The Bunny Man: The True Story
For over four decades, the legend of the Bunny Man has been passed around Nothern Virgina and retold by countless people who claim to know the real version of the tale. According to local lore, Fairfax Station Bridge is one of the most dangerous locations in Northern Virginia because on Halloween night. Locals would caution you to not go near that bridge on Colchester Road in Clifton, or the Bunny Man might get you.
The story is generally told that in 1904, there was an asylum not far from this bridge. Clifton residents didn’t like the idea of mental patients near their new homes, so they got it shut down, and all the patients were taken by bus to Lorton prison. During the transfer, one of the buses crashed. Most of the passengers and the driver of the bus were killed, but ten inmates escaped. Afterward, a search party was formed, and all but two of the inmates were found: Marcus Wallster and Douglas J. Grifon.
Weeks passed and local residents began to find rabbit corpses in the woods, skinned and half eaten, hanging from trees. The area was once again searched and this time the police found the remains of Wallster, skinned like the rabbits. Reports differ on whether he was found hanging from a tree or under a bridge overpass, but the overpass became known as Bunny Man Bridge. Supposedly, this was along the railroad tracks at Colchester Road.
Authorities were eventually able to track down Grifon, but he managed to evade capture and disappeared around the train tracks near where the original bus crash took place. Then, on Halloween night, several teens were hanging out under the bridge, when at the stroke of midnight, they were attacked. The next morning, they were found hanging from the bridge, gutted like the rabbits. Some people also reported that Grifon was later discovered to have been placed in the asylum after killing his family on Easter Sunday. For years afterward, around Halloween, bodies of both rabbits and humans were found hanging from the overpass and in trees in the surrounding area. Some people even claim to see a figure walking through the one lane bridge tunnel under the overpass. Other variations say that if you walk down the tunnel at midnight, the Bunny Man will grab you and hang you from the entrance.
Local historians and archivists have concluded, however, that this story is demonstrably false as there was no asylum in Fairfax County and no court records for Wallster or Grifon. There are other versions of these stories, with another popular spin regarding a teenager who decided to murder his entire family while wearing a white bunny costume. He later hung himself on the overpass and it is said that his spirit still haunts what some people call the Bunny Man Bridge. Anyone unfortunate enough to encounter his restless spirit would be hunted down, strung up, and disemboweled. Today, it is believed that these stories are all likely spawned from the very real presence of a roving madman in the area.
In October 1970, a man and his fiancée were parked in a driveway near his uncle’s house and not far from the train overpass, when they had a terrifying encounter. Around midnight, they had parked their car in preparation for visiting a relative and the two noticed movement near the rearview mirror. Someone appeared very quickly, yelled at the couple for trespassing, and threw something at the car which shattered their windshield. Luckily, neither of them was hurt. They did not get a very good look at the person as it all transpired so quickly, but they reported that the man was ‘dressed in white or light-colored clothing, and may or may not have had something on his head like ears or a conical hat. Sometime later, after they had driven away, they discovered the hatchet the man used on their car floor. Once the story made it to the local newspapers, the head dressing was changed to bunny ears.
There was a second sighting only two weeks later when a construction security guard approached a man who was standing on the porch of an unfinished house on Guinea Road. The man as described as wearing a gray, black, and white bunny costume. After being confronted by the guard, the man began to chop at a porch post with an axe, complained about trespassing, and threatened the guard.
In the weeks after the incidents were publicly reported, more than 50 people contacted the police to report sightings of the Bunny Man, as he had been named by the media. One of these reports even involved a sighting of the Bunny Man eating a man's runaway cat. The Fairfax County Police did take these reports seriously, investigating both incidents. Unfortunately, there was a lack of evidence and the mysterious man in the bunny costume was never found. Both cases were eventually closed.