We here at CrimeCapsule.com love a good urban legend, especially when it’s tied to something nice and nefarious. Time and distance have a way of twisting and distorting facts that to our minds is just irresistible: both for the process, so we can watch how it happens over time, and for the outcome. (Devil babies! Who could forget devil babies?)
So imagine: you’ve taken a trip to sleepy Fairfax County, Virginia, visiting friends in the little village of Clifton. You’re out for a walk on Colchester Road, when you come across a small railroad bridge. It’s dark outside, but an eerie glow is coming from the tunnel under the bridge. You see a figure backlit by the light. It’s carrying something—what appears to be a weapon, an axe or a hatchet. You panic, and start to run—but the figure is just too fast. The last thing you see as the curtain drops is—wait—can it be?—bunny ears?
You know what they say about truth being stranger than fiction? Well, Fairfax County has its own special legend, one that author Cindy L. Bennett in her book Wicked Fairfax County calls essential to any history of the area. The boogeyman—excuse us, Bunnyman—of Fairfax County ranks right up there in local prestige with the Jersey Devil or the Mothman, but with a bit more blood and gore. And the locals couldn’t be prouder.
As Bennett records, the origins of the Bunnyman are shrouded in myth, from renegade prison escapees to deranged mental institution patients, but they all have one thing in common: a man in a bunny suit (or wearing rabbit skins), wielding an axe or a hatchet, and lurking near the Colchester Bridge. The Bunnyman’s victims date back decades, but he appears to have an especial fondness for teenagers, whom according to legend he strangles and often hangs from the railing of the bridge. Unsurprisingly, near Halloween his activity is at its peak, so much so that local police now cordon the area off, knowing those pesky teens are hot on his tail—er, trail!
Devoted to their legend, locals have apparently devoted “countless late-night stories, Youtube videos, songs, a rock opera, books, films, a brand of beer, and even a quilt” to their furry fiend. Of course, uncovering the fact beneath the fiction is half the fun, and thanks to some intrepid sniffing around, Bennett has been able to unearth what appears to be the true origin of the story.
Without spoiling it here—for that, you’ll have to read her book—in the early 1970s there were in fact multiple documented sightings of an axe-wielding Bunnyman, not just in Virginia but in Maryland and Washington, DC, as well. Don’t believe us? Then you might want to tread extra carefully next time you visit Fairfax County: as Bennett details, the culprit was never found, their identity was never discovered, and the case was never solved.
Donnie Darko, eat your heart out. Inland Empire, take a back seat. There’s a new rabbit in town, and there just ain’t room for all a’ yall.