The Bunny Man!
I didn’t know this until a casual conversation about crazed killer urban legends with my colleague, Don Pierce the other day.. apparently Northern Virginia has its very own version of the Johnny Hookhand urban legend. Our guy is called THE BUNNYMAN, and he’s the ghost of an escaped mental patient from Clifton’s infamous “mental asylum” that nobody has a record of ever having existed…
The following is compiled by James Don Pierce.
The Bunnyman is an urban legend based in Clifton, VA in Fairfax County, Virginia, USA. The stories in the legend can be wide in variance from the origin of the killer, names, transportation changes, the killer’s motives, the weapon(s) of choice, the design or color of the “bunny suit,” and the possible demise of the killer. The killer’s ghost or aging spectre comes out to the place of death each year on Halloween to commemorate it’s untimely demise. Sometimes victim’s carcasses are left in varying states of death including being skinned, gutted, and occasionally victims appearing with horns fashioned out of deer antlers or sticks protuding from the head.
A mental institution in Clifton, Virginia is shutdown by the successful petition of the growing population of residents in Fairfax County. During the transfer of inmates to a new facility the transport carrying the inmates crashes. Some patients escape or are found dead. A search party is sent out and finds all but two of them over a period of time.
Over the period of time locals begin to find hundreds of cleanly skinned half-eaten carcasses of rabbits hanging from the trees in the surrounding areas. Another search of the area is ordered and they locate the remains of Marcus Walster, which is also left in a similar fashion to the rabbit carcasses hanging in a nearby tree or under a bridge overpass. Officials coin the last inmate, Douglas J. Grifon, as the twisted murderer the “Bunny Man.”
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. It was finally revealed that Grifon was institutionalized for killing his family and children on Easter Sunday.
Years after the Bunnyman’s death, in the time approaching Halloween carcasses are found hanging from the overpass and surrounding areas. A figure is said to have been recently seen or heard by passersby making their way through the one-lane bridge tunnel.
The legend’s victims are typically disobedient children or young adults investigating the legend or behaving mischievously away from adult supervision (typically to copulate). Groups are separated from one another and the group that returns to the bridge, seemingly not lost, leaves the other members of the group to be stranded without transportation as a joke. Upon returning the next day they locate their lost friends hanging from the train bridge overpass with the same modus operandi of the Bunnyman.
Bunnyman Bridge is located along the W&OD Railroad tracks and Colchester Road in Clifton, VA.
Recently the bridge has been updated with signs that inform people in the area that they are under camera surveillance.
During Halloween county police patrol the area around the bridge to ward off trespassers.
Research by Brian A. Conley, Historian-Archivist with the Fairfax County Public Library, shows that there were no documented murders regarding the particular areas around the bunny man before the 1970s. However there is proof of an actual Bunny Man harassing people in police reports. The reports in the 1970s are from a young couple being scared to “get off his land” by a hatchet wielding man in a bunny suit, the hatchet was later recovered. A second report is of a security offcer in a new housing development witnessing a man dressed in a bunny suit chopping at a roof and a nearby poles in the construction area. In both instances once confronted the suspect ran off. There have not been any official sightings since the 1970s. 
Fairfax County, VA is one of the most populated counties in the US and the story may have begun in the 1970s as a cautionary tale about overpopulation and the selfish nature of the original county founding petitioners that have seemingly created their own problem.
Related Mid-Eastern Legends
The movie Donnie Darko takes place in Middlesex, VA. It features Frank, an ominous character, dressed in a bunny suit.
The movie The Blair Witch Project, released in 2000, is reportedly based around another nearby legend in Burkittsville, Maryland. Although the story has more similarities to the Bell Witch based in Tennessee, it was filmed mainly in the woods of Maryland. This story also appears to have been a recent fabrication as no official reports speak to missing persons, witch sightings, or other strange phenomenon
The Mothman is another urban legend told in nearby Point Pleasant, West Virginia. A movie “The Mothman Prophecies” starring Richard Gere was released in 2002 based on the story.
Bigfoot has reportedly been spotted in the Appalachian Mountain areas which range over areas in Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The Bunnyman Unmasked: The Real Life Origins of an Urban Legend
Mark Moran and Mark Scuerman (2004). Weird U.S.. Barnes and Noble. ISBN 0-7607-5043-2.
Here’s the kicker… the bridge in this story is about five miles from my house!
NOTE BENE: As some of you know, I have a fondness for wearing giant bunny suits when trick or treating. That, and my geographic proximity to the bunny bridge, is entirely circumstantial. I wasn’t even living in the continental United States when the 1970s incidents transpired…
Thank God for YouTube. Here’s some footage of some local kids scaring each other, BLAIR WITCH style, at the Bunnyman Bridge:
FOLLOW ON ARTICLE: Mr. Nizz finds the Bunnyman Bridge!!!