The name “Bunnyman Bridge” might evoke some laughs from those who don’t know the sinister tale of murder and carnage behind it. Like most urban legends, there is an element of truth to the story behind the Bunnyman Bridge. However, the truth behind this story is a little more concrete than most.
On a chilly October night in 1970, U.S. Airforce Cadet Bob Bennett and his new fiancee were returning from a football game in Fairfax County, Virginia. They parked the car in a field off of Guinea Road, at first to admire the stars on that clear night. They began talking about their upcoming wedding and the conversation turned intimate but a sudden burst of movement outside the car caught Bennett’s eye. Before he had a chance to react, a hatchet swung down, shattering his fiancee’s window. A menacing figure in all white loomed over the car and screamed at them for trespassing. Bennett sped away with the man in white staring at them in the rearview mirror. Once they were safely away, the couple made one last chilling discovery: the man’s hatchet lying on the floor at the fiancee’s feet.
The two gave differing descriptions of the man; Bob stated the man was wearing a white suit with long bunny ears while his fiancee described a pointed hood, like the ones the Ku Klux Klan—still a prominent threat in the South during the 1970s—wore. Both remembered seeing his face, but could not describe it well due to the darkness of the night.
About a week later, security guard Paul Phillips was going about his usual patrol at a construction site at Kings Park West off of Guinea Road. All was quiet until Paul was startled by a loud sound and noticed a shadowy figure lurking on the porch of a recently constructed house. Unable to make out what the figure was doing, Paul moved in for a closer look, discovering a man in a white bunny costume, swinging a large axe into a porch post, again making comments about trespassers, even threatening to “bust them on the head” with his axe.
A full investigation was launched and more claims of the “Bunnyman” poured into the Fairfax Police Station. Stories began popping up in newspapers like The Washington Post with headlines like, “Man in Bunny Costume Sought in Fairfax,” and “The ‘Rabbit’ Reappears.”
After several weeks with no solid leads, the police closed the case due to a lack of evidence, leaving the Bunnyman free to roam the county, his identity unknown. So who was he?
One theory states that the “Bunnyman” was the ghost of an escaped maniac.
According to the legend, in 1904 in nearby Clifton, Virginia, an asylum for the criminally insane was shutdown. This wasn’t so much a hospital, more so a prison for violent, deranged offenders who obviously could not be released back into the public. They were rounded up and put onto a fifteen-vehicle transport to be relocated to another facility in a neighboring county. While on the rough, rural roads, one vehicle crashed, killing several prisoners and the driver. With the first taste of freedom on their tongues in years, many of the surviving inmates escaped, desperately trying to hide in the countryside.
Police were rounded up from all over the county with the task of capturing the violent inmates and the effort was a success—for the most part.
Shortly after the crash, rabbit carcasses were found hanging from the trees and underneath Colchester Overpass, left to rot. Not just dead carcasses though, skinned, mutilated bodies with chunks missing from teeth marks. Human teeth marks. Another search was ordered and the search party made a grisly discovery: the body of Marcus Wallster, one of the escaped inmates, hanging from the bridge by a rope around his neck.
The police realized that along with Marcus Wallster, they had missed someone by the name of Douglas Grifon, institutionalized for the brutal murder of his entire family on Easter Sunday. A manhunt ensued and the officials located Grifon at the Colchester Overpass, where Grifon narrowly escaped, only to be hit by an oncoming train on the tracks directly above the overpass.
Is Colchester Overpass haunted by the ghost of a deranged lunatic? It’s impossible to say for sure but the more plausible explanation is more frightening: that a man with an axe, threatening to kill, was never captured.
There were claims as recently as 2001 that mutilated rabbit parts were found near the overpass and while the claims could be made up, there’s still a lingering possibility that the “Bunnyman” from the 1970s remains in the area, warning off trespassers. Obviously, this is why people refer to the bridge as the Bunnyman Bridge.
To this day, ghost hunters and thrill seekers flock to Colchester Overpass, now commonly referred to as Bunnyman Bridge, hoping to get a glimpse of the specter that haunts it. If you wish to do the same, beware. The bridge is an active railroad track and intersection and police often patrol the area to prevent people from getting too close, lest they end up like Douglas Grifon.