1970. Paul Phillips, a construction security guard, encountered a man in a bunny costume on the porch of an uncompleted house in Kings Park West on Guinea Road. Described as around 20 years old, 5 feet 8 inches tall, and 175 pounds, the man was dressed in a gray, black, and white bunny costume. He threatened Phillips with a long-handled axe, warning him of trespassing and threatening to decapitate him if he came closer.
Following these events, the Fairfax County Police investigated, but the case was eventually closed due to insufficient evidence. This incident, along with the first sighting, fueled widespread public interest and media coverage, including reports in The Washington Post.
The Bunny Man Bridge
The Bunny Man Bridge, located in Fairfax County, Virginia, near the town of Clifton, is a significant site tied to the urban legend of the Bunny Man. This overpass, officially named Colchester Overpass, gained notoriety due to its association with the legend, which describes a man in a bunny costume threatening people or engaging in vandalism.
While the stories vary, the bridge is often depicted as the central location of the Bunny Man’s activities. This has led to the site becoming a point of interest for those fascinated by local folklore and urban myths, despite there being no concrete evidence to support the more extreme tales associated with the bridge.
Fact or Fiction
To explore whether the Bunny Man incident is fact or fiction, it’s crucial to examine the evidence presented in the article – and for this we have Brian Conley to thank and the research he undertook.
The investigation into historical records and police reports found no evidence of such extreme crimes. The few documented instances involving a person in a bunny costume were relatively minor and did not align with the legend’s more sensational claims – and not linked to any real murders. This disparity suggests that while the Bunny Man legend may have been inspired by real events, its evolution over time into a tale of murder and mayhem is more indicative of folklore than factual history.
Comparison to other legends
The Bunnyman of Fairfax County is an unsettling urban legend, akin to other mysterious tales like the Mothman of West Virginia, a foreboding winged creature, and the Jersey Devil of New Jersey, a legendary monster haunting the Pine Barrens. Similarly, the Vanishing Hitchhiker stories involve ghostly figures who mysteriously disappear, while the Cropsey legend from New York intertwines a boogeyman narrative with real criminal events. Maryland’s Goatman legend speaks of a bizarre half-man, half-goat creature, and Puerto Rico’s El Chupacabra is feared for its livestock attacks. In Massachusetts, the Route 44 Ghostly Hitchhiker adds another eerie tale of a vanishing traveler. Each of these legends, like the Bunnyman, blends supernatural elements, local folklore, and enigmatic occurrences, captivating imaginations with their eerie and mysterious nature.
A Spooky Attraction
Today, the Bunny Man Bridge is a popular spot for those who love a good scare. It’s a testament to the power of storytelling and how urban legends can become a part of local culture. Whether you’re a believer or a skeptic, the story of the Bunny Man is sure to send shivers down your spine.
Look, we get it, the idea of a man dressed up a bunny murdering innocent people sounds weird, fantastical and a little memorable.
The Legend of the Bunny Man is a fascinating mix of myth, folklore, and local history. It’s a story that continues to evolve, capturing the imaginations of those who hear it. So, the next time you find yourself near Fairfax County, remember the tale of the Bunny Man and the eerie bridge that bears his name.