Bunny Man

Coordinates: 38°47′23″N 77°21′44″W / 38.78985°N 77.36225°W / 38.78985; -77.36225
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38°47′23″N 77°21′44″W / 38.78985°N 77.36225°W / 38.78985; -77.36225

Actual hatchet used by the "Bunny Man" in 1970.
The "Bunny Man Bridge" in daylight
The "Bunny Man Bridge" at night

The Bunny Man is an urban legend that originated from two incidents in Fairfax County, Virginia, in 1970, but has been spread throughout the Washington, D.C., and Maryland areas. The legend has many variations; most involve a man wearing a rabbit costume who attacks people with an axe or hatchet.

Most of the stories occur around Colchester Overpass, a Southern Railway overpass spanning Colchester Road near Clifton, Virginia,[1] sometimes referred to as "Bunny Man Bridge".[2]

Versions of the legend vary in the Bunny Man's name, motives, weapons, victims, description of the bunny costume or lack thereof, and sometimes even his possible death. In some accounts, victims' bodies are mutilated, and in some variations, the Bunny Man's ghost or aging spectre is said to come out of his place of death each year on Halloween to commemorate his death.


Fairfax County Public Library Historian-Archivist Brian A. Conley extensively researched the Bunny Man legend. He has located two incidents of a man in a rabbit costume threatening people with an axe. The vandalism reports occurred ten days apart in 1970 in Burke, Virginia.

The first incident was reported on the evening of October 19, 1970, by U.S. Air Force Academy Cadet Robert Bennett and his fiancée, who were visiting relatives on Guinea Road in Burke. Around midnight, while returning from a football game, they reportedly parked their car in a field on Guinea Road to "visit an Uncle who lived across the street from where the car was parked". As they sat in the front seat with the motor running, they noticed something moving outside the rear window. Moments later, the front passenger window was smashed, and there was a white-clad figure standing near the broken window. Bennett turned the car around while the man screamed at them about trespassing, saying: "You're on private property, and I have your tag number." As they drove down the road, the couple discovered a hatchet on the car floor.

When the police requested a description of the man, Bennett insisted he was wearing a white suit with long bunny ears. However, Bennett's fiancée contested their assailant did not have bunny ears on his head, but was wearing a white capirote of some sort. They both remembered seeing his face clearly, but in the darkness, they could not determine his race. The police returned the hatchet to Bennett after examination.

The second reported sighting occurred on the evening of October 29, 1970, when construction security guard Paul Phillips approached a man standing on the porch of an unfinished home, in Kings Park West on Guinea Road. Phillips said the man was wearing a gray, black, and white bunny costume, and was about 20 years old, 5 feet 8 inches (1.73 m) tall, and weighed about 175 pounds (79 kg). The man began chopping at a porch post with a long-handled axe, saying: "You are trespassing. If you come any closer, I'll chop off your head."[3]

The Fairfax County Police opened investigations into both incidents, but both were eventually closed for lack of evidence. In the weeks following the incidents, more than 50 people contacted the police claiming to have seen the "Bunny Man". Several newspapers, including The Washington Post, reported that the "Bunny Man" had eaten a man's runaway cat. The Post articles that mentioned this incident were:

  • "Man in Bunny suit Sought in Fairfax" (October 22, 1970)[4]
  • "The 'Rabbit' Reappears" (October 31, 1970)[4]
  • "Bunny Man Seen" (November 4, 1970)
  • "Bunny Reports Are Multiplying" (November 6, 1970)
  • "Bunny Man, Strikes again"(November 1,1970)

In 1973, Patricia Johnson, a student at the University of Maryland, College Park, submitted a research paper that chronicled precisely 54 variations on the two incidents. Many maintain the basic plot in some shape or form, but vary in details like location and specific events. A handful even mention the Bunny Man committing murders, a detail at odds with the two documented sightings.[5] Conley cites this as evidence of how the original Bunny Man story had mutated through various retellings, and that the story would be taken to new heights during the early days of the internet.[6]

Conley further stated that the most widely circulated version of the story was posted to the website Castle of Spirits in 1999.[6] In it, user "Timothy J. Forbes" claimed the Bunny Man was a convict named Douglas J. Grifon, who escaped while being transported to a new facility in 1904. The story proceeds to chronicle a series of grisly, almost supernatural murders committed at Bunny Man Bridge, most occurring decades before the officially documented sightings.[7] According to Conley, "all of the specifics given in the Forbes version are false".[6] Not only did the stated murders never happen,[8] but key institutions mentioned - such as the Old Clifton Library, allegedly the source of the author's information - never existed in the first place.[6]

Colchester Overpass[edit]

Colchester Overpass was built in about 1906[9] near the site of Sangster's Station, a Civil War era railroad station on what was once the Orange and Alexandria Railroad.[9] Because of its association with the legend, the overpass is a popular destination for paranormal enthusiasts (ghost hunters) and curiosity seekers (legend trippers).[10] Interest increases around Halloween, and starting in 2003, local authorities began controlling access to the area during that time.[11] During Halloween 2011, over 200 people, some from as far away as the Pennsylvania–Maryland state line, were turned away during a 14-hour traffic checkpoint into the area.[12]


A variant of the story appeared as an urban legend in England: some detainees in Wembley police station were said to have been beaten up in their cells by an assailant dressed in a bunny mascot costume. In one version, when the station was closed, an old locker was forced open and the costume with blood stains was discovered inside.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 38°47′23″N 77°21′44″W / 38.78972°N 77.36222°W / 38.78972; -77.36222
  2. ^ "A tale about a tail: Northern Virginia band explores the bloody Bunny Man myth in a new rock opera". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-01-23.
  3. ^ "Antics of 'Bunny Man' Start Police Hopping". The Minneapolis Star. October 31, 1970. p. 31. Retrieved 13 August 2018 – via newspapers.com.
  4. ^ a b "The Bunny Man Unmasked - Page 4 - Fairfax County, Virginia". www.fairfaxcounty.gov. Archived from the original on 2017-06-05. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  5. ^ "The Bunny Man Unmasked - Page 3 - Fairfax County, Virginia". www.fairfaxcounty.gov. Archived from the original on 2016-08-24. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d "The Bunny Man Unmasked - Fairfax County, Virginia". Archived from the original on 2011-10-30.
  7. ^ "The Clifton Bunny Man". Archived from the original on 2011-11-13.
  8. ^ "The Bunny Man Unmasked - Page 2 - Fairfax County, Virginia". Archived from the original on 2011-11-01.
  9. ^ a b Netherton, Nan; Von Lake Wykoff, Whitney (1995). Fairfax Station All Aboard. Fairfax Station, Virginia: Friends of the Fairfax Station. pp. 41–42. ASIN B0006QCTP2.
  10. ^ Varhola, Michael J. (2008). "Bunny Man Bridge (Fairfax Station)". Ghosthunting Virginia (America's Haunted Road Trip). Covington, Kentucky: Clerisy Press. pp. 15–22. ISBN 978-1-57860-327-5.
  11. ^ "Legend Lives on at Bunnyman Bridge". Connection Newspapers. November 4, 2003. Retrieved May 8, 2012.
  12. ^ Stachyra, Mary C. (November 17, 2011). "Neighbors Find 'Bunnyman Bridge' an Unwelcome Attraction". CentrevillePatch. Archived from the original on November 22, 2011. Retrieved May 8, 2010.
  13. ^ Noel Smith, The Criminal Alphabet p. 127

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]