Mythical Monday: Beware the Bunny Man by Mae Clair

Although this nefarious character is usually spotted near Halloween, I couldn’t resist the bunny connection with Easter. It just seemed a good time to blog about an urban legend related to well… bunnies.

Before I go any further, let me state emphatically that I adore bunnies. And Easter is my second favorite holiday, after Christmas. I love it for its religious significance and also the sense of rebirth it brings with the newness of spring. It’s one holiday I would never want to associate with anything “soiled” for lack of a better word.  Then I stumbled over the urban legend of the Bunny Man.

According to folklore, in 1904, the residents of Clifton, Virginia petitioned to have a nearby mental asylum shut down and its patients relocated. In hindsight, that was probably a bad idea. For proof, I offer the following nugget of wisdom:  Any urban legend that includes the mention of “mental” and “asylum” usually doesn’t end well and this one is no different.

Norfolk Southern Freight Train at Colchester Overpass.

Norfolk Southern Freight Train at Colchester Overpass. Photo credit: By Kohlchester via Wikimedia Commons

The residents of Clifton got their wish, but in the process of transferring the patients to another facility, the vehicle used to move them was involved in a crash. A few of the prisoners died, many others escaped and took to the countryside.

The authorities immediately launched a search and were able to round up all of the escapees with the exception of a man named Douglas Grifon. Grifon had supposedly been institutionalized for murdering his wife and children on Easter Sunday.

In the days following his escape, the residents were horrified to find the skinned, half-eaten carcasses of rabbits dangling from the branches of surrounding trees. Their fear transitioned to terror when the body of a man named Marcus Wallster was found in a similar condition not long afterward. His mutilated corpse was discovered hanging from a tree near a railroad overpass.

Prompted by the grisly discovery, the police began another frenzied search, this time managing to catch up with Grifon near the bridge. Before they could apprehend him, he ran onto the railroad tracks and was struck by an oncoming train. The horrific scene turned spine-tingling when the train passed, rattling down the tracks. In the unnatural silence that followed, the police were spooked by the sound of sinister laughter.

Train and vehicular traffic at Colchester Overpass aka Bunnyman Bridge

Colcehster Overpass. Photo credit: By Kohlchester, via Wikimedia Commons

Thereafter, the locals referred to the site as Bunny Man Bridge, dubbing Grifon the Bunny Man. For years after his death, carcasses were found hanging from the overpass in the days preceding Halloween.

Should you like to explore this legend yourself, all you need do is visit the southern railway overpass that crosses Colchester Road near Clifton, Virginia. But beware should you go exploring— the bunny man’s laughter is still heard echoing through the trees.

 

12 thoughts on “Mythical Monday: Beware the Bunny Man by Mae Clair

    • Thanks for visiting, Harliqueen. It’s amazing the strange tales that are out there. I could see this one being made into some kind of horror/slasher flick (which I would then promptly avoid, LOL)!

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  1. Yeah…no. I don’t think I’ll visit this bridge anytime soon, thank you very much. I’ll just go ahead and take your word for it…like I do all the other spine-chilling stories you are so good at telling us about.

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    • Yeah, this is one I don’t think I’ll investigate either (other than reading about it). At least the Mothman never hurt anyone. It was one thing to trek around West Virginia knowing that but I’ll skip Colchester Overpass! 🙂

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  2. Yikes, well that is an eye opener. I wonder why no horror movie has been made from the bunny man’s story. You find some good ones! Did you watch the tv show Buffy the Vampire Slayer where the character Anya, a demon, was terrified of bunnies? Hilarious. Also, for another real life horror story, I just this morning read about the horrible treatment bunnies receive in the making of angora sweaters:(

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    • Oh wow, I just googled the angora sweater thing. How atrocious! It’s good PETA is spreading awareness about it.

      I never saw the Buffy episode you mentioned (sounds great!) but I do remember the bunny scenes in Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which were hysterical!

      I still prefer my bunnies soft and cuddly though . . . and without a madman nearby! 🙂

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  3. Oh, thats a nasty legend and story. So many body parts floating around, yuck and poor little bunnies. I agree this legend would make a very creepy film. Thanks for finding these things for us all, Mae.

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  4. Thanks for finding this Mae – although if I have bad, sad, scary laughter, bunny hanging dreams tonight you are so IN TROUBLE, young lady!!!

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